I need a new phone.
My iPhone 12 Mini works just fine, but the battery life is less than stellar, and I think it’s time for a bigger screen.
Upgrading to a new iPhone used to be a time of great excitement for me. It brought back that feeling I had as a kid opening presents on my birthday.
Now? Not so much. The iPhone and most other smartphones are just not as interesting as they used to be. At least, not to me.
Evolution vs. Revolution
It feels like we’ve reached the peak of smartphone design. The iPhone X was the last big design change for the iPhone. It introduced a new design language with FaceID and an expansive all-screen display.
The phones that succeeded it have all followed that lead. Some have been bigger, some have been smaller, but the basic industrial design has pretty much been exactly the same.
The iPhone 12 heralded flat sides. The iPhone 14 Pro gave us the Dynamic Island. Yet, we still have a big black rectangle in our hands.
And that’s because the iPhone design language is evolutionary, not revolutionary, despite the protestations of Apple’s crack marketing team.
Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Apple continues to sell millions of these devices every year. Making dramatic changes to a device as popular as the iPhone would be corporate suicide.
The iPhone is Apple’s cash cow. They have to be careful. But would it really hurt to “think different” once in a while?
Software Reigns Supreme
Much of what we love about the iPhone is software, not hardware.
Each year, when WWDC rolls around, we marvel at the latest innovations that Apple has been working on since their last developer’s conference.
Then, in September, when Tim Cook and the gang take the stage to introduce the latest iPhone, they once again show us all the great things it can do with the latest version of iOS.
However, last year’s phone can do all those things too. And so can the phone before that. Why? Because Apple is incredibly good at making software that supports older devices.
Later this year, you can install iOS 17 on an iPhone XR from 2018. Let that sink in for a minute.
I love that Apple does this. It’s one of the reasons I keep buying an iPhone. I know that every September, it gets a free update with new functionality.
New phones are great, but they rarely do much more than the one from last year. And that means people like me are holding onto their phones for longer. The desire to upgrade is much smaller than it used to be.
A Mature Model in a Mature Market
Apple has been making Smartphones since 2007.
In the years that have passed, the iPhone has matured into a very complete product. It makes calls, sends messages, accesses the internet, takes pictures, plays music, captures videos, and so the list goes on. It’s a computer in our pocket and a very powerful one at that.
In terms of functionality, there is not much that you can add to a smartphone anymore. There are no glaring features that are missing from the iPhone. As a product, it’s about as complete as it gets.
Apple will continue to make them as long as people continue to buy them, but the pace of innovation is slower now than ever.
Here’s the truth. What does the new iPhone do? Pretty much the same as the one you already have.
It’s Not Just Apple
Of course, Apple is not alone in this desert of ideas.
Google, Samsung, and the rest of the Android brethren are equally to blame here. They try as hard as Apple does to capture the consumer’s imagination, but not much sticks to the wall that they insist on throwing things at.
Yes, Android has folding phones, curved glass screens, 100x zoom lenses, and under-screen fingerprint readers. Yet, very few of these features are implemented well. At least, not as well as Apple would do it.
So, I’m sorry to say it, but here it is. Smartphones just aren’t sexy anymore.
I appreciate them for what they are. I love the utility that they bring, and I would be lost without mine, but they don’t excite me like they used to.
Change my mind.