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The Law of....

LukinLedbetter

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 13, 2014
342
582
The Law of Diminishing Returns refers to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

I believe we’re seeing that happening in the smartphone space. It even seems to be accelerating. It’s very rare we see major advances in this space from year to year like we all observed from 2009-2016. During that time there were major advances each year in camera tech, screen quality, user experience, software usability and so on.

However, when we look at the advances in smartphone tech over the past 2-3 years the annual changes have become increasingly marginal and much more nuanced.

I’ve been a big enthusiast of smartphones and have owned probably 20-30 different smartphones over the past 8 years. But increasingly, I’m finding less difference in the changes year over year. It’s disappointing for me as an enthusiast because there’s less change each year to get excited about.

It feels like the majority of the growth of this area of tech has matured and at this point we’re seeing iOS and Android simply fine tune and tweak. It feels like they’re now what they are. We saw the same thing with the evolution of the home PC, video games, and countless other tech areas.

I still enjoy reading people’s experiences with smartphones, but for me, i find less and less reason to part with major dollars multiple times a year. You?
 
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raqball

macrumors 68020
Sep 11, 2016
2,079
9,275
I buy 8-10 phones per year usually. I haven't bought a new one in 4 months now and this makes me sad...and happy. :(:)

Me in the past 6 months:

Essential PH1 - Sold
Pixel 2 - Sold
iPhone 8 - Returned for iPhone X
iPhone X - Still have
Samsung Galaxy S9 - Just purchased
 
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LukinLedbetter

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Mar 13, 2014
342
582
I’m currently using an iPhone X because I like the size and because I’m a bit disillusioned at the moment about the privacy issues that have popped up lately with Facebook and Google. But it’s not a reason for me to not continue to purchase Android phones.

I bought a Galaxy S9+ but ultimately returned it because it’s just not doing anything amazingly new. I yawned at the XZ2 from Sony because it’s just a new form factor of the same phone they made last year. The OP6 is an incremental improvement over the 5 and 5T. The LG G7 is a V30 with a notch and nothing else notably new.

These phone manufacturers aren’t advancing the tech at the pace they used to. So I’m finding less reason to jump around. The Pixel 2XL provided a nice advance in camera tech, which was refreshing to see. And I’m hoping the Pixel 3 (the non-notched one) will provide another significant leap.

Perhaps the tech just doesn’t exist yet to accomplish the next big leap. Maybe that’s folding displays. Maybe that’s new battery tech. Maybe it’s some new way of capturing images despite the limitation in sensor size. Who knows?
 
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raqball

macrumors 68020
Sep 11, 2016
2,079
9,275
I think we hit critical mass a few years ago... Not sure what else can be done to a phone at this point other than software and spec bumps...
 

jamezr

macrumors G5
Aug 7, 2011
13,741
12,161
US
The Law of Diminishing Returns refers to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

I believe we’re seeing that happening in the smartphone space. It even seems to be accelerating. It’s very rare we see major advances in this space from year to year like we all observed from 2009-2016. During that time there were major advances each year in camera tech, screen quality, user experience, software usability and so on.

However, when we look at the advances in smartphone tech over the past 2-3 years the annual changes have become increasingly marginal and much more nuanced.

I’ve been a big enthusiast of smartphones and have owned probably 20-30 different smartphones over the past 8 years. But increasingly, I’m finding less difference in the changes year over year. It’s disappointing for me as an enthusiast because there’s less change each year to get excited about.

It feels like the majority of the growth of this area of tech has matured and at this point we’re seeing iOS and Android simply fine tune and tweak. It feels like they’re now what they are. We saw the same thing with the evolution of the home PC, video games, and countless other tech areas.

I still enjoy reading people’s experiences with smartphones, but for me, i find less and less reason to part with major dollars multiple times a year. You?
Could not have said it better!
I was buying 14 or 16 phones a year but have cut back to just 3 or 4. There just isn't enough of a difference anymore.
We have seen the smartphone space evolve and mature to a plateau level now.
We are all waiting for the next big thing to happen.....Maybe it will be foldeable phones next year? Hard to tell what is going to start the next tech revolution in smartphones.
 
