back to article No one wants new phones – it's chips that keep Samsung chugging

A strong smartphone product range hasn't helped Samsung Electronics buck what is a saturated and exhausted phone market in the developed world. Samsung S9 Galaxy teaser Samsung Galaxy S9: Still the Lord of All Droids READ MORE The conglomerate makes TVs, phones and components. But the latter is the tail that wags the dog. …

  1. Kaltern

    What else IS there?

    The problem is, people are beginning to wise up to the fact that today, a phone is a phone is a phone...

    I'm not really sure what else you can DO with a phone right now - cameras are exceptional, screen quality is superb, the speed of most phones is spot on, and you can do pretty much what you want on them.

    Phone updates are becoming very much about pointless additions. Like the notch - as much as it pains me, Apple actually innovated a bit by sticking stuff into it. Other phones? They're simply copying as the makers somehow think we WANT a notch - that doesn't actually contain very much. But they're afraid if they DON'T add one, people will think something is missing.

    I'm actually waiting for the next round of updates to have such new and innovative features like a removable battery, stereo speakers, dual sim slots as standard and a headphone socket...

    1. JohnFen

      Re: What else IS there?

      "I'm actually waiting for the next round of updates to have such new and innovative features like a removable battery, stereo speakers, dual sim slots as standard and a headphone socket"

      Add an SD card slot to that list and you'd have truly innovative gold.

      1. Colabroad

        Re: What else IS there?

        I was very annoyed to see that the S9+ takes either a second SIM or an SD card, not both at the same time.

        1. skalamanga

          Re: What else IS there?

          I was hoping that by now, someone would have created a microsd card with a pocket routed out of the back that would fit a nano sim

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Samsung has a lot of competition

            They have to compete with all the Android OEMs, and have to somehow justify their Apple-like pricing against far cheaper Android alternatives. Apple is in a better position because if you want an iPhone they're the only option - there aren't other companies selling $250 iPhones the way that Chinese OEMs are selling $250 Androids which are pretty much equivalent to the S9.

            Google isn't helping their cause because every year they tighten the rules for Android OEMs a little more and remove leeway for differentiation, so if the hardware is pretty much the same and software is pretty much the same, why would someone spend $800 for the Samsung label on the chin?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Samsung has a lot of competition

              "every year they tighten the rules for Android OEMs a little more and remove leeway for differentiation"

              For me that's a good thing. I want a cheap stock phone with no vendor supplied additions and timely security patches pushed directly from Google. They can then differentiate themselves with hardware features like removable batteries, headphone sockets, dual SIMs, SD cards, notches, screen resolution, shiny backs etc.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @AC - lack of software differentiation a good thing

                I know that's a popular sentiment for Reg readers, but the typical Android customer doesn't care about "stock Android". Even if they did, OEMs want more than hardware to differentiate with - i.e. Samsung trying to create a parallel environment with Samsung Pay, their own browser and so forth.

                The less differentiation there is between Android OEMs, the more it hurts Samsung as the clear leader in the Android market.

        2. dajames

          False dual-SIM

          I was very annoyed to see that the S9+ takes either a second SIM or an SD card, not both at the same time.

          That is all-too common, unfortunately, and is seldom correctly described in manufacturers' product specs or properly condemned by reviewers.

        3. alpine

          Re: What else IS there?

          I did have a phone that did this, unfortunately it was a let down in other ways. A single slot, accommodated 2 sim cards, one on each side with one sideways, and a microsd. Unfortunately the Elephone S2 idea has never been replicated. But the clever slot was let down by the abysmal battery life...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What else IS there?

        I want all of those things with a side slide keyboard, please. Personally, I don't even want data, wifi (I think pronounced whiffee) will do. :)

        1. Guillermo Lo Coco

          Re: What else IS there?

          I will do an All-in for an Android with an Slide Keyboard like the Priv with double side slide feat like Nokia s85.

          That, plus Lineage, all I want.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: What else IS there?

      The last update to my S7 Edge brought Samsung Pay's slide up window on the home page. I don't use and never will use it so every time I reboot the phone I have to force stop the application. It doesn't seem like you can modify the settings without first signing in to the service.

    3. Jove Bronze badge

      Re: What else IS there?

      Most sensible people transitioned more than five years ago

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What else IS there?

      a gps that locks in in seconds, accurate to 0.5m perhaps? Oh, damn!

      1. AK565

        Re: What else IS there?

