Are the latest crop of new smartphones a bit rubbish?

Are the latest crop of new smartphones a bit rubbish?

We've spotted the rumours of discontent in our comments section, and now Digitimes Research has put its semi-official stamp on things: recent smartphone releases have been distinctly lacking in wow factor.

From the basic HTC Desire 200 to the gargantuan Sony Xperia Z Ultra, most new models have been slammed for being low on innovative features or meaningful improvements over their predecessors.

HTC has been up to its old tricks (remember the Desire S, Wildfire S and so on from MWC 2011? Probably not) with the newly announced Butterfly S, while at the other end of the market we have the woefully uninspiring (though good-looking) Desire 200.

In fact, the Wildfire S makes for a good comparison, as it isn't that far from what the Desire 200 offers despite being more than two years older. As AhmadCentral put it: “HTC need to stop releasing the same budget phone every year.”

DigiTimes also name-checks the Huawei Ascend P6, which doesn't offer anything ground-breaking aside from being very thin (suggesting it, rather than the ground, will be what breaks should you accidentally drop it).

It also talks about the Samsung Galaxy S4 spin-offs (Mini, Zoom, Active) as having, if anything, diluted the Galaxy S4's perceived value as a brand. The decision to upgrade the S4 to a Snapdragon 800 processor in Korea hasn't helped either, since the rest of the world is still stuck on the “lesser” version.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but in truth it's hard to disagree that the middle of 2013 has left our insatiable appetite for quality handsets a little unsatisfied.

Can the next bunch of heavy hitters turn it around? The likes of the Nokia Lumia 1020, Motorola Moto X, Apple iPhone 5S, LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have certainly promised a lot, but can they deliver and set 2013 back on track for a barnstorming finish towards the holiday season?

Give us your thoughts in the Comments.

Add a comment
10 comments

sparx1981  Jul. 10, 2013 at 11:51

I think the last time I went wow was the ipod touch announcement. Since then it's just been bigger screens, faster processors and better cameras. We still dont have foldable screens, projected keyboards or anything wow like this.

JanSt / MOD  Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:16

Agree with Martin and sparx.
Innovation has stalled. Essentially, it stalled a good while ago. Things that have existed pre-iPhone and pre-Android have been polished to death. Yes, the S-Pen combined with better hardware and software brought us hover-touch. Gee...
But it is all about speedier, bigger etc etc. Not really new. New is the integration and/or improved access to web services. New is not throwing more filters at the camera app to ruin perfectly acceptable shots with a touch of Instagram aesthetics.

New was USB-On-The-Go - interestingly, few people cared when the N8 brought it to the masses. Many reviews didn't even mention the feature.

There's more, but yawn.

I think what is underrated (possibly cause it is too uncomfortable to mention) is the economy.
People are broke. They have been long before 2008, but now we all feel it. Really feel it.
And the knowledge that things will get worse before they get better is no longer a guess.

That means a lot of people are no longer able to afford stuff "just so". If they weren't before, either, they are now absolutely out of rationales to justify impulse purchases.
Combined with the fact that last year's flagship from the discount bin does pretty much everything that this year's most hyped devices do, it's a no-brainer for more and more people that we may as well stick with the devil we know.
That means less hype. Less chat at the watercooler about this or that awesome feature.
More and more people have seen it all, or they don't want to see it to avoid temptation.

Ordinary folks and so-called pros (reviewers etc) who a while back would have hyped anything just to fill a post or a paragraph now fill a post or a paragraph with a "yawn, nothing much to amaze you - evolution rather than revolution" etc etc...

Lastly, hey - 'we' have been there. Who, except for the geekiest, gives a sh*t what make and configuration your laptop is? What happened there? Touch? Oh, wow...haven't seen that on iPads and 1,000 'different' Android tabs.

I'm absolutely amazed when I read articles like this, or warnings about Samsung's/Apple's/anyone's losses or declining growth etc etc... pussyfooting. We're shiny happy people in a shiny happy world. Only, ahem... a THIRD of irish household cannot afford their mortgages anymore. Nah, that couldn't possibly have any impact on how we consume or talk about or assess an essentially useless range of products.

Just look at Apple's 5th appstore anniversary. The thing that started much of the most ridiculous hype in history. Now we hear 2/3 of all apps are practically NEVER downloaded.
But god-damn an OS that launches with fewer than 500,000 apps. LOL

We're nuts.

PS: then, of course, there is stuff that is just rubbish. BB10!
Seriously. It is a mystery how BB dared throw a launch party for that unfinished, immature, 2 years behind the rest pile of code.

And what were Mozilla thinking?

sparx1981  Jul. 10, 2013 at 12:54

Another thing to throw into the mix is that some of the new technology that does trickle out means little to the general public. LTE, 4G, NFC.... I understand these but still see limited or no use for them.

NFC to pay for items using your phone? Nice idea but never seen it done, NFC to connect to TV or headphones, nice idea but only know of a few brand new compatible NFC items so limited use. 4G, most people already have issues with their current signal so full 4G is / will be patchy at best.

JanSt / MOD  Jul. 10, 2013 at 13:03

Another thing to throw into the mix is that some of the new technology that does trickle out means little to the general public. LTE, 4G, NFC.... I understand these but still see limited or no use for them.

NFC to pay for items using your phone? Nice idea but never seen it done, NFC to connect to TV or headphones, nice idea but only know of a few brand new compatible NFC items so limited use. 4G, most people already have issues with their current signal so full 4G is / will be patchy at best.


True.

Where I live signal hasn't improved for any network in 10 years. No 3G. 4 networks. No 3G. Bing....
Where I work, a truck parked in the wrong place, and whoosh... no 3G hahaha Guess how much I care about a 4G-ready phone?

