Smartphones Have Become Boring

Exhibit A: The original iPhone, running iOS 1.0, vs the T-Mobile G1, running the first release of Android. These two revolutionary devices could not have been more different—despite Google famously going back to the drawing board when the iPhone made its début.

Exhibit B: The current iPhone vs the Google Pixel. The software and ecosystems are distinct but not dissimilar—both have their own app stores that run the same popular apps, albeit on different codebases. Design-wise they’re largely the same, both slabs of mostly screen. And the prices? Well, the prices are identical.

Don’t get me wrong, smartphones have gotten exponentially better over the past decade. What I’m saying is that they’ve progressed to the point where they’ve largely become boring. At least for me.

There is still innovation to be found, but you have to look for it. The notion of modular phones is interesting, but the execution of that idea by the likes of LG and Motorola is little more than a gimmick; Fairphone‘s proposition of upgradeable and recyclable phone parts is much more sustainable. Too bad you can only get one in Europe.

Then there’s Google’s Project Tango, bringing augmented reality to the palm of your hand. But at present it’s available on only one device, and reviews of that device aren’t very good.

Are my expectations for smartphones too high? Always. And I find both Google and Apple guilty of chasing profits more than innovation. To both of them I have this to say: Stop being boring!

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