back to article World goes SIM-free, leaving Sony and HTC trailing behind

One-third of phones worldwide are now sold SIM-free, Gartner reports today in its latest quarterly smartphone market numbers. The move to SIM-free online sales has benefited Chinese upstarts and left former favourites like Sony and HTC in the dust, analyst Anshul Gupta told us. “They haven’t changed at all, while the market …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Stop

    "Some Chinese vendors like Xiaomi are banking on issuing frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates"

    Fortnightly? Agile madness.

    1. caffeine addict

      I'm thinking (hoping) these will be security and bug updates not the constant beta style of agile. Which can only be a good thing in a world where half the phones are digital Typhoid Marys...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Angel

      Re: Xiaomi are banking on issuing frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates"

      Go for the Beta tester option and its weekly, go for developer option and it is nightly updates.

      BTW. A Xiaomi Beta is more stable than a M$ SP1.

      HongMi owner and proud of it.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Xiaomi are banking on issuing frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates"

        I have a Nokia (Windows) smartphone. It's more than two years old now.

        Last time I noticed it "updating" was over a year ago. It's definitely updated a great many times since, but I haven't noticed it. That's my idea of "working".

        Last time it crashed, or otherwise failed to perform within reasonable parameters, was last September. I think it may have happened once, before then, but I don't remember with certainty.

        What's your phone's record?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: Xiaomi are banking on issuing frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates"

          An unresolved bug with the FM radio, not sure when it occurred as I have never actually used it, and an update in January broke the MiPC suite for a couple of months for some MIUI phones; although it seems the issue was more with the MiPC suite as instead of bug fixing the phone OS, they brought out an update for the MiPC suite.

          I have been running the BETA update program since buying the phone over a year ago, and those are the only two bugs I have spotted.

          No lock-ups and the only other issue is Googles fault - removing the GPS sensor On/Off switch ; sometimes my satnav software fails to turn it on (but doesnt warn me), and there is no easy way to force it to activate any longer - but that is true of all current Android phones. (My phone switches off sensors it isnt using to save power - I get an average 4 days out of a battery charge, sometimes 6 days.

    3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      frequent, monthly or fortnightly updates

      "That bug is fixed when you buy our new phone," say all the cell manufacturers about to go out of business.

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    IPhone fatigue?

    Apple may not be rising to Mawston’s challenge with a Nathan Barley phone… Let's fucking hope not. It would presumably be more 5c's and the like.

    I'm not a huge fan of Apple's business practices but they haven't been successful because they spend millions of dollars down at the strategy boutiques but because they have top notch industrial design and product execution. The I-Phone fills need for many people because it takes away lots of tricky decisions. Wrapping everything up in a pretty package is important but only a part of what they do.

    God, some of these analysts need to join a dole queue and get a life. I do hope Apple continues not to listen to them. And I've never owned an I-Phone in my life.

    Kudos for the Nathan Barley reference. We need more of these as life sadly continues to imitate satire.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: IPhone fatigue?

      Sadly, the trashbat.co.ck website seems to be down... but I have found one image of the Wasp T12 Speechtool, though alas it doesn't show the T12's fold-out twin jogdials for one-the-go MP3 mixing, or its integrated business card printer.

      https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8641/16615827980_f8ca763638.jpg

      https://musicfashionperv.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/nathan.jpg

      Now, that's a phone!

      I'm hoping that George Lucas decides to make Special Edition of Nathan Barley, by using CGI to add hipster beards and sailor tattoos to the characters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: T12. It's well weapon.

        https://web.archive.org/web/20140414094448/http://www.trashbat.co.ck/

        Or variants on that theme.

    2. Roj Blake

      Re: IPhone fatigue?

      "I'm not a huge fan of Apple's business practices but they haven't been successful because they spend millions of dollars down at the strategy boutiques but because they have top notch industrial design and product execution."

      Yes, producing phones that bend in your pocket or fail to get a signal when you hold them the wrong way reeks of top-notch industrial design.

  3. Mr_Happy

    IPhone Redesign

    I'm sure the removal of the standard headphone socket is going to be such a major redesign factor that everyone is going to go wow and rush out and buy it.

    Smartphones have reached maturity, there isn't much you can add, so price is now becoming the major decision on which phone to purchase

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IPhone Redesign

      You could definitely add better battery life to smartphones...

