back to article Smartphone industry is in 'recession'! Could it be possible we have *gasp* reached 'peak tech'?

The smartphone biz is now in a slump, according to two number-crunching outfits. After estimating that year-on-year sales worldwide fell 8 per cent in Q3 this year, Strategy Analytics has declared that the handset segment is "effectively in a recession". Sales in Q3 were 360 million worldwide, the analyst said. UK economists …

Linux

I keep hearing the term 'peak tech' and I searched Googles maps over and over and .......it's not anywhere to be found. Is it in Taiwan perhaps?

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Boffin

You're thinking of Tech Peak which is a secret summit in the Andes only known to the ancient graybeards.

Peak Tech is a rapper or a football player, I forget which.

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"Could it be possible we have *gasp* reached 'peak tech'?"

We are just showing up that actually we have run out of imagination.

Let's face it. Race to the bottom. There is only so much bandwidth of information we can take in through a letterbox. We don't really need *more*.

Manufacturers are short sighted, dealing whatever must have in the refresh cycle to get that years profits up to appease shareholders. Truly originaly and useful products are fewer and far between (Gemini) .

So lets think of the next great idea! I propose a new operating system first. One that doesn't try and borg the world Or change layout every few cycles. Efficiency being the keyword.

Maybe a new approach to how it is charged. I propose alcohol. Running low? Buy your device a drink for the evening.

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Anonymous Coward

@m0rt

Downvoted for posting an unrelated reply just to keep the post at the top of the thread.

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Peak Tech?

Howard might be thinking of Peck Teak a Formica-like "space-age" plastic laminate from the late 1960s that was going to be used by boatbuilders in sailboat decking to alleviate the worldwide shortage of teak hardwood, until it was discovered:

a) That when wet, Peck Teak is almost frictionless

2) That the only glue capable of bonding Peck Teak to the hull of a boat was derived from White Rhino horn and had a persistent smell when exposed to water described those who encountered it as "like a pub toilet after teenagers have been drinking Snakebite all night"

*) That when all was said and done, even under the best conditions cladding a boat in Peck Teak gave it all the ambiance of a backstreet Soho knocking shop.

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run out of imagination

Peak tech?, more like ideas slump.

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Well said m0rt.

This is exactly the problem.

My reply when reading about new, overpriced phones, is "wake me when we finally have a tricorder."

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It's perfectly simple

Why should I upgrade my Galaxy S8? It's so fast, and does everything I need. I'd still actually be with my S7 Edge if I hadn't wrecked the screen when it was a year or so old.

For the first time since around 2004, I won't be upgrading my phone at the end of my contract. There's no new features, so why would I? The notch you say? Fuck off with that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's perfectly simple

Exactly! I could have, and almost did, write nearly the same thing.

And I believe that we are NOT at peak tech, just at peak imagination. These things are COMPUTERS, so put a usb-C port on every device and lets start treating them like one. They can do soo much more than what they do, they just need to interface to the world and support more substantial apps...

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not unless they die.

I have one smart phone, and a matching watch. If they die, and the watch is getting close, I will not be replacing them. I still have my flip phone. Put a new battery in it and it will be good until they deprecate the frequency it runs on.

fsck smart phones.

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Re: not unless they die.

This is pretty much where I'm at as well. Although I'm not giving up on the smartphone concept, neither Android nor iPhones are things I am comfortable with anymore, and I won't be buying any in the future. I'm about halfway through building my own 4G smartphone, running plain-jane Linux. That will be my next daily phone once I've completed it, or my current phone dies, whichever comes first.

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Re: not unless they die.

I'm still happy with my Note 4, and today a friend gave me another one, still in the box. I figure these two will last me another six years. Too bad no updates from Samsung, but I might install LineageOS on one.

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Re: not unless they die.

"That will be my next daily phone once I've completed it, or my current phone dies, whichever comes first."

And what really happens if your current phone dies before your home built phone's ready.

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Rol

Re: not unless they die.

