Why smartphones no longer decorate our lives

The smartphone market seems to be increasingly struggling to implement major innovations that can stir up passions. The phenomenon is explained by pragmatic reasons.

Why smartphones no longer decorate our lives
The smartphone market is getting… boring?

Do you know what cancerization is? This is a rather peculiar phenomenon in which several different types of crustaceans evolve into forms that resemble those of crabs, which are more favorable for survival. It’s an exciting case of evolutionary convergence that actually inspired the YouTuber’s video. DirtyBiology. And it is clear that this trend is also observed in the smartphone market.

Obviously, smartphones don’t look like crabs, but today it’s getting very difficult to really tell them apart, both aesthetically and technically. A very logical remark, but also a bit bitter.

Turning points 2007, then 2017

Let’s talk about design first. In 2007, Apple revolutionized mobile telephony with the launch of the iPhone and also popularized the touch screen smartphone format. Aside from a few alternatives that struggled to survive, such as the BlackBerry keyboard, the industry settled on this design as it suited the vast majority of users.

However, for many years, almost all smartphones have unfortunately suffered from very large bezels around the screen. The front surface of the devices was not fully exploited. We’ll have to wait until 2017 to see another major transformation: the transition to 18:9 aspect ratio (and other rather elongated aspect ratios) to replace the traditional 16:9.

Why smartphones no longer decorate our lives
Samsung Galaxy S8 // Source: Frandroid

We remember, for example, the Samsung Galaxy S8 or LG G6, two models that really contributed to this aesthetic paradigm shift, allowing not only to offer larger screens without increasing the size of the smartphone (theoretically), but also to improve the appearance. borders on the front to make devices much prettier.

Inevitably, various smartphone brands have continued to refine this design in subsequent years.” boundless and the technical advances to integrate an under-screen selfie camera are also part of this movement. But at the same time, we have a large number of smartphones that are very difficult to distinguish from each other just by looking at the front panel.

Why smartphones no longer decorate our lives
LG G6 // Source: Frandroid

Over time, smartphones have simply become more sophisticated to take on the best possible shape that the general public is more likely to enjoy. Like crustaceans that turn into crabs. In itself, this is certainly good, but it is also synonymous with a certain standardization of the market, which no longer leaves room for boldness and surprise.

True-false counterexample of foldable smartphones

To disprove this observation, we could cite foldable smartphones that promise to change our habits. The future will show us whether this format can impose itself or not, but it is true that the design and use are very different. Enough to see exciting innovations for the coming years!

However, even if they break, these foldable smartphones are already trending towards standardization. Indeed, for a while the question arose: is it better to have a phone that folds inward or outward?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Half-folded Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

Soon the first solution appeared thanks to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Honor Magic V, Oppo Find N and Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold that fold inwards. Even Huawei, which nonetheless initially advocated the opposite, eventually succumbed to its Mate X2.

Folding inward has just slowly become the most promising for the durability of foldable smartphones.

Technological glass ceiling

This standardization is also felt in the technical sheets of our phones. The technology market has often operated on a trickle-down basis. In other words, innovations first appear on the most expensive smartphones and then are gradually introduced to more affordable models as technologies become more adopted and less expensive.

Oppo Find X5 Pro
Oppo Find X5 Pro, one of the best smartphones for early 2022 // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

However, high-end smartphones today are struggling to maintain this powerhouse role because they are already excelling in several areas (screen, photo, performance, fast charging, interface, etc.). Of course, each new generation brings its share of innovations, but usually they are content to improve a few details here and there, improving on an already mastered and compelling recipe. Truly revolutionary innovations are becoming rarer as we steadily move closer to the technological glass ceiling.

Take for example the three flagship smartphones of MWC 2022: Realme GT 2 Pro, OnePlus 10 Pro and Honor Magic 4 Pro. All three have a neat OLED display, Snadragon 8 Gen 1, and powerful fast charging. Finally, they especially try to stand out with their promising photo features.

Why smartphones no longer decorate our lives
The back of the Honor Magic 4 Pro // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

But these features can only be used by a small subset of users and, above all, they do not revolutionize the user experience. These are additional options that simply enrich an already very good base.

soft belly

The smartphone market follows a very simple law: to generate interest with each release, products must improve, which makes a strong case for sales. However, we are approaching the point where this cycle is fizzling out.

Obviously, it would be embarrassing to complain that our smartphones have become too good. But it’s interesting to be aware of that little soft underbelly that we’re in right now. A soft belly that is likely to persist over time, as analyst Ming-Chi Kuo pointed out on Twitter.

There seems to be no reason to be optimistic about the 2022 mobile phone market. Declining orders from the most expensive (Apple) and cheapest (Transsion) brands means the mobile phone industry is facing structural problems.

— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) March 14, 2022

There seems to be no reason to be optimistic about the mobile phone market in 2022. Declining orders from the most expensive brands (Apple) and the most entry-level (Transsion) means the mobile telephony industry is facing structural challenges“, – writes the specialist.

For understanding: the smartphone market is currently not the most dynamic. And if there are many reasons for this speed loss, then manufacturers’ difficulty updating their lineup accordingly is probably something too.

Positive effects?

Despite the smallblueswhat we could feel when thinking about a sector that can no longer impress us, there are also positive effects that should be reported. First of all, it should be noted that this product improvement allows people with a limited budget to find smartphones with good qualities in an affordable price segment.

Redmi Note 11
Redmi Note 11 has an attractive data sheet at a very affordable price // Source: Anthony Wonner – Frandroid

From 150-200 euros there are very few really bad smartphones. Some of them may be too expensive for what they offer, but they still meet the most important criteria.

In addition, this context may encourage people to wear their smartphones longer. When you’re less excited about the latest model released, you’re less tempted to upgrade your product. As long as manufacturers step up monitoring of their software, as Samsung has of late, there is material here to promote good environmentally responsible behavior.

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