As someone who likes their cell-phone to be hardware feature packed, I have been nothing but disappointed from the major smart phone providers lately. While the camera, memory, and software continue to advance, some basic features that were once standard on cell phones are slowly being removed.
After switching from the iPhone 4 over five years ago, I moved onto the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and was extremely impressed. An IR blaster, removable battery, ability to add a micro SD card, and a stylus to boot. All of these once standard and boasted features are slowly being removed from Samsung, LG, and of course Apple (which never had these hardware specs to begin with).
When you look at the new flagship devices for 2017 they all disappoint in this regard. The Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8, while beautiful looking in my opinion, are missing both a removable battery and an IR blaster. The new iPhones don’t even have expandable memory or a headphone jack, and even LG has begun removing the ability to have interchangeable batteries.
Ever since having the Note 3 I became spoiled. I will personally not buy a cell phone that does not have the ability to remove the battery – due to this feature being the number one reason your phone needs to be replaced.
A rechargeable battery slowly loses its ability to hold a charge over time, and according to Business Insider, modern cell-phone manufacturer’s batteries will only have a lifespan of 300-500 charges. You can extend this by only charging when it is near dying, but it will degrade over time regardless. As someone who plugs in their phone a minimum of once per 24 hours, this means I can hope to have this $1,000 device last a whole year. I used the Note 3 daily for over 4 years without any battery issues, since I had 3 spares that I would swap from time to time – costing under $40 total.
After 4 years I decided to upgrade one year ago to the LG G5. I looked everywhere on the internet for a reliable phone that still had a removable battery, and realized my only option was something made by LG. I was shocked to find out that all of Samsung’s flagship devices have turned into iPhone clones, slowly removing the features I cared most about. While the build quality isn’t great, on my LG G5 I currently have a 128GB micro SD card holding dozens of movies, 3 spare batteries, and I even use it as my TV remote when the clicker is out of arms reach.
This is why I was very surprised to see that the new LG G6, as well as their soon to be released LG V30, their two flagship devices, are getting rid of some of these features – in particular the removable battery. I had figured LG would be my phone provider for years to come, but looking into the future I am not sure if any company isn’t attempting to just convert into Apple devices that you need to replace every year. I hope my LG G5 to last another 2-3 years, which is likely why these companies are changing. They want everyone to upgrade their phone every 1-2 years, and having an easy to replace battery is only going to prevent this. There is an argument to be made that the lack of removable battery is due to the waterproof features on new phones, but you would assume there would be at least one provider targeting my demographic.
I am lead to believe that I am not the only one who feels this way, and that there is an ever growing demand and shrinking supply of these hardware customizable phones. Ideally we could choose only the hardware we want, since I can’t remember the last time I took a selfie, but at least keeping the features phones of the past once had would be nice. There are companies trying to test modular hardware features out, such as Phonebloks – featured in the image to the left.
If you are in the same boat as me, the current best options seem to be either the LG V20 (which came out after I purchased the G5) or perhaps the Moto Z Play. As mentioned earlier, the new V30 will not have a removable battery, but the V20 still does. The Moto Z Play does not have a removable battery, but they offer a very unique modular feature where you can easily add speakers, a camera with optical zoom, or an extended battery. I commend Motorola for at least attempting to expand cell phone hardware features and trying something unique.
Along with the above concerns, Apple has even removed the audio jack. The reason for doing this, just as with not allowing for a changeable battery, is of course money. Along with you requiring a new phone every 1-2 years, Apple gets a royalty for every third party device that utilizes their proprietary lightning port. They do not get any money for products using the audio jack or other universal ports. So every time you lose that little dongle, or anytime you need to plug something into your phone, even if you buy third party, Apple gets some money. Don’t let them fool you that it is them being brave.
To all phone manufacturers listening – there is a market for hardware customization and features. My next phone will likely cost close to $1,000 without a contract, and I refuse to spend that much on something that will only last me 1 year. If a company wants this money from individuals like me, this demand will need to be met.