Will Samsung continue with Apple style tick-tock phone updates?

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Our early impressions of the Galaxy S7 have been pretty positive, but following the comment reactions to our articles and videos, there’s one general thread of criticism.

Is this really a Galaxy S7, or is this a Galaxy S6S?

Galaxy S7 Edge vs S6 EdgeSamsung’s hardware strategy does seem to be following in Apple’s footsteps. The S6 was a drastic change to the aesthetics of the Galaxy S line. The S7 looks nearly identical, but the guts of the phone are improved. This has been Apple’s iPhone strategy since the 3G.

Instead of trying to impress with a fresh new design every year, this tick-tock schedule insures that a manufacturer doesn’t stretch themselves too thin releasing new phones yearly. One year the company can focus on design. The next year the company can focus on refining the design and improving the internals.

We’re seeing evidence that the flagship phone market is cooling off, and in part we’re witnessing diminishing returns on what new tech we can cram into a phone. Every year we can count on improvements, but we’re more likely to see nuanced evolution now. We’re less likely to see revolutionary phone design or radical advances to internal technologies. This climate might also contribute to a more conservative phone update schedule.

Why blaze new trails with bleeding edge territory?

galaxy s7 edge water resistanceSamsung of the past built a reputation for packing in tons of features and gimmicks. Some of those features worked really well and influenced the entire Android ecosystem, but many gimmicks have been sliced off of newer phones in a geeky Darwinian survival of the fittest. As Samsung refines its offerings, we’ve backed off significantly from feature creep and the specs wars. The phone’s style and lifestyle features are the main talking points.

This isn’t actually new territory for Samsung. Moving from the Galaxy S3 to the Galaxy S4, many criticized the similarities between those successive Galaxies. Samsung’s reaction with the S5 was certainly off the pulse, and resulted in a fairly unattractive phone, but a germ of this hardware strategy was already in place.

samsung phone updates

Moving from the S2 to the S3 was a significant change. The overall style of the phone didn’t change significantly moving from the S3 to the S4. The S5 attempted to find a new design language borrowing some elements from the Note. If the S5 had been a more successful device, we might have seen something similar for the S6, maybe adopting more of the look of the Note 4 or the Galaxy Alpha.

Metal and glass forever?

Samsung has a design strategy which works really well now. From the Galaxy S6 on, this metal and glass combination produces one of the most attractive phones on the market. The Galaxy S7 looks like it will address many of the issues we had with the S6, but it’s still interesting to speculate on Samsung’s long term strategies.

Does Samsung need to change up the hardware style more aggressively for this year’s Note? Will other companies slow the pace of their phone design and manufacturing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About The Author
Juan Carlos Bagnell
Juan has been geeking out on personal computing since before PCs had GUIs. After studying Theatre in college, Juan worked with a contractor that supported servers and mobile devices for Department of Energy facilities. After moving to Los Angeles California, and working as a commercial casting director, he now dedicates his time to discussing the tech landscape as a consumer advocate. You’ll often see him pop in local news broadcasts. Passionate about mobile content creation, he recently published his first book on smartphone photography.