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tbayrgs

macrumors 604
Jul 5, 2009
6,907
3,983
Hardware will keep moving incrementally forward in the smartphone space. The next real progress to be made is with machine learning and AI and their respective ecosystems, IMO. Ultimately, I also think smartphones will give way to greater roles for wearables, though haldheld computers aren’t going anywhere. Anyone here watch the Expanse and/or read the books it’s based upon? I don’t think that vision is too far off the mark. :D

Apple presently has the hardware ecosystem advantage as it encompasses far more categories than anyone else—mobile and desktop, IoT, media and wearables. Google is far ahead in software and services and its progress with its Assistant makes everyone else pale in comparison. If either could successfully bridge the hardware/software gap, they’d have a huge advantage, though if I’m honest, I think Google is in a much better position.

This is why I generally make 2 smartphone purchases a year, one iPhone and one Android and will continuing that pattern for the foreseeable future.
 

LovingTeddy

Suspended
Oct 12, 2015
1,848
2,148
Canada
I don't see this way. This year we seen major focus on bezeless display, underscreen fingerprint sensor, major innovations on camera department. We seen true bezeless phones like Lenovo Z5. I seen phones with fingerprint sensor integrated with logo, like the Smartisan N3 Pro 2. This year has been exciting years for smartphone.

This year purchase: Huawei P20 and P20 Pro, Smartisan U3 and U3 Pro 2 and Xiaomi Mix 2. I have my eyes on the most recent Xiaomi M8.
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I think we hit critical mass a few years ago... Not sure what else can be done to a phone at this point other than software and spec bumps...

Take look at Lenovo Z5 with true bezeless display. This would be game changes. True bezeless phones without notch and integrated under screen finger print sensor.

Hardware design evolve. Who knew we can have true under screen fingerprint sensor. Who know bezeless phones would come out.
 

Aneres11

macrumors 68030
Oct 2, 2011
2,872
4,826
It's an interesting one and I agree with the OP and further points raised. I think this is why I still love BlackBerry devices and tend to keep them longer than I do slab phones.

I do prefer a physical keyboard anyway overall, but it's always more exciting when you're using something day to day that is different to everything else you've simply become accustomed to. And that's what I'm feeling with most phones these days.

I think the only thing I will say though to kind of counter the point, (but it also is agreeing with the point, lol) is that it is nice that I can use an Android device from almost any manufacturer and enjoy it. I couldn't have said that 2 years ago. So whilst it's stopping us tech enthusiasts from wanting to move to something else for little return, it's good that if we do make a switch, the chances are we will still feel fulfilled due to how much Android has come on.

If someone would have told me even 6 months ago that Huawei would make a phone that I was really into and had little desire to change id have been pretty surprised. But such is the enhancements in Android and hardware that here we are. A blessing and a curse I guess.
 
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nviz22

Cancelled
Jun 24, 2013
5,277
3,071
I’m currently using an iPhone X because I like the size and because I’m a bit disillusioned at the moment about the privacy issues that have popped up lately with Facebook and Google. But it’s not a reason for me to not continue to purchase Android phones.

I bought a Galaxy S9+ but ultimately returned it because it’s just not doing anything amazingly new. I yawned at the XZ2 from Sony because it’s just a new form factor of the same phone they made last year. The OP6 is an incremental improvement over the 5 and 5T. The LG G7 is a V30 with a notch and nothing else notably new.

These phone manufacturers aren’t advancing the tech at the pace they used to. So I’m finding less reason to jump around. The Pixel 2XL provided a nice advance in camera tech, which was refreshing to see. And I’m hoping the Pixel 3 (the non-notched one) will provide another significant leap.

Perhaps the tech just doesn’t exist yet to accomplish the next big leap. Maybe that’s folding displays. Maybe that’s new battery tech. Maybe it’s some new way of capturing images despite the limitation in sensor size. Who knows?

Eh, if you're on a budget (like me), then the OP6 looks great. I would've bought the 5T easily for $450 if it were still on sale maybe 3 months ago. With the 6, it is like the most ideal outcome given realistic expectations I had for it: faster processor, better screen, some form of water resistance, an improved camera, and reliable software. They're adding auto DND, so I may give it a chance because I am in for an immediate Android solution. However, I may consider a cheap stopgap device between now and October.
 

