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 …

Silver badge

As a kid everyone wanted the Casio watch with built in IR blaster - with the idea of disrupting those lessons when a TV and VCR were wheeled into class.

I'm wearing a analogue Casio with digital display at the mo. The World Time function was handy for travelling, cheap enough not to worry about it being lost or stolen. I haven't tested the alarm, but not sure I'd trust it to wake me if I had a plane to catch.

Stopwatches are handy for cooking amongst other things - they're a standard feature, not a craze.

Data storage... I think there is definitely scope for a password manager or RSA token generator on a cheap watch.

3
0
Silver badge

Oh some of the functions are useful, it was more the faddy nature of it. Didn't they produce a watch with a calculator that needed a small stylus to operate it?

All I currently want from a watch is:

* Radio controlled.

* Solar powered.

* Tough enough to survive being on the wrist of a golfer.

My current model does all it needs but at eight years old I suspect the battery will be going in a couple of years and I'm happy use the cost of replacing it as an excuse to buy something new for my wrist. But most of the G-Shocks that are radio/solar also have silly things like thermometers, hygrometers (WTF?), compasses and altimeters. Great if you need them I suppose (though the first two presumably require you to take the watch off and leave it to acclimatise before taking a reading).

Something like my current model in two-tone red (or orange) would be nice.

1
0
MrT

I ended up picking a Citizen WR100 EcoDrive because it had damage due to shocks from playing golf covered in the warranty. At about 12yrs old now, in the dark months the tiny reserve power cell sometimes needs a shove of energy to wake the clock hands up (it still keeps time, but goes 'low power' and starts parking the movement). I just sit it under a bright light for a day as it's solar powered. It only happens a couple of times a year these days, but a downside is that Citizen no longer service it...

1
0

"I just sit it under a bright light for a day as it's solar powered. It only happens a couple of times a year these days, but a downside is that Citizen no longer service it..."

That's the reason why I eventually got rid of my solar powered watch, could no longer get the battery replaced. These days I no longer wear a watch, I have two perfectly good phones in my pocket, both get synced to network time one way or another. Oddly enough, I use a large solar powered battery to charge them.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Radio controlled?

0
0

Casio has a line of solar powered watches that seem to do well enough on normal room lighting, speaking on the basis of five years of avoiding the sun and not seeing the battery dip below the highest indicated charge.

I also find it convenient that they are water resistant to 100m, and relatively inexpensive (about $60, half that on sale).

They aren't officially dive rated, but I they make a good backup to a dive computer and so far I have never had one fail. If it does, replacement is cheap.

Just check it for any sign of leakage or condensation before a dive... and never, ever wear it in the shower, bath, or while doing anything else involving detergents or anything else other than some kind of (possibly salt) water, or chlorine or bromine in swimming pool concentrations.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

"These days I no longer wear a watch, I have two perfectly good phones in my pocket, both get synced to network time one way or another."

I find that after an hour or three swimming, canoeing or sailing phones tend to get a bit soggy, and if they get away from you they tend to sink.

Also, there is no issue with battery endurance with a watch, and much less chance of dropping or forgetting it, having it stolen, breaking it, etc.

It is also legal to look at a watch while driving, while pulling a phone out is setting yourself up for a fine on the order of $1000, plus demerit points.

Nor does a watch constantly report your location to third, fourth, and/or fifth parties.

1
0
Silver badge

Ask what people really want

My old Huawei was getting difficult to switch on and off so last October I looked around for a dustproof phone.

Then on a Chinese site I found a Ulefone Armour 2, 6Gb RAM 64 Gb ROM waterproof to 2 metres and dust proof I think it rates IP68 or higher. In addition it has 4700mah lasts me easily two days before charging, lipo battery and a toughened glass screen. i did the reviews thing before buying because it sounded too good to be true, it is a little on the heavy side but it' s bomb proof, so much so that 3 colleagues have boughtthe same phone.

Price? I got mine from China without weird and wonderful apps installed for 215 euros currently they are about 240-260. The damn thing is faster than my laptop. So whats with the plus 300 bucks for material costs? Maybe some companies need new buyers.

