Smartphone gimmicks are useless – Android Authority

Galaxy vs Pixel vs iPhone EoY 2022

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Ten years in the past, the 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 was a technological marvel. Android telephones had solely been round for just a few years at that time, and the Galaxy S4 appeared prefer it might achieve this a lot regardless of its small measurement. As shoppers, we had been enraptured. A lot in order that the Galaxy S4 stays to today the best-selling Android telephone of all time, with greater than 80 million models bought.

Nonetheless, that was ten years in the past — an eternity within the tech world. Issues have modified considerably since then. The smartphone gimmicks we noticed within the Galaxy S4 — reminiscent of Sensible Scroll, which allowed you to scroll the contents of your display screen by transferring your head up or down — could be downright ludicrous to see in a 2023 telephone.

As we speak, smartphones are ubiquitous instruments, not tech marvels. Customers use their telephones greater than ever, sure, however this has resulted within the shine sporting off. The fashionable smartphone purchaser doesn’t need gimmicks; they need a telephone that nails the fundamentals and disappears into the background.

In 2023, if a smartphone producer thinks that some cool new trick would be the lynchpin that sells its telephones, it’s in for a world of disappointment. Not solely will shoppers not care, however investing within the R&D for that gimmick would possibly do extra hurt than good.

What are smartphone gimmicks?

google pixel 4 xl long term review 2

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

The time period “gimmick” can be utilized fairly broadly. Usually, on the subject of smartphones, we consider gimmicks as options that solely apply to very particular conditions, attraction to a restricted subset of customers, or provide no true worth (or a mixture thereof).

Some of the egregious historic examples of smartphone gimmicks was the Soli radar system within the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Soli was a set of front-facing radar sensors that might observe your hand actions. They allowed you to do issues like pause music just by waving your hand close to the show. Whereas Soli carried out as marketed, shoppers merely didn’t care, and the Pixel 4 sequence was the largest flop within the historical past of Pixels.

In case your telephone’s star characteristic solely appeals to a handful of individuals, it is most likely a gimmick.

A newer instance got here with final yr’s OnePlus 10 Professional. That telephone had an ultrawide digital camera with a area of view of 150 levels. This was basically a fisheye lens, creating very warped pictures that appeared unreal. Though software program trickery helped repair photographs in post-processing, critics and shoppers alike noticed no want for such a weird lens. OnePlus scrapped the lens within the OnePlus 10T and this yr’s OnePlus 11.

Listed here are another smartphone gimmicks we’ve seen:

  • Bizarre supplies: OnePlus lately introduced a Jupiter Rock version of the OnePlus 11. It has a again made out of what’s basically rock. Who requested for this?
  • Macro lenses: Whereas a terrific macro lens could possibly be an attention-grabbing addition to an in any other case rock-solid lens array, this isn’t the case more often than not. Usually, OEMs will throw in low cost 2MP macro lenses to make it appear a telephone is extra premium than it’s. In different phrases, the thought course of is that extra lenses = higher cameras, which shoppers aren’t fooled by anymore.
  • Extremely-fast charging: Whereas it’s fairly loopy to see 240W charging speeds on a smartphone (that’s quick sufficient to cost from empty to full in about ten minutes), who actually wants that? These speeds are additionally reportedly detrimental to battery well being, decreasing the longevity of your telephone.
  • Cooling techniques: The Lenovo Legion Duel 2 — a gaming telephone — had a cooling fan constructed into it. Whereas that is sensible for a telephone designed for players, it made the telephone unwieldy, prevented an IP score, and made wi-fi charging unimaginable. It solved one downside on the expense of core smartphone options. Equally, OnePlus’ most up-to-date idea telephone has a liquid cooling system that didn’t even work.

These gimmicks don’t assist promote telephones as a result of they don’t give us what we actually need: a fantastic all-around expertise.

However what about telephones in particular niches, like rugged telephones? Is a rugged telephone a gimmick? I’d argue it’s not, however in addition they will not be promoting within the numbers we see with one thing just like the Galaxy S sequence. These telephones exist for particular functions for a specific shopper, so that they get a particular cross.

Present smartphone successes are all of the proof you want

Google Pixel 7 Pro camera housing

Robert Triggs / Android Authority

We all know why smartphone producers put money into a lot of these gimmicks. Clearly, they suppose they may assist promote telephones or, on the very least, assist their merchandise stand out from the gang. It is a unusual technique as a result of probably the most profitable telephones are typically comparatively gimmick-free.

