back to article Smartphone recovery that's always around the corner is around the corner

Things aren't going to get better for smartphone brands anytime soon as households and businesses weigh up monthly bills versus discretionary spending, and decide a shiny handset perhaps isn't the wisest use of funds. IDC stepped up this week to say it has revised the 2023 forecast downwards on the back of conversations with …

  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    It's not even about the cost for me, or at least not in the way the article discusses.

    I'll replace my S10 if/when it ever fails. I've long passed the point where I cared about the latest model. As long as it continues to function I'm good.

    I simply have no need to spend any money on a new phone whether I can afford it or not.

    1. Lon24

      My Honor phone today entered its fourth ywar. Just as good as new - apart from security updates ending a couple of years ago. The same as the phone before that.

      Would I run a desktop or server that went out of support two years ago - no way! But then I can run 10 year old desktops and servers with modern supported operating systems. Junking almost mint phones is just so wrong on so many different levels and I won't do it. Even if contains some of my most intimate data. Guess the next replacement might be a Pixel or anything that promises LTS. Wish our government would insist on plastering the packaging with 'Supported only to 202X'. Like supermarket 'Best before' it would push people, like me to buy wiser and push manufacturers to be serious about supporting their products.

      Oh - and when I asked a car salesmen when software support ends for the car he was trying to sell me - all I got was a blank look. And that's really serious money being obsolted at somebody else's whim.

      1. Snapper

        Golly, have you compared that to an iPhone and iOS?


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My iPhone XS Max will be five in September, no date for new software or bug fixes to end on it yet.

          Checking it claims 84% of new battery capacity and still works fine for a full day with dual sim. The better camera systems on newer phones is the main thing that might drive me to update.

          The phone it replaced however…

          Triggers broom, by three that iPhone had been replaced once as both cameras failed, had a new battery due to the issues back then and a new screen. The haptic controller had then failed which is when it got replaced. Terrible quality on that model.

          1. Captain_Cretin

            Newer iPhones have worser battery

            My sister bought her latest iPhone 18 months ago, the battery is already in a worse state than her 6 y/o iPhone; and wont get her through a full day.

        2. ThomH

          My 6s was finally relegated to security updates only last year, after seven years. So I upgraded to a 12 Mini, that being a size Apple doesn’t offer in its latest models.

          I guess that means I’m willing to spend at least an amortised $85/year on my phone. Which is probably not far off the actual number. A very occasional purchase, when absolutely nothing else is on the list.

      2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Consider a Fairphone.

        It may not rival flagship phones from the likes of Samsung (et al) but it is a good mid-range spec and does have LTS!

    2. cornetman Silver badge

      For me, my "ancient" Nexus 5 is still doing nearly everything that I need and I have a couple of spares that I picked up if it ever croaks.

      LineageOS allows me to continue to upgrade it even though it is no longer an officially supported platform.

      There are only two things that make me tempted to upgrade:

      - the camera is terrible. I would love a better camera

      - my current OS doesn't support Calling over Wifi but an upgrade might help. I'm still on LineageOS 14 (pretty ancient) and there are custom ROMs available that might work for me.

      Like you, my main reason for upgrading would be that I don't have a choice.

      1. YetAnotherXyzzy Bronze badge

        Upvoted in particular for your mention of LineageOS. Everyone has different wants and needs, but for me I want my device to be getting regular security updates. That's why when I (rarely) buy a handset for myself or family I first make sure that it is supported by either LineageOS or /e/OS. That's no guarantee that it will always be supported but it helps.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Google Pixel 3 with GrapheneOS - although battery is now down to 2days use

    3. Notas Badoff

      Looking back (nothing to look forward to)

      My S8 is dying, but so have my hopes for a decent new phone. Thinking about it last night, replaceable batteries are gone, expandable memories are gone, earphone plugs are gone, etc. etc.

      Are they really thinking I'll spend BUCKs just to get a new battery? Cuz that's all the 'good' they're offering _me_.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Looking back (nothing to look forward to)

        Link above to Fairphone!

      2. James 51

        Re: Looking back (nothing to look forward to)

        The fairphone 3 has all of that. The fairphone 4 is missing the earphone socket (unless you use a dongle).

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Looking back (nothing to look forward to)

        In honesty, those things are not gone, just less common. For the same reason, I often complain about the size of smartphones today as I'm in the group that liked the small ones, but you can still find those. The problem comes when you want all four of those together, and also long software support and someone else has ported other versions of Android to it, please. There won't be a perfect option and some compromises are unavoidable, but there are still options.

