26
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Last Updated: July 4th, 2012

The last few years have been really exciting. Heck, the whole last decade. The explosive proliferation of broadband brought about a whole new world of possibilities for mankind, and the mobile revolution, even moreso. From about 2007 to the present, we watched as Apple and Google, as well as a host of phone manufacturers, turned the world upside down by putting powerful, location-aware, internet-connected, touchscreen mini-computers in the hands of everyday consumers for a price that is relatively affordable.

It's been five years, though, since the first iPhone came out, and nearly four years since the first Android device. Android fans, and indeed the entire tech world, is getting a little bored. We've come to expect that each new product announcement is going to blow us away because, let's face it, for years it did. I was floored when my G1 already had my Google Contacts downloaded before I made it to my car with my shiny new toy.

Today, though, we get pieces like this. In this piece, Vlad Savov tells us the story of how Samsung "broke his heart." You know, in the way that one might feel if they walked in and saw their long-time lover in bed with someone else. A mixture of envy, regret, anger, frustration, and betrayal. Or, maybe, maybe, what Savov means is "Eh, this isn't the phone for me." One of the two.

t-mobile-g1-01 2012-05-25_16h28_23

Left: Thumb breaker. Right: Heart breaker.

It's hard to begrudge a person their opinion. It is, after all, their opinion. Like the rest of us, Savov is more than welcome to enjoy or not enjoy any device he chooses. The dissonance, however, comes when you take a look at The Verge's review of the device, done by Savov himself. In the heartbreak piece, Savov says the device "at best...matched the HTC One X." In the review, he gives it a slightly better score than the HTC One X review (which, in fairness, was done by a different reviewer). So, which is it? Is the Galaxy S III a disappointment, a heartbreak? Or is it a powerful, high-end, leading device?

Great Expectations

It's actually both. The Galaxy S III and HTC's One X are, by all accounts, amazing devices. We just don't seem to appreciate how amazing they are. I've singled out Savov above, but let me be clear: this isn't about Savov. It's about all of us. The last time I got super excited about a device was the original Evo. It had a long list of first-for-Android's: a huge 4.3" screen, a front-facing camera, an unheard-of 8MP rear-shooter, 4G (even if it was WiMax), a micro-HDMI port, and a kickstand. A kickstand! Every single one of these features was brand new on the Android platform. The iPhone 4, which came out a few weeks later, didn't have any of them, either, with the exception of the front-facing camera.

2012-05-25_16h34_25

The early Android hot rod.

Plenty of phones have come out since then, but there are some that still shoot for what the Evo did two years ago. Front-facing cameras have become the norm, you can't get away with releasing a non-4G phone unless you're Apple (and even then, you're treading thin ice at this point), and the kickstand on the latest Evo wasn't a revelatory joy as much as it was "Well, why'd you get rid of it on the Evo 3D in the first place? Idiots." In a lot of ways, we're still modeling our devices off the substantial step forward made by this two-year-old device. Yet we still want that same level of impact, that same "Holy crap!" factor.

In short, we've been spoiled. Our phones are, in most measurable ways, miracles. They know where they are on earth, they know where they are in reference to the ground, they can see the world around them, they can track our eyes, and most incredibly, they can talk to any other internet-connected device on the planet. The sheer volume of things our devices can do is astounding. What we don't appreciate, though, is that much of the technology that goes into our devices existed already. The mobile revolution didn't occur because a bunch of companies invented a ton of stuff all at once. It occurred because pre-existing technology came together in a nice package for the first time.

A History Of Innovation

Prior to the iPhone and the G1, things like GPS units existed, wireless networks could carry data and even pull up websites. Email and IMs and digital notepads and most other things these phones did had already been done. Even on mobile devices like Blackberries and WinMo phones. They just sucked. Very little of it was fundamentally new. It was simply a matter of the technology getting small enough, fast enough, and nice enough all at roughly the same time. And I do mean "roughly". For the last five years, more often than not, the story on our favorite major platforms has been getting those features that everybody knew they needed, but they hadn't quite received yet. It wasn't until about iOS 5 and Android 2.3 that most people had all the features that they knew to look for. Then Android took another year to get a really amazing UI. The aligning of the feature planets happened over the course of years, not a single device.

earlyGPS

An early GPS unit that isn't really GPS at all, but this pic sure looks historic.

We got to witness so much technology getting crammed into so small a space that we failed to realize the long-term trends that led to where we are. GPS technology has been around since the 70s, and development began on civilian use of the technology during the second term of the Clinton administration. EDGE data networks, the first data network the original iPhone supported and the fallback to T-Mobile's 3G on the G1, began deployment in 2003. It was a second-generation wireless network technology. The first known photo shared wirelessly from a camera phone occurred in 1997. To say nothing of the internet and its origin in the 60s.

None of these technologies were new, and we were used to them existing separately. What blew us away was how well they came together. Even the idea of an app store, which was perhaps one of the most innovative catalysts of the mobile revolution, was mirrored earlier by Steam as early as 2002. Very few of the things that we take for granted now were invented in the last five years. They were merely iterated to a small enough scale, and packaged up by some very talented hardware and software designers (there's a reason, by the way, that the tech world has become so design obsessed).

