back to article Smartphones merge into homogeneous mass as 'flagship fatigue' bites

People are turning away from pricey "flagship" smartphones sold on complicated expensive contracts, according to industry figures. Dealmaker site uSwitch says it's seeing steep declines in year on year sales of flagship smartphones in 2015, with Sony hit particularly hard. Even Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 6 exhibited the …

  1. Joe Harrison

    Obvious

    Phones all do basically the same things. Beyond a certain point paying more will not give you a better camera better or more accurate GPS. Being seen to afford a very posh car can make people pay for the flashpig model but I'm not sure the same really works for mobile phones.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Obvious

      Have an upvote for flashpig.

    2. Katie Saucey

      Re: Obvious

      "Phones all do basically the same things"

      Agreed. It took me years to justify banishing my Nokia 6120 to the glove-box. My most recent phone is a Galaxy S3 I bought for 45$ CAN (new in box) a few months back. I'd much rather be free of any contracts and have the extra few hundred bucks in my pocket, than take 8 megapixel selfies or whatever.

    3. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      Keep taking the derivative until you find bad news

      "The iPhone 6 ...was up by 25 per cent which is less than previous years."

      So Apple was shipping iPhone 6 at a rate of 9.4 Hz for the entire quarter. They made a world record quarterly profit of $18 billion. They're the most profitable company ever. Sales are up by 25%. But we've detected a downward trend in the rate of change of the rate of change of the number sold.

      Larger point is still valid.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obvious

      That's kind of true, but not entirely so at the low end of the market. When shopping for my last phone I found a lot of the budget models didn't even have GPS.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Obvious

      While cameras in smartphones have been improved, they will never reach the quality level of a proper purpose made camera. It's just plain old physics and easy to see when you compare sensor sizes and how much budget is given to get the best quality. /rant

      For a while now, there are so many off-brand phones that have the core set of features that people use day in and day out that paying 10x more for the latest name brand is ludicrous. Service universally sucks not matter which vendor you choose and the handset is going to be obsolete in a year or less, so why pay the premium? Get a phone now that does what you want it to do and don't get bamboozled by a load of useless gimmicks. Next year, sell off your aged piece of kit to somebody looking for a deal and pick up something else. Use the massive savings on a nice holiday somewhere sunny. (or buy food)

      1. ckm5

        Re: Obvious

        I disagree - I have a Nokia 1020 and a Sony RX1 (full-frame, 35mm f2 Zeiss lens). In quite a lot of areas, the 1020 can outperform the RX1 (recrop, focus speed, portability, even low light & dynamic range), particularly given the typical end-use, which is posting on the web at a significantly smaller size & resolution that most cameras. In those circumstances, you'd be hard pressed to differentiate the two, same goes with pictures out of an iPhone 6 or an LG G2/G3, all of which have vastly better cameras than any dedicated hardware less than ~$700.

        There are certain areas that are still problematic for some phones (DOF, low light, high iso), but modern phone cameras are miles better than quite a few dedicated cameras from several years ago.

        As someone who shoots a lot and has owned a lot of camera gear, from very cheap to absurdly expensive (think red dot), I'm leaning so much on the cameras in my iPhone & the 1020 that I rarely use the higher end gear. It's just not necessary to take fantastic pictures - most higher end phones from the last few years are good enough if you are a decent photographer. And to be a decent photographer, you must take a LOT of pictures with whatever camera you have at hand, not expensive dedicated gear.

        And, yeah, if you pixel-peep, the phone cameras might not pass muster, but specs don't create great pictures...

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obvious

      iPhones used to have some sort of premium image, but as the masses have largely decided that having a mobile Internet slab is worth paying lots of money for the price Apple charges isn't seen as a lot any more.

      Apple should hike the price up to £1000 if they want to keep any illusion of prestige.

    7. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Obvious

      Phones all do basically the same things. Beyond a certain point paying more will not give you a better camera better or more accurate GPS. Being seen to afford a very posh car can make people pay for the flashpig model but I'm not sure the same really works for mobile phones.

      Indeed, so because of a lack of better ideas the manufacturers start making bigger phones, and people find them a bit too cumbersome to carry around so they don't buy them and look at mid range instead.

