back to article A smartphone recession is coming and animated poo emojis can't stop it

"Smartphone sales are starting to decline at an accelerating rate," a market analyst has declared. In a pessimistic note, Jeff Johnston of Arthur Wood Research blames feature ennui. When sector design leader Apple devoted a significant portion of a flagship device launch event to an animated poo emoji, one detects an industry …

James Hughes 1

Wasn't this fairly obvious about 3 years ago?

Captain Scarlet Silver badge

agreed

The Q10 was the last time mobile tech grabbed my attention, my current phone cost 1/4 of the Q10 and tbh it does everything I want and has only just gone out of support.

None of the features have wowed me, I just want something which is reliable and not overpriced.

CheesyTheClown Silver badge

I'll go with that.

I have a 256GB iPhone X and I'm switching back to my iPhone 6S Plus. The battery life is better in the X, but it's been an absolute usability nightmare. I can safely say that I liked the 6S plus much better.

My mother-in-law last night said she's going to buy a 6S Plus as well.

So... to be honest, iPhone is plateaued. I'll save my money for the new Hololens in 2019 :)

James 51 Silver badge
Gimp

Re: agreed

Still have my Q10 about 5 years after I first got it and still use it for browsing and reading emails (and sending them too of course). If I could find someone to fix the mic at a reasonable price it would still be my main phone.

Justice
Trollface

Re: I'll go with that.

You mean 2021? Apple are always 2 years behind the trend.

AndersBreiner

"Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

Yeah it was, but both Apple and Samsung decided to counteract this by raising prices to compensate for falling volume. No, really

http://archive.is/Ct9Ua

"

Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices. But customers balked.

"

Needless to say this has caused a lot of people to stick with their old phone.

They decided to counter that by phasing out removable batteries (Samsung) and slowing down devices with old batteries (Apple and probably Samsung too). Also removing headphone ports to encourage people to buy a Bluetooth headset (Apple). And of course releasing a 'cheap' device with a too little non expandable storage and a 'premium' device where you pay for more storage at a hefty markup (Apple).

I'm sure what will happen is that people move to cheaper devices instead of premium ones and probably to other manufacturers than Apple and Samsung.

I.e. the days when people would buy a replacement premium handset ever 2 years are probably coming to an end.

If you're on the Android ecosystem you can avoid the insanity by buying a non Samsung, older device. E.g. a LG V20 sells for about $300. And has a removable battery. And it's probably fine for most people.

An Android manufacturer which sells a $300 device with a removable battery and a headphone port would probably take significant market share from Samsung. People who are dependent on the Apple ecosystem obviously have no alternative hardware vendor.

Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

"An Android manufacturer which sells a $300 device with a removable battery and a headphone port would probably take significant market share from Samsung."

... And an SD card slot.

Baudwalk

Re: I'll go with that.

What do you dislike about the X (apart from the hideous price tag, natch) when compared with non-X's?

Just curious. Never held an iPhone X myself.

JLV Silver badge

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

Good points. Laptops and desktops have already reached good-for-number-of-years status ages ago. Given enough RAM and fast SSD storage you dont need to upgrade very often. Remember when a 3 yr old PC was yesterday's jam?

Phone makers only have themselves to blame for making things worse by yanking up flagship costs from 7-800 to 1000 $ CAD even as feature sets stabilized. Enhanced water protection is my only real wishlist item at this point.

Glad iPhone X dud-ded and hoping Sammy follows. One shouldn't have to pay 1000$ for a phone by a decent manufacturer, when all other electronics generally see fast price drops.

DougS Silver badge

Re: I'll go with that.

Not sure what sort of "usability nightmare" is being referred to. Having trouble getting used to swiping up instead of hitting the home button, or looking at your phone to unlock it instead of placing your finger on the home button? I thought it would take some getting used to, but after a couple days both became second nature.

Since everything else works pretty much the same with the X as it did on previous models I'm not sure what else it could be...

Dave K Silver badge

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

And a headphone jack - the removal of which is certainly putting myself off a lot of new phones...

P. Lee Silver badge

Re: I'll go with that.

>Having trouble getting used to swiping up instead of hitting the home button...

Is it just me or does this make the phone harder to use? I'm not talking about getting used to it, but it seems having to rub the device and then check to see whether you completed the gesture adequately is more difficult than pressing a button in a fixed location. Neither is hard, just one is slightly harder than the other a fact emphasized by the friction involved.