Punctuated Equilibrium

There's a principle in evolutionary biology that I couldn't begin to understand if I tried, but I'm going to pretend to, called "punctuated equilibrium". Sounds cool, doesn't it? The theory goes, in dramatically oversimplified terms, like this: for most of a species history, it will exhibit very little evolutionary change, and that significant evolutionary change occurs during comparatively rapid timeframes. This is in contrast to the idea that evolutionary change occurs gradually and at a steady rate over time.

2012-05-25_16h42_43

It sure looks science-y, doesn't it?

Now, let's pretend, for a moment, that I know anything about science, and that we can inappropriately apply this concept to the evolution of tech in our modern world. For a solid two decades, or so, personal computing was not quite stagnant, but progressed rather slowly. Desktop machines in 2004 may have been more powerful than machines in 1984, but the general form factor, interface, and hardware capabilities remained largely the same. We added Wi-Fi cards, and made laptops that were portable, but the bulk of the advancements that were made in the devices themselves were "It's faster now." All of our other devices, like GPS units, handheld gaming devices, and cell phones were accessories at best.

The last five years, however, have seen explosive growth and variety in form factors. Phones have started getting bigger instead of smaller, tablets are normal, some of them turn into laptops, and at least one is all three. The period of rapid change is upon us and, for phones at least, it's largely leveled out.

Phantom Expectations

As evidence of this, what is it you want in your next phone? Serious question. Can you say what you want? Maybe you'll say you want something like NFC. Or an IR blaster (which was fantastic on the Galaxy Tab 2). Maybe you want a stylus like on the Note, but with a smaller screen. Maybe you want an iPhone with LTE and, for some reason, still read this blog. Plenty of people still haven't found their perfect phone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r1CZTLk-Gk

I could just let this dude say all this for me. It would be funnier, I think.

But the feature you want? It's out there. It's in some other device already. You're not waiting for it to be real, you're waiting for it to be perfect. Meanwhile, when we watch product announcements with bated breath, we're hoping against hope that these companies, who we know so well by this point, will reveal something we can't anticipate. We don't even know what we want. If I can pick on Savov just a bit more (thanks for being such a good sport):

I was one of those amateur logicians who put history and marketing together and believed that Samsung had something more to show us. It didn't need to be different, it just had to be more than what we'd seen already from HTC, LG, and other Android contemporaries.

"It just had to be more." More what? More powerful? That Exynos chip is pretty powerful. More innovative? No one's included eye-tracking software in their phones yet. More beautiful? Alright, so maybe most folks think it's a hideous phone that's designed by lawyers, but it's not the same black rectangle that every phone has been for years. Maybe Samsung went overboard on the "inspired by nature" shtick, but they're trying something new.

If only we knew what we wanted from the likes of Samsung. Or HTC or Motorola or LG or any of the other manufacturers out there. We have a much better idea of what we want from tablets. We want them to be lighter, to have better software, to be cheap, and to try new things to make the UI more useful. Phones are harder, though. We've more or less gotten everything we could want from our phones.

That's not to say there's no room for improvement. These devices can always get better. What HTC has done with the One X's camera, or the hardware design? It's brilliant. Samsung's voice and gesture features are great additions. It's not that phones aren't getting better. It's simply that when our phones are so awesome right now, it takes a lot more in a new device to blow it away. The G1 was easy to humiliate. The Galaxy Nexus? Not so much.

It's Time For More Incremental Improvements

evolutionofandroid

This isn't the end of an era. In fact the next couple of decades will still be pretty amazing. We're only just getting to the point where super-high-bandwidth networks like LTE are becoming commonplace in some areas. We're also seeing the growth of server-side technology like Android and iOS's voice features, as well as gaming services like OnLive that augment a phone's processing power. Communications among other electronic devices like refrigerators, thermostats, and light bulbs, is in the works and, given another couple of decades or so, will likely be as normal as smartphones. The tech world will continue to be exciting.

Your phone, however, will likely start to see more incremental improvements than grand leaps. Voice features won't magically be perfect someday. They'll just slowly get better. Battery life will get gradually longer as we make them more efficient and, in some cases, bigger. UIs will get refined and become more fluid. Manufacturers will try some really weird things, some of them will be awesome, and some won't pan out. This is the nature of things.

Maybe, just maybe, after five years of rapid innovation, competition, and escalation, and a constellation of great technology coming together all at once, it's time to take a step back and appreciate how great things really are. We should never stop expecting amazing new features, or stop pushing the envelope. It's what makes the future great. There's a monumental chasm, however, between "not revolutionary" and "sucky."

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • http://twitter.com/dawn_armfield dawn m. armfield

    Excellent article. And I wholeheartedly agree. I love my Galaxy Nexus. Now, I want it to work flawlessly. Incremental improvements would make me very happy.

