– Hey guys, this is Austin. The other day I was having a conversation with a couple tech YouTubers and we all had the same realization. Smartphones are kind of boring now. The last decade has been
absolutely incredible in terms of smartphones. I mean in 10 years we’ve
gone from this, to this. However the issue is that here in 2019 everything’s kind of great already, there’s not these huge leaps
that we’ve been accustom over the last few years. Now phones being good these days is certainly not a bad thing, but for me the wow factors
kind of going away. Now sure, there are
absolutely huge designs that really revolutionized
things back in the day, but in the last couple years? I mean the last phone that
legitimately made say, wow, was the Oppo Find X. And with the motorized slider,
even though that was cool, the end of the day it still wasn’t that different than other smart phones. The formulas already kind of
figured out at this point. So I sat down with Jon Rettinger, an absolute OG Tech YouTube,
who has seen a phone, or two, or a hundred. – It’s like phones were different. Blackberry’s had physical keyboards. Windows Mobile had a stylus, and there were flip phones. There were very clear,
different styles of phones and there was different
phone for different people. Seems like now we’ve got, just like, different versions of a rectangle. So we’re talking before
hand and I had a question that I wanted to ask you.
– Uh-oh. – That I wanted to wait ’til
we were on camera to ask you. – That’s not good.
– So, do you think the iPhone killed phone designs? – Yes. – 100%, right?
– Totally. It’s not even a question because if you look at
phones before the iPhone, there’s like you said, all
these different weird shapes. After the iPhone everything’s a rectangle, everything has screen. In the last decade the
screens have gotten bigger, the phones have bigger. But you look at the shape of a phone now it’s just a screen, right? There’s no bezels anymore, there’s generally not a
lot of notches anymore. I mean a lot of companies,
there idea of differentiating the designs is like, “Oh, it’s semi-holographic on the back.” “Oh, we’ve got some super shiny color.” Which is cool, but it’s
exciting, it’s not fun. – Nothing. It killed design because
it was so successful and it’s a me too world. – Let’s take the brand new
Galaxy Note 10 for example. I recently got to take a look at it and there is a lot to like. It takes the current design
language from the Galaxy S10, brings back the S Pen, stretches
the screen out to the edges and, well, that’s pretty much it. This has become more and more of a problem for the Note line lately. Sure, if you’re really into
the S Pen more power to you, but for most people, you’re
probably going to be better off sticking with the Galaxy S10. Samsung has made the line-up confusing, to say the least this year. If you compare the Galaxy
S10+ to the Note 10, it is a really odd comparison. So the Note 10 drops the headphone jack, the standard version of
the Note 10 doesn’t have a micro SD card slot
and to top it all off, even though they have
very similar screen sizes, the Note 10 has a lower full HD resolution compared to QHD on the S10+. Now all of this means that
the Note 10 does come in at $50 cheaper in theory,
however when you actually take a look at the Galaxy S10+, while the MRSP is a $1000,
you can very easily find it for significantly less than that. Which makes that Note 10
a very, very tough sell. Now there is a brand new,
higher end, Note 10+, which does bring a lot of
the major features back. So you’ve got that huge 6.7 inch display with a proper high resolution. You have the improved DeX experience. You get the micro SD card slot back, even though not the headphone jack. And you do get some other niceties, such as faster charging, as well as faster wireless charging. But all this is to say, that the Note 10+ comes in at over $1,000 before you even get into the 5G model. This is a problem for the
entire smartphone industry, but especially when you
look at Samsung line-up, it gets very confusing very quickly. Right now they have seven flagship models, ranging from the slightly
entry priced, Galaxy S10e, up through the Galaxy S10, the Note 10. And if you wanna go for the bigger guys, you have the Note 10+ and the Galaxy S10+. And then to round it all over, there’s a 5G version of the Galaxy S10+, as well as a 5G version of
the Galaxy S10+ 5G, no sorry, Note 10+ with 5G. Yeah, right. It’s the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G. I don’t want to unfairly
single out Samsung here, lots of other companies do this. For example Xiaomi sells a
number of very similar phones, in some cases they’re nearly identical, under different brands, in
different parts of the world. And even looking at Apple, you can see that the line-up has grown steadily over the years,
from one iPhone to two and now three, and likely
four before too much longer. It is very a case where
smartphones have gotten so similar there only real way of differentiating is small little tweaks of, oh, this ones a little bit smaller. This ones a little bit bigger. This one has one extra feature. Just to keep interested
and mostly importantly, keeping people upgrading. – What’s the difference
between phones year over year? Okay, so, you get in-screen
fingerprint reader, that’s different.
