This is why nobody is buying new phones

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
This is why nobody is buying new phones
Did you hear the news from a few days ago? Apple brought back refurbished iPhone SE units for a few hours at a price of just $250, and I have already read at least a few bloggers lament they could not get one on time and now it's gone.

And have you seen what happened when the news about a new Palm phone erupted? Even though it was a severely handicapped phone that probably no one would actually enjoy using, videos about this phone were among the most popular phone videos of 2018.

In an article about my hope for the return of the Google Nexus, quite a few of you, our readers, said they love their Nexus 5 and swear by it to this day.

So what is it about those and some other phones from the past that people love so much?

Why do we like old, much less powerful phones so much?

I was trying to formulate what is that one thing that all those phones shared and did not get it, until... I did! It was simple, really: they are different! As in not the same. And these days, we have a lot of the same. Same glass body in the same colors, often with same shade of gray, same dual cameras positioned in the same spot in the same configuration, same metal frame, same buttons positioned in the same places, same differences even, same, same, same... same everything!

And when you look back at phones just a few years back, it did not use to be like that! Every phone was different: the original HTC One M7 was not afraid to have novel, in-your-face dual front speakers and its aluminum body at the time was actually different; the LG G4 just a few years ago was not afraid to have crazy patterns on its back and an iconic leather back cover that I still fondly remember; the OnePlus X was an actually compact phone made by OnePlus, the likes of which no Android phone maker creates these days; and don't even get me started on older phones by Nokia and the rest that range from the quirky to true artisan works.

And before you slam me for being so backward-thinking, I am not advocating that we go back to using giant bezels and have phones that are an inch thick, work on Symbian and/or can only be used only with a rotary dial. What I am simply saying is that the industry has lost its creative sparkle.

In a world of look-alike smartphones all made of glass and metal, and seemingly pulled from the same template, all with similar size and curves, it pays to be different. I know a good number of people who would buy a reimagined Nexus 5 with with a modernized design, processor, camera and battery life without even blinking. I know a good number of people who would buy a limited edition iPhone SE with something like an edge-to-edge screen and modern insides. I certainly know a bunch of people who would buy any phone with a Palm logo on it, let alone if it was a good one.

And why isn't anybody making quirky phones anymore? Why isn't anybody making unabashedly plastic phones anymore?

What happened to "courage"?

Yes, we have successfully figured out how to make monotonous, super stylish and super premium phones. Hooray! That's great. We have invented the tech alternative to the three-piece suit, a classic piece of attire that will never change. And we serve it in different shades of gray, but that's not what you want everyone to wear every day, is it?

I remember the slight shock of seeing the yellow iPhone XR at the office. It was a bit surreal, seeing this striking color in a sea of gray devices. Guess what: this is the only phone these days that I can easily recognize from a mile away and I love that color (I also dig the blue and red ones)! It is different! Playful, alive, daring even, and that's what this industry needs. It needs a bit of a shock to wake us up, something radically different, something bold. Or something quirky from the past with a modern twist. Just not more of that same, same, same.

Or we could just keep on changing the batteries on our phones every two years and keep on using them because, honestly, they are good enough already.

Are you on the same page with me on this? Do you want to see phone makers break the mold? Would you yourself buy a retro phone reimagined with a modern processor, modern cameras, bigger batteries? And what would your dream phone be in that regard?

Or is it just me?


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