Does every major phone release have to revolutionize the market?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| June 19, 2012

There are a lot of new devices released every year from several different manufacturers. However, while there may be more announced in a year than we’d like to count (or even pay attention to), there are a few that warrant extra attention, and garner the focus of everyone all around the world. Even if it is just for a short time, the expectations are usually a lot higher than the reality. Those high-end devices have a lot riding on their proverbial shoulders, though, so it makes sense that we all willingly freeze time to see what gets unveiled.

But what about those expectations? Where do they come from? I think that’s a pretty simple answer: passion. Our views on our smartphones have changed drastically over the years. Ever since Apple and Google entered the smartphone race, we’ve taken our love for smartphones and bumped it up to outright ferocity. We’re adamant about our devices, that one is better than the other, that one company is by-and-large different and better than all the others.

Of course, we’re just as adamant on the negative side, too, when it comes to that.

I’m the same way. Or, I used to be. Now i can honestly say that I’ve toned it down, and checked my expectations at the door. But, not too long ago in the past, I was just as adamant as almost everyone else. Opinions go a long way, especially when passion and expectations get thrown into the mix.

Here’s a bigger question, though: why does every high-end launch from HTC, Samsung and Apple get scrutinized so heavily? So deeply? Why do we expect these companies to launch a device that we believe should literally redefine the very smartphone market? Revolutions do happen. We saw it in 2007 with the release of the iPhone. We saw it in 2008 with the release of the original Hero by HTC. Again, in 2009, with Palm releasing the Pre and webOS. We’ve seen it happen in one way or another, in one vein of technology or another, every year since 2007 and we’ve come to demand that be the case with every new high-end phone launch.

I had this brought to my attention just recently when I was asked why I hadn’t included the Galaxy S III by Samsung in PhoneDog’s Official Smartphone Rankings. Specifically, why I still haven’t included it within my Top 5 list. I haven’t included it because, to be honest, I don’t think the Galaxy S III is all that impressive. Sure, it has some cool features, but it didn’t really jump to the top of my list, or even near it, after its announcement. It just wasn’t enough for me.

This time, though, it wasn’t because of any high expectations. I actually wasn’t expecting Samsung to announce anything all that fantastic. Sure, sites all over the place were running rumors about how the handset would have a 1080p HD display and plenty of other ridiculous qualities, but I just never put any stock into them. So when Samsung did announce their latest Galaxy-branded device, it wasn’t high expectations that made me just shrug my shoulders and forget about it.

That isn’t to say that the Galaxy S III isn’t a great phone. Even put against the likes of the One X by HTC, the newest Galaxy is indeed a phone worth purchasing. Especially if you’re someone who subscribes to the idea that not all high-end phone launches have to change the world. As a consumer we should just expect the best from these manufacturers in the sense that they provide a good product, not something that revolutionizes the wheel. High-end hardware, software that doesn’t flake out on us after a day’s usage, and the ability to use it for more than two or three hours in a day with heavy usage. These are things that consumers want, and this is what manufacturers should be aiming for.

We expect so much from high-end phone launches that we can sometimes get caught up in all the noise. We can turn it into a brouhaha pretty quickly. But not every phone warrants a perfect 10 score, so to speak. Not every phone has to. And, in truth, we all know deep down that it comes down to personal preference, right? The Galaxy S III isn’t my favorite phone, but I know someone who indeed thinks it is. I can say that about any high-end phone out there. Someone will love it. Someone will think it’s a perfect 10, because it fits them as a person.

So should every major high-end phone launch be held to such extreme expectations? Should we always assume that HTC, Samsung, Apple or whoever else out there is launching the newest phone will blow the world’s collective mind? Probably not. Then again, perhaps if we don’t hold these companies to such high standards they’ll start to slump and we won’t ever see another revolution within the mobile market again.

What do you think? Should manufacturers be aiming to change the world with their latest and greatest smartphone? Or should their own expectations be checked at the door? Let me know in the comments below.

Products mentioned