The Silly Cycle of Smartphone Releases: A Waste of Resources and a Burden on Users
The yearly release cycle for smartphones has become a spectacle of minor software upgrades and marginal hardware improvements. The marketing focus is often on new software functions that could easily be implemented on existing devices, making the need for an upgrade questionable at best. This constant churn of phone releases not only creates waste but also puts a strain on consumers, who are left with obsolete accessories and cases for their outdated phones.
There is a significant amount of time, effort, and physical waste generated by slightly redesigning phones every year solely for the purpose of increasing sales. Rather than meaningful improvements to the existing design or the introduction of new hardware features, companies prioritize releasing new models to boost their profits. However, if these companies were to space out their releases to five years or more, older phones could remain functional for a longer period.
One user shared their experience with their iPhone 7s Plus, which gradually became slower over time due to excessive software updates. Despite having a battery that was not considered degraded, the phone struggled to perform basic tasks. The constant updates and bloating of the operating system led to a frustrating user experience. While faster phones may be desirable, it is essential to evaluate the value of speed in relation to the environmental impact and waste generated by manufacturing and discarding older devices.
Unfortunately, major companies are unlikely to change their approach. This raises questions about whether there is a need to advocate for open software on these devices, which would allow for clean builds and ongoing maintenance when companies overload or abandon their devices. Additionally, manufacturers should consider the wear and tear on flash storage over time, which can significantly affect a phone’s performance. Removable storage, which used to be a common feature in flagship phones, would resolve this issue, but it has largely disappeared from the market.
The article raises an important point about the dependence on cellular carriers and their influence on device renewals and payment plans. While some carriers may encourage multi-year contracts, others offer shorter payment plans, resulting in users holding onto their phones for longer periods. This highlights the complexity of the smartphone market, where various factors contribute to the release cycle and consumers’ choices.
The discussion also touches on the advantages and disadvantages of waterproof phones. While some argue that it is a valuable feature to protect against water damage, others question its necessity, considering how often it is actually used. Ultimately, the choice of whether to prioritize waterproofing or other features lies with the manufacturers, guided by consumer demand and marketing strategies.
In conclusion, the current smartphone release cycle appears to be motivated more by the desire for increased sales than by meaningful innovation. This constant need to upgrade leads to wasteful practices and places a burden on consumers. It is crucial for manufacturers to consider the environmental impact, the longevity of their products, and the needs and preferences of their users. Only then can the smartphone industry evolve to provide more sustainable and user-friendly solutions.
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Author Eliza Ng