      I'll give the manufacturers a hint about some useful stuff:

      1. Readability in sunlight.

      2. Survive dropping from head height to concrete.

      3. Survive a dunk in a toilet

      4. Battery life able to sustain the advanced functions of the phone for at least a full day.

      5. Good solid signal strength in fringe areas.

      All those are genuinely useful. But instead we are getting more pixels that we can't even see.

  2. big_D Silver badge

    About sums it up for us.

    My family are all on 9€ to 24€ contracts without subsidised phones.

    1. gotes

      I've actually gone pay-as-you-go, and I'm not a teenager! After analyzing my usage over the past 6 months, I realised I was only using half of my bundled minutes and only a few MB of data every month. "Handsets upgrades" are procured from eBay when I break or lose the previous one.

      1. Teiwaz

        Pay-as-you-go vs. Pay-whether-you-go-or-not

        I came to the exact same conclusion in 2000 after one contract phone. Been on PAYG ever since. Usually buy my phones 2nd hand as well, same with my cars.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm not sure what contracts are for these days if you aren't buying a handset in the process.

        When I look at SIM free contracts the prices and offerings seriously suck compared to PAYG. It's almost like they're trying to discourage people from sticking with their current handset.

  3. Martin Summers

    Network Quality?

    “Handset brands have become less important, and the quality of the network more important,” said Three’s CEO David Dyson.

    Nope. You're all much the same. Fact is there's just nothing exciting to be had anymore.

    1. goldcd

      Not quite true

      I spent last week working in the States, and being able to use by Three phone out there as if I were at home - no roaming charges, everything coming out of my 'near as damnit unlimited bundle. A revelation.

      At home, there's no real difference any more, I'd agree - but this is one thing I'm going to need if any other operator ever wants me back.

  4. RyokuMas
    Facepalm

    Oh dear...

    "“Handset brands have become less important, and the quality of the network more important,” said Three’s CEO David Dyson."

    Judging by my own experiences with Three, that's them screwed then...

  5. GregC

    SIM only is the only way for me

    and has been for years - just pay for the service and update my phone on my terms, as and when I want. People I know seem to be increasingly doing the same thing as well, and with handsets like the Moto G doing 90% of what a flagship phone can at a fraction of the cost it's becoming a practical option for more people.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: SIM only is the only way for me

      I just upgraded to a Moto G - I thought it was a flagship !

  6. cs94njw

    They need to start investing in the battery industry, before a Flagship phone becomes attractive at a high price.

  7. No. Really!?

    While it does feel like smartphones have moved into the "late Pentium" stage...

    How does :

    >Even Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 6 exhibited the dreaded “flagship fatigue”: although sales >were up, the uptick was nothing like as great as in previous years.

    Square with having hoovered up more money in a quarter than any company before?

    I'm happy to believe it's going to be a different story next quarter, but right now it seems to be at odds.

  8. cambsukguy

    Looks much more like the money went to iPhones cause they made a bigger one.

    An overall dip makes sense in the saturated western markets though - it took a couple of weeks after release before I saw an iPhone 6 of any kind in the wild.

  9. Pen-y-gors

    Obligatory anti-fanboi tirade

    Actually, I'll skip it, it's boring.

    People buy smartphones because they can perform a function (I assume - if they want useless bling they would buy a diamond ring or gold necklace). If a mid-range phone is adequate for the job, then why would they buy top-of-the-range ones? I'm sure iPhones are quite effective tools for communicating and doing what they do, but I genuinely wonder at the mindset of people who buy them. Surely the rational approach is to buy a tool that offers good value for the purpose for which it is intended. If the manufacturer of the tool you're thinking of buying is making over £10 billion squids profit in three months, surely one would start to question whether it's really good value, or just very, very over priced, no matter that it does the job.

    Who are the people who pay over the odds for things? Are they the people who buy expensive designer clobber which they only wear a couple of times? Should I start a company selling gold-plated hammers at a 10,000% markup on manufacturing costs?

    I think I may be one of those boring old farts who foolishly thinks that clothes are just intended to keep you warm and dry, and which should last for years!

    1. gotes

      Re: Obligatory anti-fanboi tirade

      Who are the people who pay over the odds for things?

      I expect they are the same people who take out personal loans to buy a car or a piece of furniture, instead of saving up or buying second hand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Obligatory anti-fanboi tirade

        @goa̶ts̶es "...loan....instead of ... buying second hand."