        Depending on how you rank those desires, headphone jacks and SD card slots are quite common, just not on the most expensive devices. Look at the medium range and you're likely to find a device with both of those in at most five tries, probably fewer. Replaceable batteries are less common outside the very lowest end. However, you can still find at least some devices with those that aren't very weak. The most famous devices that fall into that category are the Fairphone and the Samsung Galaxy Xcover line, neither of which I have. If some of those things are more important than others, you can also look at companies that aren't as famous as phone manufacturers go.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I'm going to have to replace the battery on my S10e but, apart from that it's still a fantastic device.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. I'll replace my S10 if/when it ever fails.

      you'll replace it when they stop providing security updates, at which point your banking app, by which time you'll find 'indispensable', stops working.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: re. I'll replace my S10 if/when it ever fails.

        Well apparently that's just happened so I suppose I'll have to see what happens.

      2. ICL1900-G3

        Re: re. I'll replace my S10 if/when it ever fails.

        My banking app stopped working; I contacted the bank and they sent me a security key. Problem solved.

      3. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: re. I'll replace my S10 if/when it ever fails.

        i don't have any banking app on my phone, nor anything else related to payments or anything important. hackers getting into my phone wouldn't find much of interest

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: re. I'll replace my S10 if/when it ever fails.

          The hackers in my phone are the screaming blond ones with hairy palms. Pron yesterday, pron today, pron EVERY DAY!!

    6. druck Silver badge

      In the pink

      I was in no rush to replace my perfectly good Galaxy S7, unlike my wife who had to have the new folding shiny. My 9 year old son has been pressuring me for a phone, so I thought I'd move up to my wife's almost new Galaxy S21FE and let have the old S7 (to play games on, no SIM card yet). Unfortunately when she took the S21FE out of her black case + purse thing, I saw it was hideous bright pink, but my son wasn't going to give me my S7 back. I'd never had a case for my slippery as sh*t glass fronted and backed silver S7 but had bought one for me son (or it wouldn't last 2 minutes) and had to get one to cover up the S21FE too.

    7. Captain_Cretin


      My 2019 Xiaomi Mi 9 Lite still reports 98.9% battery capacity using 3rd party battery apps; why the hell would I want to change a perfectly good phone other than for vanity ??

      Unlike my sister's 2021 model iPhone, which wont last a day, I dont have ANY battery anxiety, and dont need to charge it more than once/twice a week.

      BTW, I dont follow 80/20, but never fast charge it either.

    8. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      What you said. My phone does phone stuff, and while it lacks a couple of features my old Samsung Note had, I can live without them (the biggest thing I miss is the IR blaster tbh). The camera take decent snaps, it runs the Apps I need, and I can't think of a reason to change it, and can't think what the pull would be to, so yeah, it'll be failure, or as mentioned below, the banking app potentially getting cut off.

  2. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    Some American Agency

    Who can we hit next on our "Crush China" programme?

    -> One business that already has its fingers in multiple pies is China's Xiaomi

  3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

    Every year is worse

    From my perspective, the best phone I've had has been a Pixel 4a 5G. It's compact, does all the things I want, and has a dedicated fingerprint sensor. The Pixel 6 that I have now is bigger, the battery life is noticeably worse, and the lack of dedicated sensor means that unlocking it is less reliable. The screen also is inferior in terms of reliability.

    There needs to be some kind of technical rule equivalent to the Peter Principle: any technology will continue to have features added until it actually goes backward in utility. See: phones, cars, televisions.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Every year is worse

      There needs to be some kind of technical rule equivalent to the Peter Principle: any technology will continue to have features added until it actually goes backward in utility. See: phones, cars, televisions.


      How about the Wessels effect?

      “All too often, technologists solve problems by introducing additional layers of technology abstractions and disregarding simpler solutions, such as outreach and engagement,”

      - Duane Wessels

      But I am old enough to remember Rube Goldberg.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Every year is worse

        “All too often, technologists solve problems by introducing additional layers of technology abstractions and disregarding simpler solutions, such as outreach and engagement,”

        As a counter to that, sometimes we do that because not doing it is viewed as laziness, incompetence, or worse.

        User: I loaded this file which starts as valid XML, then goes into complete corrupted garbage. The program crashed.

        Programmer: [Idea: engage the user] Sorry about that, but this program doesn't handle corrupted files. In this case, could you repair the file and send that through?

        User: You're just going to let your terrible code crash when it receives invalid input? How unprofessional can you get?

        Programmer: Point taken. It's not great. I can do something to at least prevent a crash.

        [One day later]

        User: I put the corrupted file through today, and it doesn't crash anymore, but it doesn't work.

        Programmer: What happens?

        User: Nothing happens. It just ignores me.

