Good news: The best smartphone already exists

Chris Burns - Jul 22, 2019, 3:25 pm CDT
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Good news: The best smartphone already exists

The best smartphone in the world was released in the last few years. It’s already out there, and it’s already relatively inexpensive. It’s getting less expensive every day. I’m not going to tell you which model I’m thinking of, because the exact model is not as important as the idea: Smartphone tech innovation hit a brick wall and there’s no good reason for you to buy a new device.

Think back a few years

When I started writing about smartphones, it was a decade ago, and things moved quick! Several companies made new Android phones, Apple’s iPhone was still in the midst of major change, and there were more than two companies contributing to the market. Blackberry was still developing their own software.

Phones weren’t better then. Compared to now, smartphones from 2009 are pretty much unusable. But really, what’s the difference? Think about what you did with your first smartphone and compare that to what you do with your smartphone on an average day today.

The difference for me

The most major difference in my smartphone experience a decade ago compared to now? The way I perceive the hardware. I used to think a 720p display was fantastic. I automatically think back to some comparisons I did with a pair of tablets – the iPad 2 vs ASUS Transformer Prime. Those tablets seemed pretty awesome back when I did that set of tests. Fast forward to today and you’ll find two things to be true.

1. Compared to what’s out today, these tablets’ processors are extremely slow, and their displays pixelated.
2. These tablets can still be used today to play games and browse the internet, and read emails, and watch movies, and so forth.

The difference for me is in my perception of the present. It’s in how I see my device VS what my neighbor’s just purchased from the store. If I compare, I feel like I could do better. I feel like if I have the newest hardware, I could be having more fun. But really – is life that different?

The plateau

We’ve reached the plateau already. We’ve gotten to the point where displays can’t actually get any sharper to our human eyes when we use them like we do – as a smartphone, as a tablet. They can get more dense with pixels – but it literally cannot make any more difference in how we see what’s on the screen, when held at the distance from our face that we hold our phones and tablets.

As explained in insane detail by DisplayMate’s own Dr. Raymond M. Soneira a few years ago, most people do not hold their display close enough to their eyes to be able to perceive the difference between most smartphones/tablet displays.

The only place where the most major jumps in resolution make any difference at this point is in virtual reality headset displays. Those displays go REALLY CLOSE to your eyes – there, there’s still room for improvement. But for smartphones – we’re there. We’re at the best we can do for display resolution. We might be able to get more “accurate” color representation, but really, it’s all light anyway.

You’ve had more-than-adequate processor power in every smartphone for the past half-decade at least. When’s the last time you tried to open an app or game where your phone said “sorry, get a more powerful processor, this one’s not up to the task” and shut down? We’re there, we’ve been there for a while.

What about feature X?

What do you want your smartphone or tablet to do that it doesn’t do already? If I ask you if you said “have a front-facing camera hidden behind a semitransparent display,” and you say “yes!” I will call you a liar. The same goes for anyone who says they’ve been waiting a long time for foldable display panels or for their front-facing camera to pop out of the top of the phone with a motor. Come on now.

The most awesome smartphones in the world came out a year ago, two years ago, etcetera. It’s difficult to fathom the idea that each new smartphone generation isn’t significantly better than the last, and worth the purchase, but imagine the following.

New baseball cap features

When was the last time you remember buying a new baseball cap because it had a new kind of clip on the back to adjust its size? Have you ever purchased a premium baseball cap for twice as much as the standard model just because it had a wider cap brim?

When’s the last time you purchased a new baseball hat because the edges were thinner than ever before? What if the brim was transparent, giving you a FULL view of the world?! That’s nonsense. The brim is there for a reason – just like the bezel.

The baseball cap is done, now. We’re not making any more major changes to the baseball cap. We’ve decided that, as a society. If any changes come to the baseball cap, they’ll have to be pretty major if they’re going to have any sort of impact on the baseball cap industry in any way at all.

Stop buying new phones

If you’re less-than-enthusiastic about the rate of change in new gadgetry today, I cannot emphasize this enough: Stop buying new phones. When customers switch focus from “I’ll buy whatever’s newest” to “I’ll buy the one that’ll last the longest,” the big brands will switch their focus, too.

If, however, you’re all about the newest wave of phones and find the changes made to phones in the last few years to be revolutionary – don’t let me stop you! Smartphones today are more awesome than they’ve ever been before!


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