Today is the day I am activating an iphone. A phone given to me by a friend who had nothing but pity for me and my ancient Nokia.

However, like the unwanted knitted pullover from gran, I'm using it so as not to appear ungrateful.

I'm slowly crawling up the learning curve, fathoming out how it works, so I might then disable everything I have no need of. Which is akin to getting current book qualified in domestic power circuitry just so I might turn off a PIR floodlight. The one that aggressively punctuates an evening with non event exclamations.

So far, all I feel for this new contrivance is hate. Pure unadulterated hate. My friend tells me it will change my life. Well gonorrhoea is equally life changing, while the process of getting it, is much more fun.

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Re: not unless they die.

'I'm slowly crawling up the learning curve, fathoming out how it works, so I might then disable everything I have no need of.'

Good luck with that on an iPhone!

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Re: not unless they die.

Any chance of a link to how one might create one's own phone?

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Re: not unless they die.

"And what really happens if your current phone dies before your home built phone's ready."

My home-built phone is functional right now. It's not where I want it to be, but it can do all the phone-related things as well as a feature phone at the moment. I'd be fine using it on a daily basis while I complete the rest of the features.

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Re: not unless they die.

"So far, all I feel for this new contrivance is hate."

That's been my reaction to using iPhones as well. Those things are just painful to me.

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Re: not unless they die.

I haven't put my build up on the net anywhere at the moment, but I'll seriously consider doing that at some point in the future. There are a few such projects on the net right now, although they're all a bit on the basic side, but they do give you a starting point. It's hard for me to recommend any of them in terms of a "how to" guide, though. You're better off searching for and reading them all, so you can learn the various issues involved.

Or, do what I did and just dive in blindly. :)

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Re: not unless they die.

Is this a case of just installing Linux on some random Phone, or a new PCB level build?

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Re: not unless they die.

This is a new build. The proof of concept was cobbled together using prebuilt modules (raspberry pi, 4G cell card, etc.), but the final form will be a PCB of my own design, professionally made by a small-run PCB manufacturer, all fitting into a 3D printed case. The total cost of this thing is right around $400.

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Re: not unless they die.

@JohnFen, your DIY phone sounds potentially worthy of a Special Projects Bureau article?

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Market saturated, no new must-have function, and prices are crazy

That, I believe, sums up the situation. The phone I have does what I want, I will keep it as long as it works.

Just like the PC market, phone makers have been surfing the wave of improving technology, but that wave has crested and is now retreating from the beach. "Improvements" are now confined to a new notch or not, the jack or not, and the only thing that seems to be coming is the insanity that is wireless charging.

Meh.

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Re: Market saturated, no new must-have function, and prices are crazy

Don't knock wireless charging. The only reason I'm considering a new phone right now is that the USB port has worn out after several years of constant abuse. Even if I have to be careful about what chargers I get, at least I could have a charger at home and at work with the result being that my next phone lasts several years longer than my current one.

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Re: Market saturated, no new must-have function, and prices are crazy

How do you continue to use the phone when the battery is gone? Hold the wireless charger to your head?

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LDS
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"Just like the PC market"

At least the PC marked didn't increase prices and made PC bigger when sales slowed down...

Otherwise we would have today 40" laptops at $19,999....

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Re: Don't knock wireless charging

I am knocking wireless charging. It is a waste of electricity and that is not acceptable today. Check it out here.

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Re: Market saturated, no new must-have function, and prices are crazy

"How do you continue to use the phone when the battery is gone? Hold the wireless charger to your head?"

In many cases, you have both wired and non wired options so if you still need to use your phone, you can plug it in. In my case however, it's not often I'm charging my phone when using it (once every other month maybe) and most of the wear happens when I plug my phone in at night and unplug in the morning and plug it in at work again and unplug before I go home so I can eliminate the vast majority of the wear and tear by switching to wireless charging.

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Re: "Just like the PC market"

"didn't increase prices and made PC bigger "

I thought my current phone at 5.5" was big, I look now and it's tinny. Almost everything is over 6"

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Re: Don't knock wireless charging

I was a late adopter of wireless charging (not Apple late, Nexus 6)... It was ok... Having a little holder on my desk that topped up my phone during the day was nice.