  • http://twitter.com/BrazenRain BrazenRain

    Shrink the phone down into a watch.

    • Bala

      and then? into an atom?

    • Spydie

      Oh yeah, right... while the concept seems "trekky", the usability is really diminished. You can, right now, buy an entire android phone on a watch ($286), not just one that tells you when your got email or a text. but let's face it, can you really interact with it?  NOPE.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      I'd actually prefer something like this. I got to play with one of these once. While it was buggy and still needed a lot of work, I like the idea of having a watch that handles notifications than just a watch phone. Also, the analog one looks classy as hell.

  • Mike_Cook7

    Very well written and I have to say "I needed to read this, I am guilty."

  • Northstar17

    Sadly, this article is much too logical to get the hits a belly aching tear fest would get!

  • denbo68

    How about it answers a call without hanging?

    • Agrippa

      This isn't Hogwarts. Clearly only dark sorcery will make phones today answer calls without hanging. 

  • Abhigyan Banerjee

    This right here is why I read Android Police.
    I can totally relate to your point though, as coming from India, the mobile revolution is just about getting to critical mass. I remember, back in 1996, I owned a Nokia 5110i, which was like the hottest baby on the market. It came with THREE. FREAKING. GAMES on a monochrome display! Then things moved on and the next "flagship", the Nokia 3315 came out. Today, after a line of phones including the Samsung SGH-R220, the MotoROKR E6, the Nokia N70, N81, 6681, E63, iPhone 4, and HTC Desire later, I'm a very proud owner of the Tegra 3 HOX. It's amazing, it's showed me the true meaning of convergence. Technology has rarely come together so seamlessly before, and that is singularly, the major reason why the future excites me even more.

    Here in India, we've just gotten into the 3G-age over the last 2 years or so, and 3G networks are still patchy at best. But having said that, an operator has already gone ahead of the curve and launched 4G data services in two cities. The future truly is exciting (even incrementally, if I were to take this editorial to heart). We're at the cusp of a great new technological and data revolution, and damn, do we love it!

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Hehe, not to mention all the carriers here are having reduced profits due to people not adopting 3G. But you're right, it's amazing what all is possible today.

    • http://richworks.in Richie

      "and data revolution" - By this, if you mean the way data is getting transferred from one form to another, then I agree... but if you mean Data storage and transfer then you are wrong... because even though every other corner of technology have advanced miraculously, data storage has lagged behind.. much like battery technology.. This is one of the sole reasons(I think) SSD's are still expensive(as expensive as they were 2 years ago)..  
      Other than that, yes... it is almost impossible to comprehend that the phone I'm holding in my hand has the technical propensity to send a space shuttle to space(designed back in the 80s).. and we humans had almost nothing in the early 50s(the first transistor was built in 1954)... and within a span of 50 years, we have put over a billion transistors on a 1cm chip. That right there, is the power of human intelligence :)

      • dshim83

        I have to disagree with you on the SSD bit - two years ago, $100 would only buy you a ~40 GB drive, now depending on what brand you go with, for that same 100 you're looking at ~80 GB and better performance this year. SSD's still aren't cheap, but they're still moving a good bit faster than battery technology. And if you can ignore the irregular bump that the tsunami put on harddrive prices in Q4 2011 and Q1 2012, good ol' spinning harddrives are still rapidly decreasing in price, and are actually the main reason that SSDs haven't taken off. (Because they're still proportionately cheaper and with their own improving performance.)

        http://www.anandtech.com/show/3756/2010-value-ssd-100-roundup-kingston-and-ocz-take-on-intel 
        http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-review-benchmark,3139-3.html

  • Rick Ramo

    Expectations, Innovations, fear of rejection.  That is what makes us great.  The shockme mentality is not so bad.  If we were all automitons as depicted in the old over quoted apple 1984 advertisement then where would we be.  Happily trudging along on the marvel of innovation windows 3.11, or wheeling about with our mobile phone sporting the new innovative comfort shoulder strap pad.

    Consumers demand more!  Manufacturers seek to pacify consumers!  Product evolution is driven.  8Mp camera, nice but that is 2006 tech.

  • Agrippa

    Agreed. Fully. Even though you've heard me argue the opposite. We need something new. But that sentiment has more to do with the fact that the industry is mired in fights over old patents. The romantic in me wants a company to go, "Well fine! Fuck it! Here's something brand fucking new!" The other aspect I usually argue from is that, we actually do have the technology to move forward, but we get mired in iterations for profit. 

    Now don't get me wrong, at the end of the day, your argument of incremental improvements (which is more an observation than an argument, so I guess I should call it argument *for* incremental improvement) solves the same basic problem I have. We have all these cool gadgets that don't work for shit. They're amazing compared to old technology, but for the wow-shiny we put up with a lot of shit for the simple reason than it's better than it was. That's dumb. Eating strawberry flavored shit, while INFINITELY better than elephant diarrhea, is still eating shit.That's my problem. Tech is incrementing, but it's not incrementally improving. Rather, it's not incrementally improving at the same pace as it's incrementing. So when I say we need a leap, I mean in function. Do something that wows me, like, you know, work to your full potential.