Is it time to just stop trying to innovate features that no-one wants and just get an ARM-based handheld PC made in China with a nice screen? I know, its heresy to suggest we don't need more advanced tech and that Apple or Google have jumped the shark. Is it too soon to shatter the illusion that the West can maintain its lifestyle advantage based on innovation because, oh the horror, we don't really need more innovation in the areas which have created so much "value"?

maaen

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

I will not buy a flagship phone with a trapped battery...that will always be my first consideration...and so I am still using two Note 4 phones even though they are a bit old.I would have bought Note 5 ,Note 7 and also Note 8 and the shotrly to be released Note 9 ....BUT ONLY IF THEY FEATURED INSTANTLY REMOVABLE BATTERIES.....but hey...I have given up on Samsung and all other manufacturers who insist upon sleek one piece slabs with trapped batteries...

P. Lee Silver badge

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

>... And an SD card slot.

Better yet, I want to run "the cloud" on my own computer.

I do not want to store stuff on someone-else's system.

quxinot

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

I think more than each of us complaining that we want a removable battery, dual sims, racing stripes, or whatever, step back a little. What we want is choice, more than anything else. My needs are not your needs are not his needs are not hers..... And yet, every bloody phone is almost exactly the same. There's little to no variety in the market, once you brush aside some of the tinsel that adds no real functionality to the products.

Personally, I want my old S4, but updated with more memory, more cpu, and a better camera--I like having a 3.5 headphone jack, a SD slot, and a removable/upgradeable battery. This isn't the phone for everyone, but the one for me.

Also, what's becoming higher and higher on my list of requirements is root access. It's MY device, not anyone elses, and I'd like the control over the software that runs on the @W#$%@!# thing!

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

Hey genius, tell us who do you think will subsidize cheap-shit phones when margins on the high end models shrink

Dan 55 Silver badge

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

I have yet to see any evidence that cheap-shit phones are subsidised. They're not sold at a loss, phone manufacturers aren't NGOs.

Johnr

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

An Android manufacturer which sells a $300 device with a removable battery and a headphone port would probably take significant market share from Samsung."

Exactly I have an old LG V20 with a removable battery so I bought a 6000 ma monster and can run for two days with no headaches. Prior to that I had an extra battery .

You know Convenience

maaen

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

Agreed...I would have bought the Note 5 and then Note 7 and 8 and then on to Note 9 were the battery removable in each of those phones.but No that cold not happen...Apple and Samsung went and raised their prices...and in thd case of Samsung ...the S9 snd S9+ have excessive amount of glue holding the parts together ...to the point of making them almost impossible to open except by causing some parts of the phone to brea such as the glass back and other parts of the phone....how EXTRAORDINARY....That simple logic of sensible and ethically designed smartphones has died a very sad death because of the ECO SYSTEMS of the original actions performed by those people in very high chairs in Apple ...and so now every manufacturer has adopted that ECOSYSTEM.

.ECOSYSTEM my foot...what dirty planning for sophisticaTed people to indulge in..in order to ensure maximum profits for as long as podsible..money from us to build empires a simple thing called an ECOSYSTEM that begins with embedded batteries and then creates other traps such as lightning cables and no headphone socket ETC

And so I am still using my two Note 4 phones and I missed out on Noted 5,7 and 8...because Samsung adopted the new thinking of embedding of batteries at any cost ...Well that is OK because my money has stayed with me.

rdhood

Re: "Phone makers had banked they could compensate for slowing volume by pushing up prices"

"Hey genius, tell us who do you think will subsidize cheap-shit phones when margins on the high end models shrink"

Umm.... just about EVERYBODY besides Samsung and Apple. LG, Alcatel, Huawei... the list is actually quite extensive. I have a Huawei Sensa right now. $45. 5.5", 1080p screen, enough RAM for me, takes a microsd cardslot, has an FM radio, and a 3.5" jack. The real "problem" is margins . If Samsung or Apple could do with less than 200-300% margins, they could start selling vast amounts of phones. Yes, I would rather have one of the last two or three generations of the big two manufacturers... at Huawei prices. We have not reached peak phone. We have reached peak phone at the current price levels.

Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

Who knew...

Who knew eh? It's not like we've seen this before with err... desktop PCs, laptop devices, and tablets...

Naselus Silver badge

Re: Who knew...

Screw that, we've seen this before WITH PHONES. The pre-2006 market was in the same state - the hot new features of 2005's feature phones were 'better emoticons' and 'higher camera pixel density', more or less the exact same 'hot new features' that the S9 has over the S8 (or the iPhone X has over... well, over an S6, tbh).

bombastic bob Silver badge
Linux

Re: Who knew...

so, will THIS mean a renewal of PC and laptop purchases?

