Mobile tech fans don't really have much to be excited about these days. Things have fallen into a rhythm. Every year, the lineups get refreshed with minor cosmetic changes and new components. The devices look and feel the same for the most part, particularly iPhones, but there's just enough of a change on offer for customers to go ahead and pick one up.
However, there's isn't as much of a mad dash as before to pick these devices. It's already clear that customers are now keeping their phones for longer. Fewer people upgrade their device every year compared to just a few years ago. That monotony in the industry is partly to be blamed as there's not much to excite the tech fan.
Samsung has gone against the grain somewhat by blazing a trail with its foldable phones. The company's focus has been on popularizing foldable phones since the past few years. It's one of the only companies selling foldables in two different form factors at scale across the globe. Samsung is reaping the dividends of this early mover advantage as it has an absolute dominant position in the foldable smartphone market.
However, as its foldables become more commonplace, people who have been using them for a while now are becoming used to them. There isn't as much excitement for a new Galaxy Z Fold or Z Flip anymore, at least not as much as there used to be until recently. This is only going to diminish in the future even if other major brands like Apple jump on the foldable bandwagon as well.
There was a time not too long ago where the industry as a whole was a lot more exciting. It felt like every company was trying its hardest to outdo its rivals by making the most wacky products on the market. What was great to see as a tech fan was that they would bring new and quirky ideas to life. Even if the products didn't stick around for long, at least there was something for the tech fan to be curious about every year.
Samsung used to launch similar products to either test out ideas or to prove a concept before introducing it in one of its main lineups. For example, back in June 2013, Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 Zoom.
It had a 10x optical zoom lens on the back and the device looked like someone had slapped a phone on one of the handheld cameras that used to be popular back then.
Samsung followed the Galaxy S4 Zoom the next year with the K Zoom. The Galaxy S23 Ultra now offers 10x optical zoom in a much more compact package but you have to hand it to Samsung that it tried something different a decade ago.
During the same period, Samsung also launched the Galaxy Round which became a representation of where display technology could go in the future. That was also the case with the Galaxy Note Edge which introduced the curved edge displays that would become a hallmark of Samsung's flagship phones in the years to come.
Even as recently as 2019, Samsung took a different approach to the no-notch selfie camera trend by launching the Galaxy A80, a device with a sliding and rotating camera. Instead of putting in a selfie camera, Samsung added a sliding mechanism to the device which would pop out and then rotate the rear camera to let you take selfies. This was short-lived, though, as Samsung didn't expand the idea beyond this device.
Samsung's history is filled with interesting devices, even those before Android became the operating system of choice, as the company never shied away from trying out new things. In the Android landscape you also had other companies that were doing interesting things, such as slapping projector modules on smartphones. Samsung made one too, it was called the Galaxy Beam, and it had a built-in pico projector capable of projecting anything on its screen up to a size of 50-inches.
Being a tech fan isn't exciting anymore. Why are these companies all paying it so safe now? It feels like there's no desire to take risks anymore. They've all just perfected their formulas to churn out cookie cutter devices that customers are now finding it harder to justify upgrading to year after year. Ultimately this decision to no longer go against the grain, which is ostensibly a desire to maximize shareholder value, may end up depleting it in the longterm as sales become slow.
Would we see a return to the old days where these companies competed with each other to see who had the wackiest ideas? Perhaps not, but as it does so often for the industry, perhaps Samsung has once again take the lead here and make mobile tech interesting again for fans.