NFC? Yeah, lets bang phones together.
QR codes? LOL... cause I need more PR about the rubbish in Tesco, and the rubbish churned out by Hollywood (who put now more thought into criminalising citizens than they put in entertaining them)...

3D? LOL... That went really well, didn't it?

krogothnx  Jul. 10, 2013 at 13:37

the last major phone change we had was when we started moving to capacitive touchscreen based devices about six years ago. before then, really, how different were phones? Nokia had about 400 variations on the same phone with the odd quirk thrown in (3300, 3600), everyone had some sort of flip phone and slider where the only standout was the original Razr (because of how thin it was - remind you of phone marketing today?), and the 'smartphones' of the day were mostly me-too resistive touchscreen and stylus based models running WinMo... and most of them were probably made by HTC anyway. BB and Palm were doing their own thing, but nothing vastly different to the WinMo crowd.

We went through a period of device convergence where everything we had started to be just our one, super-duper smartphone. We've gotten used to it now, and the status quo has returned to humdrum normality.

sparx1981  Jul. 10, 2013 at 15:20

The next wow factor that I'm looking for is the foldable screens. I saw a Samsung concept video that showed a guy with a phone that was like the size of a pen or something like that. He makes calls on it like that but can also unroll it so that he has a tablet sized screen that is like paper should he need it.

Mind you, should that even occur, I can see problems with it already. e.g. my flexible paper screen being a pain in the butt while it's not put on a table etc.

barrybarryk  Jul. 10, 2013 at 15:38

Just give me my 5~6" tablet with a decent battery life, a separate bluetooth paired phone peripheral (literally just an earphone and a mic on something a similar size to a stylus) so I can receive calls with the main tablet still in my pocket and a desktop dock to dock it into so I can use it as a desktop when it's connected to the right inputs and outputs.

That's not too much to ask is it?

JanSt / MOD  Jul. 10, 2013 at 16:31

the last major phone change we had was when we started moving to capacitive touchscreen based devices about six years ago. before then, really, how different were phones? Nokia had about 400 variations on the same phone with the odd quirk thrown in (3300, 3600), everyone had some sort of flip phone and slider where the only standout was the original Razr (because of how thin it was - remind you of phone marketing today?), and the 'smartphones' of the day were mostly me-too resistive touchscreen and stylus based models running WinMo... and most of them were probably made by HTC anyway. BB and Palm were doing their own thing, but nothing vastly different to the WinMo crowd.

We went through a period of device convergence where everything we had started to be just our one, super-duper smartphone. We've gotten used to it now, and the status quo has returned to humdrum normality.


I agree and disagree. 6, 7 years ago, you could buy a decent phone without GPS if GPS was of no use for you. You could buy an excellent phone without a camera if a camera was of no interest or your job/employer didn't allow a camera. On the other hand, you could get fantastic audio-centric devices (NOTHING, to this day, sounds like the Nokia N91). In relative terms, you could say, "sod memory expansion - I don't need it".
Not all phones supported early Gmaps. There were tiny teeny weeny phones and big chunky stainless steel monsters like Asus' P-series. There was loads of variety.
Same with apps. With omni-present wifi and 3G/4G people these days forget how blo*dy brilliant Opera Mini was. Proper websites on 2G? Whoa...

Etc etc.... Now it seems we have reached a plateau. And in addition to faster, bigger, thinner
we get experiments in software. BB10's UI? Forget the swishy swipey video demoes. It's unfinished, illogical and annoying. In real usage it offers zero advantage over BB7. So, BB ruined their reputation to deliver something that looks different enough to make a 3 minute Youtube clip.

We have seen it with Android, too. Donut was so very ugly, OEMs had to try and make it at least as 'pretty' as, ooh, S40 or something. Then more and more was glued on, until the UI became 'heavier' and bloatier than the OS itself. And now people crave vanilla Android - and call it progress.

Samsung make a fuss because they can now teach us to just not touch the screen.
On the other side: hey, ours you can use with gloves...

Meanwhile, iOS still won't let you copy contacts to the SIM (iOS 10 maybe?), Android's non-gmail email client sucks a*s even though Google spent a good chunk of money for Sparrow.

The biggest innovation in JB? No jitter when scrolling.

Sony release the Z before the first dust particles settled on the T boxes.
A whole OS range - WP - is made up of basically identical devices. HTC throw beats at it, and Nokia its camera prowess. But to the ordinary shopper it all looks the same.

None of this matters, though. It happens in all areas - mobiles aren't special.
And who knows? The next big thing may come out of nowhere. The social networks were
it tears from laughter when Apple announced the iPad.
When the first camera phones hit the market, most people said it's a gimmick that'll disappear. Jobs said "search just isn't happening on mobile"... Lord Sugar thought there was no market for the iPod. Gates thought there'd never be more than a few MB of storage... WAP? What a joke.
And a dozen record companies didn't wanna sign up the Beatles.

Stelph  Jul. 11, 2013 at 09:25

The next wow factor that I'm looking for is the foldable screens. I saw a Samsung concept video that showed a guy with a phone that was like the size of a pen or something like that. He makes calls on it like that but can also unroll it so that he has a tablet sized screen that is like paper should he need it.

Mind you, should that even occur, I can see problems with it already. e.g. my flexible paper screen being a pain in the butt while it's not put on a table etc.


That or something along the lines of the concept Mozilla Seabird from a few years back

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG3tLxEQEdg

I still love the concept of including one or all of these

- A built in IR keyboard so you can type when the phone is put on a desk
(you can get them seperate like this, why not build them in http://www.virtual-laser-devices.com/?an=vlk-new)

- A built in, removable bluetooth headset that charges off the phone

That and a big battery

Adster  Jul. 11, 2013 at 13:58

I'm still waiting for something like this, On the surface the technology all exists.

Email:

You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.

Comment: