Smartphones aren’t fun anymore

Grace Sweeney


The upgrade rush has slowed dramatically. People are hanging on to phones longer, and new iPhone releases aren’t the massive event they once were.

One issue is, smartphones don’t have anywhere to go, really. Not in terms of improving ease of use at least.

Sure, the Animoji feature was pretty cool. And better cameras and faster speeds are always a win. But phones from a couple years ago also still have great cameras and generally, work just fine.

The thing is, the difference between the newest phones and those from the recent past don’t have dramatically different functionalities.

Why don’t new smartphones blow our minds anymore?


Fast rise and subsequent plateau

Blame the fast rise from the initial iPhone to where we are today. Smartphones have only been around for a decade, and they’ve gone through several changes.

Today’s phones have powerful processing capabilities, GPS, they work as sophisticated cameras, and music players, and house all of our favorite apps.

The thing is, higher-end phones have been able to do everything we want them to for the past few years. Upgrading now means you might get a bigger screen or more memory, but the ability to use Spotify or capture the perfect selfie doesn’t require the latest and greatest anymore.

As such, smartphones don’t have anywhere to go in a big way. So, we’re kind of just bored. Your next phone is going to basically be a prettier version of your current one.

Plans don’t provide good deals anymore

We’ve been led to believe that we need to upgrade our phones about every other year. In part, that’s due to the way phone contracts worked in the past. Now, phones often top $1,000 and customers don’t get the free upgrade that once was par for the course.

Carriers offer minimal subsidies. Where the norm used to be a free upgrade every two years, carriers now use monthly payment plans as a way to offset the sticker shock.

Bottom line, it’s worse for the consumer. The monthly payment might alleviate the pain, but shoppers no longer have access to the markdowns that made a difference.


More like a car?

Here’s an interesting point—maybe we should consider our smartphones like we do our cars.

We should repair them when they become damaged. And, when it is no longer worth repairing, then look into a new one. Like cars, smartphones saw a lot of dramatic improvements in a short period. But now, features tend to offer a marginally better experience year to year.

Just look at a 2014 car vs. a 2019 model — there’s not a huge difference if you’re looking at similar models.

Innovations in the Android space

While Apple phones are failing to drive as much excitement as they have in the past, Androids are getting more experimental.

There’s all this talk about foldable phones — which is kind of strange — but it might help people with tiny pockets ditch the purse. There’s also the idea that the foldable phone combines the benefits of a smaller phone and a tablet. While some applications are better suited for the big screen, carrying around a so-called “phablet” isn’t practical for making calls or sending texts, much less taking it everywhere you go. Still, we’ve yet to see how the software holds up or how durable the devices are out in the real world.

Then there are some other interesting developments. One example is the Pundi X Phone, which doesn’t yet have a release date. But, it features blockchain security features — like blockchain calling. It’s even block-shaped.

Or, there’s China’s Vivo, a smartphone maker that offers a pop-up camera — the elevating front camera:

In any case, we might be on the verge of a new era in crazy phones. The thing is, beating phone boredom likely means ditching Apple and perhaps enduring a few bugs, too.

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