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Have We Reached The Apex of Smartphone Design?

Peak /pēk/


The pointed top of a mountain.

Do you remember a few years ago when most people still sported those bulky plastic back phones with the thick bezels and horrendous cameras? These days we have phones that come with CPUs that rival that of many laptops, cameras that shoot sharp even in low-light conditions, metal and glass frames, graphene batteries, under-screen sonic fingerprint scanners, 120hz screens, and let's not forget the folding phones that are coming out.

With handheld tech like this that's readily available for the average consumer, we have to ask ourselves if there's any more that smartphone manufacturers can develop that would justify the thousand-dollar price tag that they slap on most flagship smartphones these days.

After all, a good appeal of most flagships is that they often come with a newly-developed feature that isn't found on other smartphones. However, as these "special" features slowly become standard in most smartphones, consumers will eventually begin to ask themselves if there's a good reason to even spend a thousand dollars on a flagship smartphone when there are many phones that cost cheaper. I mean, can't they make new-generation tech cheaper?

Have We Peaked? Actually, Yes. But Not In The Way You'd Expect.

Yes, we've peaked. We've peaked in smartphone design in 2007, since the first-generation iPhone was unveiled at a keynote speech by Steve Jobs. That was the pivot that drove us to where we are now. And while there are many new iterations of the smartphone, you can consider how we still adopt the design basics of the very first iPhone. - A slab that has a touchscreen on the front. Many years later, the core principles of the smartphone remain the same, albeit with tweaks here and there.

Why Does Smartphone Innovation Matter To Manufacturers?

As previously mentioned, manufacturers now have an urgent need to bring something new to the table that's compelling enough to justify the absurd prices they charge for a smartphone.

Innovative tech will almost always be a good enough reason to charge a lot of money for a product. Just look at the Sony Ericsson P900, which was a smartphone released in 2004, but had a release price of $850. As can be easily seen, the asking price for the Sony Ericsson P900 was outrageous for what it offered. And yet, people still bought it because of it's intuitiveness.

Do We Really Need More Bells And Whistles?

In a more technical perspective, you might consider modern smartphones to be more capable than they have ever been. Most smartphones even have hardware that can rival most consumer-grade laptops. And yet, we seem to want more power. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves whether or not we really need more powerful hardware (hardware that the average consumer might not even need nor even care about) just so that phone manufacturers can continue to charge near-extortionate prices for their products.

Would it not be more beneficial for smartphone manufacturers to instead focus on the basics, such as repairability and better battery life? Especially when you consider that competent Google phone glass repair services, such as this one, are difficult to find.

Shouldn't we, instead consider putting an added focus on making more durable and repairable devices, considering how much the average consumer relies on smartphones?


Published Friday, March 27, 2020 7:58 AM by David Marshall
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<March 2020>