Rethinking the Role of Smartphones

Each fall, some of the major smartphone companies release their latest and greatest phones in time to take advantage of the holiday season where as much as 40-45% of all smartphones are sold each year are during Oct through Dec.

This is especially the case for smartphone behemoths Apple and Samsung. Samsung tends to try and get their “newest” smartphone to the market slightly ahead of Apple which is why Samsung recently held a major event in NYC to launch their new Samsung Note 8 with new cameras and new features that make it their best Note smartphone to date. Samsung used this same time frame last year to launch the Note 7 that unfortunately for them turned out to be a real disaster since over 100 units caught fire and they had to recall all Note 7’s and discontinue this product completely.

The good news for them is that they owned up to battery fires and did the right thing and they have not been negatively impacted regarding people willing to want to buy the new Note 8, which should be a big seller for them throughout the next 12 months.

Shortly, Apple is expected to introduce their newest iPhone, a 10th-anniversary edition that many have been calling the iPhone 8. We won’t know its official name until Apple announces it sometime in September, but it too is expected to have some major new features and be a huge draw for millions of people around the world who want to own Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone when it to comes to market.

Both phones compete in what we call the “premium” market for smartphones and are priced at the top of the line. Samsung’s new Note 8 will be around $989 while Apple’s iPhone is rumored to be priced somewhere between $999 and $1099 depending on configurations purchased.
While people may flinch at these higher price points, I think we need to start looking at these premium smartphones in a different light than the earlier models represented in the early days of the smartphone.

Since 2007, when Apple first introduced the first iPhone 3G, the technology they use inside the iPhone has evolved dramatically. The CPU’s are more than 10-15X the speeds of the first smartphone processors, and the GPU’s have improved by as much as 15X during these ten years. The displays on these smartphones are larger with greater resolution, and color depth and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 screen covers that are used newer smartphones is 8-10 X more durable and scratch proof than what was used in the first iPhones and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

This same technology evolution can be said of the cameras used in these phones with megapixels going from 2 megapixels in the original iPhone 3G in 2007 to 12 megapixels today.
All premium smartphones also include a second front facing the camera with high megapixel counts as well. These premium phones also include much better speakers, WIFI and Bluetooth radios and of course, higher speed LTE modems. We are at 4G speeds today, but within the next three years, we will move to 5G that will allow for speeds up to 1 GPS while mobile. Add finger print sensors, other new biometrics like face and eye scanning, longer battery life and more memory, and you can see why prices for these premium smartphones have increased and not decreased over the last ten years.

But what really helps me see these premium smartphones in a new light is that what we now have is a full-fledged personal computer that fits in our pockets and gives us much more power to do almost everything we can do on a laptop or PC, minus the heavy lifting productivity and extended graphic editing you still want to use a PC or laptop due to its bigger screen and keyboard. Just as important is the fact that smartphones put the personal in personal computing. PC’s and laptops can be shared with others, but our smartphones are our personal computing devices that in almost all instances are used only by us individually. That makes it the most important personal computing tool we have and one that we become tied or attached to all of the time.

When someone asks me what smartphone they should buy, I always tell them to buy the one they can afford that has the most power and memory possible. People use their smartphones for a variety of reasons, and so you want one that can do as much as you want it to do at the price you can afford.

While the idea of buying a smartphone at $1000 or more may be too much for most, the buy/leasing plans that the carriers offer to make the price points for most within their reach. It would probably add only $10-$15 to the monthly bill. The good news is that even mid-range smartphones with lower prices have advanced processors, cameras, and radios too, but the premiums ones that Apple and Samsung will have this holiday season are the best we have ever seen available.

These new premium smartphones are full functioning PCs with almost all the functions and versatility one needs to handle almost anything they want to do with a digital device. While price still matters, when one sees them as a real PC in their pocket, the idea of paying as much as $1000 for these new premium smartphones might make more sense.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

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