I use the camera a fair bit with an app that puts dimensions on the pics, use email and view videos and take notes anything more is superfluous. Most people I know are not much different.

5
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Ask what people really want

Okay, that definitely qualifies as a tank.* Thanks for bringing it up, it's just perfect with a nice price point. Useful xda-developer thread easily found.

* - My lord, I'm thinking of actually buying a phone.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

What's todays equivalent of a Moto G (XT1068)?

For people who want decent (sensible not flash) hardware, decent battery life for relatively normal use (calls+texts, calendar, simple emails, iPlayer Radio)? No telco bloat. Firmware updates to improve security issues rather than improve data slurping (and degrade battery life).

4G might be a nice 1+, given that some (most? all?) UK telcos seem to think they can forget their 3G infrastructure when they turn on the 4G (does that apply in other geographies too?) 5G? Who cares.

Dual SIM will remain essential for some UK people until the UK has basically countrywide coverage (ie essential till Hell freezes over). Doesn't seem compatible with the corporate telco's desire to lock people into their markets.

It's not a Nokia 3310 but nor is it a brand leader sold on profitable contract mainly to fashion victims. What is it, and where can people buy them in/for the UK?

3
0
Anonymous Coward

It all started with bloat

I have yet to see a Big Name phone that wasn't contaminated with some hapless marketing droids idea of non-removable special "features" and applications they assumed, nay studiously believed, that people would find so utterly irresistable they would forsake the competition.

Well, anyone with inteligence above that of a single celled organism would have seen this was patently absurd. Indeed, it was one of the driving forces behind "alternative" ROMS which, curiously, are uniformly devoid of Samsung this, Sony that and Huwaei (however you spell it) other.

Having re-ROMed an Samsung S3 not so very long ago, it was a revelation to finish up with a phone that was a joy to use.

I now have a Chinese SIM free phone with as plain a vanilla OS as I could find. Its as pleasant as the bloat free S3, just faster and a bit bigger. Oh, and a fraction the price of a mainstrean, to the point I will upgarde much more readily.

Nope. Phone companies: you loaded that shotgun, clamped it against your feet and gave the trigger a good, hard yank. Numpties.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: It all started with bloat

Nope. Phone companies: you loaded that shotgun, clamped it against your feet and gave the trigger a good, hard yank. Numpties.

Rather higher up, about center-line.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Resizable screens and battery life

The first company who comes up with a resizable screen that can go from say, 4 inches to 6+ inches depending on application, along with a battery life akin to a Nokia 6310i will probably do rather well out of it.

2
0
Silver badge

The bleeding obvious?

Seems like the chap has been reading the forums a lot: a lot of us have been saying for a while that no matter how wonderful the technology of the flagships is, we've already generally got something wonderful enough.

Still, a couple of things do spring to mind: even if it's no longer growing much the market for phones is still huge and thee's plenty of money to be made as a result; people might keep their phones for longer but are still likely to replace at some point; there is now space for niche products like the Gemini. Got mine on Saturday and am very happy with it. Thanks for the tip, Andrew.

2
0
Silver badge
Meh

Double Meh

Like anything else that becomes commoditised it will cease to be exciting. Everyone has a black (a switched off screen is always black) oblong that does smartphone things.

Washing machines were exciting technology once. You can still see manufacturers trying to build excitement into new features but really, as long as they wash clothes no one really gives a shit. They're more bothered about capacity and reliability than the machines having the highest rpm by 3 or a new and exciting colour scheme (although they do try that).

It's the same with phones apart from tech nerds no one is going to care much any more until they do something dramatically different. Even different form factors or folding screens, it won't matter much for long it's still a phone.

People will start to care about initial cost, battery life, warranty length and not a lot more.

5
0
Silver badge

Too big.

Too expensive.

Too hard to repair.

They cut out all the popular ports / replaceable parts.

They never upgrade the software.

Too many gimmicks and too few options to get rid of them.

Stop pre-loading apps I don't want or at the very least let me remove them (Plain Android is absolutely fine).

Too many models, too often.