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: IPhone Redesign

        You could definitely add better battery life to smartphones...

        Back when it was normal to be able to replace the battery that was easy. My S3 Neo now has a 4.3AH battery and I only need to charge it once a week normally (admittedly aside from streaming music over bluetooth for an hour every lunch time it has a fairly quiet life).

      2. Robin

        Re: IPhone Redesign

        > You could definitely add better battery life to smartphones...

        Especially if manufacturers get over their stupid obsession with making them thinner and thinner.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: IPhone Redesign

          Absolutely, bit thicker, gives more space for battery, card slot and a bit more structural rigidity. Honestly I really can't imagine why most phone makers would not want to make a sturdy long lasting phone with a replaceable battery.....

          On topic I just recently replaced my lost phone with the same model z3 even though it's a couple of generations behind the latest. Why, battery life is actually better than the current iterations, it's actually abloody good phone screenwise etc and it was £200 there's no way I could justify to myself paying the extra 300-400 quid for something like a z5 or s7. Why do I even need the chip to be that much faster? It's not like I am hacking WOPR.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: IPhone Redesign

            Honestly I really can't imagine why most phone makers would not want to make a sturdy long lasting phone with a replaceable battery.....

            Planned obsolescence. Why make a long lasting phone when you can make more money forcing people to buy a replacement(s).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: IPhone Redesign

              Indeed. Never make something functional... always build in an element of fashion as fashions always change.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IPhone Redesign

      " is going to be such a major redesign factor that everyone is going to go wow and rush out and buy it"

      Very amusing!

  4. James 51

    Would cars make a good comparison for how the market is changing for phones?

    1. John Bailey

      "Would cars make a good comparison for how the market is changing for phones?"

      No.

    2. Toltec

      "Would cars make a good comparison for how the market is changing for phones?"

      Do you mean in the sense that more people are buying phones outright now whereas many people are now paying a monthly rental to get a new car every few years?

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "SIM free" ?

    Is this "Network free" ?

    I've already predicted in another forum that with phones becoming indispensable (e.g. Android Pay), the logical marketing approach is to sell *two* phones which can be effortlessly synched, so one can be on charge, while the other is being used.

    Does anyone remember the massive 1990s aftermarket for batteries ? And chargers like the Motorola-supplied one for the M301 which had 2 slots. 1 for the phone and one for the spare battery.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: "SIM free" ?

      Is this "Network free" ?

      I think the point is that phones are being sold direct rather than via airtime providers who customize them and load bloatware onto them and then fail to provide timely OS upgrades (for their patched OSes).

      By selling direct (or through a normal retail shop) the OEMs are able to ensure that updates are released as fast as they can develop them ... or, if the OEM doesn't customize the OS at all, as fast as they receive the updates from the OS vendor (Google, in the case of Android, which is what most of these phones currently run).

      So it's not so much "Network free" as "without network-specific crapware".

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: "SIM free" ?

        Also, if you buy the phone outright you are covered by the Sales of Goods Act ("This phone has failed, please give me my money back now!") as opposed to having the use of a phone that remains property of EE/O2 until the end of your contract period ("What do you mean I have to wait a fortnight for you to send it off to be repaired?!").

        In addition, you can ring your network operator at any time and say "You competitors are offering me the same tariff for less. Please knock a few quid off my monthly bill or I'll leave you for them!"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "SIM free" ?

      What the hell are people doing with their phones that they can't get through a day on battery? I don't talk on my phone nearly as much as I used to (thanks to Lync/Skype meetings replacing the need to dial in to conference calls, and text/email displacing some social calls) so maybe that's the difference, but I'm using it probably two hours a day for apps/browsing - mostly while I'm watching TV so I'm kind of absent minded doing both.

      I charge it every other day, occasionally I get three days out of a charge, with an iPhone 6S plus. I am in disbelief that anyone would seriously suggest trying to sell people TWO phones, so one can be charging. I hope that was in jest. Otherwise, this person clearly needs 1) a phone with a swappable battery or 2) to add a "battery case" to the phone that gives it an extra 5000 mAh of battery life. If you still can't get by with that, you need to buy a better phone, because battery life isn't your problem but your phone's shitty battery consumption.

      There is no market for people having two phones so one can be charging while the other is in use, nor should there ever be.

