In July 2016, I wrote a piece about the world having stepped into the age of the super mid-range smartphone. It has been two years since then, and it is a good time to follow-up on it. Have things gotten better or is smartphone fatigue an increasing issue?
We are half-way through 2018, and it is incredible that the display notch has remained the rallying point of many smartphones. Come on! We had years it was battery capacity. There were other times it was camera. But for all that is good and holy, notches have remained the primary focal point in 2018.
We could argue that the problem isn’t the notch, but rather the fact that smartphones are going FullView and bezel-less. The notch is just a common solution to one of the problems arising from that shift.
Maturity And Smartphone Fatigue
It is time to remind ourselves that smartphones have matured. When was the last time you used a smartphone with really crappy battery life? It has been a while? Exactly. That is because battery performance has been optimised so well that only a few really bad products have any problems in that area. You can close your eyes and buy any random smartphone without the fear of ending up with poor battery life.
It is the same with smartphone cameras and screens and everything else. The smartphone has matured so well that we are al just dancing around non-vital issues. Which is why something like the display notch is our greatest contention in 2018.
People actually choose what phone to buy or not to buy based on whether or not it has a notch. What a time to be alive.
Effect On The Smartphone Market
Of course, the smartphone market is not as exciting as it used to be. Smartphones are commodities now. A mid-range smartphone is able to pull off most of what flagships can do these days without sacrificing too much. In 2016, I referred to them as super mid-range smartphones. But most mid-range phones are good enough now; it is not just the super ones any more.
You can buy a $135 smartphone and not miss anything serious. And if you want a flagship, any will do. The differences between them are largely cosmetic – a gimmick here or there.
Over the weekend, a friend asked me what Android smartphone is currently the best. I told him to pick any of the 2018 flagships from Samsung, LG, Huawei, etc, depending on the flavour of Android he prefers. That is mostly what it boils down to now – flavour. In terms of capabilities, those products are pretty well matched.
As far as sales is concerned, smartphones have hit a plateau. In other words, more people are not buying. And so, Google and others are running around trying to implement programmes and solutions to encourage more purchases. So far, that hasn’t gone well.
What will it take to trigger another wave in the smartphone market? Don’t ask me; I am asking you. You see; I do not know. Something will come along though. It might mean a total shift from how we know smartphones to be today.
But something has to come to save the industry from smartphone fatigue. Something always comes.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with HDML/WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.