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 …

  1. James Hughes 1

    Wasn't this fairly obvious about 3 years ago?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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 :)

      1. Justice
        Trollface

        Re: I'll go with that.

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

      2. 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.

        1. 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...

          1. 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"?

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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...

        2. 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.

        3. 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

      2. 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.

        1. 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

          1. 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.

          2. 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.

      3. 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...

        1. 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!

      4. 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.

  2. 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...

    1. Naselus

      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).

    2. 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.

    3. joed

      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.

  3. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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).

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. Simon Harris Silver badge

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

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

              1. nowster

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

                Kilo mega atto Henrys, even.

          2. 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!

            1. 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"

          3. 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.

        2. 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)

        3. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. 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.

          2. 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.

      2. 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

        1. onefang Silver badge

          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.

        2. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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 :-/

      2. 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).

        1. 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...

  4. 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

    1. 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...

      1. 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?

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          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?

          I wasn't that AC, but I'd guess they meant out that there's some bloody good, fully featured smartphones with decent large screens and excellent batteries (well, relatively speaking) for £150-200 sim free. It does mean freeing yourself from the mindset of "Samsung or Apple?", and you have to accept some spec limitations that IMHO are of no significance in the real world (like "only" a full HD display, or "only" 3 GB ram). A search on Elephone and Xiaomi and terms like "group test" will produce a load of suitable candidates from the challenger brands..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

            I was that AC and no, I certainly don't splash out £60 a month on a contract. More like £15 with 3 (free data abroad!) and have just recently migrated from a Reg-endorsed Wiley Fox Storm (2 good years for £200) to a Xiaomi Mi 1 (hopefully another two years for the same price).

            Both do way more than email and calls and, tbh, if that's all I wanted to do I could get away with spending less than half that.

            I was making the point that, for one who sneers at others spending big on "useless" features, you're pretty much in the same barrel. Your choice of phone belies your needs...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

              I have a Xiaomi Mi Max (£200), but recently moved to a OnePlus 5T (£400).. Was it worth? Aside from the decrease is battery, yes it way, it runs a lot faster, the camera is amazing and I prefer vanilla Android.. saying that, I will probably by the Mi Max 3 when it releases (assuming the drip-feed of features is true).

        2. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

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

          I do, actually. Thanks.

          Why? First reason is that there is no initial outlay. Not everybody can afford to put down €€€ on a phone, and it's a lot easier to justify when it's small amounts spread out.

          The second reason is that subtracting the cost of a contract with no phone from the cost of a contract with a phone comes to around €350 difference over the life of the contract. My phone when I got it had a retail price twice that...

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

      To be honest, my OP One (a tad over three years old now) is fine. Cost about £260, does everything I need (phone, camera, e-mail, web access, calculator, alarm clock), and I spend £5 a month for 500MB + unlimited calls and texts with BT Mobile - and we get good 4G even in the sticks of mid-Wales.

      May look for a replacement in 2-3 years.

      1. Alan Sharkey

        Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

        I was being slightly facecious - but the principle stands. I paid £400 (ish) for a phone that has a CPU fast enough for anything I can throw at it, enough memory (8Gb, enough storage (128Gb) and a battery that easily lasts a day.

        I can see it lasting me 3 years at least.

      2. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

        May look for a replacement in 2-3 years.

        Respect!

        I'll buy you a beer if you get six years use out of it as your main phone. I've found older phones start to become weirdly slow at about four years, and have always assumed that its something to do with either or both flash memory going bad, and the inevitable app bloat for the current specification of processor and RAM.

        EULA:

        This voucher is valid for a single use, any time during the year 2021 AD, and entitles the poster known as Pen-y-gors to a free pint of beer or cider, on production of a working and well used OnePlus One. It has no cash value, and may not be redeemed for non-alcoholic beverages. If unredeemed the voucher will lapse in 2022. It is not transferrable to any Johnny-come-lately commentards who have now, or will by 2021 own similar or older smartphones, you lot should have got in first if you wanted this. Other than Pen-y-gors original print, no further duplicates or copies will be treated as valid. Any attempts by the unworthy to impersonate Pen-y-gors will be reported to the police as both fraud and hate crime.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

          My Lumia 925 is still in use after 5 years, and given it's Windows 10 Mobile there's no app bloat (one would require apps for that........) but it is on the way out. Battery is starting to get erratic, so I suspect I'll be buying the 2018 version of the Nokia 6 before long, haven't seen UK pricing yet but ~£250 seems to be the estimate so far.

          I am still also using my 2013 Nexus 7, also having battery issues these days but seeing as I mainly use it as an ebook reader and 7" tablets are not so common these days I won't be replacing it any time soon.

          1. Rattus Rattus

            Re: My OnePlus 5 is fine

            I'm still using my 2012 Nexus 7, also mainly as an eBook reader. I thought about replacing it, but when I looked at tablet prices I thought "You want HOW effing much?!" and went right back to the N7. I'm not paying more than $250 AUD, tops, for a WiFi-only slab.

  5. aidanstevens

    They're just too big and too fragile!

  6. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

    Umm.... wtf?

    "Smartphone sales are starting to decline at an accelerating rate,"

    Surely that is starting to decline or declining at an accelerating rate?

    Bloody Marketing(New)speak.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Umm.... wtf?

      The wording seems perfectly clear to me. Sales were declining already, but now the rate of decline has started to increase. That's not marketing speak, just English.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Umm.... wtf?

        as this is meant to be an IT site then perhaps a clearer mathematical statement such as "d^2(sales)/dt^2 has become negative in the mobile phone sector" ... that way everyone would understand what was happening.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Umm.... wtf?

          Assuming maths has anything to do with programming, which is a big assumption to make. Logic is more of an IT thing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Umm.... wtf?

            "Assuming maths has anything to do with programming, which is a big assumption to make. Logic is more of an IT thing."

            No, logic is several sub-areas of mathematics, depending on which types of logic you are considering.

            In addition a lot of other 'programming' questions are inherently questions about mathematical relationships... algorithmic efficiency, computational complexity, numerical analysis, statistical and stochastic effects, proofs of correctness, data structure characteristics, matching sorting, data storage, and searching algorithms against internal structure of the problem or phenomena being addressed, encryption, recursive logic, and so on.

            Maybe you can ignore those things if generating a simple web site, or adding numbers up in a spreadsheet, but that's not even real programming.

            Somewhere I have a university transcript from earning my computer science degree, with over a dozen math courses on it...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Umm.... wtf?

          "as this is meant to be an IT site then perhaps a clearer mathematical statement such as "d^2(sales)/dt^2 has become negative in the mobile phone sector" ... that way everyone would understand what was happening."

          Assuming, of course, that everyone is using the same mangling of proper mathematical notation into a bastardized ASCII form.

          The version of ASCII-math I find most familiar and common would render your expression as

          (d raised to the power of (2 times sales)) divided by (d times t squared)

          ... not what you wanted.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Umm.... wtf?

      Smartphones are a maturing market and one of the characteristics of a maturing market is sales growth slow down and even some decline as the market stabilizes. This is nothing new and has been seen with many other products over and over. The only time a mature market sees a brief sales spike is when a new type of the product hits the market and older kit is replaced a little quicker than normal.

  7. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    Need help from the Russians

    Last week they announced tiny nuclear engines for their missiles. So just shrink the nuclear doobery a bit more until it fits in a phone then voilà no more recharging every night. I'd pay for that; I wouldn't pay for dancing poo.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Need help from the Russians

      Running a phone for years on a radioisotope battery should be doable with current technology, but the shielding might make it a bit heavy...

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: Need help from the Russians

        Running a phone for years on a radioisotope battery should be doable with current technology, but the shielding might make it a bit heavy...

        Take the full Russian approach - durable hardware, disposable users.

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Need help from the Russians

        Plutonium powered pacemakers were introduced in the early 70s, although I suspect the amount of plutonium needed in an RTG to power a phone would be considerably higher than that needed for a pacemaker. Their demise was with the introduction of lithium batteries in the 80s.

        http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2015/ph241/degraw2/

      3. MrT

        Re: Need help from the Russians

        There might be a slight spike in the SAR tables for that one...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: nuclear doobery a bit more until it fits in a phone then voilà

      voila as in: micro-nuking the the man and his House :)

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "An issue not mentioned in the research note is the rising cost of features people don't want."

    and

    "Manufacturers are spending more and more for less and less gain."

    1, Bring back the earphone jack.

    2. Retina displays - are these really neccessary?

    3. Just glom a good camera onto it, we really don't need fancy poofty gimmickry stuff such as slo-mo, or dual camera whatnots. Heck, I use my camera so seldom.

    4. Bigger is not always better. Except for the battery.

    5. Thin phones are so overrated like a wet, stinky fart.

    6. Try to glom less bloatware on the phone itself.

    7. Allow the customer to customize the phone the way he/she/it wants. Not what you want the customer to have, what the customer wants. End of story.

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      8. Removable battery.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        If you want a removable (by which I assume you mean *swappable*) battery, the Moto Z has a snap-on battery pack. This is the superior solution because you don't suffer any down whilst time swapping the battery.

        Because the secondary battery increases total capacity, the primary battery will endure fewer and shallower recharge cycles, upping its longevity.

        I believe Moto's Android is pretty close to stock.

        Me, I'm ordering a Galaxy S8 because they're now cheaper than the OnePlus 5T (OnePlus won't issue VAT invoices), is waterproof and so should last a good while if I stick it in a good rugged case (damned curved display makes that trickier than needed). I'm not a Samsung fan.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

          @Dave 126

          I think you assume wrong. The battery in my SGS5 has enough grunt to get me through the day and I don't want to be adding bulk to it. I want removable batteries in phones in order to prolong the phone life beyond the battery life. I have a couple of spares for when the original no longer holds a charge. Hopefully this arrangement will keep the phone going until the hardware fails, which is the only reason I would have for replacing it. Once it's gone I'll be forced into playing the manufacturers' game of ditching perfectly good hardware and paying for the privilege just be cause the battery has died every couple of years.

          1. Patrician

            Re: @Dave 126

            Most decent sized towns will have a shop that can replace mobile phone batteries; at a cost of course.

        2. onefang Silver badge

          I bought a Moto Z, and have one of the battery packs on my to buy list. They charge the internal battery from the pack, but do have a mode where they only charge to 80% to extend the life of the internal battery. Which I have been doing for my smartphones for a while, though I tend to keep them between 40% and 95%.

        3. Daniel 18

          "If you want a removable (by which I assume you mean *swappable*) battery, the Moto Z has a snap-on battery pack. This is the superior solution because you don't suffer any down whilst time swapping the battery."

          Except, of course, when the object of removing the battery is to guaranteed downtime for security purposes - IMHO, more important than fixing an issue that can be taken care of with a simple external backup battery.

          Once again, differing priorities and use cases.... and the internal battery generally goes two to four days anyway.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            "Except, of course, when the object of removing the battery is to guaranteed downtime for security purposes"

            Or in the case of my old Galaxy S3 phone as it was slowly becoming an inert slab, sometimes the only way to fix the current problem is to kill the power, much easier when you can quickly pull out the easily removable battery. For several months that was the only way I could hang up after a phone call. The proximity sensor that tells the phone to blank the screen when you hold it against your ear, had died and was stuck on, so all phone calls had to be done with a turned off screen, no way to fondle the "hang up" button. I just didn't bother with DTMF phone menus, luckily I rarely encounter them anyway. Another reason why I now use a dumb phone for phone stuff. Alas that can't be done to my new Moto Z, it was a trade off for other features. sigh

    2. Sloth77

      > 2. Retina displays - are these really neccessary?

      Yes IMO. Look at the difference between an iPhone 3GS & 4 (or newer). It is night and day (providing you have half decent eye sight). Anything beyond Apple's "retina" pixel density is less arguable.

      Agree with all your other points tho...

      1. onefang Silver badge

        "2. Retina displays - are these really neccessary?"

        For those of us that are nearsighted, retina or slightly better than retina is good. For VR headsets like Google Daydream, more than retina is good, since the pixels get magnified a lot.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      5. Thin phones are so overrated like a wet, stinky fart.

      I enjoy a good wet, stinky fart, so that comment doesn't quite work for me. Maybe "overrated like a dry, odourless fart".

      Mind you have to be careful, not too wet - none of us wants to follow through.

    4. cirby

      Well...

      3. Slo-mo is incredibly useful sometimes. I used mine for figuring out the RPM of a fan motor just last week, and it's great for troubleshooting some mechanical issues.

      4. Not always better, but I do like having a nice big screen.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Well...

        @cirby

        3. Slo-mo is incredibly useful sometimes. I used mine for figuring out the RPM of a fan motor just last week, and it's great for troubleshooting some mechanical issues.

        Well, it obviously has its uses for you, but meanwhile in the rest of the universe, it's not exactly a killer must-have feature

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Well...

          "it's not exactly a killer must-have feature"

          Wasn't there a phone recently that could do something stupid like 960fps for 0.2 seconds? I can imagine when you capture the right 0.2s it would be astonishing footage, but I have to wonder how many boneheads will injure themselves trying to do something for the camera over and over to capture just the right 0.2s?

      2. MrT

        Re: Well...

        Yup, there are definitely phones with features that will find uses out there - I liked the CAT S60's extra FLIR camera, for example, but currently have no need for it (although water and shock-proofing was better than the majority).

    5. Dave 126 Silver badge

      @Hogwash

      Sorry, I read your point (8) as being a continuation of South African Coward's list - in which he said he didn't want a very thin phone.

      The Moto Z is very thin, so adding a battery backpack doesn't result in unmanageable bulk. The primary battery is subject to fewer and less abusive charging cycles that shorten it's working life.

      That said, if you can put a new battery in a phone yourself then the cost is roughly 10 quid a year. If it's a trickier job, then a trusted shop might do it for 20 -30 quid. If the latter, then the total extra cost over three years might only be 30 - 60 quid, which can be the difference in initial cost of two similar handsets.

    6. matchbx
      Big Brother

      3. Just glom a good camera onto it, we really don't need fancy poofty gimmickry stuff such as slo-mo, or dual camera whatnots. Heck, I use my camera so seldom.

      super high in cameras are mandatory. All of the Snapchat style apps are helping the Feds with Facial Recognition Technology.

      Eventually every app you install will require access to camera.

      1984 is here... but it's not just the government watching.... it's also Google, Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even more stupidly priced

    than Bitcoin.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Even more stupidly priced

      Except that, for for most brands, the price simply goes up (unlike Bitcoin :-)

  10. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    JJ wrote, ""...starting to decline at an accelerating rate."

    JJ was quoted, "Smartphone sales are starting to decline at an accelerating rate."

    Unclear. Starting? The decline or the acceleration?

    Parsing options.

    1) Existing decline in sales, starting to accelerate.

    2) Just starting to decline and immediately accelerating.

    3) A slight decline in sales, the rest is overblown hype.

    Hmmm. Um... #3?

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: JJ wrote, ""...starting to decline at an accelerating rate."

      starting to (decline at an accelerating rate)

      So option 1.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: JJ wrote, ""...starting to decline at an accelerating rate."

        Since they have only started to decline in the past year or so, it is way too early to declare the decline is accelerating.

        What matters for companies like Apple and Samsung isn't whether smartphone sales are declining, or accelerating a decline or whatever, but whether that's the case in the higher end segment. If buyers of sub $100 smartphones (both new and >$100 phones that cost < $100 as used) start keeping their phones until they are five years old, but buyers of $500+ phones are still buying every couple years, then Apple and (to a large extent) Samsung aren't really going to be affected. It will be the Chinese brands that will be hurt.

        Is anyone aware of any market data that shows sales trends of phones in different price ranges?

  11. danbuben

    I don't mind. Hopefully some of the minds busy in mobile will flock to space, medicine and ecology.

  12. drummerboy46

    I had a taste of what it's like to own a phone thats tried too hard to compete with the iPhone for appeal and if handed to a Samsung marketing executive it would jump out of his hot, slippery hands and disappear up his own backside! This was the S8+ nightmare!

    Bixby is a joke, an terrible annoyance, an abject failure!

    The handset, a beautiful thing to behold...in reality was fragile, oversized and cumbersome to use. I managed to smash it twice in successive months.

    The OS, still too bloated, too skin'd and way too slowwwww to be worthy of a flagship.

    In the end I sold the piece of c**p and bought a OnePlus 5t...itself not without its own issues, the camera was over marketed and is in all probability no better than my S6 was. But other than that, it's solid, hell its dammnn fast and completely free of crapo bloat! A long battery life and very quick charge cycles, prove that you can make a top notch phone and sell for a fraction of the cost of sammy and Apple devices.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I've been trying to cancel an order for a OnePlus 5T since last Thursday - they refuse to issue a VAT invoice citing 'logistics structure'. Having ignored my request to cancel, they sent it out, and then it took a few phone calls to get a return shipping label from them. Hoping for a refund in the next fortnight - their own forums don't reassure me.

      Shame, I wanted to like OnePlus - what small additions they've made to Android look worthwhile - but to a business the Galaxy S8 is now cheaper than a 5T. Samsung's customer service can't be worse than OnePlus', Amazon will supply the correct invoice and the better screen and camera will make up for however Samsung have buggered-up Android this time.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >A long battery life and very quick charge cycles, prove that you can make a top notch phone and sell for a fraction of the cost of sammy and Apple devices.

      If you take account of VAT which OnePlus doesn't appear to pay, the Galaxy S8 is cheaper than the OnePlus 5T.

  13. AndrueC Silver badge
    Meh

    I've always said that 'smartphone fever' will go the same way as 'digital watch fever'. I remember as a kid being envious of those with digital watches. Then the craze started for calendars, stopwatches, phases of the moon and data storage.

    Casio seem to be keeping that alive a bit with their G-Shock series (of which I'm a fan but wish they'd produce a modernised but equally 'basic' version of my current ageing G-Shock-500E) but basically digital watches are just 'ho hum' for most people. Smart phones are going to go the same way.

    1. Dave 126 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.

      1. AndrueC 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. 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. onefang Silver badge

            "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. Anonymous Coward
              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.

          2. Daniel 18

            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. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Radio controlled?

  14. Chris G 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.

    1. Jack of Shadows 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.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Jack of Shadows 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.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  18. Charlie Clark 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.

  19. 0laf 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.

  20. Lee D 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.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

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

      1. Lee D 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.

  21. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    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 :)

  22. IGnatius T Foobar
    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.

  23. Henry Wertz 1 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?

  24. Ilsa Loving

    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.

    1. The Boojum

      Re: Well no shit

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

  25. DougS 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.

  26. the Jim bloke 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.

  27. 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.

  28. PhilipN 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. Updraft102 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.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        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.

    2. Roj Blake 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.

    3. Patrician
      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 ....

  29. Milton 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.

  30. Updraft102 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?

  31. DenTheMan

    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?

  32. Sampler

    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

  33. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  34. 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.

  35. GruntyMcPugh 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.

    1. rdhood

      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.

  36. Tigra 07 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

  37. Paul 195

    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.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      RE: Paul

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

  38. Semper Phoenix
    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*

  39. Gustavo Fring
    Meh

    but but Apple

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

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