        "Instead"? I took out a loan to buy a 2nd hand car!!

        Of course... a Mercedes. A very nice one.

        At 0.75% interest rate.

    2. Richard Taylor 2

      Re: Obligatory anti-fanboi tirade

      "If the manufacturer of the tool you're thinking of buying is making over £10 billion squids profit in three months, surely one would start to question whether it's really good value, or just very, very over priced, no matter that it does the job."

      But then they might conclude that they are both getting a decent deal, cost of ownership low (in many aspects) at a greater initial cost, Integration effort of the originating company (plus very smart marketing) worth the premium? Maybe not, but your winge is not wel thought out.

    3. td97402

      Re: Obligatory anti-fanboi tirade

      Well, I don't know if I am a fanboi, I do know that I am not rich, don't wear designer clothes and my car is 8 years old. I am probably a tired old fart as well. All of that being said, I really like the build quality, simplicity and functionality of the iPhones. It is probably the only "luxury" product I own. I've also had great experience with Apple customer service on the rare occasions I've had to contact them. If Apple has managed to make a hefty profit then good for them. I am really enjoying my iPhone 6 and it didn't cost that much more than other high end phones.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory anti-fanboi tirade

        I use an iPhone too. Having tried on 3 occasions in the past to get along with Android phones, each experience just left me hating them even more. As an OS it is just too intrusive.

        So I use an iPhone, 2 years old, £150 off Ebay, 4G and does more than I need without making a big deal of itself. Absolutely nothing to do with luxury or bling.

  10. Khaptain

    Flappy Bird Syndrome

    Whether or not you have a 6 inch 32 core i7 in your smartphone or 1/4 core Athlon, Flappy birds doesn't get any easier.

    In other words, the smartphones of today far outweigh the requirements that most users have.

    The capacity to have a 5 word instant message communication threads and the lining up of some silly fruits is all that is requried for 90% of the users that I see on the tram ride to and from work. They no longer need to spend 700 euros for this...

    1. BryanFRitt

      Re: Flappy Bird Syndrome

      "1/4 core Athlon"

      As if 1/4 core of any CPU would do anything useful without the other 3/4 of the core.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flappy Bird Syndrome

      Not true. If you wish to view piss-poor websites such as Canada's National Broadcaster CBC.ca, you'll find your older devices bogging down due to the 130 to 200 separate element load calls that these World's Worst Webcoders (CBC.ca) have coded up. Two year old devices crash and burn due to their idiotic coders. Real amateurs those loons.

    3. Greg 16

      Re: Flappy Bird Syndrome

      That's not quite true. It's only really in the last 18 months, than I could buy a phone that can run a sat-nav app smoothly at the same time as receiving e-mails/texts/calls.

      What we're seeing is exactly what happened with digital cameras - rapid annual progress where it was worth upgrading almost every year, until they got so good that it's very difficult to justify upgrading at all.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Flappy Bird Syndrome

        "What we're seeing is exactly what happened with digital cameras - rapid annual progress where it was worth upgrading almost every year, until they got so good that it's very difficult to justify upgrading at all.

        Digital cameras actually started to get worse. Makers were in a senseless megapixel war, which meant cramming the sensor with too many small elements, each needing amplification resulting in high noise in images, and abominable low light performance. Canon actually took their Megapixel count down on their G range. All because the public understood a bigger number of pixels better than they understood a larger sensor area.

  11. K

    Curved screens... says it all ready

    The mobile industry is stagnant and short of ideas, its pretty much reminds of the mid-tier Laptop market, nearly every device is the same spec, very little to differentiate them.. I have a 2 year old Sony Z Ultra, with a 6.5" 1080p screen, 64Gb and runs Lollipop like a dream, runs all the latest and greatest games. There is virtually nothing new they can offer.

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    I don't know why anyone buys a locked phone

    It's very rare for a "free" phone on 24 month contract to work out much better than just buying a phone and the SIM to go with it. As such I really don't why people would bother with the first option. It just means their phone is filled with network crapware, is locked to the network, firmware updates are few and far between and they're stuck on an expensive contract regardless of changes in their requirements or personal circumstances.

