5 Android features that are already out of fashion

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With the increasingly rapid evolution of smartphones, many features fall by the wayside, sometimes before they even make it into the hands of consumers. Here are five that came, went and were forgotten in the world of Android.

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Modules are becoming a trend in the world of smartphones, but what came and went before them? / © ANDROIDPIT


Samsung was the first company to integrate a projector into one of its smartphones with the Galaxy Beam. Launched in 2012, the public reception was largely one of indifference, mainly due to the device's ability to chew through battery at awe-inspiring speed. What could that possibly have been caused by? Oh, yes, the projector. The idea sounds good on paper, but looking back it was always doomed to failure.

Other brands have tried to include a projector in their products, creating strange prototypes, and all have failed.

Maybe we can't quite consign this one to the waste bin yet, however; the latest attempt looks set to come from Motorola, who is strongly rumored to have developed modular units for its upcoming Moto Z. They attach to the rear of the phone, and one of these so-called MotoMods is, yes, a projector.

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Galaxy Beam: a good idea in theory, not so much in practice. / © SAMSUNG

Removable batteries

Aside from the LG G5, the removable battery has disappeared from flagships. The times in which this feature was considered essential have long since passed, and most users seem indifferent to its passing.

With quick charging, more robust portable batteries and wireless charging, the methods of avoiding battery woes are increasing. It seems to be a vocal few who miss the bygone days of removal batteries.

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Removable batteries rarely appear in flagships today. / © ANDROIDPIT

Infrared sensors

While there are, here and there, faithful devotees of this feature, the truth is that infrared sensors are disappearing from Android smartphones. Their functionality is being replaced by more attractive technologies, such as Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. Soon, the IR blaster will simply cease to be relevant. Even televisions, the most useful target for this feature, have begun to unshackle themselves from infrared technology.

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Fewer and fewer smartphones arrive with IR blasters. / © ANDROIDPIT

Physical keyboards

Until a few years ago, the most important feature a phone could have was a physical keyboard. These slowly became more compact before being replaced by software keyboards. Even many businessmen, so fond of the physical Blackberry QWERTY keyboard, have left it behind, preferring smartphones with larger screens, which offer greater versatility.

But Blackberry refused to surrender and, last year, attempted a resurrection of the physical smartphone keyboard with the BlackBerry Priv. The new approach allowed the keyboard to be slid out from below the screen, limiting its impact on the overall design. Unfortunately for Blackberry, the device was not met with the success for which it had hoped.

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BlackBerry tried to ressurect the physical keyboard, with limited success. / © ANDROIDPIT

Heart rate monitors

With the exception of Samsung, the heart rate monitor has fallen out of fashion. Smartwatches and smartbands have undoubtedly contributed to the disappearance of this feature from smartphones, although there remain many apps in the Play Store that offer the same feature via your smartphone’s camera.

The results produced by smartphone heart rate monitors are rarely interesting and often inaccurate, making them a largely useless and forgettable feature.

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Farewell, heart rate monitors. / © ANDROIDPIT

What other features would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

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  • GrimJimCrowley May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    I use my IR blaster daily to turn on/off my entertainment center. It's a great feature and a shame that it's going away in many of the phones I see coming out this year.

    • Jerry's W. May 31, 2016 Link to comment

      I use infra red also every day and I hope new phones will have the sensors build in in future or bring them back build in. as long as tv and multimedia devices are controlled with infra red it should be on every phone!

  • Mark G. May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    I never got the IR blaster to work with my set top box so never used it.
    Projectors is not something that is appealing to the mass market, yes there are minority groups who would find it useful, maybe modular devices will allow the feature without compromising the main device.

    I'm in two minds regarding removable battery - I think the momentum towards non removable batteries are driven purely by profits and selling the latest device. Manufacturers knew people were holding on to older devices especially as they could replace the battery to prolong the lifespan of the device.
    Also I have only had to replace the battery once in my old faithful Galaxy S3 but found out after that it was the PCM that was faulty. I never have to remove the battery, and can't see any reason I'd to remove it.

    I use the Heart rate monitor on my excellent Samsung Galaxy S5, though if I could afford a Smart watch then the sensor would become redundant.

    Peace ✌

  • GrossDad May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    Score another vote for the removable battery. I have a Galaxy S5, instead of an S6, for two reasons: removable battery and SD card support.

  • Steven Hicks May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    Miss IR, used my phone as a remote for all kinds of stuff very useful.

  • Warren JB May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    AndroidPIT has a real hate-on for removable batteries, doesn't it? Maybe it's because too many of it's commenters aren't toeing the editorial line. And TVs may have begun to unshackle themselves from IR, but it's hardly in one fell swoop. I have Sure remote on my Note 4, and it's useful for controlling my Now TV set via wifi; but my Freesat box and TV itself ain't quite up to Tony Stark levels, and the IR blaster comes in handy.

    I get the impression from this article (and other AndroidPIT articles) that the consumer technology you possess has to be bleeding edge and discarded the moment it's overtaken by something else. And no offence Pierre, but your profile at the bottom doesn't alter that feeling much! In 2-3 years, will we see an article about how smart watches and Google glass failed? The features in this list might be seen to be strange gimmicks and flippant novelties, but they're hardly the last to appear.

    To be fair, I'd be disappointed if AndroidPIT writers didn't announce and get excited about new smartphone and associated tech. It's part of why I come here, meself. But it's when - in the course of that forward-looking - older tech and features are ridiculed and almost villified, things start feeling a bit grubby. The features listed here may be older, and some of them failed; but despite whatever you think people should latch onto, they still know what they like, or use, or can afford, or even rely on!

    (I won't argue about the projector, though. That one's a bit strange.)

  • Jenny Hover Simmons May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    I still like a removable battery. Got and extra batter with my LGV10 and switch them out all the time. It's nice when your out shooting a lot of pics.

  • Ivan C. May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    ......but think about it, these features are very important. The only thing that is useless is the projector!

  • Greg1100 May 31, 2016 Link to comment

    My heart rate monitor on my Note 4 gave same results as my doctors equipment, so that is you shot down in flames. I have angina and cancer, so it is handy to keep a check on myself.

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