Smartphones Traded Their Wow Factor for Peace of Mind in 2022

The “next big thing” in personal technology may not be immersion augmented reality headset or wire folded in half. Maybe finding new ways to make more of the phones we use.

That message was clear throughout 2022, as were the companies apple, Samsung a Google introduced a new way to make our phones more convenient, reliable and private. This year’s offerings lack the wow factor that defined the first decade of smartphones, but upgrades that make our phones last longer and more useful. Among the changes: longer Android software support for Samsung devices, new privacy features for new Pixel phone owners, and better security features for iPhone.

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These changes are subtle but speak volumes about the state of the smartphone industry. Mobile devices have matured to the point where yearly hardware upgrades are no longer as big as they used to be. As it becomes harder to impress consumers with new technology, tech giants are increasingly trying to keep current users connected by making phones more everyday. That’s as important in 2022 as inflation reduced the demand for new smartphonesthe more challenging it is to drive the upgrades.

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Your phone is your safety net

It is difficult to define the growth trend of smartphones in 2022, because there are no such popular trends as in the past years. It’s not, for example, the year smartphones got ultrawide camera lenses, or the ability to charge fast.

“Smartphones in the next five, six, or more years — in terms of more cameras, more cameras, bigger screens, battery improvements, ” said Aaron West, a senior analyst covering the smartphone industry at Omdia. “And now it’s kind of flat.”

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But there are two shared themes that become apparent when you dig beneath the surface.

The first is peace of mind, and that word means something different for every new smartphone we see in 2022. For iPhone 14, the ability to automatically detect traffic collisions connected to emergency service via satellite cellular networks are not available. Google’s Pixel phones have supported incident detection for years, but it’s a first for Apple. This is also one of the few features that separates the iPhone 14 from iPhone 13.

A screen showing the iPhone with the Emergency SOS feature

Emergency SOS via satellite. Apple unveiled the upcoming feature on September 7.

Description by CNET

For Samsung, it knows you have Galaxy S22 or Galaxy A53 5G it will never know that it is out of date, because it will receive up to four generations of Android version updates. What’s more, Google only has three years of Android OS support for its Pixel phones. Both companies provide security updates for five years, but Samsung’s long-term support means you get the latest system features for another year.

Mo Google’s Pixel 7 a 7 ProThis means you have the option to browse the website and side a free, built-in VPN. You need to pay $10 per month as part of the income level of the Google One subscription service to get that feature. It’s another example of how Google uses special software advantages to set its new Pixel devices apart from other Android competitors.

The problem is, features like these don’t encourage people to buy new phones.

“Protection is an emotional enhancement,” said Josh Lowitz of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners about the new security features of the iPhone 14. “But it doesn’t change your daily life. “

How much more is your phone

Screenshot from the Google I/O May 2022 presentation

Google wants you to store your driver’s license in Google Wallet.

Google

Tech giants also tried to make phones a bigger part of our daily lives in 2022. In particular, Apple, Samsung and Google improved their digital wallets. Phone bills have been around for years, but these companies have been more aggressive in saving the government ID and other important things on the phone in 2022.

The goal is to be able to leave your house without your phone as your physical wallet changes. The announcements come as mobile wallet adoption is on the rise. In September 2022, 32% of smartphone owners across regions including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US reported using a mobile wallet in the past month, according to Jack Hamlin, a global customer experience manager for data and information company Kantar. That’s a 3 percent increase over last year.

Phone makers also raised their ambitions to make the phone the centerpiece of the other digital services and devices we use — another way to make it even more important. It’s not new, but the results we saw in 2022 pointed to the idea that your phone is not just a phone, but the gateway to other apps and devices in our lives. For example, Google released its first consumer smartwatch, called the Pixel Alert, in October. This is perhaps the search giant’s biggest move over the years to lure consumers into its Pixel country, following Apple’s strategy.

Google Pixel Watch on top of the Pixel 7 Pro

The Google Pixel Watch and the Pixel 7 Pro.

Andrew Lanxon/CNET

“One of the things that keeps people in the Apple ecosystem is that once you buy an Apple Watch, it’s very difficult to leave,” said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart. said to CNET’s Imad Khan about the launch of the Pixel Watch.

This is one of the most popular examples of how technology companies extend their ecosystem. Apple extends similar services Apple Fitness Plus and Apple TV Plus in 2022 by bringing its subscription subscription app to iPhones and announcing plans to air Major League Soccer games on his television platform.

Creating an ecosystem is even more important for tech companies now that it’s more challenging to sell new phones. Not only will existing users stick with their current phones, but it will also give companies another way to monetize those devotees. iPhone owners can become Apple Watch or AirPods buyers. They may subscribe to Apple Fitness Plus. Galaxy S22 owners can choose The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 rather than the Fitbit tracker and the Pixel Watch.

It’s harder to convince people to buy a new phone

There’s no way to top it: Smartphone sales have been somewhat disappointing this year. In the third quarter of 2022, the global smartphone industry experienced a fifth decline, according to the International Data Corporation. The second quarter of 2022 did not fare much better; Canalys reports that shipments were down 9% year over year. Both companies’ reports cited the opportunity for economic challenges and weak demand.

At the same time, people are always on their phones. In the 12 months ending with the September quarter of 2022, 29% of consumers kept their old phone for three years or more, according to Consumer Research Consultants. That’s an increase from the same quarter a year ago, when it was 23%. The average age of devices brought in through sales exceeded three and a half years for the first time, according to Assurant, an insurance provider that also helps companies develop marketing campaigns.

With that in mind, you can also understand why annual phone calls aren’t as exciting as they used to be. Phone manufacturers don’t just cater to customers who upgraded their phones last year or the year before; they are targeting traditional phone owners.

“It’s fine and dandy to compare the iPhone 13 to the iPhone 14 and say there’s less development,” Hamlin said. “But with consumers holding on to their devices for four years now, there are consumers moving from the iPhone 10 to the iPhone 14.”

Apple iPhone 14 on a colorful background

The phones in Apple’s iPhone 14 lineup are the company’s first to feature car crash detection and emergency SOS via satellite. But the iPhone 14 (pictured) has many features of the iPhone 13.

James Martin/CNET

Perhaps the biggest lesson from 2022 is that the phone as we know it will not change for the foreseeable future. Yes, phones continue to have faster processors and more advanced cameras. But the evolution of the phone that exists today is one that many people will use for a long time, despite the industry’s efforts to accelerate the adoption of lame phones.

That’s why tech companies have to work harder to inspire consumers, especially when new features are less visible than the flashy gadget bags seen in previous phone generations.

“The phones are now the right size,” West said. “The cameras are good enough. The batteries are good for the size. So, what else are we going to do with them?”

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