What smartphone manufacturers are doing wrong

No gimmicks are necessary. Smartphone manufacturers need to design reliable devices that perform to the needs of the user. Here is advice for those designers looking to create next big thing.

Image: Jack Wallen

Apple has gone small.

Samsung has gone curved.

Marshall goes to eleven.

Robin flies in the cloud.

It seems every day another mobile manufacturer produces a new device with a new way to fool consumers into purchasing the latest "greatest".


I get it. Manufacturers need to move product. And in a world obsessed with mobile devices, the timing could

not be better. But when demand is hindered by a previously outstanding crop of devices, manufacturers have to create demand by artificial means. In other words, they have to make consumers believe their newest twist on the mobile landscape is exactly what is needed.

Apple decides you need a bigger iPhone. They convince you it's true.

Apple decides you need a normal sized iPhone. They convince you it's true.

Apple decides you need a smaller iPhone. You know the drill.

Here's the deal, manufacturers: Consumers really need you to focus on three main issues. Those issues are:

  • Speed
  • Battery life
  • Storage

That's it, in a nutshell. You deliver a smartphone that's fast, long lasting, and has storage to spare and consumers will buy it in droves. No curved displays, no range of sizes, no Marshall-stack sound, no DSL-quality photo sensors, no tricks up its cloudy sleeve. You deliver a device that won't have users smacking their heads against a table because their phones aren't responding, they've run out of space, or their battery is on its last leg and consumers will flock to you. Give us removable SD card storage, replaceable, long-life batteries, a CPU that'll stand up to the most demanding apps, and we'll buy.

I promise.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. Don't worry, manufacturers, I get it; you have to constantly be one-upping one another in order to woo new buyers. Because everyone has a smartphone and a lot of those people are happy with what they've got. So, in order to win them over, you toss every trick you have at us. But we see through the ruse. We know what we want and when you spit shine those features with an unnecessary polish, your latest greatest will fail.

Let me remind you of what we consumers actually want:

  • Speed
  • Battery life
  • Storage

Repeat that after me:

  • Speed
  • Battery life
  • Storage

Make it your mantra. Hang it over the heads of your designers, so they too can understand what it takes to truly design a hit device. Give us 128 GB of storage (with an additional removable SD support). Give us a battery with a minimum of ‎3,080 mAh. Give us at least a 2+ Ghz processor and a minimum of 3 GB of RAM. Slap those specs in a decent looking (standard sized) case with a couple of cameras, some speakers, wireless, bluetooth (you know, the usual goods) and we'll scoop that device up as if it were the last loaf of bread before the apocalypse.

Design it like you use it

Yes, it sounds like I'm designing a flagship device. Actually, that's exactly what I'm doing. A flagship device stripped of all the unnecessary bits is what consumers want. Imagine, if you will, you're designing a desktop or laptop computer...one you want to be an instant hit, one designed to be used. To do that, you don't add bells and whistles that serve little to no purpose. You create a device that will enable the end user to work (or play) without concern the hardware will fail them (in any way). You strip away all that is unnecessary to keep costs down, but still produce a workhorse of a device. That's how manufacturer's approach desktops and laptops. It's not about the "lies" but about the "truth" and the "truth" is that we (consumers) want devices that will serve us, long term, without issue.

That, my good friends in the world of smartphone manufacturing, is where you should focus your efforts. In other words, you create the devices we actually need, not what you think we want.

Once again, I ask you to repeat after me:

  • Speed
  • Battery life
  • Storage

That's nice.

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