        Programmer: [Idea: user experience outreach] Can I watch how you're using it? [...] Why did you just close that message box? [...] Yes, but could we just take a look at the message to see if it's an error I have to fix? [...] See, it says the file is corrupted and needs to be repaired. So you need to repair it.

        User: So you're just giving me the error message and making me deal with it?

        Programmer: [Engage? Outreach? Options exhausted] Let me think about this and get back to you.

        [Three days later]

        Programmer: I'm thinking we should have a library which can parse truncated XML, present the user with a graphical structure document, and provide them a rich editor so they can repair data without modifying a file. Either that or an office in a different building and some code to intercept and delete emails.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never spent more than $200 for a cellphone, but that means it is insecure so I also never use it for anything sensitive.

    1. ICL1900-G3

      Amen to that. I always buy second hand on ebay. Works for me.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Latest phones

    The retail prices are way beyond their actual worth.

    It’s a phone/camera guys.

    Don’t waste your money.

    1. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Latest phones

      And not even a great camera. Just recently there was an article about how Gen z on tik tok had made the shocking discovery that cameras take better pictures than phones.

      those tiny lenses and sensors can only do so much

  6. Nematode

    Samsung A20e's both me and SWMBO, basic min PAYG now £8/mth (was £6) incl unlimited calls/texts and 4GB data (8?), Wificalling, cost £100 ea new less £30 back deal from Samsung. Prob 3 to 4 years old. Pretty cruddy cameras but does everything else we need. We are phone companies' nightmare.

  7. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    100 models of three phones

    There have been no variations of features in the past 4 years except slow/fast and flat/folding. Phone makers can only blame themselves for being so boring. They've been thinking that non-performing camera marketing gimmicks could drive sales.

    Ulefone has some genuinely weird and interesting phones. If they could be more specific about carrier compatibility and support, I'd probably buy one.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: 100 models of three phones

      The era of rapid development of phones is long gone.

      Treat the phone as a tool that has a definite shelf life.

      Use the one that fits your use case. When it goes wrong or some essential feature or app stops working, sell it and get a newer device.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: 100 models of three phones

        I need a tool with international roaming, North American SA 5G, at least 1TB storage, and a headphone jack. Google has decided that headphone jacks and storage go against their profit goals.

        Don't say "Sony" because their carrier support is awful and they don't allow custom firmware on recent phones.

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: 100 models of three phones

      I see the folding phones as manufacturers desperately trying to come up with something to sell us, whether it's something we want or not. I'm really not in the market for an expensive fragile phone. I have dogs, so spend a lot of time outdoors, and I have dropped my phone a few times when the dog lead suddenly goes taught (I should pay more attention to squirrels, my dogs do). So I need a screen protector, and my phone is in rubber armour, and it was cheap, so I wouldn't cry if I broke it.

  8. ecofeco Silver badge

    Every comment above nails it

    Every comment above nails it.

    No significant innovation and benefit for ever increasing prices, but no lack of gimmickry and complexity.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Every comment above nails it

      "no lack of gimmickry and complexity."

      Actually, I can't think of any real gimmicks recently. Of course, every announcement includes something they say they've done with the camera using AI, but they're usually not clear what that is and I wouldn't use it anyway. As for other gimmicks, the only one I can think of is folding.

      If manufacturers were making a lot of weird devices, I might not want them, but at least they'd have some interest level. Do we want a device with a custom-made laptop dock it just slots into the device with more buttons on the sides for shortcuts, or the device with multiple USB ports designed for connecting other peripherals? You might not want either of those, but we'd be able to discuss the potential benefits or drawbacks of the features. As of now, one phone compared to another comes down to basic specs and camera details for those who actually use all the different kinds of cameras that are available. Nobody is doing anything experimental; they just shove new SoCs and lenses into another rectangle and fling it out.

  9. Grogan Bronze badge

    You should be able to get at least 4 to 5 years out of a smart phone. I do, even if I have to ignore out of date Android and apps that no longer work with the old. I remember clinging to an older galaxy phone for years (it ran Android 4.x), and it got to the point that I had to stop updating "Google" (the search app) because it was breaking my UI. The store happily installed it though.

    You don't need a shiny new iPhone every year (I don't do Apple anything, ever though).

  10. tiggity Silver badge

    Use until it breaks

    I don't do phone banking, don't have any apps that are used to buy things, no cards linked to phone, don't care about phone camera (tiny lens & so images not that great) just use a few unexciting apps (navigation, weather, couple of games etc.) in addition to main use of calls / texts.

    So use until phone breaks, not that bothered if it runs out of security updates before it expires as nothing financial on there, no photos / vids that are "blackmail / embarrassment worthy" & no social media apps.

    If I did financial stuff on phone then would be different as would need to factor in security updates.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like