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Yes! New company smartphones! ... But I don't WANT one

Since I don't have an iPhone with a worn out battery

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Up all night to get LG?

LG scores the second win with the Nexus 5. From a specs standpoint, it's an unremarkable flagship phone, but multiple reviews hold that it stands among the best of this generation in battery life. Katherine spends most of her time on the phone reading ebooks, and this was her primary criteria.

The Nexus 5 saw off the HTC One, the Galaxy S4 and various Sony and Alcatel devices. The Nexus brand was the deciding factor between the Nexus 5 and the virtually identical LG G2: Kat feels updates are important and thinks she'll get them more regularly with a Nexus branded device.

Josh passed on the Nexus 5 only because he preferred the larger screen of the Note III. I am passing because of the lack of MicroSD card slot.

Still walking with Androids

With all of that done, I still haven't chosen a device. Nothing on the market actually seems worth the time and effort required to move all my data, settings and so forth to a new device. Even if the device is free.

The hardware and software of the smartphone scene feel like PCs circa 2006: there's nothing out there that makes upgrading worthwhile. In cases where people have any incentive whatsoever not to upgrade their smartphone, I suspect that they simply won't.

Apple's strategy of planned obsolescence through batteries that can't be replaced seems positively genius. Whether customers feel a new unit offers a real advantage or not, they'll keep upgrading just to get battery life back up to acceptable levels.

Perhaps more disappointing is that despite a sea of options, we're right back at Android one more time with the only two viable options being "Samsung" and "Nexus". As a sysadmin and business owner, I'm not fond of Android. The OS and ecosystem are Swiss cheese and as such are a magnet for every malware writer on the planet.

I've served my time with Windows XP. Just as I'm finally seeing that nightmare off it looks like I'm in for two more years of tech support. The difference is that nobody has made Hirens or Ninite for Android phones so it feels like 2001 all over again. I'm back to a carefully curated and updated collection of imaging, diagnostic and anti-malware tools as well as cursing at manufacturers for doing esoteric and non-standard things that make actually doing proper maintenance on these systems miserable.

End of "explosive" smartphone growth in sight

Over the next two years you are going to read a lot of headlines about "peak mobile" and analysts wailing about the end to explosive growth of Smartphones, at least in the developed world. Growth will come from developing nations, but western markets will stagnate and decline in short order.

Money is not the obstacle here. The western mobile markets won't be stalling out because the widgets cost too much. The issue is one of cost versus benefit.

The PC market didn't stall out because we all suddenly started moving our workloads over to tablets and smartphones. It stalled out because what we had worked, what was new didn't offer any tangible improvements, and we knew how to defend what we had.

We'll keep buying new PCs and notebooks as our old ones die, just as we'll keep buying new smartphones. But both markets are now dominated by inertia: we'll stick with what we know, what we already have investments in, and what seems comfortable and familiar.

Phone specs won't even move the needle for today's purchasers. The number of cores, amount of storage and the resolution of the screen just don't matter anymore. Battery life matters more than manufacturers are willing to admit, while style and "thickness" don't matter nearly so much as they think.

Both the PC and Smartphone markets are in the same place: corporate reputation and novel innovation are what matter now. You might capture market share with pricing, but people will pay more for a brand they trust.

Despite the razzing the world gave Samsung, its Smartwatches were a half-decent idea. "Accessories" are going to define the future of the smartphone market as the computer you carry around with you powers an ever-increasing array of portable doo-dads. From medical devices to head-mounted displays, the real growth from here on out is "the internet of things" and "wearable computing."

Smartphones have finally become "good enough". ®

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