A Shrinking Smartphone Lifespan

It’s often simple to forget that modern smartphones have only really been around in their current for the past decade or so – and during that time our habits have changed so quickly that the form of these devices have changed along with them. The most popular uses on our current smartphones are largely found within gaming and social media, which has changed the very makeup of these devices.

In gaming, for example, larger screens and longer battery life have been a focus to enhance the experience that players get, this can be seen especially recently as despite changes in regulation such as the introduction of an initiative called Gamstop which prevents access for some, there has been a continued rapid growth in these sites not registered providing players with different ways to access these games. Similarly for social media the requirement of good cameras and connection have shaped changes in our devices to fit both of these needs too – but part of the rapid change in these devices has another requirement that is now somewhat being shunned, as a shorter lifespan is being attached to these changes.

(Image from phys.org)

Perhaps the biggest concern that has been identified recently is within the rising cost of these devices – the most recent flagships are arriving with a £1,400 price tag with data showing that users often replace their smartphone every 21 months or so with many willing to spend at least £400 to replace their current devices. But this number is changing, largely attributed to these rising phone costs, users are holding on to older devices for a longer period of time to offset the costs.

Manufacturers have recently come under fire in regards to this, though, as many devices are being artificially slowed to encourage users to upgrade – operating system updates that slow these devices down have already been fined as well as changing software requirements that do not fit older hardware levels. This has become a growing concern that planned obsolescence could continue, and many may not be able to keep up with the rising device costs and as such are stuck with old hardware that isn’t fit for purpose – hardware is also becoming dated much faster than before, a device from three or four years ago may have a much smaller display than modern device now, or even the introduction of modern networking as 5G is on its way and make a clear distinction from older devices, it may seem a difficult sell to hold onto an older device if it means missing out on these newer and developing features that improve both performance and quality of life. 

A change that looks to be fixing this, however, is a growing second hand market for these devices – part of the shrinking lifespan can largely be due to users replacing them quickly, leading manufacturers to develop new phones to replace this demand, and whilst the big brands are the worst for this ‘planned obsolescence’ the smaller brands are capturing this  space.

Leave a Reply