Gimme a Samsung S5 Mini "Plus" with upgrades to the in-place hardware (RAM, CPU, storage, etc.) and I'll bite. Everything else loses things I want for the sake of things I don't want.

4
0
Silver badge

The Xperia Compact phones have the same fast internals as their bigger brothers, unlike Galaxy Mini phones which are slower.

1
0
Silver badge

And I've never once thought of my S5 Mini as "slow".

I'd give my right arm for 32Gb more internal storage though or, even better, the ability to move ALL apps to the SD card.

1
0

What I really really want...

Updated version of my Nokia 9500 Communicator with 2 - 3 day battery...( I LOATHE touchscreen keyboards on phones..)

Or perhaps I should just go and buy a Gemini :)

2
0
Holmes

Market saturation happens.

Duh. Market saturation happens. Everyone who wants a smartphone now has one, and the technology has reached a point where a handset that is a few years old is still useful. We got to this point with personal computers more than a decade ago.

4
0
Gold badge

Keyboard!!!

Keyboard!!! LG, Samsung, Motorola, etc. are like "nobody is buying keyboard phones", while Blackberry can't make the two Android keyboard phones they are making in stock.

Keyboards alone of course wouldn't fix a sales slump singlehandedly, but if Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Apple quit copying each other and ending up with almost the same phone (LG, Sammy and Apple here even have started airing almost identical advertising...), if they did things to make their phones different maybe people would be interested in them?

3
0

Well no shit

For years now, phones have converged to exactly one general style, with the only improvements being minor bumps in CPU or GPU power.

And they're honestly surprised that people arn't upgrading anymore?

You wanna sell phones? Add back all the features you've been f__king taking away (headphone jack, FM radio, removable battery with the option of an extended capacity) and stabalizing the f__king operating system so that it runs reliably and allows you to communicate with other devices (eg: bluetooth car audio) without me having to spend god knows how much time googling and futzing. Oh, and may mix up the models types a little bit so everyone doesn't feel like they're living through the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits". I would *love* a phone with a slideout keyboard like those old Nokia Communicators.

But no, instead of making a phone that doesn't suck, companies would instead prefer to add all sorts of idiotic features like animated poop emojis and half-assed nonsense that is of no material value to anyone.

There's plenty of money out there for new phones. The problem is, like the article says, that companies arn't interested in putting out NEW phones anymore.

12
0

Re: Well no shit

+1 for the Bluetooth car audio observation. Bar stewards.

2
0
Silver badge

What features could they add to make you upgrade?

A phone that's a couple years old is perfectly fine, and one that's 4 or 5 years old would be fine (with a refreshed battery) for those with modest needs.

There are some things on the horizon that might become a reason to upgrade, like "bigger" or "faster" or "better camera" were for a time. If they can make folding phones that will really last a couple years (I sure wouldn't buy one of the first ones!) and have a useful aspect ratio before/after folding. Or do some AR with the rear camera so it can be integrated into the display - that's more of a "build it and hope they come" sort of thing since it is neat but it isn't clear how genuinely day-to-day useful that will be.

1
0
Bronze badge

unwanted features

all the so called improvements on the current generation flagships are actually negatives in my personal opinion.

My note 4 does what i want, but is old and sad, and after seeing what is currently on offer, I have searched out and acquired a successor ... note 4.

3
0
J27

Same thing I said when they said this about PCs. It's not a decline, it's a maturing. Nothing grows out of the control forever.

1
0
Silver badge

God you luddites are boring

Queue the DV's but mention smartphones in these forums and the same tired old "my phone is now 5 years old and it's great" mantras and told-you-so's come ringing out.

No I do not need or want a removable battery, or an audio jack, or 48 hours talk time (Kee-rist : only a tiny portion of time on a smartphone is talking to somebody) or a bleeding keyboard. I could happily live without any phone but I choose not to. A great deal of stuff is far easier today than it was 5 or even 2 years ago. OR a lot more stuff can be done from what's in your pocket than 5 or even 2 years ago.

Trite example but time was it was a complete p-in-the-a to have to take 2 minutes firing up a microwave oven-size computer just to check the frigging email. Now my pocket gives me a gentle nudge when one arrives. Magic!

