Weekly Discussion

Smartphone innovation is dead, longer release cycles can revive it
Ilia Temelkov
Ilia Temelkov
Phonearena team
original poster
Despite the general animosity between them, Samsung, Apple, Google, OnePlus and other smartphone brand fans have one critical thing in common. They all seem a little disappointed with the incremental updates of their favorite smartphones. As the underlying technologies evolve, the biggest smartphone releases become less exciting and more predictable than ever before. This raises the logical question - what can be done to bring back the excitement of new phone releases and purchases? The solution is obvious - release smartphones less often. Such an approach will give more time to all the engineers, designers, and software developers to invent more features and design changes. For the consumers, a longer release cycle will make upgrades more meaningful and much easier to justify. Generally, people don’t update their smartphones every year. For some, the main reason is the price, as smartphones get ever more expensive. Others don't see value in exchanging their already capable device with a new one, which is almost the same. Long gone are the days of drastic design changes and noticeable hardware upgrades. The latest iPhones, Galaxies and Pixels are fantastic, but their predecessors are probably over 90% as good. It wouldn’t be completely unfair to say that smartphone updates feel stagnating. Apple’s flagships look and feel more or less the same since 2020. Samsung’s Ultra Galaxy S model is basically the same since 2021, just like Google’s Pixels. Most of the major feature updates are based on software updates, and the difference between older and newer models is mostly in their speed. Considering the state of smartphone updates, I think the big companies must consider a change of their release cycles. The tick-tock model that Apple had for a while was a good one. A number update means general redesign and multiple new features. Then, a year later, an S update means potential refinement and basic hardware upgrades. Just like in healthy human relationships, the predictability and management of expectations that such change can bring will benefit everyone. Instead of annual disappointment, fans will get exciting premieres every couple of years. So, Apple, Samsung, Google, everyone else, please stop releasing smartphones every year. Would you join me in my request? Do you think a new release cycle could make smartphones more exciting? Do you even buy the latest models whenever you upgrade your smartphone?
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