back to article iPhone fatigue and fading Samsung. This planet is bored with big brand phones

Samsung already had plenty to worry about before its flagship phone started exploding. Strategy Analytics reckons the Korean giant’s phone sales have fallen 10 per cent. And it’s not alone. Apple is experiencing “iPhone” fatigue after years of merely incremental upgrades, down 5 per cent globally over the year. Overall global …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    and in other news,

    Samsung didn't have the note 7 problems.

    OR

    Apple can't make enough of the big iPhone 7 especially in glossy black.

    The problem with these sort of reports (Gartner, IDC etc) is that they are trying to gaze into a crystal ball to predict the future and most of the time, they get it wrong.

    There is no doubt that the smartphone market is approaching saturation in the West and a few markets in Asia and the Middle East and those who speak out of their backsides for a living embiggen every little issue for their own self satisfaction.

    The likes of Samsung, Google and indeed Apple need to constantly come up with new things to get people to part with their hard earned cash even so most of the volume phones are not the premium (Galaxy, Pixel, iPhone) which tend to get ignored by every Analyist and Journo.

    IMHO, I think the problem is not as clear cut as this report is trying to make out.

  2. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    subtle and clever innovations

    Apple?

    You are kidding.

    Nothing subtle or clever about removing the earphone socket, also useful for FM mini-senders and direct HiFi. Re-encoding to Bluetooth reduces quality and flexibility.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      "Re-encoding to Bluetooth"?

      Are you a moron? Audio is digital until it reaches the DAC at the headphone socket. If sent over Bluetooth or Lightning or USB-C it is digital a bit longer before it hits a DAC. No one and I mean NO ONE is re-encoding analog audio back to digital to be sent over Bluetooth!

      Since Apple hasn't released their earpods yet it is a bit soon for you to be complaining about their audio quality. I have no idea how good/bad they'll be other than to say for sure they won't be as good as a pair of high end headphones. One other thing's for sure, and that's that you can get better quality getting the pure digital audio out of the phone and using a high quality DAC (in the headphones or in the cable connecting to the headphones) than relying on a phone's built-in DAC.

      1. Ilsa Loving

        Re: "Re-encoding to Bluetooth"?

        Actually, that's not quite true.

        There is re-encoding done. Bluetooth transfers audio in a compressed format (SBC) that is not the same as the formats for various other things such as mp3s, AAC files, VOIP codecs (eg: G.726). So some conversion *does* have to happen during transfer from device to headset and back. Any time you convert from one codec to another, you lose fidelity and increase the chances of things like artifacts. For music, you likely won't notice that much unless you're an audiophile sitting in a quiet room. However, I tried using a bluetooth headset /w my ipad and a VOIP client, and the audio was almost completely unintelligible no matter which VOIP codec I tried to use.

        Some devices support higher fidelity bluetooth codecs such as AAC (very hard to find outside of an apple store), or AptX (somewhat more prevalent) but you're not going to see mainstream high quality bluetooth audio until Bluetooth 5.0 comes out.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: "Re-encoding to Bluetooth"?

          It doesn't sound like Apple will be using standard Bluetooth audio, with their mention of that W1 chip.

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: subtle and clever innovations

      Apple do supply the iPhone with a Lightning to analogue adapter[1] so you can do what you are complaining about as before. No need to involve BT which I find as useless as a Politician.

      Has to be said, that they wern't the first to do so but it is not known if the competition did it just to have braggging rights over apple or not. The jury is out on that one.

      [1] It will get lost in the first week.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: subtle and clever innovations

        And what if you want to charge your phone & listen to music? Given that the lightning port is needed for charging...

        1. DougS Silver badge

          @tiggity

          I'm sure there are solutions for that if it something you do a lot, but playing music isn't a particularly demanding task. Unless you've run the battery down pretty far already, you can just wait to charge until you've gone to bed.

          I suppose having to recharge more often than nightly might be a problem for heavy users that are on their phone constantly, but I charge my 6S plus every other day because 9 days out of 10 when I start with a full charge I've got over 60% left at bedtime. For example, it is exactly noon local time and I'm at 62% and didn't charge last night.