    *I know incrementing isn't a word. It just worked.
    ** I'm still pissed about waiting 7+ months after it was released for ICS from Honeycomb and getting what was more of a move from version 1.0 to 1.5 than a move from 1.0 to 2.0 for such a lengthy wait. If that makes any sense.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      "Eating strawberry flavored shit, while INFINITELY better than elephant diarrhea, is still eating shit."

      Will you please write all of my metaphors from now on? Hearted.

      • MikeCiggy

        Wouldn't it be nice if each manufacturer stopped selling 15 phones a year and focused on instead only selling 1 or 2 a year tops. Doing this would give them more time to come up with new technology. It would make 2-year contracts more attractive as you wouldn't really be stuck with horrible technology.

        Let's be real though, never going to happen because the profits they get releasing so many phones. 

    • dshim83

      I will say that while the move from 1.5 to 2.0 was huge - I think a lot of that is caught up in the hardware "revolution" that was the transition from the G1 to the Droid. For myself on the Droid X, going from 2.3 to 4.0 (still on the Droid X) was as at least as much of a leap as 1.6 on my G1 to 2.0 on the OG Droid was, minus the hardware.

    • jonathanfrederickson

       Since when is incrementing *not* a word?

  • Dimitar Kolev

    Great read, really. I recently thought about that and figured out that I need the latest and greatest from Google, not from HTC or Samsung or some other OEM. That's why I'm gonna buy Galaxy Nexus next month.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Hehe, yeah, I decided to forego these manufacturer devices and went for the Nexus. works great, I know I'll get the next update on time (officially or unofficially), and it will be supported for long (hopefully). No bloat, no crapware, no unnecessary stuff. Just a great device. No more do I feel excited about stuff like quad-core processors and the like because frankly, while good to have, they aren't of much use. Galaxy Nexus and Nexus devices in general FTW (if you can live with some of the limitations such as no microSD, etc).

    • dshim83

      Just not on Verizon, hopefully. Although if you're going to have a nexus device, you *should* get comfortable enough rooting to install updates even if your carrier decides to be a dick.

  • http://twitter.com/PCSievers P.C. Sievers

    I never did get why people called the S3 a failure. I mean, its the most advanced phone ever made so what were you expecting? Some say it could be prettier, personally I like the styling, there is a discussion that could be made about the screen quality (esp if you have microscopes grafted onto your eyes) but the phone is everything all other phones was, but a bit more, and it lasts longer on its battery in a size that is no bigger than its competition (at least in a noticeable way). That is outstanding.

    And if you think the One X is better then that is great too. If two manufacturers make two phones that are slightly different in differing ways but neither is objectively better then that means the consumers are the ultimate winners.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Heh, it just had to do with the amazing hype that Samsung created which made people think it must be something so extraordinary that it truly might create a new galaxy or something :P And while I don't like the S3's looks at all and like my Nexus' looks better, it surely is a great device, with everything one could want in a smartphone. It's not a failure, it just failed to be a 8-core 4 GB RAM 1920x1080 res screen sporting phone that people might have been expecting from such a hyped device :D

      • AGWednesday

        Was Samsung truly responsible for all the hype, or were the online media and general public (by which I mean us geeks) even bigger cogs in that machine?

        I really do think it's the latter.

        • Abhijeet Mishra

          It was both, but yeah, I guess the general public was more to blame. Also, the fact was that Samsung was focusing on a 'new galaxy' more with software features than hardware, which is another reason people were disappointed. 

          • dshim83

            I think that people call it hype when a company doesn't let information leak/announce until they're close to release - it's one of the things I've always respected most about the Apple model; Apple announces the new iPhone, and a month later the new iPhone is on sale. People sometimes wonder why consumers struggle to pull the trigger on a new android device, and its because by the time (the US version) is released, the phone has actually been "out" for 3-6 months, which means you're only 3-6 months away from the next major announcements.

            Obviously, if you wait for the next "big" thing, you'll never buy anything - but consumers are a lot more inclined to decide when they can actually get their hands on the device while it still feels fresh.I'm "not" talking about the Galaxy SII or anything. (Blame for which falls largely on the carriers, too.)

          • Abhijeet Mishra

            @dshim83:disqus Heh, that's for the US though. Outside and in countries like India (which is a very big market for Samsung and HTC), the phones are released quite fast. The SGS3 is coming here just a day after the UK release. 
            When it comes to carriers, it's a sad state of affairs in the US from what I see. Update problems, hardware changes due to LTE, even design changes thanks to US carriers wanting to be 'different', no assurance of timely updates (while the international models enjoy updates at a much faster rate), etc. 
            But yes, that's a good definition of hype. Thankfully manufacturers like Samsung are taking the right step in copying Apple and releasing phones soon after the announcement. Let's hope others follow suit. 

