Whether you follow mobile technology occasionally or you are obsessed with checking the latest news every couple of hours, one fact should be quite obvious to you: premium Android devices come and go as fast as the Formula 1 cars on a straight line.
One day, it’s the HTC Incredible S, the next it’s the LG Optimus 2X, then it’s the Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation XL, Motorola Droid RAZR, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. It seems as if every month – sometimes even every couple of weeks – there is a hot new device to feast your eyes on. But is this is a great opportunity for the customer, or a major drawback?
Something Better Is Always on the Horizon
When the time comes for you to buy a new Android device, the decision process is horrible. The moment you settle on a handset, you read rumors of a better one coming a few weeks or a month later. And you get stuck, trying to choose between a phone that is great now or a phone that might be greater later on. This constant promise of a better offer can confuse consumers and complicate their buying decisions.
Little Innovation, Minor Improvements
When a new premium device is announced every couple of weeks, the manufacturers have little time to introduce major new features. Every new phone has a minor improvement over the previous one: from a 1.4 to a 1.5 GHz processor; from an 8 to an 8.1MP camera; from a 4″ to a 4.3″ screen…
This eventually results in a race for the first place that can never be won, but that pushes manufacturers to invest very little into each device. Innovation is hindered in order to try to keep up with the competition, and the customer is given the false impression that he really “needs” these tiny improvements.
Price Drops and Investment Loss
Another pitfall of the fast turnover of premium Android devices is the investment loss when buying a device. Given how quickly your “new” phone becomes outdated, with the dozens of newer ones released in the following couple of months, its price deprecates quite fast and you find yourself with a device bought for $500 that you can’t sell for even $300 after a few months. A major counter-example to this is the iPhone, which loses little value because the same model is current for at least 12 months.
There’s Something for Everyone
Choice. When every manufacturer is releasing a premium android device every couple of months, the obvious benefit for the user is a vast array of choices. Whether you prefer the vanilla Android experience or you like HTC’s Sense or Samsung’s TouchWiz skins, whether you need a bigger screen or a more pocket friendly device, whether you aim for a great camera or you need a physical QWERTY, there’s an answer to your demand. And the bonus is that you aren’t choosing between mid-tier devices, but between lots of premium devices with high specifications. You aren’t one of the troops, you are a unique person with personal and different needs, and this is what makes Android’s offerings quite appealing.
Longevity of “Old” Devices
The upside to the lack of major breakthroughs between successive premium Android devices is that even your “old” phone boosts enough power to last a couple of years. The race to higher specs has made it so that every premium Android device packs enough to still be beautifully functional in one or two years. I own an HTC Desire Z, a phone that isn’t new by any definition of the term, and yet I can do the same things that any snazzy new phone can do, and try all the latest and greatest apps. Plus, when the handset manufacturer stops supporting my Desire Z for new Android releases, there’s always CyanogenMod or MIUI to take me further, as Sam Cater pointed out recently.
Price Drops and Better Affordability
I mentioned price drops above as a drawback for people who buy devices as soon as they are released; however, when you can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a device, these drops become an advantage. You only need to wait a couple of months before your expensive drool-worthy flagship device is at a more affordable price range. Granted, it’s no longer the newest kid on the block, but it’s still a robust handset that fits your needs. Android has democratized the powerful smartphone for everyone.
So Wait, Is It Good or Bad for Android?
I guess it depends on how you look at it. There are always those who think that this fast turnover is killing innovation and bringing the platform to a halt and a massive confusion for customers. I, on the other hand, stand on the opposite side. I love Android for its vast choice of premium handsets because I have specific preferences and the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for me.
I also think that this choice is wonderful, both for the wealthy and those who have a limited budget. If you can afford it, you can buy a new Android device every month or two, and never be bored, with always better and higher specifications. If you don’t have that budget freedom, you can wait a couple of months for the device you crave to drop its price, buy it, and still have a handset with premium specs that will be powerful enough for at least a year or two.
I would love to hear your opinion on the matter: is this fast turnover making you dizzy with choices, or do you consider it an advantage over other platforms?