        Hmmmmmm...... The only apps I can think of that would benefit from that would be those involving scruffing and grinding.....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What else IS there?

        >a gps that locks in in seconds, accurate to 0.5m perhaps? Oh, damn!

        Use freshly downloaded AGPS data and you can get a lock on a few seconds. If on the other hand the AGPS data is 5+ hours old it takes more time and if it is 4 days old it is worthless.

        Sub m accuracy is coming with L5 signals but as far as I know only Broadcom has announced a mass market chip so far so I'd expect this to happen next year.

    5. Fungus Bob
      Thumb Up

      Re: What else IS there?

      What else IS there, you ask? The answer is obvious - sex toys!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What else IS there?

      "I'm not really sure what else you can DO with a phone right now "

      You have absolutely no vision. All 55 of you who gave that a thumbs up. A phone is essentially a linux computer, and a finer computer than most desktops at the early part of the century. Stop calling it a phone and start calling it a computer and maybe you can see the forest for the trees. The real question is to how to make it into a more general purpose computing device without changing its form factor. Things like the DEX dock for the Samsung phones and a suite of basic office apps (microsoft office lite, a photo editing program, etc) and suddenly the device that you cant see doing anything else starts replacing desktops and notebooks for most people in the home. And that is what ought to be the overarching goal for Google/Samsung and every other phone maker: to become the only computing device that all but the true computer enthusiast needs.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Ilsa Loving

    Less nonsense, more useful features.

    I honestly can't fathom how it doesn't occur to the likes of Apple and Samsung that people don't need idiotic things like talking poop when you videochat someone.

    Give us *useful* things, like a battery that lasts longer than a day. Put the radio chip back in so we can listen to FM radio instead of wasting our data plans. A decent panorama function that doesn't make your picture look like it was taken with a badly made fisheye lense. Or, I dunno, give us more control of our privacy, maybe?

    But no, apparently it's more important that people pretend that they're Patrick Stuart from the Emoji movie.

    Right now I'm keeping a close eye on how the Key2 works out cause it's the first decent phone in a long time that gives you more than 1 lousy day of battery life.

    1. DonL

      Re: Less nonsense, more useful features.

      "the first decent phone in a long time that gives you more than 1 lousy day of battery life."

      The Huawei P10 Plus gives me 6 hours of screen on time in addition to standby all day long (7:00 in the morning untill past 0:00) with lots of apps open. It has 128GB storage, 6GB ram, IR transmitter, SD card slot and fingerprint reader (which can also be used as home/multitask/back key) on the front.

      I used to have a Samsung phone, but these days their only priority seems to be the edge display/looks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Less nonsense, more useful features.

        Huawei P20 (non-pro) here. Same thing. Amazing battery and front fingerprint, and no fucking edge screen nonsense. S7 flat was my last Samsung, S8 was a downgrade in every way, S9 is just a joke.

  4. Giles Jones Gold badge

    What new features are they really adding now? The screens are as good as the human eye can see. The cameras are good.

    Smartphone OSes don't seem to add much either.

    They should focus on improving battery life now.

    1. ITS Retired

      Giles Jones: More battery life? But that would involve making the phone thicker. And everbody knoes we want paper thin phones we can roll or fold up and put in our pockets .

      I have an idea, make the phones thick enough and add a layer of rubber around the edges, so it doesn't need a case to protect it. The very opposite of what we are being told we want. Replaceable batteries, with a built in USB port on the battery for charging, would be good too.

  5. Number6

    I had an S4, which I've just retired, but looking at the latest Samsung offerings, they're too big, cost too much and have way too much bloat on them. I went for something lower down the market, which is more than enough for what I want. I get to fill it with things I want, rather than figure out which of the pre-installed crap I can safely disable. My new phone lasts several days on a single charge, to the point where I can keep it topped up merely by having it charge on my daily commute. All at less than a third of the price of the latest flagship thousand dollar (or equivalent in local currency) phones.

    I would like a dual-SIM phone though, or a way to allow two phone numbers on the same SIM with the ability to disable/mute/divert one of them during evenings and weekends.

    1. Alan Sharkey

      Look at the OnePlus 5 or 6. That will do what you want.

    2. Mike007

      The easiest way to have multiple numbers is to set up a SIP client and use data.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    maybe apple should....

    repeat it's magic in taking something tried and failed and make it work.

    True innovation in phones (from 2013)?

    A modular phone, where you upgrade the parts you want/need.