Nor do I have to look anxiously at my watch (in fact the phone time is more accurate) while in a rush to get to the office and a desktop to review an important document since I can look at it on a (very high quality) screen a few inches square.

I do not need to go to the bank, visit HMV, consult the yellow pages, or call directory enquiries, ever. I never need to carry an A to Z. I do not need to squash into the corner seat of the 8:13 to Paddington to open awkwardly the cartoon page of the Daily Telegraph (or Hustler, or -yes!- this very forum! Woweee....).

I could go on, and on. It will get only better and I do not believe there is a plateau - except possibly in absolute growth, for the reason which is the one and only partly correct statement made hereinabove, i.e. that most smartphone customers already have (a fairly new) one, amongst a mountain of bollocks.

1
9
Silver badge

Re: God you luddites are boring

Trite example but time was it was a complete p-in-the-a to have to take 2 minutes firing up a microwave oven-size computer just to check the frigging email. Now my pocket gives me a gentle nudge when one arrives. Magic!

If you turned your phone off after using it each tiem, it would take some time to boot and be ready before you could get your email too. You're comparing a phone that you leave on all the time to a PC you've elected to turn completely off, for some reason. I haven't habitually turned my PC off in between usages since 1990... back in the days before "sleep" or standby, the things hardly used any energy at idle; just turn the monitor off and leave it until you want to use it again. Now it takes a second to put one to sleep and a second to bring them back.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: God you luddites are boring

You can do all of things you mention on a five year old phone at least as easily as on a current model.

1
0
Flame

Re: God you luddites are boring

I agree with everything you've posted but I sure hope you've got a pair of asbestos under pants for the inevitable flames that are going to come your way ....

0
1

Re: God you luddites are boring

My PC even cold boots in about a quarter the time my phone does, thanks to a nice fast SSD. And then once the phone is booted I have to wait some more while it initialises things and faffs about with memory. I could start my desktop, read the email, reply, and shut down in less time than it would take just to start my phone and open the email on it. All with the comfort of a proper keyboard, too. No, a phone is what you use for emergency access when you're away from your real computer.

1
0
Silver badge

Oh no it's not

Apologies if I repeat something already pointed out but I haven't time to read nearly 100 comments.

I say "Oh not it's not" because I personally believe that smartphone sales are running out of steam because the damn things all look alike and are now showing only incremental, and arguably peripheral and unnecessary, improvements. Manufacturers followed Apple like perfectly cretinous lemmings with the candy-bar design and it is about to become a dead end. There's only so much tweaking of cameras and bezels you can do before folks ask themselves why on earth they should pay £1k for a phone that's hard to distinguish from the previous two models, which did everything that was needed already? Where's the innovation? Where's the dramatic new functionality/display tech/battery life?

Samsung made a couple of rather feeble attempts to break loose of this lamebrain follow-the-fashion design with smart flip phones (one was "Hennessy" I think?) but they were half hearted.

The screen is (a) the most important part of a smartphone and (b) the most vulnerable and (c) frequently most expensive to fix. We've had 10 years of sheer stupidity putting the screen all over the outside of the phone ... and millions of expensively shattered screens. And phones whose physical size was driven exclusively by the desired screen size; resulting in some offensively oversized models.

Considering we already had the example of highly successful flip-dumb-phones it is staggering that manufacturers and consumers were dumb enough not to see the obvious—hypnotised, I supposed, by Apple?

Therefore I suggest that we are about to see a new (old) paradigm: flip/clam powerful smartphones with two internal screens taking advantage of tiny bezels to perform as two screens; or one bigger one; or a screen plus (decent sized) soft keyboard; or whatever the software will allow. Externally a supplementary, well-protected screen does routine work for caller ID, app warnings, brief messages, notifications etc: perhaps an e-ink type of display, lasting ages and always on. At last we'll have bigger screens, yet in the same 4—6 inch size range for the unit. At last the expensive, nice display tech is protected from coins, keys, scratches and drops. At last you can choose to answer by flipping open, or not; to end a call by flipping closed, if you like.

The new possibilities opened up by combining smartphone power and display tech with the clamshell form factor will, I respectfully submit, rejuvenate an ailing marketplace.

We may not quite reach Westworld super-expandy-screens just yet, but hi-res almost-bezel-less tech can now do some remarkable things—and it's time for those with deep pockets and imagination to get cracking.

2
1
Silver badge

Really?

The device industry – and the component industries that supply it – desperately need a breakthrough

Really?

Does the toaster industry "desperately need a breakthrough" because people only buy new toasters when the old one breaks? Or have they simply accepted that they can only count on sales when someone actually needs their product?

5
0

Shared poo

But Samsung let you share your poo whilst Apple poss is in permanent quarantine.

Samsung also lets journalists say things disallowed when in quarantine.

Non removable batteries, no headphone jack, quarantined NFC, simple USB, they all, more and more, let down users some way or other.

Architects of their own demise?

2
0

Still prefer my Note4

Got a Note8 beginning of the year because new tech, and, shiny camera aside, Note4 is better all round.

They need to put the faster chips and camera in that case, would trade in instantly

2
0
Devil

Woooohoooo

Yeeeaaaaarrrroooowwww Sssssmmmmaaaaasssshhhh !!!

I'm sick of bloody mobile phones

Better hurry up now and make all electronics and software manufacturers pay for the world-wide clean-up of all the e-waste before they go broke.

Especially Apple and Microsoft, punitively for all their fraud, corruption (crime), as it makes their income and market share a product of crime, and should be put to compensating their victims, hence the e-waste clean-up.

2
0
bep

Price sensitivity

I definitely think it's a matter of price. I've been looking for an update recently and was shocked at the prices being asked (but apparently not being paid) for the high-end phones, which have actually removed some of the features I like. My pet hate is the dual-purpose sim card slots on the dual-sim models which mean they aren't really dual-sim models if you want to use a memory card as well. If people aren't buying, then good, maybe the manufacturers will get hit with the clue stick soon.

3
0
Silver badge

Sounds like everyone knows what they want,... but phone manufacturers are doing their damnedest not to give it to us. I've been a fan of the Note series since the 1, had a 3, now on a 4. I can't imagine what feature that would make me upgrade,.... ideally, I'd like a feature of the Note1 back, the FM radio. Maybe a DAB radio would be nice.....

I have the same checklist as many people here, 3.5mm jack, SD card slot, removable battery. I like the stylus, only had one smart phone without one, an HTC HD2, and I missed it. Like the IR blaster, AnyMote is quite handy. Really Don't want a screen with a curved edge, it's a gimmick, and I'm not willing to sacrifice any feature for incremental thinning,.... I have my phone in rubber armour, making it thicker anyway.

So I think I will shortly be going SIM only and seeing how long my current model lasts.

2
0

IR blaster

Like the IR blaster

OMG... forgot about that one. I had a Galaxy S5, and it controlled nearly every device in my house! Easily worth it just to not have to search my house for remotes.

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Lose lose for the customer

I'm stuck in the situation with a Nexus 6P just out of support. If i hold onto it i get security updates for another year but don't get Android P. If I buy anything else i'll lose Android O or have to buy a Pixel at a massive upfront cost (With no bloody headphone jack).

I don't need to upgrade for a year, but by then the problem will likely be even worse

2
0

Hey - how about dropping the obsession with ever thinner phones and producing ones that have:

user changeable battery

wireless charging

waterproof

... and a 3.5 mm headphone socket

I'd buy one of those.

3
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

RE: Paul

If it is reasonably up to date then count me in!

0
0
Facepalm

Not looking forward to next phone

For my sins, when my much loved Nokia needed replacing in 2012, I opted for a BlackBerry (work related reasons). If had I realised that the wretched thing only had an Alt key on *one* side of its keyboard, I wouldn't have done so. Now its battery is pants, understandably, and WhatsApp no longer support RIM's outdated BlackBerry OS. I can't afford an Apple X and grudgingly concede next phone will need to be an Android (not so much for evil Google, but 'cos of feminist linguist reasons). *sigh*

0
0
Meh

but but Apple

Apple do make a top notch phone , in fact isnt that the very raisin Detre of X

1
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018