Why you shouldn't buy the Galaxy S25 Ultra or the iPhone 16 Pro Max

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Don't buy the Galaxy S25 Ultra
I know what you're thinking. This is the next click-baity article with no substance at all. I'll leave it to you to judge this opinion piece, but after I spent some time with one very interesting phone you've probably never heard about, I felt compelled to write it.

We can lament the slow-paced evolution in the smartphone field all we like, but the truth is, we're all complacent and part of the problem. I mean, even we, the reviewers, tend to fall down that slippery slope.

Many people think that phones are perfect, and the current design is the best one we'll ever get. I strongly disagree. We just grew accustomed to how modern smartphones feel and look, and as adaptive human beings, we learned to live with all the shortcomings.

But let's get to the point. Take the Galaxy S24 series, for example. And let's inspect the cream of the crop, the Galaxy S24 Ultra. People praise it, and reviewers praise it, but to me, it's the same phone as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, which in turn is the same phone as the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The elephant in the room

Looking at the titanium iPhone Pro and the materials used on the Galaxy S24 Ultra, it's clear that the industry is following trends. Who sets them? Who decides that the Galaxy S24 Ultra will keep the same design of the back camera system but swap the frame for titanium?

There are two sides to this problem. I don't think that we're the ones to blame, at least not directly. Companies have hundreds of analysts and specialists to weigh in on how a certain change would affect sales, manufacturing costs, profit, etc.

We're an indirect part of the problem, though, because we keep buying the same phones over and over again and giving the same design high scores in our reviews. Is there a way out of this vicious circle?

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The first step - change your perspective

The last phone I took for a spin was the Nubia Z60 Ultra, and even though it was far from perfect, it overheated like a hairy dog under Georgia sun, and it was digging and cutting in my hand, this phone showed me for the gazillionth time that innovation nowadays comes from China.

But it was all irrelevant because this phone had something that completely changed my perspective. The under-display camera. I know you're letting off a long sign at the moment and probably shaking your heads. But hear me out.

Using this phone for a week made something magical. It reset my perspective on how a smartphone screen should look. I realized I grew so accustomed to the cutouts for the selfie camera that they stopped bothering me a long time ago.

When I got back to my iPhone 13 mini, the notch felt unbearable. I tried to use an older Galaxy S22, but still, the cutout was sticking like a sore thumb. There's another point here, and I should mention it for objectivity. Samsung is trying to implement the under-display selfie camera in its Fold lineup, and I understand that these companies want to perfect the technology without sacrificing the quality of selfie pictures, but come on. If Nubia can do it, a company with billions of revenue such as Samsung and Apple could do it as well.

How do you break the status quo?

Yeah, testing an obscure Chinese phone with an edge-to-edge display is cool and fun, but people are still almost religiously buying Galaxies and iPhones. It's really hard to break the status quo for various reasons. For one, companies like Nubia are not exactly popular, and people are afraid to take risks and leap into the unknown.

The same goes for telecom providers, big retail stores, and us reviewers as well. We try to be as objective as possible (I sincerely do), but sometimes we tend to give more weight to well-established brands and be suspicious toward unknown ones. And this happens subconsciously in the minds of millions of other people as well.

There's one way we can make a difference, though. It's a bit radical, but I think with the latest trend in software support, we can do it.

Don't buy the latest flagship

Blasphemy! I can hear the head of the affiliate department running toward my office with his tiny feet to give me a lecture. Okay, let's paraphrase that. Don't buy the Galaxy S25 Ultra if it lacks at least one feature that would make you go, "Wow!" Be that an under-display camera, a totally new design, a holographic display, a composite back, a new type of camera, or a solid-state battery.

You probably don't need it anyway, stick to your Galaxy S22 Ultra or S23 or your good old iPhone 12 Pro, for example if you bought that one. I guarantee these old flagships will get you 99% of the experience of the newest ones, and for zero new investment, as well.  And it will be a wake-up call for lazy companies.

The same goes for Apple, I won't spare them anything here. Since the iPhone 12 series, everything looks and feels the same, with such minor incremental upgrades that sometimes you can't even tell the difference. If you have a flagship phone that's a couple of years old, why don't you hold on to it and wait for some real innovation.

I'm not urging you to buy Nubias, but when Apple's and Samsung's sales start to drop, they might wake up and finally invent something. 

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