From removable batteries to headphone jacks to chargers, companies have repeatedly cut out features from their smartphones. That’s done either to replace them with better alternatives or simply to execute their clever business strategies.
Apart from the features that we’ve already lost so far, there are others that we may lose soon too. This article will cover four of such features and how their absence affects you as a consumer. We’ll also discuss when those features are likely to disappear and how well their replacements will compensate.
1. Front Camera Cutout
In the same way that we replaced the home button for on-screen controls, the front camera will be replaced for an under-display alternative. The good news is that we’ve already seen this tech in the Galaxy Z Fold 3; the bad news is that it’s just not good enough yet.
After all, if the camera is under the screen, it will not be able to take as much light in and therefore hinder image quality. If you take a lot of selfies, you shouldn’t consider under-display front cameras. For now, at least. The tech will probably take at least two or three more generations to become somewhat comparable to regular front cameras.
2. Wired Charging Port
The wired charging port is on its way out too, and we suspect that Apple will be the first one to remove it as a push to promote its MagSafe chargers. With wireless charging tech becoming better with every generation, it’s becoming easier to recommend it.
However, as of right now, it still sucks compared to wired charging due to its lack of efficiency and affordability. Unless these two fundamental problems are mitigated, wired charging will continue to prevail. Some phones do support a good wireless charging speed like the OnePlus 10 Pro, which is uplifting news, but the tech is not mature yet.
Also, we’ve seen some companies demonstrate true wireless charging, or Air Charging as Xiaomi calls it. Although its concept is game-changing, that tech is even worse than regular wireless charging in terms of efficiency.
That’s why we’re not betting too hard on the wired charging port being removed soon, but three years seems like a reasonable time for said alternatives to make progress. But if Apple removes the port sooner, you can expect all other players to follow suit immediately after.
3. Physical Buttons
There’s a good reason why we haven’t yet gotten rid of physical volume buttons and power buttons: they’re very reliable. Their job is simple but important nonetheless; replacing them with on-screen controls is risky.
For instance, if the on-screen volume buttons ever malfunction or get accidentally triggered in your pocket, they can create volume fluctuations. And you don’t want to have your headphones on at the time because that little accident will be truly shocking and may even cause temporary hearing loss in severe cases.
If the same happens with the on-screen power button, your device may turn on and off spontaneously and hinder your workflow, gaming, media consumption, or any other activity you’re doing on your phone.
However, this problem is not that hard to solve; you can program the software to ignore accidental touches and also use pressure-sensitive panels. We’ve already seen numerous prototypes with this design, so there’s a fair chance that the tech will become good enough for mainstream phones within four years.
4. Free Back Cover and Other Extras
This one is a bit petty but still noteworthy. After chargers and earphones, it seems the free TPU back cover that’s common with so many Android phones is disappearing from the box too. This sucks because removing yet another goody really worsens the overall unboxing experience.
You’d be right to fear the day when you open the box and there’s nothing in it except the phone itself. No charger, no earphones, no back cover, no SIM ejector tool, no cable, no nothing. Just a plain old user manual that no one reads anyway. Buying a new phone will be a significantly less exciting experience because of these cutbacks.
Are You Ready for Future Phones?
A lot of times, smartphone innovation happens in unexpected ways. While some sacrifices are necessary to improve your overall experience, others are merely strategies companies design to increase their revenue. As an informed consumer, it’s up to you to decide if these flagship features are actually worth paying for.
Getting bored with your phone? Before you buy a new one, try these 10 tricks for making your old phone feel brand new.
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