    All to save a few quid. It's not worth it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't know why anyone buys a locked phone

      Sometimes, an installment/hire-purchase plan is the only way one could afford something worth the puirchase, especially if they have money and credit trouble (meaning they can't make that big a gulp at once).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't know why anyone buys a locked phone

        People who can't afford a flagshop phone seem to be the ones most attracted to them. Stupid is as stupid does.

    2. David Paul Morgan

      Re: I don't know why anyone buys a locked phone

      my preferred method is definitely to buy the handset up-front and keep the connection + data part separate. I was on £10+£7(unlimited data) for ages.

      I did go the 24month route for my Z1 Compact which has 5GB data/month, but by going through Carphone Warehouse, it meant that the handset is 'unbranded' by the network operator, but I still kept the same network operator. I probably won't CyanogenMod this handset, as I like the Walkman & Sony Camera parts. To be fair to O2, their handsets are only lightly 'branded' and certainly not sim-locked to Network. (or have not been, in my experience)

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    How does this square up with...

    the 76 million flagship phones that Apple sold last quarter?

    come on Mr O, we'd like an explanation or perhaps people are just turning away from flagship phones made by companies other than Apple?

    Otherwise, the article is saying,

    Apple is Doomed I tell ye, doomed.

  15. Down not across Silver badge

    Shock! People on 24 month contract don't upgrade every 8 months

    HTC’s One M8 was down 23 per cent on the previous M7. The Samsung Galaxy S5 was 33 per cent down on the Galaxy S4. And Sony launched two flagships eight months apart, but neither matched the popularity of their predecessor; the Z2 was 23 per cent down and the Z3 61 per cent down.

    There is a hint up there especially with Sony, but equally valid point for Samsung and others. Most people (if they have gone the more or less subsidised route) are stuck with 18-24 month contracts. spewing out new models constantly doesn't fit in with the contract lengths. Combine that with the fact that mobiles have kind of plateaud a bit with no earth shattering reasons for people to upgrade and that will all hit sales.

    1. Greg 16

      Re: Shock! People on 24 month contract don't upgrade every 8 months

      Sony released the Z1, Z2 and the Z3 in the space of 12 months!

      I have a Z1 Compact and I love it - but it's so good that Sony will probably be up to the Z101 by the time I feel the need to replace it.

  16. OffBeatMammal

    Flag-sized

    the problem with most of the "flagship" phones is while they may have a nice feature or two, or a bigger CPU to cope with the OS they're running... they're getting freaking huge. 4.7" is a lot of glass to stick in my pocket, but with the new ones running to 5 or above to support UHD screens with advanced hyperbolic LTE and phase array GPS that works on Titan and other small moons the rise of the Man Purse will continue as people can't carry them any longer.

    On the subject of the battery... the fact these mobile devices need to be tethered for a top-up every couple of hours is becoming a joke. The bus-ride to work drops the battery on my (Android) m7 from fully charged to ~75% (listening to music and reading El Reg).

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch
      Thumb Up

      Re: Flag-sized

      with advanced hyperbolic LTE and phase array GPS that works on Titan and other small moons

      As everyone knows, you should always save hyperbole until you really need it. In this case, I approve, though I suspect that the natural evolution you are looking for is bigger hands/pockets rather than "man purses".

  17. Dr. Mouse

    There's always a trade off

    I have a friend who ensures that, when she buys a new PC, it is top of the range. She spends a hell of a lot of money, as much as she can afford, to get the latest everything.

    However, she expects that machine to last her for at least the next 5 years. She makes that investment for a reasonable length of time. By the end of it's life, it is still a reasonable machine, but then she can get a new one and get the speed bump.

    Myself, I go down another route. I upgrade often, a bit at a time, pretty much in a continuous cycle. But when I select my components, they are mid range at best. On average my machine is probably about as fast as hers: it will be slower at first after she's bought new, but will pass hers during it's life. But I avoid paying the premium for the top end.

    With phones, most people are locked in to a 2 year upgrade cycle (even if they aren't on a contract). If you don't upgrade, you won't get the latest OS, apps will stop working as well, and generally the experience goes down hill. Factor in to that the ridiculous costs of flagship devices (or the contracts for them), and the fact that a mid-to-low range handset is more than adequate for most people, and you can see why this is happening.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: There's always a trade off

      If instead she bought a 2-year-old PC (that had been top of the line when new) and changed it after 3 years, she'd get much the same deal for about 25% of the cost. As with cars, but even more effective.

