Is Your Smartphone Part Of A Planned Obsolescence Life Cycle?

by on December 29, 2014

in consumer

Verizon Wireless RAZR M smartphone

I originally started this piece out comparing the shortcomings of my aging Droid to consumer expectations. From apps that test my patience to a horribly performing Motorola phone’s camera.

But in my research, I discovered the phrase “Planned Obsolescence” in regards to smartphones. And suddenly I stopped comparing and started getting a bit aggravated.

Wikipedia’s entry on the subject says “Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence[1] in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time

So I am going to start this piece with most of my original text and we’ll go from there.

Droid, Samsung or iPhone? The Camera Itself Could Be the Determinant!

After a ton of consideration and suffering with my own cell phone, I believe my next phone will NOT be a Motorola (Lenovo owned) Droid. If for anything else, the raging *! excuse for a camera that is part of my Droid phone. That, and this oddly growing sluggishness my phone’s apps are demonstrating in some of the simplest functions.

My phone is almost two years old so I am going to presume that new apps and OS updates are responsible for the terrible performance my Droid demonstrates. From the OS intermittently taking up to several seconds to respond to any screen touch to the camera that is spiraling ever downward in catching those perfect moments we all try to snag.

To help my Motorola phone I have been rebooting it at least a few times a week to clear out its memory for a bit of a marginal performance improvement.

When I have issues with a product, I’m not always the first to speak up. It is only when I start seeing other users having the same issues that I start to wonder if there is a systemic issue going on with a product. Sure enough, I know several people with my same set of issues and or symptoms with their own Droids. Hmm.

Some of the problems I am experiencing include…

  • Since my latest Droid OS update, my phone has fooled my music apps into playing ring tones.
  • My headphones jack seems to need extreme babying to work properly.
  • My Droid is getting slower to respond to screen taps.
  • The camera has focusing issues except in the most exceptional of perfect conditions.
  • When I click my shutter button, I can count anywhere from five to twenty before it actually snags the pic.

All the while I watch my peers with with iPhones take perfect pictures, no matter what the age of their phone.

Yes, I know, it is a phone, not a camera. But it is a fact of life that we take a lot of pictures with our phones these days. So much so that photography forums are addressing the use of camera phones in their tutorials these days.

As I watch my peers take great iPhone pics, myself, my wife, sister-in-law and several others I know are having the same focusing issues with our Droids.

With these experiences becoming a shared experience among multiple users had me wondering what is up? I see these eroding functions of my Motorola OS (operating system) as symptoms that might help drive users to upgrade their phones more often than they normally might or need to.

I mean, face it, a thing that makes phone calls should never need to be updated. But phones with software and apps, that is another thing.

For example, when you buy a decent (real) camera, they last forever unless some come out with some fantastic new features on a new model. But smartphone users seem to feel prompted to update more often than I think they need to.

Yet we seem to need to update… It merely seems odd to me that the product erodes over time. Or maybe, as time goes on, apps are designed to such a degree to use much more processing power and hence, my older phone becomes useless. Comparatively speaking.

This leads me to another premise of mine, and that being I set my updates to manual and only update apps that I want to, if I need to.

I once had an app whose entire reason for an update was to serve better and improved ads. Seriously? I’m not updating to get “better” ads. Give me a break. I’m allergic to ads. I dumped my Angry Birds Star Wars edition because I was getting movie trailers between rounds. Phhhffft on Disney!

But that is just me.

So sure, I am suspicious of the smartphone industry and how we seem to need to update phones so often. But what are you going to do? A buddy of mine jumped ship from the Motorola boat and went iPhone. And hated the change up in user experiences.

In a NY Times piece about Apple (allegedly) intentionally aging out old phones, the writer talks about when the iPhone 5S and 5c came out and his ‘4’ became instantly sluggish, the battery ran down faster and other issues popped up. The writer discovered that the newer OS pushed out to phones was surprisingly taxing on the older phone batteries. Hmm.

For me, this begs the question why force heavy duty updates on older phones? I do mean force, because I never have an option when updates come along for my Motorola.

And then the theory goes that if phones have finite life expectancy, that’s good for business. At least for the phone manufacturers.

(The writer made note of one point in time when within the light bulb industry where some manufacturers were penalized by peers for making bulbs that lasted too long.) <-

So my suspicions aren’t far off I guess. Now if Apple is being suspected of this fascinating practice, I am willing to bet the other phone manufacturers are doing exactly what they are suspected of.

I have been considering jumping ship to the Samsung or iPhone world. But I need to ask around and play around with other folks phones first. And in light of this new business principle that I have encountered, I am starting to wonder just how little our phone manufacturers care about the consumer and their wallet?

All this because Motorola’s camera is ticking me off.

Do you even want to hear about my “Body Glove” phone clip that is begging me to buy my third one in less than two years due to it failing too? Nah… I’ll just take note to not buy anything from them again!

Resources (Just to name a few):

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Olivia March 22, 2017 at 11:38 pm

TL;DR Don’t update smartphone OSes (before research).

I’m not sure if I said this, but why, oh why would you upgrade the phone OS without researching first if it’ll punch the phone into unusability…

Nearly every working phone I have works as snappily as the day it was bought (the one that doesn’t, incidentally, was upgraded. Funny that). I’d have stuck longer with my galaxy s4, running kitkat, but a storm watered damaged it to oblivion.

So I’m on a galaxy s5 starting a few days ago, annoyed they shipped me one running lolipop, not kitkat (I hate pre-5.2 lollies. The white is garish, annoying, and horrendous to battery life on AMOLED screens. At&t model, can’t update to 5.2, will have to root and everything, just to make it look nice…)

After I fix that, I fully expect to stick with it 3-4 years, by which point the model will be 6-7 years old.

If you can’t tell, I don’t give a flying squirrel about the fact Android 8 or 9 or whatever will be out by then, and my poor Cyanogen phone will languish in the olden days of 5 or 6. If trends continue, it’ll be 100% as usable as it is now.

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