A special low-light mode? Google’s Night Sight for the Pixel 3 did it first a year ago.
Then there’s 5G, or the lack thereof. While Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus and a host of other manufacturers are talking up the next generation of wireless technology, Apple remains silent on that front.
All of it adds up to new phones that feel like obligatory upgrades, rather than something worth waiting in line for at a store. And after three years of Apple using essentially the same front notch design, it’s hard to get pumped up for the new iPhones.
This is nothing new. Excitement over smartphones has been waning for years. But the iPhone 11 Pro’s incremental upgrade caps off a listless year for phones.
Let’s face it, things have been grim. Sales have been on the decline through the first half, according to Gartner. Consumers soured on the ever-more pricey category of premium phones. A lot of the innovation has been around adding a camera or reducing or eliminating the notch. The one source of excitement in the industry proved to be premature, with both Samsung and Huawei delaying their respective cutting-edge phones, the Galaxy Fold and Mate X.
Things are particularly tough for Apple, which hasn’t really laid claim to a significant innovative change in a while. The company is known for taking existing trends and polishing them, but more and more of its features ring like simple imitations of its rivals.
“Apple has not really delivered a revolutionary iPhone since the first high-speed 3G version with App Store way back in 2008,” said Neil Mawston, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.