      1. Barry Rueger

        Re: "SIM free" ?

        hat the hell are people doing with their phones that they can't get through a day on battery?

        Short answer: using them.

        I mostly use mine for email, some texting, the very occasional photo, rare phone calls, but run GPS that tracks my location for a few hours each day.

        I usually just manage a day on a charge, but that depends also on whether I'm downtown, or out in fringe reception areas.

        I don't stream media, or do big downloads.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "SIM free" ?

        What the hell are people doing with their phones that they can't get through a day on battery?

        Strange as it may seem I only use my smartphone for making phone calls and it has been running on battery for 9 days 7 hours and some minutes at the moment with a residual 25% charge so it goes on charge tonight.

        I didn't used to get that length of time between charges until I off loaded all the crap that was sucking the battery dry. Since I only want it to make calls, I have a tablet and laptop for anything else, I am pleased with how it now works.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: "SIM free" ?

          @Ivan 4: That does seem strange. If you're only using it for phone calls, have you considered getting rid of the "smartphone" and replacing it with a good old-fashioned dumb phone?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "SIM free" ?

            @veti,

            I know, but my old dumb phone literally fell apart and no amount of duct tape would fix it and I needed to make a call. The local electrical goods store only had smartphones so I got a 45 euro dual SIM unit and now I like the dual SIM feature (saves cost when country hopping) so I will keep it until it falls apart in its turn.

      3. ilmari

        Re: "SIM free" ?

        Right now, I'm browsing el reg while also frying pancakes.

        After breakfast, it will be streaming some fast and loud music while I work in the garden

        At that point battery level will be down to 66% or so, and it will get a short charge while I change clothes and head to actual work. At work, the phone will be streaming calming music or radio for 8 hours straight, after which the battery will be either dead or near dead.

        Throw in web browsing, taking notes, emails, phonecalls, catching up on YouTube during breaks, etc..

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "SIM free" ?

        What the hell are people doing with their phones that they can't get through a day on battery?

        Carrying it in an area with weak signals and many dead spots does it for mine. At my (main) home, after a typical day's use the battery is still at 80-90%. Here in the Fortress of Altitude, it sometimes runs down by mid-day.

    3. Daedalus Silver badge

      Re: "SIM free" ?

      Originally the point of having a SIM was that you could take your account with your home provider anywhere, as long as you could find a phone that (a) worked on the local network, and (b) would accept your SIM. That was a time when GSM had a data standard and a protocol for spectrum usage but couldn't be sure that the frequencies in one country would be the same as the ones back home.

      Apparently we're now so advanced, what with software defined radio and digital this and that, that such things are no longer needed.

      Having said that, this article has a very misleading headline for something that is basically a lot of sales comparisons.

  6. Tringle

    That's Xiaomi +1

    Just bought one. Redmi 3 Plus. Dual SIM, no NFC. Which was what I wanted. Not many pennies.

  7. BurnT'offering

    Phone, schmone

    The whole smartphone market came about because of a focus shift from phone-centric devices to connected personal computing devices. Smartphone fatigue won't be solved by non-rectangular designs but by similarly disruptive innovation. I would tell you what that will be - but, sadly, I'm not smart enough to have figured it out

  8. Phil W

    Payment options

    I bought my last handset SIM Free, simply because it was marginally cheaper to buy it with a credit card that had 27 Months interest free on purchases and set up a direct debit to pay it off over the same period, alongside a cheaper SIM only tariff.

    I'm now not tied in to a contract and can chose to pay off the credit card whenever I like.

    The moral of the story is, it's not that SIM Free is better but that selling handsets with little or no upfront cost and paid for as credit which is rolled into a high line rental tariff on a long term contract is a terrible and out of date model.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New phones for a new type of hipster

    The Galaxy J3(6) allows you to "ride tension free on the road"... is he checking the phone on the middle of the road? Does the phone have a "Look out, a truck! Oops, too late" alert function?

    1. Dadmin

      Re: New phones for a new type of hipster

      [this is the comment I was looking for...]

      No, friend! That mustache says; "HEY, I'm a hipster dad, out at the park with my kids, taking pics of their friends in swimsuits and other tight-fitting clothing! I'll be lurking around all summer, sometimes without the kids when the ex has them. NICE!"

