Why are there no more smartphones these days?

Smartphones without a future: why the hype will soon end

Simon Lohmann

The hype about new smartphones is still there, no question about it. But what does it look like in 15 years? Will Apple, Samsung and Co. still develop new smartphones? Our author says: No. The smartphone as we know it today is dying out.

Let's take a look into the future: Imagine it's the year 2035. Will companies like Apple, Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Co. actually still develop and sell smartphones? Will Tim Cook - if he should still hold the office of Apple CEO in 2035 - present an iPhone 20 to a cheering audience in the Steve Jobs Theater? Will Samsung introduce a Galaxy S36 in the same year? I do not think so. My guess: the smartphone as we know it today is slowly dying out. A comment.

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Let's take a look at the year 2035: Will Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Co. still develop and sell smartphones in the future? Simon's guess: No, the smartphone will die a slow death - the hype days will come to an end at some point. Simon tells you why in this video. ► To the Technikliebe t-shirt shop: shop.spreadshirt.de/technikliebe/

Why we (still) love smartphones

Viewed objectively, a smartphone is a technical device - and you have a lot of it around at home. Strangely enough, I have a different relationship with my smartphone than with my television, toaster, microwave or electric toothbrush. Why this is so is not really a big secret. Because in contrast to my toaster or the microwave, my smartphone is a device that is capable of much more. I can communicate with family and friends, I can take excellent photos and videos, and I have the collective knowledge of humanity in my pocket on demand.

We see smartphones more like people and we develop feelings or emotions for certain smartphone brands. It is not without reason that the classic "war" between Apple and Android fans has been going on for years. Because it goes beyond technology. And that somehow makes the smartphone special. At least for now.

When I say that the smartphone may be extinct in around 15 years, I don't mean that no one is using a smartphone anymore. On the contrary: Presumably everyone on this planet will use a smartphone. Nonetheless, I am convinced that the importance of the smartphone will decrease considerably and that the market will inevitably change as a result.

Around 13 years after the introduction of the first iPhone generation, one can see how people's attitudes towards smartphones have changed. While users initially slept in tents in front of the Apple Stores in order to be the first in the queue the next day to get hold of a new iPhone, nowadays nobody is doing this any more. Changes in user behavior can also be seen on YouTube. The relevant target groups do not understand the high prices that manufacturers charge for their latest features. After all, Apple is no longer the only smartphone manufacturer that charges more than 1000 euros for a smartphone. But how long will it go on?

Another generation

Probably not too long. Why? Because many people take smartphones for granted. I could imagine that this has something to do with the age of first coming into contact with smartphones. According to the AOK, 56 percent of 8 to 9-year-olds already had their own smartphone in 2019. For 10 to 11 year olds it was already 82 percent; 97 percent of the age group 12 to 13 have an Internet-enabled cell phone.

You have to let that sink in first. These children grow up knowing that they have a device in their pocket that allows them to access the Internet at any time, take high-resolution photos and video, or stream music and videos. These children will probably later be among those people who don't want to spend 1000 euros on a smartphone - for them all of this is completely normal. These children grow up with a technology that is still something special for many older smartphone users - and I am now just including myself at the young age of 27 - nowadays. Because you know what the technology looked like in front of all the smartphones. And that's why people may be willing to spend 1,000 euros on a smartphone. Because they value it differently.

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Smartphone manufacturers are currently struggling with another major problem anyway. To be completely honest, the only difference between the devices is their operating system. Otherwise they look very similar, they all have a good camera on board - and depending on how much money you want to spend, you get “new” features like a 120 Hz display, 5G function or one Fingerprint ID sensor under the display. But this technology will be standard in 15 years. In 2036, every device will have a 120 Hz display (or more?) And 5G or even 6G, which will gradually replace 5G from 2030. Perhaps in 15 years' time 6G will also be able to be used nationwide in Germany - who knows.

5G smartphones: These phones are the fastest on the market

At this point, however, the question may be asked: What are the smartphone manufacturers trying to lure us with in the not-so-distant future? With an even better camera on board? But even there there are simply physical limits. At some point the hardware in such a small device simply doesn't get any better, then only the software can provide even better images. What features should smartphones have in the future so that people still buy the devices every year? How long will the smartphone hype last?

We have considered what we will use instead of a smartphone in the future.

Take the television, for example. Do you remember how proud you were back then to have your own television? Nowadays a television is only interesting if it is particularly large and at the same time inexpensive. Like the 82-inch television from Aldi.

Or let's take a car. A car is still something special, it stands for freedom and at the same time is quite expensive. Not everyone can afford a car, like so many smartphones. But when it comes to cars, too, the trend is continuing towards car sharing. In large cities in particular, you will no longer have to rely on your own car in 2021. Such an attitude towards the subject of cars was inconceivable 15 years ago. In my opinion, the television and the car show very well that certain products are taken for granted in society over time or replaced by alternatives and thus become irrelevant. Can you immediately name a technical device that has not lost its importance even after 15 years?

Are foldable smartphones the future?

In my opinion, smartphone manufacturers are aware of this problem. Why do you think Samsung and Huawei - and allegedly Apple too - are researching foldable smartphones or are even selling some of them? So-called phablets - a mixture of tablet and smartphone - are unfortunately not very popular at the moment. On the one hand because they are too expensive and on the other hand because the technology is not really mature. But basically, such a phablet is an interesting thing.

I actually believe that in 15 years we will look at today's smartphones as we see the first phones from back then. With a certain nostalgia. Maybe a new trend will develop, and in 15 years everyone will only want very small smartphones. Or maybe there will be completely new devices in the future that will replace smartphones, such as smart glasses or larger smartwatches, so that the smartphone is basically worn on the wrist. Or smartphones with holograms.

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iPhone, iPad and Mac are yesterday, smart contact lenses and VR helmets are Apple's future. The well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo looked into the crystal ball and published information about Apple's plans in the virtual reality and augmented reality sectors. In this video, Simon reveals what Apple is actually working on.

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Of course, I don't have an exact answer to what the future holds. The only question is, how long can smartphone manufacturers bring out a new model with minor changes year after year until people realize that smartphone features are no longer going to improve much? Current sales figures show that the smartphone hype is far from over. But that was also what people thought of the iPods, which are now gathering dust in a drawer.