Wildo6882

macrumors 6502a
Sep 12, 2015
518
558
Illinois
This is exactly why I’ve been considering leaving the all Apple world and going back to Android. The quality you can get now at such great prices is insane. Nothing is perfect, nor do I think it will ever be, in the tech game. But I just don’t see where it makes sense anymore to plop down $1400 for a cell phone. Sure it’s great. But is it twice as good as an OP6 or an S9/S9+? Highly doubt it. Same thing with Apple TV vs Roku, Apple Watch vs anything else out there when I would just use it for notifications, or Mac vs Windows or Chromebook. Tech has leveled out so much now that it just doesn’t make sense to fork out the Apple tax when other things are great as well at lower prices.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
9,076
10,701
This is exactly why I’ve been considering leaving the all Apple world and going back to Android. The quality you can get now at such great prices is insane. Nothing is perfect, nor do I think it will ever be, in the tech game. But I just don’t see where it makes sense anymore to plop down $1400 for a cell phone. Sure it’s great. But is it twice as good as an OP6 or an S9/S9+? Highly doubt it. Same thing with Apple TV vs Roku, Apple Watch vs anything else out there when I would just use it for notifications, or Mac vs Windows or Chromebook. Tech has leveled out so much now that it just doesn’t make sense to fork out the Apple tax when other things are great as well at lower prices.

If you look at this products individually then it might not feel like enough to spend on them but if you look at them all within an ecosystem, then Apple is the only company that even has such an infrastructure and I’m happy to pay for it.
 

kasakka

macrumors 68020
Oct 25, 2008
2,093
778
We are right now in the situation that there is barely any tangible difference in mid-range and flagship phones. While on paper the flagships have better cameras and displays and are faster with better battery life, the mid-range phones even from a year ago are perfectly adequate for most people. It's not like in the past where buying a new phone meant getting a fingerprint reader, twice the resolution, bigger display and smoother experience.

I'm still on a Oneplus 3 and it does everything the latest and greatest phones from this year do. It runs very smoothly, it still has good battery life on a custom ROM at least and takes pictures that are perfectly acceptable. Sure, the S9 or iPhone X take better pics (especially in low light) but that's a lot of money for just a smartphone camera. 1440p display resolutions, facial recognition or bigger screen vs bezel do not translate in a much better real world experience.

With no real innovation happening in smartphones, either they have to introduce a new type of device (like those concept phones that fold out into a small tablet) or the prices have to start coming down. Otherwise you see the situation where people are using Macs and PCs that are 3-5 years old yet work fine even for intensive tasks and they only upgrade every 3-4 generations of hardware.
[doublepost=1528120221][/doublepost]
If you look at this products individually then it might not feel like enough to spend on them but if you look at them all within an ecosystem, then Apple is the only company that even has such an infrastructure and I’m happy to pay for it.

I see no value in Apple's ecosystem. I own an iPad Pro and iPad Air 2, use a Macbook Pro for work but I use an Android phone, Windows desktop PC and Chromecast Ultra with my TV. I can't think of anything that using Apple services would improve as all of these things work together just fine with 3rd party services when needed.
 
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nviz22

Cancelled
Jun 24, 2013
5,277
3,071
We are right now in the situation that there is barely any tangible difference in mid-range and flagship phones. While on paper the flagships have better cameras and displays and are faster with better battery life, the mid-range phones even from a year ago are perfectly adequate for most people. It's not like in the past where buying a new phone meant getting a fingerprint reader, twice the resolution, bigger display and smoother experience.

I'm still on a Oneplus 3 and it does everything the latest and greatest phones from this year do. It runs very smoothly, it still has good battery life on a custom ROM at least and takes pictures that are perfectly acceptable. Sure, the S9 or iPhone X take better pics (especially in low light) but that's a lot of money for just a smartphone camera. 1440p display resolutions, facial recognition or bigger screen vs bezel do not translate in a much better real world experience.