      Photoshop in some leather-wear, and I think we have a winner.

  10. alun phillips
    Unhappy

    You've got it backwards

    I'm not sure so much that it's the Chinese are allaying the worry of crap customer service, as that the big boys have dropped the ball and cs levels have become so poor that the Chinese companies can't be anybworse

    1. Vector

      Re: You've got it backwards

      I think it's more like: Crap customer service? who cares? The phone is a third of the price of the big boys.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You've got it backwards

        Actually, more like a quarter of the price.

        That new Xiaomi mentioned a few posts up, I am not 100% certain, but at least one of the new Xiaomi phones can run TWO 4G SIM cards, on different networks AT THE SAME TIME!!

        Now I am hungering after that; I can keep GiffGaff for cheap/free calls to friends and family, AND use Three for internet usage (O2 network is shite for this).

  11. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Ugh? What is he talking about?

    The only place where you can get the full Sony range is Amazon and it is as SIM Free as it gets.

    My household has five active handsets (J, M2, M4, and two SP), and 3-4 more (T, E, M4) in the spare bin which are "dead until I get time to fix 'em and put cyanogen on them". The last time one was obtained in a physical shop was more than 4 years ago.

    Sony went online long before the Chinese upstarts. Sure, it continues to sell through operators, but that does not mean that you are not getting a better SIM Free deal online (including models that are not generally available on the high street).

    It is often overlooked, but it frankly is better supported, better updated and with better mid-range quality than any of the "cheap SIM Free" new wave Androids. It is also best bought online. Also, nearly all handsets can be given a second life with Cyanogen (if need be).

    1. IsJustabloke
      Pint

      Re: Ugh? What is he talking about?

      I can't upvote twice but I would if I could.

      I *really* don't understand why Sony are all but totally ignored by Journos. My Z1 is a fantastic phone... solid reliable, excellent battery life. Its been updated three times by Sony (Although I doubt I'll get any more :( ) water/dust proof long before anyone else... I had a battery problem, Sony collected / fixed and returned the phone in a week, all under warranty. Good looking phone, no bloatware, great camera. Really it's just plus points.

  12. OffBeatMammal

    disposable :(

    the problem - for me - is that all three major flavors of Smartphone (well, two plus Windows which I still think is under-rated) are generally a pretty meh experience.

    Android has a problem with stability and robustness. When it works, it works well (even when vendors like HTC and Samsung pile their cruft on top of it) but when there is a weakness then fixing it seems too hard. My Nexus5X is a case in point... multiple times a day the Google Calendar app crashes for no apparent reason and when it's done that enough times the phone reboots. If Google can't get their flagship devices right what hope have random Chinese vendors

    iPhone has a problem with the locked down OS. Sure, there are lots of apps and the phone is <sarcasm>magical</sarcasm> but what if I want to change the default Map app, or browser, or ... well anything for that matter. Didn't Microsoft get forked over by the DoJ and the EU for that sort of behavior? Apple make decisions as to whats good for me and still expect me to shell out several hundred quid every 12-18 months for a newer shinier model (now in champagne with hints of rose gold). And OMG please stop with the bespoke connectors.

    Windows Phone... largely uninspiring designs and still far too few "cool" apps (but Windows 10 does seem to be making a difference) but the ecosystem is a mess and while W10 is largely better than what came before it the attention to detail and rush to add shiny new features (that no-one wants) is distracting them from making a bullet-proof OS that's easy for developers to build for which in turn leads users to buy without fear of getting left behind in the app race.

    All three suffer from crap battery life and pretty awful hardware robustness. Big slabs of glass are fragile, but it also seems the innards are designed to self destruct after about 24 months to keep us on the upgrade cycle so they don't build in anything apart from obsolescence.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: disposable :(

      All five Win Phones that I have bought for various people are still operating just fine.

      The physical devices are also fine, although the 920, 925 and 1020 are maybe not getting Win10, which is a shame, WIn8.1 is very fir for purpose still.

      They all run as well as they did from what I am told and only seem slow compared to a 950.

      The new battery I put in the 1020 after nearly three years of wireless charging gave it maybe, maybe 10% more life, it was hard to notice.

      As for robust, there is a picture of a 920 in the dictionary entry for robust, the 800 is tough too. The 950 I have, I would not like to drop, it looks like you say, a slab of glass right to the edge. I am much more careful with it than the 1020 I had.

