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We've officially reached peak smartphone, but real innovation is still within reach

Florence Ion | Feb. 2, 2016
As the pace of hardware innovation slows to a crawl, manufacturers must turn to real-world problem-solving to get consumers excited again.

Samsung, LG, and the rest of the Android manufacturing brood need to focus on software features that help users in profound, surprising, and meaningful ways. For instance, Samsung could start by completely overhauling TouchWiz—literally throw out everything we know about the interface, and shock us with a new look and functionality. Imagine the oohs and ahhs if Samsung made that the anchor point of its Mobile World Congress presentation. (“We’ve heard your pleas! No more blue!”)

Right now, just showing us a better camera sensor, slightly better manufacturing materials, and a better processor doesn’t scream “I’ve got to have this!”

Everyone else can follow suit by eliminating all the awful bloatware and weird camera add-ons—like Sony’s AR effects—and instead opt for features that actually solve problems. Users consistently complain that their phones can’t last through the day, so why not overhaul battery controls in a high-impact way? We need something similar to what Android Marshmallow already offers, but more refined, more powerful, and more resonant with the user experience. Rather than having to tap your way around the Settings panel, the battery optimization options should be blatant, easy to find, and simple to understand.

This would leverage something Android already offers, while also putting a manufacturer in the spotlight for besting Google in the user-friendliness department.

With Mobile World Congress around the corner, it will be interesting to see what the Android manufacturers announce in their attempts to convince us to buy yet another phone when we already have such great ones in our pockets. Sadly, I doubt we’ll experience the same splash as last year. In 2015, every new flagship phone launch felt like the best phone the company was capable of making. This year, incremental improvements aren’t going to move smartphone sales. So hopefully the manufacturers will come up with something bold before we lose interest.

 

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