Is the world bored of smartphones, or just bored of iPhones?

© Apple

Following a drop in share price amid reports of a decline in iPhone sales, Apple reported its 2016 financial first quarter earnings (a quarter which ended in December 2015) on January 26. The Cupertino firm confirmed that iPhone sales are essentially flat, and set to fall later this year, and as a result the question has arisen – have smartphones become boring?

apple iphone 6 siri
Hey I boring? / © NextPit

CNET is calling the malaise “iPhone fatigue”, writing that “iPhones - heck, phones in general - don't rev you up like they used to”, while in the UK the BBC asks: “Is the mighty iPhone in decline?”

It’s easy to see why doubts are being expressed. We haven’t seen the fevered excitement around recent iPhone launches that we saw back when previous generations were announced, and the past couple of iterations of the iPhone have brought incremental, not revolutionary, improvements. Innovation has slowed, and so it’s unsurprising that iPhone weariness may be setting in.

In the world of flagship Androids, things aren’t much brighter. Samsung slapped a curved edge on a Galaxy S6 variant and announced it at MWC 2015, Sony stuck a 4K resolution screen in its Xperia Z5 Premium and launched it later in the year at IFA 2015, and HTC…well, HTC made a couple of minor upgrades to the M8 and launched it as the resultantly familiar HTC M9.

Have we reached a pinnacle in smartphone development?

These are all undeniably great phones, but at their core they’re just slightly better versions of their predecessors. So have we reached a pinnacle in smartphone development?

No. Anyone who says we have is not looking in the right places. The iPhone may have lost its shine and Samsung, Sony and HTC may be settling for minor upgrades, but look elsewhere in the world of Android, and there’s a whole lot of creativity going on.

At the premium end of the market, the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv is a beautiful phone that revives the hardware keyboard and may just save the company from extinction. As Shu On Kwok writes in our BlackBerry Priv review: "The Priv has breathed new life into the dusty Android smartphone market".

androidpit BlackBerry Priv 9
Now there's something we didn't expect to see on an Android phone again / © ANDROIDPIT

And as we reported back in March 2015, Fujitsu – not a brand you’d immediately associate with smartphones – developed iris recognition technology for phones so you can quickly unlock your handset just by looking at it. It’s really cool and we wish Fujitsu would license the tech to other phone manufacturers so we can start using it.

Nextbit is thinking different, too, with its Robin phone which, thanks to the way it moves your data to the cloud, means your phone will never run out of storage.

The price is nice

Then there are the manufacturers that are revolutionizing pricing. For the average smartphone user, there’s really no need to spend more than US$400 on a phone any more. The metal-housed Honor 7 is a feature-packed budget wonder, coming in at that US$400 sweet spot.

Not content with that, Honor recently went cheaper and bigger with the Honor 5X, which will sell for just US$200. That’s a steal.

Xiaomi is already making those Honor handsets look overpriced, though. It’s just announced the Redmi 3, a metallic-bodied, solid spec’d handset which will retail for just over US$100. That means you could buy six Redmi 3 phones for less than the price of just one 16 GB iPhone 6S. Now that’s innovation.

Do you think smartphones have become boring? Let us know in the comments section.

Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas

Paul was AndroidPIT's Global Head of Content until the beginning of 2016. His passion for Android began in 2010 when he bought an HTC Desire. This could have been the reason for leaving his position as Global Editor-in-Chief at TechRadar to join AndroidPIT. Paul has many years of experience in print and online editorial. Together with our international team Paul helped you to find the best new Android hardware and best Android apps to go with.