      • http://richworks.in Richie

        "And while I don't like the S3's looks at all and like my Nexus' looks better" 
         
        There's not much difference between the two, really..except for the bump at the bottom and the plastic back cover :) The overall design is pretty much the same...

  • jm9843

    The article makes fine points, but I don't agree entirely.  There is A LOT of room to still blow users away with smartphone innovation.  Now that Google owns Motorola and has established a new R&D lab (ATAP) that is "not afraid of failure", my expectations are even higher.  Apple isn't going to stop so Android needs a bold oem to do stuff other than docking things into other things.

    I want NFC, all-day battery life, flexible displays covering the entire front face of the phone (i.e. bezel-less), smooth lines to effortlessly swipe across (a la the N9), a completely "port-less/button-less" design, bone induction (like Kyocera's Urbano Progresso), and inductive charging.  This phone would make everything that came before it seem old-fashioned.

    • 1234568

      I agree! There are definitely enough technologies available today to make a revolutionary phone. Sadly I don't believe flexible screens are quite ready for large scale roll out, but that's no reason the next Nexus couldn't still be revolutionary. Imagine this...

      Start with your portless/buttonless design that has an edge-to-edge high resolution screen. Add NFC, BT 4.0, Wifi-ac and Wifi-Direct and you have a good top-of-the-line phone, but nothing revolutionary.

      Then partner with WiTricity who want to roll out their "up-to 8 feet" wireless charging technology this year. They would likely love to launch it on a Nexus device as it's guaranteed wide-spread distribution would raise awareness of their technology amongst millions of consumers. And yes I do believe that Google/Samsung combined have enough clout to arrange such a partnership. Finally, the base stations should be readily available so you can have one in every room. Effectively you now never need to worry about charging your phone.

      On the software side incorporate Android@Home right from the ground-up. This was initially shown off last year and since then Google have had plenty of time to get it up to scratch and sort out Google branded accessories to support it. There is no reason why we cant control our entire home (lights, TV's, baby monitors, etc.) with our phone.

      Then build into the WiTricity charging stations in each room the short range location technology used in shopping malls so that your position in your house is known by your phone. Now, as you walk around your home the lights turn on before you walk into a room, and turn off again in your wake.

      In my eyes this is definitely enough to make a phone revolutionary. We are ready for another moment of punctuated equilibrium. Bring it on!!! (But not too soon as I just bought a S3).

  • guest

    Scale back the phone tech; dual/quad is more than enough for apps. Anything other is just graphics porn at this point. Let's start focusing on bringing out less devices and actually supporting the ones in the here and now with timely updates, not this months down the road crap we are currently plagued with. Let's also concentrate on tech regarding how the communications system is set-up. Time to wifi and micro cell tower the crap outta the I.E. Time to solve the spectrum crunch and see better data prices than 2GB for 30 bucks

    • Lucas Salton Cardinali

      "
      Let's start focusing on bringing out less devices and actually supporting the ones in the here"  uahseuhaseh and Then no one buys new phone and greedy corps doesnt get money hahahhahahaha thats why....

  • guest

    That should be U.S., not I.E.

  • Alberto Zaragoza Comendador

    I politely disagree: the Galaxy Note is a revolutionary device and, over time, it will render most smaller smartphones obsolete (and probably it will kill small tablets, too). There will br even bigger phones, around 6 inches, and the standard will be over 5. It's 2007 al over again.

    If you find someone who disagrees...that someone doesn’t have a Note.

    • 1234568

      I disagree... and no I don't have a G-Note. Here's why I think my opinion is still valid:

      I highly value easy one-handed use of my device, which means being able to rely on your thumb conveniently reaching the entire screen. Now I currently own an HTC Desire HD (4.3 inch screen), and while my thumb can reach the whole screen it is only just. I know for a fact that FOR ME any larger phone will be too large for convenient one handed use. And no I don't have tiny hands... I am 6 foot. ;)

      Now I have some other reasons why I personally wont go to a bigger device but i'll leave them out. My point is that everything about phone design, including screen size, is a personal opinion. You may have fallen in love with a huge but it's a bold statement to claim that everyone will.

  • http://twitter.com/stalkbrandon Brandon V. Fletcher

    You should check out Vlad's review of the GSIII where i basically puts his foot in his mouth.

  • guest

    Oh and another tech point - batteries. I read where university researchers were getting a FULL WEEK from a smartphone charge by adding nano holes in a lithium battery. This only lasts for 150 charges cycles though. Afterwards though, the battery still gets 5 TIMES better rates than our current batteries do. And besides, if you can do 150 cycles with a week between them, that battery would fat outlast the time you kept the phone. I want one of these batteries like 5 years ago. Bring it on!

  • Yogeshyadav017

    sony is bringing new technologies like white magic display and magic touch in xperia sola 13 mp camera in xperia gx...the problem is that we look for new technology only from the section leaders like samsung, i phone and htc and ignore other manufactures...

  • FrillArtist

    Great article but I still think the SGSIII isn't all that.