Eventually the 3 year old Nexus 6 expired (battery finally gave up, and I couldn't find a replacement which I could be 100% sure wasn't a Chinesium firebomb), so I bought a Pixel 2 XL. My main requirements were prompt updates, big screen, good stereo speakers, and a good camera.

No wireless charging, oh well... I still put it on the now disconnected stand, but I discovered something; when you've got a good battery in the phone, and a modern chipset sipping it very gently, you don't actually need a daytime top-up! I don't even plug it into the car during the commute.

I'll more than likely keep the Pixel 2 until it too wears out. I don't see anything in the Pixel 3 or others that I "must have"... And that includes the wireless charging.

There is just nothing new. The only "feature" that's appeared in the last few years is bigger and bigger screens, which has lead to notches. I'm sure I can't be alone in thinking that a bit of bezel isn't a bad thing... A bit of spare space for your fleshy hands to hold it properly, a bit of cushioning between the screen and the hard ground you've now drop it on (because you couldn't hold the bezel-less phone properly!)... crash tinkle tinkle... New phone please!

Oh, hang on... I think I've just worked out their sales plan!

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Re: Market saturated, no new must-have function, and prices are crazy

"How do you continue to use the phone when the battery is gone? Hold the wireless charger to your head?"

You can always pull the cable from the wireless charger and plug it directly into your phone.

However, if you use one of those magnetic mounts to hold your phone in the car, it will involve having a chunk of ferrous metal on the back of your phone or in the phone case. When used with a wireless charger, this will heat your phone, as opposed to charging it.

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Re: Market saturated, no new must-have function, and prices are crazy

"Don't knock wireless charging."

I just have a very hard time getting over the fact that wireless charging wastes so much power.

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Bah!

My mind boggles at the mentality of spending a thousand local currency units on a piece of technology in which one may change the battery only by substantially destroying the device withe the aid of chemicals and devices outlawed by international treaty.

When I consider that it is not unknown for the pusher manufacturer to update the microcode of older units to artificially nerf battery performance, my wallet creaks with self-tightening.

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Re: Bah!

I hope you don't ever buy cars less than 7 or 8 years old, because those will depreciate more than 1000 local currency units in a year even if you leave it in the garage unused.

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Re: Bah!

Poor analogy! A car is somewhat more complex and useful than a phone.

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Devil

"A car is"

Far more maintainable than those glued-together devices. At leas when a car battery dies you don't have to replace the whole car... nor even send it to a repair centre.

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Re: "A car is"

If the metal gets scratched then you can buff it out, cover the spot in primer, repaint it, & not have to replace the car. If the plastic gets crunched then you can replace just that single part, not the entire car. You probably won't get a headphone jack with the radio, but then you're not allowed to drive with them on in the first place. You can replace the battery, the rubber, the gaskets, the glass, & nearly everything else without having to replace the entire fekkin car.

If Apple made cars they would shave all the bodywork down to mere milimeters, call it sexy, downplay the lack of crash protection, remove the steering wheel "because it takes up too much room", expect you to drive by Voice Control through Siri, refuse to let you use anything other than official Apple brand gas, Apple approved mechanics, & probably dictate what clothes styles you were allowed to wear while driving it.

If Android made cars they'd run ad campaigns to upsell every new model, claim they would support it for the life of the car, then reneg on their promise the nanosecond the marketing department got a new one to hype. Mechanical updates? Software update to fix the fact that the radio only gets a single station? They'll tell you a fix is coming & then drop you like a white hot brick.

I think my next one will be the cheapest, most craptastic, used beater I can find. I know it won't get fixes, won't get updates, & nobody will care if I tinker with it... Now you get to decide if I mean cars or phones. =-D

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Re: Bah!

Its a lower percentage of its values, it has a much greater impact on your standard of living, and it will last a lot longer if you choose to keep it.