    The challenge is to move to this more environmentally sustainable model, keep it profitable and create a massive market in cheap swappable covers. It still has the lock in firms like Apple and Samsung like, it is different from the glued together, throw away when the screen breaks efforts we see now. But it will take the shiny shiny marketing Apple bring to convince the masses to move.

    Just a thought....

    1. Lewis Burgess

      Re: maybe apple should....

      I am in the market for a new mobile. I've got an iPhone 7 and want to break up with Apple. Soon. I'm over them. They've lost their way and feel Ive is just going over the top with form over function across all devices. Don't get my started on how crap Macs are for education now.

      I definitely don't want a Samsung, unsure about Huawei, find the OnePlus camera a bit lacking and have a significant main requirement that my new phone will receive regular updates. So that leaves me looking forward to the Pixel 3. An over priced, dull looking phone, but one that probably fits my requirements more than most. I'm happy to pay more for a likely non innovative device (albeit with a great camera), because it's pure Android and will still fit in my pocket. Google will gradually get more unification with manufacturers and the Chinese devices are disrupting the market with bang for buck. Huawei devices are very, very good.

      I think Apple will bring out an iPhone with 2-3 years that has no ports at all - wireless charging, bluetooth etc. Not sure how this will go down with non-wireless CarPlay owners, but I can see it happening.

      There's still plenty of room to improve the OS, software and UX in both camps, but hardware-wise, until we see further improvements in battery technology, flexible screens (maybe?) or some other breakthrough, we've reached almost as far as we can go with current tech, other than minor iterative updates and pointless me-moji type gimmicks.

      1. JLV

        Re: maybe apple should....

        Perhaps, but for all the complaining about Apple, I was able to confidently pick up a craigslisted SE previous generation cause Apple - while cheering you on endlessly to buy their new stuff - will support 4-5 years, easy. I mean, how many years of macos supported the PowerPC CPU, after X86? How old did your system have to be, before it wasn't supported?

        That 2yr old SE, bought last year? expecting 3-4 years more, easy.

        Pixels get 3 yrs from 1st release date. For that SE, that would be March 2019.

        I'd love to see competition to iPhones. Missing BB10, wish MS hadn't failed and chickened. And I have bitched about the price, contents and upgradeability of last-gen MBPs. None of this makes me like Sammy or Google more. or Android in general and this after 18 months of Nexus5 use.

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: maybe apple should....

        If you're after regular updates, the BB KeyTwo has committed to 3 years iirc.

        Camera may be a sticking point and it has a HW keyboard - the marmite of the smartphone world but solves the main requirement.

        1. JLV

          >committed to 3 years

          I can't be the only person who thinks that a 3 yr lifetime, for a consumer item costing upwards of $500 is a rather low bar.

          In what other field would we buy something of that price and then be OK that the manufacturer would just drop us off in the lurch past that? Especially when the countdown sneakily starts at the product's release date? Given that the lack of security updates basically means the product can be risky to use without it?

          For computers, we have rather higher expectations out of Windows (7 will be 11 years old by the time its security patches dry up). To say nothing of Linux. And cheap laptop prices are now in the ballpark figure of midrange phones.

          What makes cell phone manufacturers so special that we consider 3 yrs support to be great and forgive the majority who can't even bother that long? We're talking about established big name companies with massive marketing budgets here, not just cheap Chinese knockoff vendors.

          This was more understandable when the hardware evolution cycle meant that a 2 yr old phone was totally obsolete and could barely run new OS versions. But we're not there anymore, are we?


          1. JohnFen

            Re: >committed to 3 years

            "I can't be the only person who thinks that a 3 yr lifetime, for a consumer item costing upwards of $500 is a rather low bar."

            Nope, you're not the only one.

            But he was talking about updates, not what the lifespan of the phone is. Those are two very different things. Personally, I couldn't care less how often a manufacturer updates the software because I replace the shipped OS with one I install myself (I have no trust whatsoever in OEM software installations), so I am responsible for deciding when to update.

  7. arctic_haze

    It will improve for Samsung et al.

    Modern phones are not replaceable batteries. So the producers need just wait until the batteries run down creating a new boom in sales which journalist will attribute to some new irrelevant features.

  8. Frank N. Stein

    Part of the problem for USA Carriers is that, a lot of folks are not going for the "renting a phone"/phone lease rip off. Who wants a bill increase, just to have an incrementally upgraded phone? At my last phone upgrade, I bought a pre-owned iPhone 7 Plus for $400, because I wasn't interested in over-paying for a phone via full price, and wasn't interested in leasing a phone. None of this year's new phones inspired me to part with more money. SHRUG.