      Whereas, this Moto E I am using for work just got Marshmallow and now the scrolling and screen response turns awful and sluggish after a few minutes operation and a factory reset, which seemed to fix it, did nothing, the issue returns. Apparently I am lucky, a forum search turned up "No Phone, no task switch and no navigation 'keys' as a common fault".

      It does look like a drop wouldn't break it though, at least on a corner.

  13. Mike Fleischmann

    Japanese Cell phones

    Some of the cell phones in Japan are really innovative. I wish they worked in the US!! http://www.kyoex.com/

  14. FIA Silver badge

    “Apple is facing iPhone fatigue and pressure is mounting for Apple to innovate a new wow design beyond its standard rectangular form factor,”

    This made me laugh a lot; bring on the hyperbolic paraboloid iPhone 7 I say. (It's taken at least 2 accidental launches across the room to get my iPhone 6 into anything aproaching this shape, and frankly that's far too much work).

    said Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston, executive director at the analyst firm.

    This bit however made me jealous. I wish I could get exec director sallery for not saying much. (especially as I'd probably just wing it and make up some nonsense about maturing markets and saturation rather than rabid obsessive ranting to 'MAKE ME SOMETHING NEW!!')

  15. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I just bought a £45 phone...

    ...and it ain't bad at all! Seriously, it hasn't annoyed me once yet!

    I needed a phone that day (having punched my painfully slow £25 (unlocked, from Sainsbury's) Alcatel Pixi 3 in the screen for refusing to read an SD card properly the day before) and went to an EE shop. I didn't want to spend much because I have a fancy phone in need of expensive repair. The price tag said £90 for a Huawei Y560, but the manager had a ring-binder and said I could have it for £45.

    I'm really happy with it. Within 5 minutes of opening the box - it shipped with the battery at 50% charge - I'd popped in my EE contract SIM, restored my contacts from Google and had a fully functional phone. It's snappy and doesn't pause or lag for normal tasks (the Snapdragon 210 gets warm during modest strategy games, no matter), it's 4G, Android Lollipop, has a camera flash, GPS, 1GB RAM... I really can't find any major shortcomings with it. SD card slot, replaceable battery, it's all there. At its list price it has some competition, but at £45 it is amazingly good value.

    If you do buy a budget phone, the important thing isn't the internal storage (most have SD card slots) but the RAM - shockingly, some Android phones are still sold with less than 1GB of RAM which is just asking for frustration.

    (Meanwhile, the quoted repair cost for my Sony Z3 Compact remains £85. It's like when my mate's Hitachi disc cutter died and rather than pay £80 to fix it he bought one from Lidl or £50 with a 3-year guarantee)

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I just bought a £45 phone...

      Meanwhile, the quoted repair cost for my Sony Z3 Compact remains £85. It's like when my mate's Hitachi disc cutter died and rather than pay £80 to fix it he bought one from Lidl or £50 with a 3-year guarantee.

      Welcome to the world of builtin obsolescence: something not working, sir? Landfill it and buy a new one. You can't make the production lines for repairs as efficient/cheap the ones for making new ones. And throwing things away currently costs nothing.

    2. HmmmYes

      Re: I just bought a £45 phone...

      'shockingly, some Android phones are still sold with less than 1GB of RAM which is just asking for frustration'

      1Gb RAM!

      Wierd isn't. Times change and all that.

      30 years ago I started learning C on a Prime minicomputer, shared by ~40 people, which had 16M of RAM.

      1. Loud Speaker

        Re: I just bought a £45 phone...

        I know for a fact that Primes did not run Windows.

  16. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Any advice?

    My old man is getting frustrated with his Nexus 5 (5" screen) because his sausage fingers make typing difficult, so wants my advice in getting a new phone. Has anyone here with sausage fingers found that a 6" phone makes typing easier?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Any advice?

      No, a larger phone (I have a Nexus 6P, up from a 1st gen 3G-only Moto G) doesn't make typing much easier as the keyboard is pretty much the same size. It just lets you actually see what you're typing into.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any advice?

      "Has anyone here with sausage fingers found that a 6" phone makes typing easier?"

      If he doesn't mind using a wired or BT headset to make voice calls, there are several 7 inch tablets that function as phones with SIMs and have a very adequte onscreen keyboard, e.g. Huawei P8 max.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any advice?