If so, it's time for LINUX ON THE DESKTOP! Let's give people something really GOOD to buy, not some crap excreted by Redmond running on hardware that MUST be more expensive, because, Win-10-nic.

joed Silver badge

Re: Who knew...

But while "Johnston poured water on the idea that retail orders for Samsung's Galaxy S9 will be 10 to 15 per cent higher than last year – he estimated them falling some 50 per cent on 2017's Galaxy S8.", the manufacturers have now built in physical fragility in addition to the old trick of planned obsolescence. Not only the fancy S8 (or any recent premium device) loses "shiny" and battery life over time, but the design makes it almost certain that few will survive exposure to everyday use. I've seen brand new ones with cracked screen (sure it may still work, but next impact will do it for good). I bet they'll also reinstate headphone jack and include SD card slot to get people buying again.

jaywin

Back to basics

Maybe they should focus on making a phone which will last more than a couple of hours heavy use without needing a recharge?

JimmyPage Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Back to basics

I keep on banging that the two areas that punters will be looking for are battery life and accessibility features.

A dead phone whose screen you can't see won't sell.

K Silver badge

Manufacturers are spending more

I smell BS - The "flagship" brands are just producing crap for the least amount possible, relying upon software features to entice people, whilst keeping material costs down!

Look at some of the chinese brands (not Huaweii) and you'll see they're 50% of the price, ship with batteries that are 50-75% bigger (the Samsung phone ships with a 3k-3.3k MaH battery, Xiaomi ships with 4k-5.5k MaH).. The screens are better than 1080p (080 x 2160), it's not quite as dense as Samsungs, but who cares (You can hardly see the difference on screens that size).

AndrueC Silver badge

Re: Back to basics

Yah. My S7 Edge can last over five days on one charge(*). But every week or so without me doing anything out of the ordinary it suddenly jumps from losing ~0.5% of battery an hour to nearly 2%. Power cycling fixes it but Android isn't supposed to need that any more. I've invested time and (a little) money into investigating it and despite being an experienced (albeit not Android) software developer I have never managed to work out what it is that's increasing battery use.

And to cap it all, as I've mentioned before, it can no longer inform me the moment new email arrives. Even now that I'm using GMail for the initial notification. It will eventually tell me that a mail arrived but it can be anything up to three or four hours after the fact.

(*)I don't do much with it. The occasional phone call, occasional text and managing money. Oh and an hour every day streaming over Bluetooth.

Timo

Re: Back to basics

Could it be something going on with the network? Since that phone is packed with radios, any change in the RF conditions or configuration of the networks might adversely affect the battery drain. The lower your received signal the higher it will need to transmit to get back to the tower. Same if the operator has configured the system to ask the phone to register with the network .

Put a phone in a metal box and it will drain the battery searching for a signal and trying to reach any tower it might find.

AndrueC Silver badge
Meh

Re: Back to basics

Could it be something going on with the network?

I suppose it could be. There doesn't seem to be any obvious cause in the stats but Android stats aren't very detailed unless you root the phone even with paid for battery investigation tools. I just irks me - 0.5% an hour or 2% an hour. That's quite a jump :-/

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Back to basics

I have the same issue with battery life being amazing and then suddenly being rubbish on an S7.

Spent ages myself trying to track it down and managed to work out that if I am using 4G the battery life is amazing. But if I have it connected to WiFi the battery drains much much faster.

Can't see any reason for it though. It's not actually doing anything through Wifi (I suspected photo backups or something but the usage is still low).

Jon 37
Boffin

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

> 3k-3.3k MaH

Please .... just no. You mean 3-3.3 Ah. Using the kilo and milli prefies at the same time to cancel each other out is just wrong.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

> 3k-3.3k MaH

Please .... just no. You mean 3-3.3 Ah. Using the kilo and milli prefies at the same time to cancel each other out is just wrong.

Technically he used the kilo and mega prefixes, which is wrong on even more levels.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

Wouldn't 3k-3.3k MaH actually be a 3 - 3.3 Giga-amp-hour battery? (that was a capital 'M' there)

Now, that would be an impressive battery.

Good news: you might run your phone for its entire lifetime on one charge!

Bad news: it might take 6 months to charge in the first place!

Simon Harris Silver badge

@ AC Re: Manufacturers are spending more kilo & mega...

You just sneaked in there when I was writing my post!

nowster

Re: @ AC Manufacturers are spending more kilo & mega...