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  • hotspring21 Jan 30, 2016 Link to comment

    Android will always be more exciting than iphone simply because there are thousands of manufacturers and there will always be some Android OEM who will try something new and interesting. Given Apple corporate culture of tight locked, top down control mentality, there is not much room for innovation here any more. Not only that, Apple only produce 2 or 3 handsets per year or two, where as Android OEMs produce hundreds per year. I am always hoping that some android manufacturers will produce outstanding handset with very large slide out keyboard and many custom programmable keys! I really miss those from old winmobile days before iphone was launched in 2007

  •   46
    Deactivated Account Jan 29, 2016 Link to comment

    There will always be a market for the latest high tech gadget or phone. People want the latest and greatest so they can show it off. It is just human nature.

  • donald elmore Jan 29, 2016 Link to comment

    when smartphone companys realize that NOT everybody can pay even $200 for a phone they will make more bring the price down. you see there's to many companies out there to have to go high end for a phone !

  • Abhyuday Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    iPhones are useless and worthless. Honestly? I'm surprised people didn't give up on apple long ago. Soon nobody will want to buy a phone more than 300$.

    • Anna S. Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

      I guess the price is one of its main features. For the majority an iphone probably serves more as an status symbol than as an actual phone.

      • hotspring21 Jan 30, 2016 Link to comment

        Maybe this is true in China, where iphone is more than two months salary for office worker. But in US, iphone is everywhere. On my daily commute on train, I am surrounded by iphone users, who are neither rich or look to be status seeking. I think people bought iphone because Apple branding and due to "low" 2 year contract pricing. Now the 2 year contracts have disappeared, they may take a second look at cheap but nice Android handset.

      • Anna S. Feb 10, 2016 Link to comment

        'neither rich nor status seeking'
        What do you think, how many of these 'average' people would dare NOT to buy an iPhone? How would it look like when you don't even have an iPhone (even if they're so affordable and EVERYONE has them..) ? ;)

    • Roy van den Hengel Jan 31, 2016 Link to comment

      For you maybe. I use a Galaxy S4 myself, but it needs so much more attention compared to a iPhone. I like to play with CM ROM's and tweet the phone to my needs. But som people just want their phone to work. And then a iPhone is the choice to make.

  • Larry R. Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    I know a few people that are so Arrogant because they own an iPhone . Get real people, owning an iphone now is like owning a Blackberry. They will never be what they were. Now they are boring, not very many apps and they are not exciting. You can't make a Turd pretty, you can paint it, make it bigger and put purfume on it, but it is what it is.

  • Tami Koestomo Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    Recently, a good friend presented me with a Samsung Galaxy 6 Android, and I was delighted. But I did have to download the Manual from the Internet ( 140 pages!) and study it with total concentration, before I gathered the courage to really further explore its great possibilities. A dentist friend of mine did ask, in frustration, whether one has to have an IQ of over 160 to correctly understand and use these newfangled communication devices! I did get rid of my Blackberry, as those tiny keys were very frustrating when I used it. But I am still a faithful user of my Nokia phone, which I purchased 6 years ago. It's such a handy phone, wonderful to have around. Why aren't there more people-friendly phones on the market where tyro users can easily understand them, and BEFRIEND them? Many elderly people I know look upon Androids with suspicion, and yes --- even fear!!
    Warm greetings from an Android user in Bogor, Indonesia!!!

  • Paul Tasker Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    These days each upgrade is not hugely better. My nexus 7 tablet 2nd edition 2013 for example can run pretty much every app on the play store and runs them well. Because its less powerful you easily get 6 hours screen on time. Likewise my 2015 Sony z3 compact isn't exactly struggling. The more powerful z5 replacement has worse battery life due to the extra power. 4k screens also not necessary on phones. All that does is eat battery life. Until batteries catch up buying higher powered stuff with higher resolution screens makes no real sense. Already ran fine, now perhaps even better but at expense of battery life.

  • Kevan Brighting Jan 28, 2016 Link to comment

    I got a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 two weeks ago. Brilliant phone, beautiful to look at with a pale gold aluminium case. Fingerprint recognition that really works in 0.3 secs. The cost for 32meg, 4G? $214 no shipping costs. Arrived in 2 days from GearBest. The problem with iPhone is that the competition is catching up with the features without the eye watering price tag.

