It’s that time of the year! Just on the heels of our second Prime Day of the year, but just before Way Day and a few weeks out on Black Friday, the annual tech hype trains have started to pull into the station.
It’s probably been a few years now since the “new” model in the annual handset arms race felt like a true leap forward, but this year’s entrants feel even more underwhelming than most.
Starting with the iPhone 14, Apple is definitely leaning hard into the “best yet” language, but what need are they trying to meet? Reviews call out a camera that is technically superior, but whose photos are visually hard to differentiate from last generation’s models. The most damning quote I’ve read in a long time was regarding the novel, but not fully realized Dynamic Island feature: “I expect this feature will feel a little richer in a year’s time.”
So…. I should just wait for the iPhone 15 to get it right?
That’s probably not the worst idea, given the reality that the “emergency crash assistance” may require some additional fine tuning. While turning my phone to airplane mode when getting on a roller coaster is not the worst inconvenience, it’s an uninspiring “hack” for a company that prides itself on aesthetic. If the iPhone 14 is really a glorified 13S (i.e. a year later to get the 13 “right”), does that mean I should set my expectations that each new iPhone is less an innovation and more a refinement of it’s unfinished predecessor?
Which brings me to the more ballyhooed Pixel 7. While the Pixel 6 was well received, it suffered from a host of issues including, most notably, reception issues and a less than reliable fingerprint scanner. So, once again, the Pixel 7 is less a whole new step forward than fixing the issues the previous generation should have fixed … which they’ll also resolve via OTA updates to the Pixel 6s with Pixel 7 features. Should you just take the Pixel 6 with the discount and wait for the updates to essentially get a Pixel 7?
What about if you’re debating the Pixel 7 vs. the iPhone 15? Well, I can’t really comment on it’s use as a phone, but it seems like the Pixel may well be the best camera you can buy!
Editors Note: I’m intentionally ignoring the Galaxy Z Flip mainly because a “foldable” phone seems like a clear gimmick that may even come at the expense of core functions over time. The selfie-base use case is a nifty trick, but this seems less a way to make them smaller than a half-measure reaction to “phones have gotten too big”. Flip phones had their time and nature selected them for extinction.
We’ve talked a lot in class about the fact digital transformation is an iterative process, with small changes leading to major leaps over time. When it comes to phones, that is indisputable since the “phones” of today are truly multi-functional computers well beyond what most would have dreamed possible even in a Star Trek episode. With the “phone” element pretty much perfected, it makes sense that added functionality would be the focus of future innovation. Have we reached a point though where even those avenues are “maxed out”?
With augmented reality still a very niche interest, and likely to require a peripheral accessory, and the metaverse launching an entirely parallel series of hardware, what does the future of handset innovation look like to you?
Do you see untapped opportunities for the handset itself to leap forward?
Is the future in “adding” more sensors via peripherals (i.e. watches, fitness trackers, glasses, etc.)?
Or is the handset post-peak, on it’s way to the tech dust bin to join the beeper and other “intermediary” devices once immersive headsets, embedded bio-enhancements or some other communication aid mature?