Let's admit it, the smartphone updates of the last few years have been mostly incremental. Evolutionary and not revolutionary, as they say. Year after year, we see the same old story - smartphones with faster processors, larger storage capacities and additional cameras.
The problem is that most consumers have smartphones that are good enough for any task. Heck, even a 5-year-old iPhone 6 is still perfectly usable for phone calls, messaging, web browsing, video streaming, social media and games. Plus -- it's a pain in the neck to setup a smartphone.
Coupled with the skyrocketing smartphone prices and the death of two-year carrier contracts, people are simply not upgrading to the latest and greatest smartphones like they used to.
But is the current smartphone sales slowdown temporary or is it the beginning of the end for the smartphone? Not exactly.
What the smartphone market needs is another burst of fresh innovation, and these three upcoming products may just be what the doctor ordered.
1. Samsung's Foldable Phone
Late last year, Samsung finally unveiled a working prototype of its first foldable smartphone, now rumored to be named the Galaxy Flex, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy F.
Samsung has been teasing us with the folding smartphone since 2013, so it's a delight to see an actual working unit in action.
Based on the unveiling, the phone folds into a tablet with a 7.3-inch display and it can be folded back into a smaller flip-phone-like gadget with a 4.5-inch display.
Up to three separate apps can be run at the same time on a bigger display with what Samsung calls the "multi-active window." If this true, then it's like having four standard-sized displays, a tablet and a smartphone rolled into one.
The not so good news is that it might cost around $1,850, not exactly the price point needed to spur smartphone sales.
2. iPhone upgrades
We can blame a variety of factors for the iPhone sales slowdown this year. There's the weak iPhone demand in China, the expensive price tags, cheap battery replacements and the less-than-compelling feature updates.
Incremental upgrades like faster processors and larger storage capacities just don't cut it anymore. Even the rumored changes like the switch from the Lightning cable to USB-C and all-OLED screens won't be enough to excite the iPhone market, I'm afraid.
What we need are significant innovations in future iPhones. We're still waiting for on-screen fingerprint sensors, notch-less screens, true wireless distance charging, longer battery life, 5G and ahem, better prices. Hopefully, Apple will deliver some of these in the near future.
3. The Motorola Razr Reboot
The Motorola Razr V3, the most iconic flip phone of all time, is making a comeback. This time, it will be a cutting edge foldable smartphone with a hinge and a flexible screen that folds inward plus another smaller exterior screen.
Based on Motorola's patent filings, the 2019 Razr's exterior will look similar to the original but inside, it will have a large single display with a small notch on the top.
And unlike Samsung's foldable phone which folds out into a tablet-sized gadget, the 2019 Razr appears to be a smaller pocket-sized phone that expands into a regular-sized display. With the shortage of smaller smartphones in the market right now, this is the best compromise between pocketability and display size.
Lenovo plans to manufacture about 200,000 of the phones, which are expected to have a still too expensive price tag of around $1,500.
But if this foldable 2019 Razr looks anything close to the 3D-rendered videos that are being posted online, this can be the shot in the arm that the smartphone market needs.
Smartphone sales may have currently slowed down but it's not the end, not by a long shot.
For sure, there are corrections needed to right the ship but as long these companies keep pursuing new and innovative features, the next big breakthrough may just be around the corner.
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