They reinvent, they succeed, they move on
For years, smartphone manufacturers have tried to dominate each other by bringing some spectacular technologies to our handhelds. In a race for becoming the best in the market, OEMs have stuffed in features overlooking what customers actually need. This has been a periodical problem that has persisted over every season of smartphone launches. We’ve witnessed embedment of fingerprint sensors, iris scanners, 4K panels, pressure sensitive displays and a whole lot more. Companies have prioritized thinner aesthetics over SD card support and battery life which for the most users out there is arguably unnecessary. As a result, the rationale attached to all this was never certain, the upgrades actually never felt coherent and always created a scruffy environment for the user.
Buying a smartphone carries a bag of compromises
If you’re getting a high-resolution display, you should either get comfortable with a huge phone or settle for a mediocre battery. Getting a phone with a mind blowing camera? You also get a peeking bump on the back. Premium metal phones invited heating issues to help enhance the experience, switch to glass and you get an extremely delicate jewellery with smudges all over. Sure, this all can be misunderstood for “nitpicking” but given you’re spending a fortune on these little devices nowadays, why should you not question?
To maintain a respectable position in the market, these upgrades are necessary from a manufacturer’s perspective, but now, I think we can safely say that a customer is not looking for those anymore. Things have changed and they’ve taken a positive turn. OEMs are finally understanding and evolving their product lineup based on that. The whole specifications first paradigm has reached a standstill at least for the leading companies and the definition of a smartphone, for now, is stable. What this means is that we’ll see phones that are not redefined based on the competition, rather they will provide an experience that will be much more enjoyable and sophisticated.
Growing up is hard but everyone does it eventually
Samsung’s Galaxy S7 series is probably the perfect example of this scenario. Instead of going bonkers over the latest technology, the Korean giant decided to polish things they got wrong last year. The design is more subtle, battery life has been improved, cameras’ megapixel counts have been narrowed down to achieve better low light photography, SD card support added back, and basically everything you need from a smartphone is done right. They didn’t put a 4K display in there just because they can, neither did we get to see them mimicking Apple’s 3D Touch feature, rather only the upgrades that were substantially interfering with their previous year flagship.
Even companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus noticed these reformations and have created handsets based on that. Their flagships including the OnePlus 2 and Mi5, sport Full HD display to accommodate better battery life. Apple never believed adapting new technologies was paramount to create a successful phone, their phones came with 1GB or 2GB of RAM (which they don’t even bother to disclose) when others were offering quadruple of that, they never jumped on the whole more-pixels-more-customers scenario because they knew people are going to appreciate quality over quantity at the end of the day.
It would be safe to say that phones are no longer inspired by what their fellow contenders are implementing, LG’s G5 was a whole different story and the company did something no one could even imagine – A modular phone capable of spreading itself into other accessories which eventually led to a 2016 flagship with a removable battery, a feature which is getting extinct with every iteration. Instead of experimenting something that would be appealing to a more general crowd, LG opted for a detachable battery module only because they wanted it to be an evolution for the existing removable battery feature. That also succored in enacting a completely aluminium build.
Now, if you think for a minute and compare this year’s announcement with the previous one, you’ll realize how the industry matured. They didn’t cross the line which could make you wonder as to “Do we really need this?“, and kept their sanity in check.
Obviously, it won’t be sudden, and not all OEMs will jump on this bandwagon immediately, some will still keep on piling on the spec sheet to stand out which won’t work eventually. We are already seeing phones with whopping 6GB RAM, but what necessitates the need for such a thing? We still don’t know. People will soon realize that features are only good as far as boasting goes. We’ll see more phones aimed to sustain a better user experience as the year goes by. Things will remain the same until technology reinvents itself again and smartphones enter their next age of development. I’m just glad that OEMs are finally growing up.