The Phone Plateau

I realized innovation had reached its temporary peak when my last phone update gave me nothing noticeable. After years of adjusting to “improvements” with each update, I wasn’t sure if the lack of change was exactly that, or if the tech companies had finally made it more seamless. Sadly, our research shows it’s the former.

What has happened to innovation? And, more specifically, what is the approaching phone plateau and whom does it affect?

Tech companies have grown with rapid success on the basis that they offer a different experience than any other competitor. That wide variant in experiences that once existed is now becoming less and less evident, especially in the areas of smartphones.  Both the hardware and connectivity are no longer different enough to drive healthy competition.

            Big name phone makers, such as Samsung and Apple, were once at the forefront of smartphone advancement. The hardware and software improvements made leaps and bounds over the models of previous years; but ,as of the last two years, new phone models are focusing on features instead of true upgrades. Cameras, for example, were once boasted about on iPhones as the best of the best; now, all smart phones that are not considered a budget phone have decent cameras. This idea of “not different enough” has led to the new mentality of the consumer: “If it works, why upgrade?”

            There is something just on the other side of the plateau, however. 5G shows promise that it could be the next big advancement to fuel innovation. From what we hear, 5G will have blazing speeds that some consumers can’t even get at home with their wired connections. One problem, though, is that the current introduction of 5G feels like a publicity stunt with major U.S. carriers announcing that the networks are “prepared” for 5G—even though the service isn’t out yet. The networks can’t support it, and there is a limited number of phone types that can support the new frequency.

            Still, 5G will introduce new possibilities that smartphone makers can take advantage of and, in return, create an innovation windfall. Mobile gaming will be made with faster connections, developers will make more demanding games, and smartphones get some serious hardware upgrades. This will all lead to better performance, better screens, and better battery life—which will all lead to a better phone experience.

While it currently seems like there is a lull in the advancement of personal tech, there appear to be some big things on the horizon. Artificial intelligence, facial recognition, user privacy and 5G will all influence what kind of tech we will see in the coming years. Sure, there will be disappointments along the way, but that’s something that comes with the cost of advancement.