– Yep. – You’ve got a face
unlock, that’s different. But once you have those things,
where do you go from there? – We’re seeing like, I mean,
I think the last couple years kinda felt like it was
a accelerated endpoint for the huge development, right? So we went from bezels to
slightly smaller bezels, to smaller, to notch, to gone. – Yeah.
– That kind of disappeared very quickly. The finger print sensor went from, oh, it’s kinda on the home button to the back to the side to the screen, right? Face ID went from this huge
thing to smaller to smaller. We’ve got pop-up selfie cameras. A lot of things that kinda
felt the end times of like, okay cool, let’s make this
thing the purest version of the rectangle we can. But now that we’ve hit
it, it’s like, okay, and now you’re going to do what? Bigger battery, you’re
gonna make it thicker. You’re going to give it brighter screen. I mean there’s obviously
innovation and there’s iteration, but the actual smartphone
as it exists now, I can’t see it as going that much farther before you go to folding phones or you to go something which
is completely different and you tear up the playbook. And I’m sure that companies will try.
– Yeah. – I’m sure we’ll see some wacky
designs every year or two. It’s like, oh, this thing is a
half folding, half flat phone or whatever the case. But the design as it is right
now, is not really changing and people don’t need to upgrade as much. Which I think is a huge
problem for these companies, as the smartphone space
really reaches maturity and reaches saturation, that almost everyone
who want’s a smartphone has already bought one. To show just how similar smartphones are, we’re going to play a little game called guess the smartphone. I will be blindfolded and Ken will give me a variety of smartphones,
new and old, to see if I can tell if there’s any
difference between them. Spoiler alert, probably not. All right, smartphone number one. Well I immediately feel a vertical camera. I mean, I would say
that this is an iPhone. It’s got the same rounded edges. I’m gonna guess iPhone XS Max. – Yes.
(bell dings) – Hey! All right, next? This one’s got a little more heft to it. Oh, so we’ve got a headphone jack. Okay, that’s something right there. No, I’m gonna say it’s a
Honor phone of some variety. – [Ken] No.
(Buzzer blares) – What is it? – [Ken] RedMi Note 7. – Ah, the Note 7. Okay, all right, Fair enough, fair enough. Oh, okay, this is chunkier. Glass. Finger print sensor on the back. The closest thing I can
think is maybe the Nokia 9, but I’m not really sure. (buzzer blares) – [Ken] It is the Nokia, LG G8 ThinQ. – Wait, what? This is the G8? – Yeah.
– Why did you say Nokia? Oh, there’s a headphone jack, I didn’t feel the headphone jack. Ah! How is Nokia close to LG? – [Ken] It’s not. – You’re just trolling me.
– Don’t think about it. – Okay. Big phone, fairly light. Ooh, we’ve got a physical button here. Wow, I mean, that’s a giveaway, I wonder what phone this might be. Oh, we’ve got it, is that
finger print sensor right here? Hmm, this is a Note 8. I’m gonna say Note 8. – [Ken] It’s a Galaxy Note 7. – This a 7?
(buzzer blares) (Austin moans)
(Austin groans) Take this back, I don’t want this. Tryna kill me over here. Oh, this is a big boy. This has gotta be Razer Phone. – Yeah.
– Definitely Razer Phone. Yeah, yeah. I mean, the thing, Razer Phone 2 right? – Yes.
– Yeah. That’s a big boy right here. – Okay, Oh, that’s a big boy. Heavy. Ooh, I’m feeling like a ridge here. Ah, this has gotta ROG Phone, right? – Yeah.
