The best thing about a new top-of-the-line phone coming out is reading all of its fancy, upgraded specs. What is the screen resolution? How fast is the processor? What new features will it have that will make the last generation seem like a Fisher Price play phone?
These new features are fantastic. Even more importantly, they create buzz, and they sell phones. While it is perfectly acceptable to bow down to that almighty dollar and add these new features (I mean,a company has to make money to keep innovating), I do have one very big complaint about the entire mobile industry as a whole: we are losing the forest because we can’t see past the trees
I think we have reached the point that the features on most every major phone a consumer can buy will fit the needs of a majority of the consumer base. This means that, now, true functionality is arguable the only thing that may be able to steal some market share. What I mean by true functionality is instead of more features, simply for the sake of features, we need more essential features such as increased battery life, true scratch resistance and relative indestructibility so that a case and screen protector are not a requirement.
Take battery life for example. I am a relatively heavy smartphone user and I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. On a typical day my phone will start at 100%, and throughout the day will be used for email, lots of news reading, less than 10 minutes of video, maybe some music. This is on top of background activity like syncing and app updates. This puts my battery at around 20% by the time I get off of work, and that may or may not get me to the point where its time to plug in my phone for the night.
This, in and of itself, is not a problem until the day I was unable to make it home from work for the night (See 2014’s Snowpocalypse Traffic Jam in Atlanta). I couldn’t stay in touch with friends and family because I needed to save my battery. I had to rely on the radio for my news because I needed to save my battery. I had to ask someone for a charger to be able to take pictures of the accident I got into. After about 10 hours of moderate use, I had to turn off my phone when it was not in use to be sure I would be able to use it for emergencies, and it still died before I could get to sleep that night (given that it was approximately 2:00 AM).
This leads me to my point: my phone’s fantastic screen resolution and lightning fast processor and NFC and air gestures and multi-tasking were of no use to me with a dead battery. A large company like a Samsung, an Apple, a Google, even a multitude of others need to recognize this and join for one common goal: Improve batteries. There have been great strides in battery abilities recently but it seems like the balance between new features and improved battery life is skewed. Give me a battery that will last with moderate use for 3 days and I will most certainly trade in a flashy feature that I will only use 5 times in 2 years. The mobile industry needs to see that the features are supposed to be extras, not the main focus. My car has an unbelievable sound system, but my battery is dead, so… Set R&D at work at increasing battery life instead of a few extra features, and your phone becomes the phone for people who need to be able to contact their spouses or children during a snowstorm more than they need to download an HD movie in 20 seconds. Make your phone the every-man phone and the marketing sells itself.
So jump on board mobile industry, once the feature well runs dry for the common consumer, you will need something to stand out in the market, and treading water in the mobile market may as well be drowning. And good luck calling for help since your phone probably isn’t waterproof.