      I have a 5.5" Xiaomi HongMi Note and fat fingers, has he tried using it in landscape mode? Also, some of the text input systems are much better than the standard issue version.

      Buy Xiaomi, 80% of the power and spec of the latest Samsungs for 20% of the price, I paid £84 for mine and the latest v3 can now be had for similar money.

    4. cambsukguy

      Re: Any advice?

      Use a swipe input system, no typing required. If you get the wrong word, and you will occasionally, tap it and select an alternative.

      Also, if you are alone-ish and it is quiet, the speech input works well on mine (much, much faster) and I am sure, others.

      Then, if it gets a word wrong, selecting it offers words that 'sound' the same, instead of swipe the same, required but brilliant none the less.

      The speech input uses grammar checking (or common matching or something) to get the words right, it is so cool to watch them change to match common sense (most of the time).

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Any advice?

        Thank you for your suggestions and feedback guys!

        I'll see how well he adapts to a landscape keyboard first - then try a swpye keyboard. Then a new phone.

        Some people have enjoyed using 'swype' keyboards using the Galaxy Note's stylus, according to one forum thread I've just read.

        Despite having a number of compact cameras, his phone has become his main photographic device, so there is a case for him to get another phone anyway. A Galaxy Note 4 seems to have a well-regarded camera, big screen - and who knows, maybe he'll find the stylus handy.

        Samsung's strange swapping of Android's [Back] and [Menu] keys will be fun for him!

  17. Mad Hacker

    Couldn't buy an iPhone SE the other day

    So I decided to switch from AT&T to Verizon and to get an iPhone SE when doing so. The Verizon website informed me it would be over a month before they could ship me an iPhone SE so no, I didn't submit that web order.

    I'd say they are in demand. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks phablets are not phantastic.

    As for software updates I know two people who have had their Oppos replaced due to what may have been hardware or software issues.

    Only the iPhone and the Google Nexus line (as far as I'm aware) offer decent software updates and avoid the crapware add ons like TouchWiz.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Couldn't buy an iPhone SE the other day

      I may seem like I am paid by Xiaomi but.....

      You can download and use any number of different ROMs for the Xiaomi handsets, various versions of their own MIUI, CyanogenMod, custom versions written by fans, and even overlays of other operating systems IOS overlay anyone??).

      Changing ROM can be as simple as downloading it onto a PC, selecting it from the MiPC Suite and plugging your phone in.

      MIUI is now being used by a number of other phone makers, and even some of the "Big Name" makers have phones that are compatible with the MIUI ROMs.

      The only bad news is that the Mi forums, where you get all of the above, are often horribly slow and laggy.

  18. Dieter Haussmann

    The 'next big thing' ishould be getting rid of batteries and replacing them with decaying radioactive isotope and collecting the electrons in an accululator. Charged4Life (TM)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The 'next big thing' ishould be getting rid of batteries and replacing them with decaying radioactive isotope"

      I hope you're not being serious. You can make a battery using a suitable tritium compound but the efficiency is terrible, especially converting a few nanoamps at several kV into something useful. Most beta emitters are much higher voltage than tritium.

  19. Alan Denman

    It pays to be behind the curve....

    so there is 2 years if good mikeage flogging iPones.

    Not so for the rest of the manufacturers where the consumer is king.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. TheBigCat

    What is SIM-free?

    I spent a while trying to figure out what SIM free is. At first I thought it was a phone that does not use SIM cards, and I was wondering what countries that would work in since the USA and Europe use SIM cards. But it seems to mean it is just a regular phone with no SIM card inside.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is SIM-free?

      It's a non-carrier-locked phone, supplied without contract, that will run on any network. I agree that the expression is misleading.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: What is SIM-free?

      I didn't know what it was either, but found an article on eBay that explains it well and points out there is a slight difference or can be. It's entitled "Differences Between Unlocked and SIM-Free Mobile Phones?"

      Some Sim-Free (not all) might still have network restrictions.

      http://www.ebay.com/gds/Differences-Between-Unlocked-and-SIM-Free-Mobile-Phones-/10000000177589819/g.html

  22. ScepticG

    People want smaller phones?

    Is the popularity of the iPhone SE down to it's smaller screen size?