  18. MikeHuk
    Meh

    Just too expensive now

    I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and is certainly the best phone I have ever owned (including my previous Iphone). I would like a Note 4 but not at around £600 quid not enough extra value over what I have with the Note 2. No thanks Samsung.

    1. cmannett85

      Re: Just too expensive now

      I was in exactly the same position last month, I ended up getting a OnePlus - it's just as good as my Note 2 but only cost £270.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Just too expensive now

        My wife did the same. Had a Note 1 that was getting slow (though I did tell her and prove that the live aquarium wallpaper wasn't helping but you know...) and wanted the Note 4. One look at unlocked prices on Amazon and I was asking a mate for a OnePlus invite.

        She's as pleased as punch with a ultra snappy phone that goes four days on a charge and cost just over a third of the price.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just too expensive now

        @cmannett85.

        Does the OnePlus also have the active stylus the same as the Note 2? For me the lack of the stylus is a killer, sorry.

        1. jason 7

          Re: Just too expensive now

          No, no stylus but to be honest...other than you, only folks in the marketing ads for the Note ever used one (or pretended to use).

  19. Jim 59

    Phones

    Maybe phones have reached the point that midrange is now good enough. Nobody really cares about 8 megapixel vs. 12 megapixel, because 8 is more than enough. Similarly, marginal improvements to dpi is not going to get anyone excited. DPI is not an issue.

    The manufacturers release a new top model every 8 months. It should be more like 3 years. A 2 year old Samsung S3 is virtually identical to an new S5, in appearance and utility.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rest of the world finally catching up with me then ?

  21. The First Dave

    The data from a "switching site" is bound to be biased towards the thrifty, surely?

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Just choose the numbers that support the story you want to tell.

  22. Hans 1
    Facepalm

    Obvious

    > More people are happy with hand-me-downs and SIM-only deals.

    More people [have found the calculator app and] are happy with hand-me-downs and SIM-only deals.

    Fixed it for el'reg.

    Seriously, if you buy a phone on contract you are an idiot, no ifs, buts or maybes - just look at what you spent last time.

    1. L05ER

      Re: Obvious

      $20 added to my bill per month... $480 over the term, when the phone itself (at the time of contract signing) costs almost exactly that.

      add in that i get more data and minutes than a comparable ($ wise) pay as you go plan... AND that i will not find myself without need of a phone for those two years... i'm far from an idiot, just a realistic guy who can actually do math.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Obvious

        Same here. A $20 premium per month when the phone I was getting at the time was $500. Basically a wash. Plus, since I was on a postpaid plan, I got to enjoy features you won't see in a prepaid plan such as WiFi Calling and Visual Voicemail.

        1. Hans 1

          Re: Obvious

          So you guyz are saying there are no phone-less flatrate plans in your country where you actually pay less than those including a phone ? Pay as you go is obviously more expensive ...

          Usually, telcos actually pay for the phone with your excessive usage of your data plan (when you exceed the monthly limit).

          If this is so, you are being ripped off.

          As I already wrote, I have a LTE plan with 20Gb data/month (speed reduced after I hit the monthly limit), unlimited number of calls (to max 250 distinct numbers per month [including mobile in France, US & Canada and landlines in ~100 countries], max 1h but of course I can redial, unlimited SMS) for 20euro/month. Actually, I pay 17/month because I have ADSL with them also - waiting for fiber which is only a few blocks away and coming to my street this year.

          Oh, and I have 35 days/year 3G dataplan across Europe in the deal + calls + sms. after that I pay less than the outrageous prices you pay abroad while roaming.

          If you do not have a plan like that in your country you have a cartel and are being ripped off.

  23. anody

    So, time for the Project Ara? Buy only the bits you like/want/need?

    1. Teiwaz

      Sounds like a good idea

      I doubt the 'google surveilance' module will be removable though.

      Then there wil be the unmarked black module that mysteriously reappears attached to the device every morning, no matter how many times you remove it and 'accidentally misplace it'

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Sounds like a good idea

        Hmm...wonder what happens if you remove it, and REPLACE it with a solid block of epoxy? NOW how are they gonna replace it without bricking the phone in trying to remove the epoxy?