Right here in the USA, the iPhone is the most well-liked smartphone by far. For the primary time ever, Apple owns over 50% of the market within the US, leaving the opposite half to Android OEMs (largely Samsung). The iPhone doesn’t have many gimmicks to it. One might argue that Dynamic Island is a gimmick, nevertheless it’s one that buyers appear to take pleasure in, so it doesn’t actually matter.

Probably the most profitable telephones are, unsurprisingly, additionally a few of the most gimmick-free.

In second place, Samsung’s Galaxy S sequence additionally stands out as being devoid of gimmicks. The Galaxy S23 Extremely’s S Pen is perhaps a bit gimmicky to some. Nonetheless, it’s additionally extremely common and a calling card of the premium Galaxy expertise, so we’ll fortunately let that slide. The Galaxy S23 and Galaxy S23 Plus, although, are borderline boring with how sensible and no-nonsense they’re. And guess what? The Galaxy S23 line is promoting higher than the Galaxy S22 line.

After all, we are able to’t neglect Google’s line of Pixels. The Google Pixel 7 Professional doesn’t have any outlandish gimmicks, and it was voted the very best Android telephone of 2022 by each Android Authority and our readers. It’s fairly attention-grabbing that when Google deserted gimmicks, it ended up promoting extra telephones than ever.

Clearly, telephones may be hits with shoppers with out gimmicks. Nonetheless, Dynamic Island and the S Pen present that there’s nonetheless room for enjoyable and doing issues in a different way.

Telephones can nonetheless be enjoyable, although

nothing phone 1 glyph on rear

Oliver Cragg / Android Authority

We’ve already mentioned loads of examples of silly smartphone gimmicks getting in the way in which of a very good expertise. Nonetheless, some gimmicks work.

Take the Nothing Cellphone 1, for instance. The lights on the again of the gadget — formally generally known as The Glyph — would appear to be a foolish gimmick. As soon as you utilize the telephone, although, you understand that it’s truly a rock-solid Android smartphone with the addition of a bizarre mild present. In different phrases, The Glyph may be ignored, and also you’ll nonetheless have a fantastic Android expertise with a particularly reasonable cost-to-value ratio.

I’m not anti-gimmick. There’s loads of room for enjoyable options.

It is a good instance of how doing gimmicks proper may be advantageous. Nothing didn’t cram in The Glyph on the expense of wi-fi charging, a premium really feel, or a good digital camera system. It used the sunshine gimmick like a garnish on high of a satisfying meal. It’s a pleasant element that accentuates an already good dish.

Google’s Magic Eraser is one other instance of a gimmick that works. For the reason that Pixel digital camera expertise is already among the best (if not the very best) telephone digital camera experiences accessible, the Magic Eraser characteristic exists as a useful gizmo for individuals trying to repair up in any other case nice photographs. You don’t want Magic Eraser, nevertheless it’s sensible and enjoyable while you need it.

That is all to say that smartphones don’t have to be boring. There’s loads of room for enjoyable gimmicks, cool aesthetics, and thought-provoking twists. However gimmicks can’t be the promoting level of the telephone. They have to be facet gamers.

OEMs might want to shift focus — or drown

Lenovo Legion Duel 2 1

Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Bear in mind the Lenovo Legion Duel 2, the telephone with a built-in cooling system? Sadly, that gimmick didn’t work out too effectively for Lenovo. Only recently, the corporate confirmed to Android Authority that it had shut down the smartphone arm of Legion.

We’ve additionally talked about OnePlus just a few occasions on this article. That firm isn’t doing too effectively, both. There’s a rumor that it and its sister model OPPO might pull out of the European market both this yr or in 2024. OnePlus has misplaced all its service partnerships in the USA, and its newest flagship — the OnePlus 11 — isn’t getting sturdy evaluations. As soon as once more, the gimmicks don’t appear to have helped right here.

What’s your opinion on smartphone gimmicks?

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This all helps my central argument: gimmicks don’t promote telephones. We have now settled on wanting telephones that excel on the fundamentals: battery life, digital camera, show, ease of use, efficiency, and so forth. I might additionally argue that design is equally essential right here, though that’s extra subjective than one thing like battery life. What doesn’t matter are superfluous lenses, radar techniques, cooling followers, again panels made from rock, and all the opposite gimmicks we’ve seen.

Firms which are nonetheless caught in 2013 pondering that cool gimmicks will promote a number of telephones are going to want to get up from that dream sooner relatively than later. Apple and Samsung are consuming your lunch and are doing it with none reliance on gimmicks. Make your telephones nice at a aggressive value, and we’ll purchase them. It’s that straightforward.