I recently got a quick peek at a prototype of a smartphone expected to hit the market in the coming weeks. I don't want to give too much away, but I suspect you already know exactly what it's like (a black, rectangular capacitive touch screen).
In the smartphone biz, there are no longer any rewards for hardware innovation. Follow the form-factor flock in a V formation and you just might make it to your destination alive. I do hope some day a lone eagle will come along and shake up what has become the most boring market in the world. Even the market for rather boring white goods such as washing machines and refrigerators has greater variety in form factors than the smartphone market. That's where we are today.
Looking for something new and fresh? Check out NTT DoCoMo's "Grip UI" shown recently at CEATEC 2012. In addition to classic touch-screen input, the proto device supports pressure-sensitive input from the sides enhancing one-handed usability.
I've seen demos and protos of squeezable pressure-sensitive devices for a number of years now as component vendors look to create a hot new wave among vendors. There doesn't look like much form-factor flexibility in the near future; these things take time, but at some point the market will bend under pressure.
NTT DoCoMo's Grip UI. Something fresh. You can say that again.
Video from DigInfo:
Nokia's shows flexibility in design:
Synaptics "Fuse" concept from February 2010. Input all around: