My Take on Mobile Upgrades June 2018

anon(10388027)

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Jan 4, 2018
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Technology matures... We saw the PC expand and reach a performance point where the differences between the best and worst PC's were tiny. Then users stopped upgrading as they once did...

Apps on our Android smartphones will perform exactly the same on the best or worst smartphones. So why buy an expensive smartphone? Small differences: display quality, display size, camera, expandable storage are the core points of differentiation. A phone with the highest RAM spec today can have more apps and web pages open. The time it takes an app to load on the best or worst smartphone is infinitely small, and download speed is more a reflection of your network or WiFi quality. If a smartphone is your exclusive online access, then the best phones make sense.

Why do manufacturers upgrade phones annually? If you have purchased a smartphone within the last year or two, then you are not the specific target of this years new phones. Only recently has smartphone ownership surpassed 60% in North America and Western Europe. Manufacturers are still attracting new, first time buyers of smartphones in significant growth numbers. Like the PC industry, only once smartphone ownership peaks, would it make sense for manufacturers to stop creating annual model updates.

The annual or biannual market for $1000 phones worldwide is tiny. Most consumers don't think of their long term tech costs. In ten years, the hardware cost of such an upgrade frequency is obviously $5000 to $10,000. Granted, you could recover some cash by selling your old phone.

The soon to arrive 5G LTE networks may provide a small 'upgrade boom' but it is my guess that 5G modems will begin to arrive in smartphones long before widespread 5G networks exist.

Will some users always upgrade? Sure... Some users genuinely get excited about non core upgrades like a minor camera improvement or a better positioned fingerprint unlock sensor.

Fierce competition... My guess is that the differences between the best and worst Android smartphones will continue to narrow. As spec differences narrow, market leading Samsung will continue to lose their dominant position. The largest predictor of a manufacturers success will be whether or not mobile carriers offer their phone for sale. 90% of North Americans get their smartphones from their carriers because of finance, repair convenience, and insurance options. The number of manufacturers will contract once ownership growth is maxed.

The smartphone industry has not finishing growing, but manufacturers are already noticing limits to their asking prices.

Peak technology? In my opinion, not yet.... But soon. Faster networks will come, and there is room to squeeze more camera performance... But only so much you can do in the space appointed to a smart phone camera. No core functions.... Like a front display fingerprint unlock, will soon arrive. A folding phone is still promised... Perhaps 4K displays will expand, if for no other reason than VR.
 

Rukbat

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Feb 12, 2012
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It depends on the user. I upgraded only for the security of the fingerprint sensor. Only to have a method of counterfeiting a fingerprint released. My next upgrade will probably be in 2021, when I will no longer be getting updates to my Pixel 2. Or maybe sooner or later, depending on hardware. (If they come out with a phone that uses EEG for security, I want one.)
 

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