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Re: "A car is"

At leas when a car battery dies you don't have to replace the whole car... nor even send it to a repair centre

Tell that to my mom's car, which has a battery under the back seat with no visible way of getting at it. My dad was going to replace the battery when it started having problems but couldn't figure out how to get at it, so he took it to the dealership...

My car required me to buy an extra long torx screwdriver to get at the screws holding it down.

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Re: "A car is"

You've obviously never tried replacing the headlight bulb on a Citroen.

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Re: "A car is"

Stop me if I’m wrong, but don’t cars in the US come with their hoods welded shut now? I’m also confused by the claim that a car is more complex. Doesn’t a modern smart phone contain several billion transistors?

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Re: "A car is"

Not just Citroen/Peugeot. Not just now.

Halfords bloke took several minutes, two kinds of tool and some gentle swearing to replace bulb on daughter's Peugeot 108 at the weekend. OTOH a few years back my late mother-in-law's ageing Honda would have been easy to change, had the bulb not been tucked forward and surrounded by razor sharp steel edges. I changed that for her once But I had to change the dressings on my hands and arms twice to prevent the blood staining the furniture and my clothes.

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Re: "A car is"

"nor even send it to a repair centre."

True, if all you care about is swapping out the battery. Completely false (at least around here) if you have any intention of ever potentially claiming warranty on the new battery: it is officially invalid for all cars, all batteries and all sellers unless you have the stamp of a repair centre confirming they checked your charging circuit as functional with the new battery.

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Anonymous Coward

Without growth the system fails therefore price rises are the beginning, soon to be followed by the exploitation of the workers. Planned obsolescence isn't working as well as they hoped.

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My current phone is a flagship from 2016, I'm vaguely looking at replacements in case the battery life gets any worse and because occasionally it's nice to get new shiny. Certainly for my use case any mid-range phone now exceeds my current phones performance, so why spend the extra £3-400? Plus they're less likely to come with a sodding notch.

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My current phone is a flagship from 2016,

Still using a 2013 Motorola Droid Razr, about the only thing I need to do with it now is buy a new battery (which actually *CAN* be changed by end-users). When my wife was using it, the power would drain quicker, but once I took it over and disabled everything I possibly could, it started holding a charge much longer.

I presume I'll keep using it until we change cell providers next spring.

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Peak tech? Hell, I hope so

It'd make a change to see a young person without head bent, lost in a little screen in front of them, but heads-up and paying attention to what's around them.

One upon a time - until around Jobs's death - a new Mac OS was to be looked forward to for its useful new functionality. Now, with a 'new' OS every year, the first questions are: "What won't work now? What functionality have they removed that I rely upon"?

I saw someone comment here a while back that computers were 'done' about 10 years ago, and developments since then have been distracting and unnecessary. Certainly, all Apple has done since 10.7 is dig the iCloud tentacles more firmly into the guts of the OS. Now, new developments are all for Apple's benefit, not the user's. And Microsoft, with its telemetry and constant auto-updates?

I rest my case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Peak tech? Hell, I hope so

'It'd make a change to see a young person without head bent, lost in a little screen in front of them, but heads-up and paying attention to what's around them.'.

Why, though? I don't have a problem with a young person doing this, say, on a train - from your external POV you'd object to them reading a book, as for some reason you expect rapt attention at all times.

Almost all of the complaints I've seen like this are veiled digs at youth itself. All the Millenials gossip. Finding the youth insufferable is just a hallmark of reaching a certain age ourselves :)

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Re: Peak tech? Hell, I hope so

For the wast majority of people living ordinary lives "what's around you" is incredibly, soul-crushingly boring and I see no reason to waste any attention on it unless I'm driving, walking, or am engaged in something else necessarily requiring my attention. I may have 99 issues with some of the things "millennials" do or think but this isn't one of them.

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No value

I’d like a new iPhone to replace my 5s, but spending a thousand quid on one is simply bonkers. How about tech companies do something useful like improving battery life and giving punters a useable feature - albeit a feature phones always used to have anyway....

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