Are smartphone hardware treading water, while industrial designers are waiting for curved screens and other flexible futuristic components to make more radical models possible? Sales will continue to fall until they do.
Samsung is casting a shadow over this year’s mobile world congress.
Barcelona’s technology industry gathering will be dominated by its Galaxy S9 and S9 + handsets.
The response of many competitors, including huawei, HTC and LG, appears to have been delaying its flagship product until later this year.
Based on the “leak”, the S9 looks like another rectangular, rigid product, almost all the front of the glass and the smooth metal back.
Samsung’s own transmission is focused on the camera’s ability, not its radical form.
Expect a few other new phone, speculation focused on how much they will install the lens, the fingerprint sensor placement, display size and whether or not they will retain the headphone jack, rather than any anticipated major leap.
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Consultancy, Ben Wood of CCS Insight, said: “the tragedy is that we use flip phone, candy bar phone, slide, circular mobile phones, square mobile phones – all sorts of different things to incredible innovation for twenty years.
“But the world changed in 2007, when jobs took the iPhone out of his pocket and became a mainstream design.
“From that time we have attracted touch screen as the choice of shape factor to black rectangle, it feels like we have now reached a plateau technology, enterprise through the edges provide change and competition.”
Even so, there seems to be a “slightly different” appetite.
Last year’s MWC event was nokia 3310.
The “redesigned” version of the Finnish company’s classic phone has a physical number key and a screen with a protruding bottom.
Despite several rigorous reviews, its manufacturer, HMD Global, is still struggling to meet demand.
More revolutionary is the idea that lenovo had previously shown a foldable mobile phone that was wrapped around the wrist.
Samsung unveiled a prototype with an expanded display.
Both have spawned a torrent of online chatter, but have yet to become commercial products.
But change may be a mistake.
Two generations of LG’s curved screen Flex smartphones are confusing to many consumers because of the benefits of this design.
The south Korean company quickly pulled out of the G5, adding bolted hardware modules after disappointing sales.
Gray line performance
This is a bit of a clue to the current state of smartphone design. When the creative leaders of the Pixel 2 of GuGe discussed his work with the BBC, many of the conversations were devoted to their color scheme.