  • randyfromreno

    It realy does not matter what you expected or want beacuse by next year the One X and the S3 will be old news and something else will be out. Nvidia says 30 new Quad core phones are comming late this year but we probably will not see them in the US till early next year. It seems that about every 6 months something better is comming along and your phone is at End of Life. So unless you like spending 5 or 6 hundred bucks every 6 months on a new phone, Choose the phone the suits you best. Then when you get tired of it, Root, Rom and change it.

  • Paul Fisher

    Great article. We need more people who think as broadly as you. Not being a d1ck here, but seriosly most smartphone users think their devices are far superior than anything else - especially iphone users. they treat iphone as ultimate god and saviour of mankind from all wicked sins. It's absurd how users boast their device just because they can afford a pricey phone specifically from countries whose majority of citizens has low purchasing power.

  • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

    I can only say that those people who came up with the S3 rumored specs are idiots -- remember the 1080p display rumor? They have no one to complain besides themselves. Am I a bit disappointed that the S3 doesn't have a Pentile display? Yes. But is it a big disappointment? No way. Quite the contrary, I like the S3. S-Beam is a great addition on top of Android Beam -- I really hope that Samsung made it available to all Galaxy branded phones that have NFC and Wifi-Direct. S-Voice may be a gimmick, but it fills the empty hole before Google's Siri competitor comes out (after all, when Samsung goes out to sell its phones, it needs a bullet point to compare to the iPhone.)

  • fixxmyhead

    Great article and damn the g1 next to the s3 is embarrassing.we've come along way in a couple of years.

  • Nols

    And yet, two decades ago I had a phone which had built-in voice commands (without data connection) and lasted several days on a single charge.

  • CeluGeek

    All I want on my dream phone is high-end phone with a sliding hardware keyboard and an unmolested Android 4.x experience. And none of that crap of 16 GB storage with no option to add a micro SD card! Everybody is on tiered or capped data plans now (except those on "the maybe-later network") so the idea of streaming all your media files from the cloud is a no-go!

    Seriously, I'm sick and bored of seeing the same buttonless slabs everybody else has.

  • MikeCiggy

    Great article. I think the GSIII is a great phone and will sell just like the GSII. Only thing I don't like is the hardware design. But that's my personal taste. I honestly think the Galaxy Nexus is the sexiest phone out. Slim as hell, softkeys and a curved design. Personal taste tho

  • CeluGeek

    Here is something that need some serious evolution, though I don't think this is an Android-only problem:  How about improving the actual PHONE? How come I can talk to someone via Skype and it sounds as if I'm sitting next to that person, yet a phone call in our powerful, portable multimedia machines still sounds like talking though a Nokia 5100 from the 90's?

  • Merckle

    Great article!

  • Anthony M Demartino

    That is by far one of the best columns on the state of technology today in... ever. I could not agree more. That being said, I would like my next phone to be a decepticon that tries to thwart Shia Lebouf at every turn. Someone or something has to. Either that or the SGS3. :)

  • http://twitter.com/fightcrazy Vinny

    Who the hell really cares what Vlad from the Verge has to say about a phone that he spent about 5 minutes with. He is a paid knucklehead that is in love with anything named Apple. He rips on wht I think is the best device on the market today but he will rave about a glass phone that has a 3.4 inch screen copied notification and lots more from the Android platform. Yes he like many from the Verge use everything Apple, I do not listen to any of the Verge podcasts or do I agree with them. Android is the future of the smartphone, it is very hackable and that is my thing. I enjoy a phone that I can change to my likings, Samsung is the best device for that. They do a great job of allowing the customer to have at it. The SGS3 is much better then the new HTC devices. They have access batteries, sd-cards, bootloaders that aren't locked down tite as a ducks ass. The verge and Vlad can keep their pathetic I-phone, I will take my Android phone and have fun with it.

    • Louis B

      Seems like the problem you have w the Verge is not about they like iOS and Apple devices more than Android, it's more about the fact that they dont like Samsuck.
      SAMSUNG SUCKS!

    • BobbyClark

      Pretty sure Vlad has a Nexus S or Galaxy Nexus.

  • NathanExplosion

    Samsung was the prime motivator in the high expectations for the S3 -- they set the tone, they touted it as the 2nd (er, 3rd) coming.

    So when the intro came and we learned that it wasn't revolutionary and was instead an incremental-improvement device, of course people were going to be disappointed, and rightly so.

    • Louis B

      Samsung and innovator can never be in the same sentence. They just copy other people and make things a bit better (subjectively).

      • Logic

        Your ignorance baffles me.

        Samsung is probably the leading innovator when it comes to smartphones.

        They make amazing displays, the fastest processors on the market and for the past few years have set the benchmark for performance and usability.It just seems you are a Samsung troll.

      • rj5555

        Samsung is one of the biggest innovators on the technology inside of all smartphone (in key areas like processors,displays and memory) ,they are the ones spending billions of dollars in r&d (four times Apple's r&d spending)

      • Steve Jobs

        Damn you're ignorant and uneducated.