  •   46
    Deactivated Account Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    I phones have always been popular because they where the "Cool" phone to own. They never have had the build quality or specs of the top androids. The "Cool" phone effect does not last forever and with some of the new designs we are seeing Apple is starting to loose that spot. Phones like PC's have gotten to a point where they are so advanced you no longer have to get a new one every two years to run the latest apps or programs. My S3 getting close to 4 years old now still does a good job only the latest games won't run well. I will buy a new phone this year and it will be my phone for the next 4 to 5 years. That is why I insist on having a removable battery and Miro SD, batteries just don't last that long.

  • Apolzan Marius Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    iPhone was and will be always the most boring of them all,it will remain a crappy device,as phone is gr8,but for the's a huge crap,they should remain with that device just as phone,they should leave everything else for those who really understand what ppl need and want from a device,something the iPhone lost from very long time,they remaind with the same stupid idea like very old ppl that they r stuck with what they know and nothing can change their minds,for that,in a future,iPhone will disapear from the market for that simple reason,pfff

    • Leslie Anne Chatterton Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

      ... And with it the Apple Watch, surely the most over-hyped and useless device ever. Does Apple really expect people to shell out another $600 to $6000 every year or two?

  • Paul Warner Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    I don't think that they have become boring just reach a bit of a development plateau. I don't expect anything really innovative until we see smartphones like the ones on the TV program The Expanse.

  • Richard Bird Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    iPhones are over-priced, not very smart, protective and with crap customer service. Anything bought on line (credit) is hiked up and Android / Google is a far better, more flexible and less expensive option in all areas. THAT's why!!

  • Leslie Anne Chatterton Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    Yes indeed, pocket computers (ALSO KNOWN AS SMARTPHONES) are no longer fresh and exciting! Show me one with genuine week long battery life, or a new system of GSM that works worldwide without charging the earth or requiring switching SIM's and I'll be interested. I couldn't wait to buy my HTC Dream, then the "Magic". But now I'll keep my Zenphone 2 going as long as it works. I'm going backwards. Just bought my second eReader and spend my time reading books.. Not so boring!

  • Larry V Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    Excellent article!

  • Misha Jan 27, 2016 Link to comment

    Interest will eventually wane. This time period will be looked upon as the go-go years of the technology. Each generation of smartphones brought significant capabilities to the market. New apps were flooding our phones. New capabilities were being refined and improved. Now? We are seeing upgrades to screen resolutions that most people can't discern. And unless you are a heavy game user, the newer processors and associated speeds won't be noticed. The manufacturers have upsized their phones to the point that any other increases will make them into tablets.

    That's a long way of saying we are rapidly approaching the law of diminishing returns in the smartphone arena. This year's new iPhone may be nice, but is it really a reason to trade in your 6S? Probably not. If I have a 4K display on a 5 inch phone, will it really matter in practical terms? We saw this with PCs and even Windows upgrades. The digital camera industry is going through a similar challenge - the technology is rapidly outpacing most people's ability or need to use it. Many of these digital technologies continue to make rapid advances, but I suspect the percentage of features/capabilities used regularly by the masses continues to dwindle. The advertising pitch for smartphones is rapidly becoming, "Trade in your old smartphone from last year, whose features you barely used, to upgrade to a brand new XYZ phone, so you can make even less use of its new features and capabilities, which you will also barely notice."

    Most people would benefit by turning their smartphones off for a while, talking with their friends and family, taking a walk in the woods, or taking up a hobby rather than staring at their screens to get the latest lame facebook update from someone they barely know or care about, or follow the tweet of a celebrity who has no role in their life. Oh - and ignoring the myriad of rumors regarding future technology announcements.

    Of course, AndroidPit and many other such sites rely on us focusing significant amounts of our attention on the minutia of the smartphone industry. Thus I don't expect them to help lead the charge for people to care less regarding future smartphone upgrades anytime soon.

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