  24. Anthony Hegedus Silver badge

    Speaking as the owner of an iphone 6 plus, who upgraded 11 months before the contract is due, I'm delighted. I sold my "old" iphone 5s for more than the buy-out cost of my existing contract, got the latest phone on a zero-interest scheme from my network (o2), and now have the phone I wanted. Yes, it does the same basically as the old phone, but I can see the screen better (being nearly twice the size), I can type more accurately, I can take better photos, I can store more music and videos, the battery lasts longer - much longer, as a satnav it's more functional because it's bigger, and the speakerphone seems louder.

    The improvements are incremental, but I'm not interested in fashion, I don't care about a new car, I don't even have a TV (another thing that suckers you in to frequent upgrades - 47" is the new 32" I believe).

    It's what floats your boat I suppose. Phones float my boat. I spend less on my phone than other people do on Sky subscriptions, clothes, cars etc.

    And the thing about zero percent interest is significant - I could buy an iphone, but it would not cost me less than getting it on a contract (at least with o2) even if I had the money, which I don't.

  25. smartypants

    Still some improvements worth having with a new handset for some!

    I recently replaced a 3ish year old smartphone, and all the things that niggled with the old are fixed in the new.

    -3 day battery life (good for relieving me of battery anxiety)

    - Easily more than a full day with gps tracking on and frequent map usage (good for hill walking)

    -128GB external SD card (good for hill walking)

    -waterproof (good for hill walking)

    -fits in my child-like hand more easily than the last one but the screen's still big enough

    -easier to read in sunlight than the last (though still utter pants compared to paper)

    -much better speakers - can use it like a proper radio when travelling

    It was also quite cheap to buy outright, so I spend about thruppence ha'penny a month on data/calls/texts.

    Still not perfect for my needs though... Screens of all phones today (yotaphone excepted?) are utter shite in the sunshine. That's one big area where future models could induce people to upgrade.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Still some improvements worth having with a new handset for some!

      "-3 day battery life (good for relieving me of battery anxiety)"

      This may clash with one of your other requests:

      "-fits in my child-like hand more easily than the last one but the screen's still big enough"

      The only ways, physically, for the screen to be the same size yet fit your hand better are to (1) reduce the bezel and (2) thin the phone out, but (2) means you can't put in the big battery you really need to have a 3-day practical working life.

      "-easier to read in sunlight than the last (though still utter pants compared to paper)"

      Again, a tradeoff. A display that's good for transmissive light (ie. backlight) is generally bad for reflective light (ie. sunlight). While inroads into this are being made, there have generally been tradeoffs. The closest we've come to is Qualcomm's Mirasol display, as seen (albeit very briefly) in the Toq smartwatch (Where is Mirasol now?), but even that trades off night visibility to an extent.

  26. naive

    Capability beyond use

    Perhaps what also counts is that flagship phones have capabilities beyond their use. Eight core ARM cpu's on testosterone is more than most need. There is actually a great opportunity for google now that the phones are becoming so powerful. A phone cradle like Motorola had with the ATRIX, but in this case with Chrome OS as an option on the phone. In the cradle it can be used as a Chrome desktop, with external screen, mouse and keyboard, outside the cradle it is a standard Android phone. In the future it could replace small size desktops like Intel NUC.

    If this works, combined with seamless session continuation when the phone is taken and reinserted in the cradle, companies could save considerable money on desktop equipment. It just requires an industry standard cradle to make this a success, and google can create this.

  27. Medixstiff

    Sounds just like PC sales.

    Sounds like the same reason for PC sales too, CPU's, RAM and storage is large enough on most phones these days, that there really is no reason to upgrade unless you like to keep up with the Joneses.

  28. Joe Gurman

    25%?

    Are we looking at the same statistics? http://www.statista.com/statistics/263401/global-apple-iphone-sales-since-3rd-quarter-2007/

    There have been a raft of articles bemoaning the fact that a solid percentage of people who get Android smartphones in the US do so because the phones were pushed (often with very deep discounts) by the mobile provider on customers who have no need for, desire for, or understanding of smartphones --- as opposed to iPhones, which appear (on the basis of mobile-based sales, clickthroughs, app sales, and general LTE usage) to be used 3 - 4 times more than the average Android smartphone. Literally Apples and oranges.

