Flagship life cycle: Would a 6-month time frame prove too short?

Flagship life cycle: Would a 6-month time frame prove too short?
There's one thing that's quite unique about Sony: it's new flagship release cycle. More specifically, Sony was the first (and only, for now) manufacturer to officially move towards a 6-month release window, meaning that every other flagship on its agenda will come just half an year after its predecessor. According to Sony, the reason behind this change in tempo is simple: it allows the company to better respond to changing tech, and continuously offer the best there is to its customers.

That's not a bad sentiment, now is it? Regardless, we'd be lying if we said that we haven't ran into people, both on and off the web, who are not necessarily very happy with this change in pace. To them, a 6-month period is way too short, and it means that their shiny new flagship has an extremely limited (in their eyes) lease on life, before something cooler comes out, and they feel like they have an outdated toy. 

That's a fair concern, and some may be alarmed by the fact that pretty much every major Android manufacturer has, at one point or another, given indication (or such has been provided by the rumor mill) that the usual, 1-year flagship release window may be turning into a thing of the past. Indeed, the industry is buzzing with rumors of 'Prime' variants of pretty much every major Android flagship -- the Galaxy S5, the HTC One M8, and even the the new LG G3. Even though these are expected to be more of an improvement over the existing product (if they ever come to pass) and not altogether new devices, it isn't hard to imagine that not everybody necessarily sees it that way. In fact, as competition continues intensifying in Android land, quick release windows may soon become the norm, as once a critical mass of manufacturer adopts this new models, the rest will be forced to join in out of fear of falling behind.

So, what about you? Do you feel like a 6-month time frame is just way too short, and should be avoided? Or do you think that, considering the rate of technological progress, one such is warranted? Let us know!

Flagship life cycle: Would a 6-month time frame prove too short?

Absolutely! I'd prefer slower, more thorough releases.
Not at all! Considering the rate of progress in the field, a shorter life cycle is completely warranted
I'm undecided

Related phones

Xperia Z2
  • Display 5.2" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 20.7 MP / 2.2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2300 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 3200 mAh(19h 3G talk time)



1. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Most OEMs have a difficult enough time supporting their current lineup of phones with software updates, if they double their annual release of phones, this would further limit the amount of time they use to support each individual model. Besides, tech is dated the minute it hits the market, Reducing the time between releases doesn't change that.

8. Duketytz

Posts: 534; Member since: Nov 28, 2013

M8 Prime, S5 Prime, both of them are upcoming flagships from HTC and Samsung. Not only Sony is doing the twice a year upgrade but HTC and Samsung too.

9. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

... ok, good for them.

42. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

I'm all for new releases every 6months. I'd be even happier if they released something new every month. I come to PA just to read what is the latest and greatest, doesn't mean I need to own it. having said that I have bought S2, S3, S4, S5 on release day lol (not that the Galaxy S line is the greatest because it isn't, just that they are currently best suited to my individual set of requirements)

48. SuperMaoriBro

Posts: 533; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

With yearly releases, What happens if your time to upgrade is 8months after release? Your choice is either to buy an 8mnth old phone or wait 4mnths for the next model.neither of those scenarios appeal to me

17. Nath4N

Posts: 29; Member since: Apr 19, 2014

HTC supposedly dropped the idea of making the M8 Prime

43. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Sony is right about technology. It's a fast pace thing. And maybe 1 of the reason is that japanese people are really tech savvy. Do remember even before hd tv was widely available Japan already invented it during the 70's. I think samsung is doing it a swell like to their s series like k zoom or what you call it. Do me it's good enough cycle. It's just like Nokia before where they flood the whole world with different model like 3310 then 3310i . I know all you remember this kind of naming by Nokia .

25. aayupanday

Posts: 582; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

Qualcomm is the one to blame for all of this. Why didn't they start sampling the S805 SoC in early Q1 of this year?

37. torr310

Posts: 1646; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

I only knew the 2-year contract is too long.

2. tiara6918

Posts: 2263; Member since: Apr 26, 2012

You pay up huge amounts for a high end phone only to learn sooner or later that your device is already outdated and the value has decreased significantly. A year cycle is already enough

4. chocowii

Posts: 478; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

Then Project Ara is for you. People nowadays arent contented of what they have. When they see new they buy new.

6. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I really want Ara to succeed. But it's just so far from the market norm, I have no clue what to expect at this moment... I'll most likely get the "Spine" (I think that's what they're calling the basic casing) and add a module or two a month until I complete the phone I want.

23. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

The basic casing is known as endo... I think Project Ara will limit itself with people like us who take time to keep updates with smartphone tech..... Like assembled PC'S....

26. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Maybe... but the simplicity of the Ara phone I think would really work for a broader audience, I can see kids in a school yard grouped together, showing off their various modules and shells they've acquired like they might have been showing off their pokemon 20 years ago. There's a singular standard to the hardware for the Ara phone. PCs on the other hand... I've built 3 towers myself, and selecting the hardware is still very complex to me.

30. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

I'm more concerned about software side of things.... Will normal people be able install OS and drivers by their own??? They'll more concerned about warranty...as you should go to different places to cover warranty of different modules...

33. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I somewhat expect that the Android OS will be made available to the end user with Project Ara, and modules will have auto installing drivers similar to that of a Logitech wireless mouse. But these are just assumptions on my part. I have no clue how warranties would work... or even if they would have them at all. So many unknown factors at this point.

35. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

I would imagine the consumer could buy a memory module with the OS already on it. I think that'll be standard. And I also remember Google saying their will be Ara stores, where I assume you could cover your warranty on all the modules. If Google does this right, and makes standards and guidelines for manufacturers and retailers to follow, it'll be a seamless process. The only real problem is educating the public about it. Also, they need to make it more aesthetically pleasing, right now it looks kind of clunky; I doubt many people would like it. What would be cool is if Android OEMs would make complete shells for Ara devices, not covers that cover individual modules, but the entire thing. Motorola would make a Kevlar shell, HTC would make an aluminum shell, Sony would make a glass shell, etc. I doubt they would do it, but it would be amazing.

36. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I'm actually fine with the look of the device and the options to have custom shells printed. Though I do agree with you about the bulky nature of the phone. That's just the trade-off you have to make with that design of hardware. January can't come soon enough!

38. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

I'm interested in what the spec selection will be. Apparently Toshiba is going to make the modular processors for Ara, and not Qualcomm or Nvidia.

49. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Yeah.... that made me raise an eyebrow when I first read that... I'm curiouse to know how accurate that statement is... sadly though, I think it came from Google... We shall see.

27. jmonteiro829

Posts: 261; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Yeah would be nice but the only way for Ara to be successful is if the manufacturers take it and run with it.

5. iCloud

Posts: 125; Member since: May 15, 2014

I agree. Plus people will start gerting tired of playing catch up and eventually this will back-fire on OEMs. "Why buy the newer phone when the next one will come out soon..." and so on.

15. middlehead

Posts: 454; Member since: May 12, 2014

This is the worst reason to dislike 6 month cycles. OH NO, THER'ES SOMETHING SHINIER THAN MY SHINY THING. That's moronic. Degradation of support lifetimes is the reason to worry. Most companies can't be bothered to release updates for yearly phones, giving them twice the phones will make it four times as bad.

20. chocowii

Posts: 478; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

OEMs like that greed, you know, buying a new phone every six months. It brings moola to the company. But nothing is changing. Its still the same experience, even the obvious spec bumps. Just like a popular instant coffee. They always label and commercial it as "NEW AND IMPROVED" but still taste as it was before. It just looks different. So is phones.

44. techperson211

Posts: 1280; Member since: Feb 27, 2014

Remember that technology is not an investment. Only some OEM think it is like the fruit logo where they're overpricing their so called flagship phone that has inferior hardware not to mentioned OS. Your not buying a Ferrari here where in the long run it gets pricier as time goes buy.

47. chocowii

Posts: 478; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

In par with Apple, even with mid range specs all apps run at optimal. So is WP. Android is just spec hungry OS so OEMs upgrade more often. Ergo, WP and iOS phones can still be relevant a year or two after.

3. brar.arsh

Posts: 202; Member since: Sep 12, 2012

Sony should concentrate on selling Z2 before showing of Z3. At the moment here in Canada Z2 is only available from Bell or you can buy it unlocked for around $699. If they show off Z3 in coming few months they will not have time to sell Z2. 6 Months is too short if you are starting to sell your phone in another 3 months. You only have 3 months to sell it. Also keep in mind, players which have smaller life cycles are the ones with slow software updates. LG G2 was the latest and greatest device launched in September 13, but got Kitkat update at the last. Whereas HTC One M7 got it first even it ran old S600 CPU and was launched in Feb 13. S4 followed M7. (Y) 1 Year cycle is the best.

19. jinxtabator

Posts: 20; Member since: May 19, 2013

Feel sorry for North America being so slow getting new phones to market- ironic in the USA, home of free market capitalism, less so in Canada. But that's not an argument against shorter release cycles. You should be fighting for a more open and competitive market.

7. pyradark

Posts: 895; Member since: Jun 10, 2012

I say 2 flagship is good. I have a choice for a cheap that doesnt too far to the latest or the latest and advanced hardware.

12. iCloud

Posts: 125; Member since: May 15, 2014

Yeah but imagine 2 flagships per OEM. Lets say the US, we have motorola, nokia/microsoft, samsung, lg, htc and apple (not sure if i missed anyone). Thats 6 oems so that makes 12 flagships a year. Not counting Sony as they dont have one at carrier stores or else that would be 14 a year. I think that's just too many.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.