It only lasted a week: Samsung, the world’s largest seller of Android phones, and OnePlus, a rather niche Chinese brand but not without ambitions, presented not only new phones but also , an increase in their lifespan that amounts to more than Welcome.
It’s not the repairability that the minority of hacker consumers who aren’t afraid to play under the hood of their electronic devices are so hoping for. For the general public, it’s still the signal that their next phone is likely to stay healthier for longer than its predecessors. Samsung and OnePlus have confirmed that they will now support up to four upgrades to the Android system powering their latest devices, the Galaxy S23 and OnePlus 11.
The two manufacturers are thus starting a trend that, due to their relatively large weight in the mobile phone market, is expected to spread to the entire industry in the coming months. So far, Google and its Pixel phones have been the most generous in this regard. The Pixel 7, which launched last fall, promises three Android upgrades before it’s officially endorsed by its manufacturer.
Beyond updating the system, manufacturers are also expanding the automatic push of security updates to their phones. The Pixel 7 will be protected against the latest cyber threats until the end of 2027. The Galaxy S23 and OnePlus 11 promise security updates by 2028.
That means your next wireless device could last at least five years. As new device prices continue to climb, with newcomers from Samsung and OnePlus starting at around $1,000, the bill is easier to foot.
Hopefully it will reverse the trend of the mobile phone market over the past four years. In 2019, the average lifecycle of a phone sold in North America peaked at three years. In other words, before the pandemic, North American consumers switched phones every three years on average. That average is now down to around two and a half years, and if nothing is done it will continue to fall for the next few years.
A darkroom in his pocket
Samsung and OnePlus are like Apple and Google and are betting heavily on the camera of their latest phones. Of the bunch, however, OnePlus stands out in two ways. First of all, his phone only exists in one version this year. No Ultra, Pro, Max or Plus version. We promise to have adopted this strategy in the long term. We doubt it, but we’ll see.
At the very least, it means you don’t have to buy a version that’s selling for double the price of the phone to get your hands on the best camera available. And this is where OnePlus also stands out: its three-lens device bears the Hasselblad signature, named after the Swedish digital camera manufacturer. Without promising that the photos taken with this camera will all be good, it at least signals that care has been taken to integrate quality hardware.
It will appeal to purists: On the software side, OnePlus does less than its two Android system rivals, Samsung and Google. It will appeal less to those who dream of carrying the equivalent of a darkroom in their pocket. Samsung wins the bet there with its Galaxy S23 Ultra. Its four-lens camera can take 200-megapixel photos, a top-of-the-line in today’s market.
To do this, you need to opt for an “expert” photo mode that saves files in both JPEG format and RAW format. The latter stores more data about the taking of photos and allows a lot of subsequent retouching without damaging the image.
Samsung has also agreed with software manufacturer Adobe that the Galaxy S23 Ultra will come standard with its photo editing application Lightroom, which is popular with photography enthusiasts. The app is free, but its advanced features are available for $6.50 per month. That’s on top of the phone’s price, which starts at $1,650…
At this price it had better last a decade!
In 2019, the average lifecycle of a phone sold in North America peaked at three years. In other words, before the pandemic, North American consumers switched phones every three years on average. That average is now down to around two and a half years, and if nothing is done it will continue to fall for the next few years.
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Marc-Uwe Kling, translated by Juliette Aubert-Affholder, Actes Sud, Paris, 2023, 432 pages