        Samsung along with IBM is literally the top 2 innovators in the world. Nobody else comes close.

        If you think Samsung doesn't innovate, then it's a fucking embarrassment
        of an existence for HTC since they don't invent a single damn thing.

        Even Apple innovates more than HTC. What Apple mostly does is take other people's innovations and repackages them.

  • Guest

    Who needs "revolutionary"?  I just need simple things like:

    How about a 100% bug-free OS instead?

    How about coming out with a new phone that doesn't use a very old version of Gingerbread from 2010?

    How about 2x or 3x battery life, instead?

    How about a "0 glare screen" in all lighting conditions?

    How about devices that do NOT cost $700 each?

    How about a device that isn't destroyed just from 1 drop on the floor, from even 1 foot in the air?

    How about a solar charging panel on the back?

    How about a true, full 4.7" screen... instead of totally wasting the extra screen space with on-screen buttons?

    How about if the user can decide if he wants your custom GUI... or the stock Android GUI?

    How about something as simple as a smudge-proof back... and a finger-proof glass front?

    How about somethings as simple as a case that is NOT slippery as wet ice, and slips right out of your hand?

    Gee, even a basic, average user can come up with a long list of ideas far better than any manufacturer can think of.

     

    • Not enough minerals

      most of those are within reach in the next 5 years. there's a bunch of new battery technologies that could boost battery life by over 10 times what it is now.
      0-glare screen are pretty close too since a glass that reflects 1/20 as much light as regular glass was introduced on japan last year.
      it will all eventually happen

    • Louis B

      how about you make your own phone and stop using other phones. 

    • marcusmaximus04

      100% bug-free OS is implausible. No OS, hell, not even any piece of software, ever produced is 100% bug free. That will not happen. Ever.

  • fonseca898

    Well-written article and you make some excellent points.  Thanks for sharing.

  • http://twitter.com/WillieFDiazSF William Diaz

    This article is one reason I stopped pushing and pushing and force feeding Android down my friends throats. While I still push it on them and tell them the benefits of Android over iOS, I still at the end of the day tell them, "Make the choice which is best for you, which you feel most comfortable with, and what will be supported longer than till the next best thing comes out.." - usually in that case, they chose iOS. My friends who are around me daily however, all chose Android because I always know most about it, have the newest or second newest model phone and am always going for the latest thing to test it for the masses.
    At the end of the day, Android still is a leader ahead of iOS in many aspects, but it also is a very experimental platform. It is the OS we turn to to try new features, hardware and software specs, and yes, without Android, iOS wouldnt have anything to compete against and become more refined in the longer run. So its a balance and a trade off really. Without one, the other has nothing to compete against, experiment with or WOW us. Fortunately for us, we have many different options and choices with the Android platform, so for some, like me, the EVO was AWESOME, only 1 year later, Nexus S was the best thing, then 6 months after getting that, I realized I really love my EVO even more than my Nexus, and the only phone that I want more than my EVO or Nexus is the Galaxy S III - but this of course may change, since in 3 months, the next best thing is coming. With that said, we Android lovers have to chose... Pay a ton for the next best thing, or settle with year old technology, or settle with year old technology that we wont upgrade on for years - the iPhone.

  • New_Guy

    How about a tongue phone? A Bluetooth filling that is actually installed in your tooth :-)...

    All kidding aside, best tech article I've ever read. Kudos.

  • Martin Nilsson

    Great article! You kind of missed the software part if I may say so, since it's pretty important in todays phones, but that just adds to the complexity that you described so well. And as things evolve we to demands more, now it's privacy as an example, and that's making things hard(er) for the manufacturers.

    Voice control is a good example of that. It's not a new technology, but it has been pretty crappy for many years. Mostly due to the facts that no phone, even the super phones of today, can't handle to computational power of a proper AI. Not that we so far have managed to create a proper AI anyways. Google and Apple solved this thanks to the advances in technology that has give us fast internet in our phones, just ship the recording to huge computer clusters that can solve it for you. Perfect! We just need to fine tune that AI a bit and we are all set.

    BUT, now companies are getting worried. Keeping devices with recording microphones that sends data to other companies servers are quite scary. So they say no no to that technology in house. And I'm sure at least some users will join ranks with the companies soon enough.

    By then we should have more powerful phones that may or may not be able to run the voice software themselves. But will it be fast enough? Everything boils down to the point you made, it will be cool once a company can make it just perfect and cover all bases. Until then we will see different approaches, non perfect but a few that are really cool (but useless).