    Some people I know, including myself, don't want my phone to get any bigger. The ever increasing screen size has it's advantages but also dis-advantages. I have an 8 inch tablet if I need a larger screen.

  23. stevenotinit

    I really like my Lumia 950. I've had it for a few months now, and no major problems. Granted, the rumors about MS stopping phones altogether makes me a tad uneasy, but I just don't see the upside for them totally stopping. Phones are the present and at least part of the future of computing, and they need to at least have a toe in.

    I also have an Iphone 6 (pretty, works well but hate the cultishness and walled-garden of it all) and a few Android phones. If I can't use a Windows phone any more, I'll just go back to Android.

  24. John Savard Silver badge

    Wow Factor?

    Yes, Apple may well need to make a new smartphone that does something impressive to get back its leadership.

    But a phone that isn't rectangular? Computer and smartphone displays are rectangular because they're most useful that way. A round display makes sense on a smartwatch because it is most often used to display a clock face, and similar criteria may apply to dials on automobile dashboards or in airplane cockpits... but a non-rectangular smartphone would be gratuitous and destined to be a flop.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Wow Factor?

      Latest digital airplanes cockpits have rectangular displays. Cars adopting them also. They can still display round instruments because users may be used to them (or make sense, like a compass), but some may be replaced by different UI - i.e. altimeters and speed display are often shown as stripes.

      The phone design became as simple as it could. You can't change shape and dimensions too much before it become pretty unusable. Past Nokia attempts in uncommon designs never went far. Human hands, pockets, and information display needs are big constraints.

      Impressive improvements won't come from design. Even with the iPhone, the big leap forward wasn't its design. It was the multitouch technology which allowed to simplify the design to a full screen device (no keyboard, no joysticks, almosto no buttons).

      But there's still a lot to do for the OS designs and user interaction. Both iOS and Android still use an outdated model dating back to the Macintosh and Win 1.x.

  25. Chairo

    SIM free

    Two years ago I changed to a data only SIM with only emergency call phone support and a separately bought simlock free smartphone and never looked back.

    Usually I use my private mobile only for contacting friends and the wife, and IP telephoning works perfectly well for this.

    All in all I saved a lot of money, have a far more flexible contract and have no carrier bloat in my phone. Only problem is the available phones. Here in Japan the market for unlocked smartphones is still very limited. Huawei, ASUS and a few Japanese brands are available with some models, otherwise you have to go for grey imports or the second hand market. I think you can also buy an unlocked IPhone nowadays, but the SIM free crowd is probably not their target market segment... What's notable is that Sony is missing with any unlocked models in their very own home market. Pity, as I rather like their phones, but if they don't want to sell their stuff... someone else made the deal.

    1. Chairo
      Facepalm

      Re: SIM free

      Two years ago I changed to a data only SIM with only emergency call phone support and a separately bought simlock free smartphone and never looked back.

      Oh my, did I write this? I suppose you should never read an article again after posting it.

      Two years ago I changed from the usual plan to a SIM only contract and bought separately a simlock free smartphone. This contract gives me a few GB of mobile data, but no telephone support apart from emergency calls. I am quite happy with the deal and never looked back.

      Well, I hope this is a bit less headache inducing. Sorry for any pain inflicted!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    Analyst == Muppet

    "Apple is facing iPhone fatigue and pressure is mounting for Apple to innovate a new wow design beyond its standard rectangular form factor,” said Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston.

    If he really speaks and thinks like this, then Neil Mawston is an idiot. What shape does he expect a phone to be? Spherical?

    Maybe Apple should introduce a spherical phone with a single camera and call it the iBall. That will get rid of any fatigue and surely bring the wow back. Can I be a quoted analyst too?

  27. Pseudonymous Diehard

    Buying

    SIM free phones has fuck all to do with demand.

    Its a response to shitty network practices. E.g. no updates, crapware, locking the devices etc.

    We've not reached peak smartphone. We've reached peak "get your phone for 'free' from the carrier" time.

  28. The real Gates

    No SIM, no phone

    Should they really start selling that stuff, I will keep on to my last SIM phone(s). Looking a bit stupid when the phone goes off to repair or you are abroad and buy a local SIM.

    This is another step on route to bully users around, control them and patronize them.

    HAND and get lost with that stuff ....

    H.

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