(bell dings) – Yeah, ’cause you can feel
like, with the fake vents here. Man, that’s hefty. Gaming phones, like the Razer Phone, are a good example of
how this should work, but it kind of doesn’t in
the mobile space right now. Now there are some legitimately
gaming focused features which I like on the Razer Phone. High refresh rate, great audio. But the underlying processor, the underlying actual capability, really isn’t all that
different than a much thinner, much lighter, and in some
cases, much cheaper smartphone based on those same specs. I mean sure, the marketing
and the RGB is there and for some people that’s enough. When it comes to a legitimate,
different smartphone, you’re getting almost
the exact same experience as pretty much any other
flagship out there. And that’s kind of a problem
as far as I’m concerned. When you look at the PC
space, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different
models to choose to from, and the differences here are
actually really substantial. So if you’re picking up
a thin and light 2-in-1, it is a very, very different system than a beefy over the top gaming laptop. Not only in price of course, as well as stuff like portability, but importantly in the actual capability. All smartphones,
especially on the high end, kind of do the same thing
and very similar performance, very similar specs. Where in the PC space we have
lots of different options, lots of different choice
and meaningful differences in what these systems can actually do. A gaming laptop has a very different feature set than a thin light one. And it’s sort of the way that
the PC space has developed, that the smartphone space kind of hasn’t. It’s all very homogenous,
it’s all very similar. Where we’re starting to
see an actual difference is with folding phones. Now yes, they may have not had the smoothest launch in the world, however I do think there is
an absolute ton of potential and if five years from now we’re looking back at this moment, I do think phones such as the Galaxy Fold will be the first of the next
generation of smartphones that become standard. Or it’s a complete
failure and we all give up and go to a super thin
phone from Black Mirror. But you know, time will tell. – I’m a Galaxy fold owner, like
I loved that phone so much. I don’t care they had problems. I think if they had just called the Galaxy Fold Developer Edition. – Good idea. – Just call it Developer Edition, there would of been zero problems. But using that, that was the first time since the older phones, where
you saw something different. Opening up Twitter on the
front screen, or Instagram, and then opening that up and
having a bigger experience. Go to the gym and you’re watching Netflix, you can open it and have a bigger screen without having to carry an iPad. That was something different that I think was different with a purpose, instead of different just for like, – Not gimmicky.
– look at us. – Yeah.
– The Blackberry Passport, why’d you make it square? That’s weird, what pockets
are gonna fit a square? But it was different.
– Yeah. – But it was weirdly different. – It was different for no reason. – Yeah.
– No, I totally agree and think it’s a really
interesting thing to think about. I’m curious to see what the
final evolution of this is because if you look at the iPhone, right? You compare the iPhone to
even the iPhone of today, you can see it’s similar. But it’s obviously a lot thinner, you’ve got a much larger screen, there’s a huge evolution there and I’m curious to see how far something like a folding
phone can be pushed. Because obviously there
are fundamental issues of like, when you make it
so thin is it gonna rip? Or is it gonna
– Yeah. – break or whatever? You can only imagine it can
go so far, but how far is it? Is it 20% thinner? Is it half as thin? Is the screen twice as big? I don’t know what that
final iteration looks like, but I’d like to think
that if it’s something that people are really
into that it will continue to get better and better. – I think consumers, and
I’m lumping myself in there, are so fickle, and we’re
all such hypocrites, – Yeah.
– about things we want and don’t want. And in a couple years we’re gonna give you something crazy cool. (moans) “I don’t know,
its a little thick.” This folding phone that
I have in my pocket. Or like, it’s so amazing that these things are even existing and
I guess I worry that, and again, being part of the part that, we’re too critical that it
starts to stymie innovation. – I mean let’s face it, we’re talking about rectangular
slabs of glass and metal. Now because phones are so good these days because 95% of phones can
do absolutely everything that a person needs. Really the only differences
that we’re truly seeing is like, oh look, the cameras a little bit better or there’s slightly more
performance or maybe we have one added little feature
which is all great, which is all stuff that I wanna see, but does it get me excited? Does it get people amped and
ready to upgrade their phone? No it doesn’t. What it does, is it means the people who own smartphones today, are not gonna just hold to them for a year or two years, but they’ll
use them for three, four, maybe even five years and
that is absolutely coming back to hurt these companies. They rely on people buying
phones on a regular basis and if they can’t make these
upgrades sexy and interesting, then their sales are
going to continue to fall. I mean everyone has a smartphone or almost everyone has a
smartphone at this point, so really, the only growth
opportunity for most companies is to keep people on that upgrade cycle. Keep ’em on the hamster
wheel, keep ’em moving and buying that new iPhone every year, ’cause if not, say goodbye
to those sweet sweet profits.