As Phone Evolution Begins to Slow, What Comes Next

Few high-tech devices have evolved as rapidly or become so widely adopted as smartphones. First popularised by the original iPhone in 2007, these humble pocket computers soon became ubiquitous to users of all ages. Following their introduction was an era of rapid expansion, as they made continuous leaps in becoming more flexible and powerful. In the last few years, however, the evolution of these phones has slowed to a relative crawl. It’s a curious development, and one with profound implications for the future of the smartphone industry.

The Last Big Leaps

When looking at how far smartphones have come, several key components stand above the rest. Processing power and displays are among the most immediately obvious here, with cameras and internet connection speeds also finding themselves on the front line. After major leaps, however, all of these technologies have reached a point where advancement is now incremental as opposed to groundbreaking with every update.

Since the 2020s, there’s only really been the resurgence of flip phones, the arrival of folding phones, and the introduction of 5G that have stood above the norm. While welcome additions, none of these exactly set the mobile world on fire.

The Necessity of Modern Upgrades

What many smartphone users take away from the modern era is that each general leap is becoming less overt. This is especially evident in the gaming space, where mobiles are pushed further than in practically any other mainstream applications.

It used to be that a user would need a cutting-edge phone to have hope of running the biggest titles, but today even the flagship phones from a few years ago can easily manage these games. This isn’t just thanks to the hardware, as the biggest modern gaming titles tend to be free to play, with low requirements. Being budget-friendly and offering progressive gameplay options, including options to unlock new characters or move ahead to more advanced levels, these games are favoured by plenty of modern gamers. An additional benefit of free-to-play games, of course, is that they don’t demand the most out of smartphones. This lets games reach a wider audience, which combined with such fast processors in modern phones, makes access a non-issue.

These realities combine to make an age where the practice of consistently upgrading to the year’s new mobile model is looking decreasingly necessary. It’s not just the smaller performance and functionality gains that play a part here either, as environmental concerns play an increasingly crucial part.

As climate change and pollution like e-waste are becoming undeniable on the widest scale, users are no longer so captivated by the idea of yearly upgrades. Instead, they’re more inclined to wait until their device eventually suffers from appreciable performance degradation or unfixable wear and tear before purchasing their next smartphone.

E-Waste in the Alley (Silver Spring, MD)” (Public Domain) by takomabibelot

In the future, many users will likely see their phones not as just temporary systems, but rather as long-term companions. Like the decades-old family dryer that never fails, a good modern phone should last years if properly maintained, and if backed up with a new battery once the old one begins to fade. Make no mistakes, smartphones are still only going to grow more popular and powerful, but instead of disposable pieces of tech, we’re more likely to embrace them on a deeper level.

Passionate about design, especially smartphones, gadgets and tablets. Blogging on this site since 2008 and discovering prototypes and trends before bigshot companies sometimes