With no real innovation happening in smartphones, either they have to introduce a new type of device (like those concept phones that fold out into a small tablet) or the prices have to start coming down. Otherwise you see the situation where people are using Macs and PCs that are 3-5 years old yet work fine even for intensive tasks and they only upgrade every 3-4 generations of hardware.
[doublepost=1528120221][/doublepost]

I see no value in Apple's ecosystem. I own an iPad Pro and iPad Air 2, use a Macbook Pro for work but I use an Android phone, Windows desktop PC and Chromecast Ultra with my TV. I can't think of anything that using Apple services would improve as all of these things work together just fine with 3rd party services when needed.

That's how I think I will operate on smartphones (2-3 years instead though) since the incentive to upgrade is not really there. However, the 8+ feels like a 4 year old device based off hardware design and the software UI. Android looks so much aesthetically pleasing and offers versatility.
 

Wildo6882

macrumors 6502a
Sep 12, 2015
518
558
Illinois
If you look at this products individually then it might not feel like enough to spend on them but if you look at them all within an ecosystem, then Apple is the only company that even has such an infrastructure and I’m happy to pay for it.

I look at it this way: I use exactly ZERO Apple services. I use all Google services. I can have freedom to use what I wish that syncs properly as it is, and spend less money. I see little to no value being completely locked into one company and ecosystem. I can use an Android phone, iPad, Windows PC, Roku/Fire TV, Google Home/Echo and everything will work together. And do it at a lower cost than if I was to go all in with Apple.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
9,076
10,701
I look at it this way: I use exactly ZERO Apple services. I use all Google services. I can have freedom to use what I wish that syncs properly as it is, and spend less money. I see little to no value being completely locked into one company and ecosystem. I can use an Android phone, iPad, Windows PC, Roku/Fire TV, Google Home/Echo and everything will work together. And do it at a lower cost than if I was to go all in with Apple.

Yep if it works for you then by all means go for it. Having used Google services and products personally, I tend to like the convenience and no BS straightforward setup of Apple products and services working in harmony.
 

nviz22

Cancelled
Jun 24, 2013
5,277
3,071
I am done with iOS on a phone. This update just cemented my decision further.
 

tbayrgs

macrumors 604
Jul 5, 2009
6,907
3,983
It doesn’t narrow the gap between Android or iOS enough. I don’t need Memoji or Animoji stuff. I also don’t care for many of the features.

Not sure why you expected any monumental changes considering 1) it’s Apple and they add new functionality at a comparative snail’s pace—been like that for years, and 2) every rumor or early indication pointed it this be a pretty tame update, even by Apple’s standards, focusing more on stability.

I’m just starting to play catch up on WWDC now as I just left work but I’m happy with 2 changes I immediately saw in headlines—Waze and Google Maps support in CarPlay (I think hell might be freezing over :eek:) and grouped notifications. Group FaceTime is also promising.

Update: Still just starting to take in the changes announced today and while I'm slightly disappointed that some of the longstanding changes I'd like to see weren't made (change default apps, better arrangement of apps on home screens, better customization of control center), there are a few things I'm glad to see. The screen time management for families is pretty awesome, at least for someone who has 3 kids from 10 to 14 yrs old. ;) Notifications look like they're getting better (still need some work) and it looks like they've leveraged their Workflow acquisition in Siri Shortcuts.

I admittedly wasn't expecting much based on the rumors of a focus on stability so all in all, what I've just initially seen is not bad.
 
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nviz22

Cancelled
Jun 24, 2013
5,277
3,071
Not sure why you expected any monumental changes considering 1) it’s Apple and they add new functionality at a comparative snail’s pace—been like that for years, and 2) every rumor or early indication pointed it this be a pretty tame update, even by Apple’s standards, focusing more on stability.

I’m just started to play catch up on WWDC now as I just left work but I’m happy with 2 changes I immediately saw in headlines—Waze and Google Maps support in CarPlay (I think hell might be freezing over :eek:) and grouped notifications. Group FaceTime is also promising.

I was hoping that Apple could’ve convinced me to stick with their phone, but a huge nope. OnePlus 6, Moto, LG, or Google Pixel here I come.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
9,076
10,701
I was hoping that Apple could’ve convinced me to stick with their phone, but a huge nope. OnePlus 6, Moto, LG, or Google Pixel here I come.

Good luck. Will see you around in a couple of months.
 
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