Madness turned Tame: Smartphones

Back in 2018, the Fast Company website heralded the beginning of a “design renaissance” in the world of mobile phones, something that you might have missed. This change in the way that phones were designed actually turned out to be rather mundane. Developers in Asia had finally found some success in removing the opaque “notch” from the top of a smartphone. 

A Few Bright Sparks

It’s an unfortunate point but mimicry is one of the central tenets of the modern world – especially in entertainment circles. For instance, following the success of a certain superhero franchise, everything from Godzilla to creepy doll Anabelle must now exist in its own shared universe. There are a few holdouts, of course, but even more traditional entertainments such as casino gaming tend to value imitation. 

The best example of this is slots, which share many characteristics derived from their simplistic gameplay. This has the upside of making original content much more visible. Playtech’s Fireblaze Games have introduced Hold and Re-spin features to the standard slot gameplay, as well as four different jackpots. Playable on the Paddy Power website, Fireblaze titles come in forms like Pharoah’s Daughter and Tsai Shen’s Gift.

Overall, the landscape for entertainment can seem rather uniform, apart from those few bright sparks. Technology has taken this trend to its logical extreme by introducing almost nothing new to the design of the smartphone in the last decade. On the surface, this has reduced the concept of innovation to a few extra cameras or, as mentioned early, an absent iPhone notch. 

The Height of Creativity

To borrow an observation from the BBC, at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, all the phones looked the same. This is because smartphones have become more about internal development than exterior design, it has the unfortunate effect of making improvement invisible. It’s only recently that relative outsiders like Realme have tried to make each phone visibly distinct.

Just to stress that point, the Realme GT Neo2 is available in green with a racing stripe. It says a lot about an industry that once championed the near-madness of the pen-like Haier P7 or the Motorola Flipout that a simple colorway now stands as the height of creativity. Granted, we were blessed with Samsung’s foldable phones but analysts seem to have already dismissed that one as a novelty. 

According to the firm itself, the Galaxy Z Flip and Fold devices were a success and dominate their own niche but sales numbers aren’t quite as complimentary. Samsung sold 10m foldable phones in 2021, whereas Apple sold 49m iPhones in three months. That’s a ratio of about 20:1 over an entire year. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the appetite for unique phones has gone, it’s not exactly a nod of approval either.

The obvious question to ask is, is there really any point in re-inserting creativity into the phone market when both consumers and manufacturers seem to have settled on the iPhone as a masterpiece?

Daniel Odoh
Daniel Odoh

A technology writer and smartphone enthusiast with over 9 years of experience. With a deep understanding of the latest advancements in mobile technology, I deliver informative and engaging content on smartphone features, trends, and optimization. My expertise extends beyond smartphones to include software, hardware, and emerging technologies like AI and IoT, making me a versatile contributor to any tech-related publication.

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