Kilo mega atto Henrys, even.

danbishop

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

Completely agree with your sentiment... but I'm not sure kilo milli is going to catch on... ;)

(3.3k mAh = 3.3(1000) (1/1000)Ah = 3.3Ah = 3,300mAh)

heyrick Silver badge

Re: Back to basics

"suddenly being rubbish on an S7"

I have an S7 and when I'm sitting in bed reading websites and making forum posts, the battery can drop quite a bit; yet I can watch an entire HD movie (with occasional background email fetches) and it doesn't kill the battery. My current thought is to wonder if the whatsit that deals with the touchscreen interaction is somewhat power hungry. Maybe...

K Silver badge
Pint

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

Upvote for you... I should have just stuck with the % figures. But its Friday, my brain is fried, and I'm depressed as there was no new BoFH.

Suricou Raven

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

3k MaH. Three thousand million amp-hours? I want one of those!

Ok, allow me to clarify how it works:

'bigger' unit multipliers get a capital. 'smaller' dividers get a lower case.

M = Mega = 1,000,000

K = Kilo = 1000

m = milli = 0.001.

The unit itsself is to be in lower case, except (for gramatical reasons) if the unit is named after a person. Yes, it's somewhat arbitary. The amp, or Ampere, is one of those. So it gets a capital. The hour is not, so it gets lower case. Ah. Or A h.

That makes the first number you used 3K mAh. Got it?

Now, you've also written K amd m together: Those cancel out. You've written 'three thousand one thousandths of an Ampere hour.' It's cumbersome. Don't do it.

That gets you down to 3Ah. There. Isn't that much clearer?

Also note that this doesn't actually measure the battery energy capacity. It measures the battery charge capacity, a measurement that is very convenient when calculating how long it takes to charge or discharge a battery.

bombastic bob Silver badge
Devil

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

"Bad news: it might take 6 months to charge in the first place!"

most LiPo can charge at 0.5C safely, so ~3-4 hours for a full charge, at a peak of 1.5 giga-amps . You'll need a ~6 GW power converter for that. yeah, might need to run it on a 12kv line, too (at half a million amps).

your power company would either hate you or love you, depending.

Also the peak current would only be for about 30 minutes, after which it tapers off for the next 2 hours or so.

/me thinks of Griswald's christmas lights, and the need to start up a nuke reactor to power them

post-edit: the flux capacitor only needed 1.21 "jiggawatts"

Jon 37
Boffin

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

> bigger' unit multipliers get a capital. 'smaller' dividers get a lower case.

Except for "kilo", which gets lowercase "k" just to confuse people.

stephanh Silver badge

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

"Except for "kilo", which gets lowercase "k" just to confuse people."

And hecto (h) and deca (da) are also lowercase.

mc nobby

Re: Back to basics

Absolutely, and a phone that you can drop and it still works.

Doesn't really matter if you have a whizbang ultra pixel screen , if the bit of glass over the top is shattered into a million bits

onefang

Re: Back to basics

"Absolutely, and a phone that you can drop and it still works."

Reminds me of when I was demonstrating why I tend to keep two phones in my pocket. "These cheap dumb phones tend to be tough beasts." I say as I bounce it across the table to them, "These expensive smart phones tend to be fragile." I say as I show the fondle slab encased in it's armour, carefully laying it gently on the table in front of them. I use the dumb phone for phone uses, the fondle slab for everything else.

Rattus Rattus

Re: Back to basics

Or just don't make a habit of dropping your phone. I'm still using my S5 which has never had so much as a screen protector in its lifetime and it still doesn't have a scratch, let alone a crack.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: Manufacturers are spending more

"That gets you down to 3Ah. There. Isn't that much clearer?"

Out of context, yes.

But people talking about small batteries (smartphone, AA, AAA, 14500, 16500, etc) seem to quote capacity in mAh for some reason - possibly to make them sound bigger, so when talking about them, the contextually traditional measure might be more appropriate and consistent.

Alan Sharkey

My OnePlus 5 is fine

I got my OP5 last June. Unless it breaks, I can't see I need to replace it for at least 3 years. None of these new 'features' interest me. As long as I can make calls (remember that? It is what a phone used to be for) and read emails, that'll do me.

Alan

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

You splashed £400 on a phone to make calls and read emails? I've got this bridge in London that needs sold...

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

@AC "You splashed £400 on a phone t"

I guess you enjoy a "free" handset with your £60 a month 2 year contract?

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