  29. cowbutt

    I was burnt when, buying the then-flagship Samsung Galaxy S 2, I was shocked and disappointed by slow firmware updates, firmware updates with serious bugs that went uncorrected for months and sub-standard hardware (notably flash memory, but others also reporting problems with the BAT500 battery leaking and destroying the WiFi chip).

    So my next phone was a cheap-but-solid SIM-free Moto G paired with a SIM-only contract. I figured if it lasted me a year before I needed to buy something equivalent, the two together are still only 3/4 the price of a flagship device at most.

  30. crayon

    "That's not quite true. It's only really in the last 18 months, than I could buy a phone that can run a sat-nav app smoothly at the same time as receiving e-mails/texts/calls."

    My Pureview 808 runs Nokia Maps, plus quite often I run Sports Tracker or MeeRun at the same time so I could record a route, plus the music player. At other times I have Maps running alongside SymDVR (which makes a record of the route as well as record a 1080p video of the whole journey).

    Both the older N8 and E72 was able to run Maps and music player at the same time (and of course take calls/texts/emails).

  31. SidF

    Networks and Coverage

    For those of us who live in rural Wales or the rest of rural UK, the only thing that matters with a handset is whether it can pick up the -101 dBm 2G signals which not all of the networks broadcast here. With most handsets that can make a 2G voice connection, the data connection at 2G and low signal level doesn't work so there is no email access.

    I would estimate that only about 70% of the UK surface area has any kind of mobile signal at all and perhaps about 30% has a 3G signal.

    The logic seems to be that the bigger the handset, the bigger the antennae and more usable the phone is.

    Commenters thoughts on phones with best weak signal performance would be welcome. I'm ditching my HTC Desire X which has been hopeless and getting a Nokia 735 when O2 have stock. Fingers crossed that I have made the right choice.

  32. Zed Zee

    It's not flagship fatigue - it's mid-market distraction.

    While I think releasing a new flagship phone every 12 months or less is bound to saturate an already highly competitive market, I believe the reason for the recently-observed FF effect is also due to the fact that the likes of Motorola, ThL, DooGee and Xiaomi are deliberately not aiming for these high-end segments.

    There's a new segment that's opened up, which all of the top manufacturers have zero products in. It's not the cheap end of the market and it's certainly not the "mini" versions of the flagship models market, either.

    This new segment is led by the likes of the Moto G - one could argue that Motorola really started it - whereby the product is not an all-singing, all-dancing device, it's not a mini-me version and it's certainly not at the other, cheap and nasty, sluggish with a crappy locked-in interface (unless you root it, of course) end either.

    This new segment brings clarity to what the smartphone ought to be; yes, it's got features but not any unnecessary features (like a grafted UI on top of the OS), or smack-you-in-the-face speed processors or indeed gigantic screens (although the One+ models go against this mantra) and certainly no gimmicky features, like heart monitors and so on, that barely anyone uses.

    This new segment focusses on clarity, speed through simplicity and a peeling back of the OS, to reveal the original beating heart of Android (I'm talking a stock version), like the Moto G and E and to a degree, the X. One+ is doing the same with their Cyanogen image. This new freedom to offer a very good performing phone, at an unbeatable price (between £100 and £200) was unprecedented, until Motorola released the Moto G, in 2013.

    Google's current slogan is "Be together but not the same" or something like that. I think Android vendors have had too much freedom or not enough policing from Google and the result has been Apple's runaway success, because they have always presented a consistent look'n'feel to their products. Sure, freedom is good and messing about with the UI is nice but really, do you need all the grafted interfaces, from Samsung, hTC, Huawei, Sony, LG etc? I would argue no, because plenty people bought the Moto G and never did I read anyone moaning that it was 'too stripped down'; if anything, industry pundits LOVED that about it!

    My wife was delighted with it, because it had a competitive screen size, it was very cheap at Tesco, on a PAYG deal, it had fantastic performance and there was absolutely zero bloatware on it and Android was sparsely populated (as it should be), so users can make their own choices about apps. Couple that with a simple app that xfered all your stuff from the old phone to the new one and hey presto! A new market segment was invented.

    This, in my humble opinion, is where Samsung and Apple are haemorrhaging customers to. The abandonment of the flagship segment is not a net migration to Huawei, Doro or Alcatel and the like, but an embracing of Motorola, One+ and other manufacturers, with a 'natural' product, performance that delights and at a very attractive price-point

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