        2. Ilsa Loving

          Re: subtle and clever innovations

          They provide an enhanced adapter with both a headphone jack and an additional lightning port, for a small fee, of course.

    3. C Yates

      Re: subtle and clever innovations

      While I agree with you 100%, I do seem to remember feeling exactly the same way when they got rid of the floppy disk drive...

  3. ForthIsNotDead

    Right

    I think iPhone fatigue, and smart-phone fatigue just about sums it up. The release cycle of new hardware is far more frequent than the requirement for the average person to upgrade his/her hardware. The whole thing is propped up by operators pushing "free" upgrades to their customers.

    Samsung are releasing new models, what, every year?

    I'm still using my Galaxy S4 FFS! There's nothing wrong with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Right

      Yep, I'd agree with that.

      One of the problems I think is that they're not actually improving core functionality significantly, such as battery life. Apple in particular seem hell bent on making thinner and thinner phones, whereas if they made them only a couple of mm thicker they'd be able to radically increase the battery life. And keep a headphone socket. And have slightly better antennas (maybe). And stop them bending if placed in pockets.

      Apple taught the money guys that shiny, dysfunctional toys made more profit that boring, business orientated devices. Now that we're all growing up, they're failing to learn that we don't really give a damn about thin, shiny and fragile any more.

      The Western mobile phone industry is where the Western auto industry was sometime about the 1970s. Western car companies were hell bent on "sporty" models (hard to believe these days, but so be it), and their engineers were making designs that pleased their engineers. Reliability? Who cares. Economy? Well, that became an issue right enough.

      Then along came Toyota and their QFD analysis of what the motoring public actually wanted. And given the size of Toyota today, it seems that what the motoring public wanted was boring, comfortable, functional, high build quality, reliable and well priced. Sporty? Forget about it. Good looks? Largely irrelevant. Badge image? Who cares. Toyota made a large if unglamorous fortune.

      Then the American's noticed, and decided to do some QFD analysis of their own. But they cheated. QFD is largely a semi-objective way of teaching eager engineers that the majority of the market doesn't share their dreams at all, and that they'd best just get down to the boring stuff like making it reliable, durable, etc. You have to be in the right mindset to believe the result and accept it. The American car makers weren't, and screwed up again. Toyota and the other Japanese auto makers got even bigger.

      I think we're basically in the same place with mobiles. I think the first company to make a proper slab of a phone with a bigger battery, slightly smaller screen, a lack of fragility with a heavy emphasis on security updates and reliability and less emphasis on compute performance, continual software design revolution and service lock-ins could do very well. It's more or less the opposite of what everyone is making in the West, but that might just turn out to be what the customers actually want.

      1. John Crisp

        Re: Right

        "largely a semi-objective way of teaching eager engineers that the majority of the market doesn't share their dreams at all, and that they'd best just get down to the boring stuff like making it reliable, durable, etc."

        Shame a few software engineers don't learn this lesson in the never ending push for rapid release.....

    2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: Right

      I generally like Apple's phones, don't like their walled garden and their blindfold dartboard approach to app management. Prefer a phone I can put into my pocket, and pick up with one hand, so IF I were to but an iPhone today it would probably be a 6E.

      Meantime I have four Galaxy S4 phones (including my daughters') that are working OK. Wouldn't mind an upgrade but don't feel a strong need. Mine's running CM13 for a multitude of reasons. The kids are running apps that don't want rooted phones so they're on Lollipop stock ROMs.

      One of the drawbacks of running old Android phones that aren't Google brand is update support. But we can Skype and stream and send MMS and do phone calls and for now it's Good Enough.

      Also I can read and comment on El Reg while on the can. :)

      So maybe there's some market saturation going on. But when I think about new phones I also think, maybe Chinese next time. We'll see. Keeping an eye on them.

  4. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    The problem with these sort of reports (Gartner, IDC etc.) is that it's just industry hype.

    Who cares ?

  5. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Pirate

    I'm not surprised by any of these changes.

    How many industry leaders have come and gone in the relatively short history of the smartphone/mobile phone market? Samsung and Apple are just the latest market leaders to hit a wall based on bad user interface/form factor decisions, focus on an ultimately limited/disappearing market segment or a sudden attack of poor product quality. Here's a quick list of former major mobile phone/PDA players who have now pretty much gone by the wayside.

    -Palm

    -Nokia

    -Ericsson

    -Motorola

    -Blackberry/RIM

    -Sony (if you ever considered them a true major player)

    -HTC

    Its pretty ruthless out there--the Game of Phones continues! OK, the Game of Phones reference was gratuitous, but I am still pissed at myself for not coming up with that moniker first. Sigh--the road not taken. :)

  6. djstardust Silver badge

    Huawei / Honor

    Will end up just like Kia, Hyundai and the likes

    Go in at the bottom end then slowly ramp up the prices.

    I actually saw a Kia last week that was £35k, and the Honor 8 is way more expensive than the honor 7 it replaced.

    I remember when Samsung phones were a cheap laughing stock too.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "A radical redesign is in the offing..."

    What exactly could be a radical design at this point? Maybe attach a coffee blender to one? They are all flat rectangular square screens with mics and cameras, what could possibly radically change that...and to what?

    1. Brenda McViking
      Go

      Re: "A radical redesign is in the offing..."

      Here's a radical idea - how about putting things back in these latest flagships so that I might actually buy one. Stuff like micro SD card slots, a removable battery, and software updates for at least 2 years.

      I'm still on my Galaxy S4. I've not seen any "upgrade" in features whatsoever from any of the usual suspects.

      As for new stuff - I want holography, a projector, edge lighting effects, fully immersible, radar, lidar, sonar, a tricorder, taser, pen-knife, the ability to hover, a smoke generator, and replacable fuel cells giving me 10 weeks of charge at a time. And I want it for less than 200USD. When can you start?

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: "A radical redesign is in the offing..."

      "What exactly could be a radical design at this point?"

      What Project Ara et al missed. That modularity doesn't require physical connectivity. You don't need all the parts in the same connected device. You can have a communications module, speak into your smartwatch or BT headset (or little badge pinned to your chest), and look at a separate screen, and you can have a 6" for daily use, or a 10" for the sofa, or cast the info to a window on your PC / TV. As long as these things are near, you are good.

    3. Ilsa Loving

      Re: "A radical redesign is in the offing..."

      Something with more battery life than a gnat's attention span, would be nice...

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Meh factor

    The improvements that people really want, like a more reliable cell signal and longer battery life, have hit a wall. It's difficult to justify spending 2x on a premium phone when they have the same daily annoyances as every other phone. Premium operating systems, especially iOS, are starting to feel clumsy and dated compared to simpler systems that take on modern features more gracefully.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Meh factor

      Similar systems meaning Android? There's nothing else and it's not as if Android isn't guilty of being clunky...

  9. Howard Hanek Bronze badge

    The Graphic of the Self Stocking Fridge Explains It All

    Just substitute the phone manufacturers for the piglet.......

  10. Grikath Silver badge

    It's not "bored"

    By all available date the technology simply has matured. This means that unless there's something *spectacular* tech-wise the coming years, phone-makers simply cannot make the big jumps "people" ** would like to see. Not unlike the situation in desktops once we got past the Intel/AMD race ( which made mobile phones as we know them possible to begin with...)

    Not unlike desktop processors, a Budget mobile phone has the Ooomph to do whatever you can realistically ask of it, and you will pay Premium for each % of performance above that. ( which, also like desktops is mostly Gaming Territory..) ***

    ** the current crop of El Reg reviewers are, in fact, a breed of Sourpuss.

    *** This amount of common sense is Boring and does not make Headlines, This is, of course, Anathema to the Reviewer strain of Sourpusses.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Price conscious

    I'm not sure I'd consider myself overly price conscious, more that I don't wish to pay laptop prices for what is just a phone with internet capabilities.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Price conscious

      don't wish to pay laptop prices. . .for a phone

      luckily the Fruit company have just released a laptop that costs slightly more than a phone. . .

      £3,329.00 for the UK 2.9GHz_Quad-i7 16GB_RAM/1TB_SSD 4GB_460_GPU

      hence giving the phone manufacturers a bit more gouging room!

  12. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Quote from the article "Apple sales were falling before the introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus because it hadn’t satisfied demand for larger displays," Apple deliberately fought against the large screen trend, remember the advert for the iPhone5, with the thumb,...another case of Apple trying to dictate the market, rather than satisfy it.

    On phones, and the future fate of Samsung, I'll buy a Note 8, or whatever they re-brand the line as ( Phoenix? :-) ), as long as it has a microSD card slot, and a removable battery. I've had a Note v1, v3, and v4, you can guess why I didn't adopt the v5. I really like the stylus. I've only had one smartphone without a stylus (HTC HD2) and I really missed it, when the Note1 came out, I was sold. I'll be sold again, if Samsung learn from their mistake.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Upvote for the Phoenix quip.

      It made me chuckle.

  13. Big_Boomer
    Coat

    BLOAT

    My biggest gripe about most phones is the vast amount of BLOAT on there. They quote 32Gb of storage but 4Gb is used by the OS and then there is 8Gb of BLOAT which consists of mostly useless apps that nobody wants but which you cannot uninstall, and which grows with every update. So you end up with 20Gb of usable storage, not the 32Gb you bought. iOS and Android phones all suffer from this and unless you are willing to Root the phones with the issues that that causes you are stuck with their crap. I can fully understand why more and more people are going for the Vanilla Android option in the Google/Motorola phones, but even there Google keep adding BLOAT by including stuff that maybe some people want but not everyone, but that cannot be uninstalled. Battery life is less of an issue for me as they all last at least a day unless you are a phone zombie. Cyanogen seemed to be onto a good thing but they also seem to have gone down the BLOAT road so I can see that dying an early death. I get why manufacturers want to add these things to the phones,... but PLEASE let us uninstall what we don't want. Otherwise kiss goodbye to your sales. Mine is the coat with the MotoG in it :D

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: BLOAT

      Simple answer, buy a phone with a microSD card slot, buy a microSD card, and keep all your photos and music and apps on that. Leave the built in storage for OS and updates. SD cards are really cheap 64Gb for less than £20.

  14. David Paul Morgan

    I've recently 'jumped ship'...

    ... long time Sony-Ericsson/Sony for handsets.

    I've just sold on my Xperia Z3 Compact (superb, btw) and my daily driver is now the OnePlus Three. (My other daily driver is the dual sim Doogee X5Pro which was £65 on ebay and runs the Good for Enterprise mail client, for work).

    My partner will be picking up his Pixel tomorrow (Sat) as he's taken the Google Shilling. We'll sell on his Xperia Z3C too.

    We will continue to use our Z2 & Z4 tablets which are very very good.

    Clearly, the market is now mature/saturated and, for android at least, the market has become commodity.

    "what features do you want, what software do you need, how much are you prepared to pay?"

  15. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Meh

    Wherefore the Wasp T12 Speechtool?

    Well weapon.

  16. Tikimon Silver badge
    Devil

    The comparison to auto manufacturers is spot on

    Tech manufacturers have based their business model on the same thing American auto companies did back when - the assumption that we will replace a perfectly good device/car with a shiny new one every few years (to benefit them, not us). Apple bet so heavily on this model that they brought back Planned Obsolescence, remember the non-replaceable batteries in their early widgets?

    Also like the car companies, the new models aren't much different from the old ones three years previous. Slight change in appearance, maybe a little more engine power. But really, the same driving experience.

    The fact that some of us decide that our current car/phone/etc is Good Enough and we don't need to buy a new one to line their pockets fills tech companies with horror.

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