    1. rdhood

      buy used...

      "At my last phone upgrade, I bought a pre-owned iPhone 7 Plus for $400, "

      This. I purchased a used Galaxy S8+ for $300. I see people in this forum slam those phones over and over again, but the S8/S8+/pixel 2/etc really are all fine phones. The problem is the price. Nobody would be saying "theres too much this or that or we dont need this or that " if they were giving them away (well, maybe Reg posters would, lol). In may area (a major metro city in the U.S. ) rock bottom prices on a used S8/S8+ right now are $300, and on an S9/S9+ $400., unlocked.

      And at $300, I think an S8+ is well worth it.

  9. elvisimprsntr

    When phones in US were carrier subsidized with a 2 yr contract, I had no problem shelling out $200 for a new phone every 2 years. Once my last contract ended, I switched to a much lower out of contract plan.

    My current iP6+ is almost 4 years old and my battery was just replaced by Apple for $29. My father had been using my old iP4 until last year when I bought a second hand iP6S+ and give it to him.

    My new upgrade cycle is when Apple stops providing OS updates for a particular device, which means I can likely get 5-6 years out of a device. Even then, I will likely only buy a second hand device for 1/3rd the original price.

  10. Rainer

    The problem is:

    Apple actually does make money from the phones beyond the sale. Apps, iCloudStorage, accessories, add-ons.

    That's why they have no problem extending the life of the iPhones 5S(!) another year by giving it iOS12.

    Android OEMs? Nope.

    You can make an educated guess as what to expect from this race to the bottom.

    1. alpine

      Re: The problem is:

      Indeed, I was astonished by the sneaky icloud chargeable storage stuff. How do they get away with it? Basically millions of idiots buying it of course...

  11. Rastor728

    Not all NEW is USEFULL

    I would spend more money on better service and even though I am an IT worker, I don't want to live on my phone.... Wireless charging-great idea, better security-always, more apps-no there are already 2+ million apps that I don't use.....Better signal coverage for all carriers-yes.......One annoyance is that I have been with the same carrier for 10+ years, and they don't care to offer me any plans or services for being a "loyal" customer. I don't need new lines, more data, more minutes, more texts... I just need my old phone to work affordably...

  12. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge


    Jumped ship from contract (Paid it off after being in it for 5 months) to a rather sweet deal BYOD from Virgin (Canada) then a year later jumped back to Bell (Canada) as part of a sweeter BYOD deal that was run by the all the mobile operators last December.

    Since there's no equivalent deal without a doubling of my monthly payment for a subsidised phone & halving or worse quartering my data at the same time - I'll just stick with my S7 thanks.

  13. AndyMulhearn

    Peak Mobile

    I think we hit peak mobile, for the masses which includes me, two years ago. I’m using a bought-used S7 edge and it has plenty of performance for what I want to do. I swapped the battery - £59 in including fitting - and replaced the Three version of android it shipped with with the UK carrier free version of Oreo and I reckon I’ll get another couple of years out of it,

    The only fly in the ointment is the parallel data slurping, email, browser and pay apps that Samsung still feel the need to push on their phones. Samsung, stop, just stop. It costs you money, slows your update cycles and no one I know ever uses it. Just stop. And if you must ship it, allow it to die gracefully when people don’t want to use it. As AndrueC says above, some of it refuses to accept you don’t want to use it.

  14. AK565

    Anyone wishing for a downmarket Key2? The only time in my life I was on top of all my email and (so say my friends) my social media was when I owned a Blackberry 9900.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shortage of common sense

    The wishlists in this thread reflect the view that what users want, and what companies should deliver is - common sense. Alas, in the real world, the new "features" keep coming out of the crap holes at markedroid sessions, little to do with common sense, at the opposite corner from REAL "useful", because humans, en masse, will always prefer and toys over tools.


    should I deplore this homo ludens, or rejoice as it brings us progress?

  16. whoseyourdaddy

    Don't you 'droid victims have to keep buying newer handsets...

    to get your security fixes?

    Too soon?

    I'll just grab my hat...

    1. HamsterNet

      Re: Don't you 'droid victims have to keep buying newer handsets...

      Takes a lot of testing to make sure the droid update doesn’t break all the different data slurping spyware.

      What’s funny is people pay for the droid, often as much as a fruity phone and then pay again with alll their private data as well.

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