  • http://www.facebook.com/raphael.uduhiri Raphael Uduhiri

    Wh

  • http://www.facebook.com/raphael.uduhiri Raphael Uduhiri

    While I do agree with some of your points, the manufacturers are the ones that need to take the blame for most of the hype they create over their phones. Remember the motorola commercial for the zoom? and now the gs3? If you don't want people to criticize your product as not being "revolutionary", stop creating these ads and hype like your phone will cure cancer. You can't say ur phone is the best thing since slice bread and not wow everyone will all aspects of the phone. Maybe they need to tone down the hype machine and people will go back down to acceptable expectation levels. At the end of the day all this is good for the industry. Do you hear anyone talking about new cameras or TVs? The moment people stop caring is probably a sign you aren't as relevant anymore
    http://youtu.be/quI2I8wLPdc
    http://youtu.be/t0ZO6eM4EUE

  • Steve

    Brilliant article. Thank you, AP :-)

  • Nickem

    SIII was a disappointment for me, because it feels just like an upgrade package over the SII. When I bought the SII it was the slimest and yet the most powerful device on the market, it never looked as good as a 4S for example, but it was a fine design.
    Now the S3 uses A9s, even though A15 are more than twice faster, like we saw in the One S. And design is unbelievably boring, how can you expect for people to like it? More to it, LG is soon bringing 2GB ram with A15 on the table and most other manifacturers have put a lot more effort in the design department than Samsung. Why can't Samsung do it? SIII can get away with fail design OR failing to impress hardware, but it's both and it is just too much.
    Samsung is currently N1 smartphone vendor, so there really is not excuse for it being the most boring phone ever created. Every other manifacturer have been putting some great new design ideas in their lates phone and this is, let's be honest, what android phones were missing all along. Look at the LG Nitro, Moto Droid RAZR, HTC One S/X, Sony Experia S, hell, even the Nokia N9.

    Obviously it's not that hard to make a phone that looks good, why can't Samsung do it?I know I'll never buy a Samsung again, until they get themselves together.

  • archercc

    Its why I'm still very happy with my nexus. Its gonna be a bit for another real breakthrough in hardware and I have a phone that will be privy to the new software that will make use of the power we have now.

    I replaced an original evo with it, that phone was really the start of the superphone trend and held its own for a long time.

  • Knlegend1

    For me it isn't too much having anything revolutionary, but rather having something current. What sucks worst than that is having a sequel device come out and improve upon your current device 6 months later. I like this article though I think I've found a new home at Android Police. Thanks guys. 

  • Googlefanboi

    Google and Apple are both already attacking the "phone leveling out" problem with wearable devices. Google is taking it further and working on a neural implant...be patient people!

  • http://antoinerjwright.com Antoine RJ Wright

    You are kidding right? Innovation in smartphones to stop... lol. Wake me when Android is cohesive enough of a system to be innovative. iOS innovative? Try again - iTunes and the dev tools, sure, but not the platform.

    Your piece reads like someone who started with smartphones with the 1st gen iPhone. To that end I would you tell you plainly that you missed a *decade* of smartphones before then (Psion, Handspring, Palm, Windows Mobile, WM Smartphone, Symbian, RIM, UIQ, etc.). Your perspective of innovation in the latest released Android smartphones amounts to speeds and feeds - its shiny, and will be innovative next month when the same devices are released by other OEMs with a different skin and colored shell.

    Is mobility branching out, and therefore some innovations harder to see than others? No. The advances in battery life that should have happned aren't because of speeds. You consider an address book shared with social networks without your implicit permission as great (see: Windows Phone, see: iOS and Android security)? If that's innovation, er... can I see you a bridge.

    Wake me when your mobile learns how you use it; adapts to you without intervention. Wake me again when it auto-magically responds to contacts whether on a social network or not based on your context with little to no training needed from you. Wake me when your greatest innovations last more than a single day on one charge. Wake me when you see mobile not in a slab design, but in tear-drops (Nokia Human Form), dual screens (Sony, Kyocera), clamshells, and wearables.

  • aaronratner

    Wow, I used your punctuated equilibrium and cell phones as an example today in my class BEFORE I read this article.

  • Stocklone

    The Galaxy SIII really didn't do much for me either. I don't if I'm really spoiled so much as completely burnt out on Android.

    Far more excited with the potential of upcoming RIM's BB10 and Nokia's WP8 devices.

  • http://www.adimensionofmind.com/ A Dimension Of Mind…

    As someone who's been enjoying the Galaxy S3 since it was delivered on Monday I have to say it's an awesome device, and I agreed with Eric, we're starting to expect too much from phones.  Are they even phones any more, or computers with phone functionality. 

    The S3 does everything I could need a connected device to do, and stuff I don't need, there's a barometer in there somewhere!  The hype got a bit out of hand, and Samsung aren't as adept at managing that level of fan madness just yet I think.  People were expecting flexible 1080p display magic that just isn't possible in what has to be a consumer affordable device. 10 years down the line maybe, but for now I have the most powerful processor in a phone currently available easily handling any task I ask of it.  Those specs should carry me through a Jellybean upgrade and whatever tinkering comes to mind for the next two years of my contract.  I'll still pick up an iPhone 5 in October and enjoy it as well as my new trusty Android, and I'll be a happy gadget freak.  Until either Apple, Google, or Samsung make a real android that will follow me around like a mechanical butler letting me know of appointments, tweets, whether or not I'll need a coat tomorrow, I'll be happy with my phone/tablet devices and keep my expectations in check : )

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