6 Ways Flagship Phones Are Becoming Worse

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Smartphones have come a long way. From the first iPhone released in 2007 to today, we have seen them evolve at an unfathomable speed; but this progress was far from smooth. Companies had to discard countless ideas, concepts, and designs. Only those that proved reliable stuck around.


However, as tech got better and business strategies became more complex, companies started getting rid of those reliable features for supposedly better alternatives. In this article, we’ll see five useful features discontinued from modern flagship smartphones and how their absence affects you.

1. The Discontinuation of the Headphone Jack

3.5mm jack for smartphone

The discontinuation of headphone jacks is perhaps the saddest one on this list. For many, not having a headphone jack is a deal-breaker when buying a new phone. That’s true mainly for audiophiles and enthusiasts who know how different types of headphone plugs affect sound quality.

Granted, you can use an adapter and get the same result, but the absence of a dedicated 3.5mm jack adds unnecessary inconvenience. For instance, you can’t charge your phone while listening to music at the same time unless you use one of those weird-looking 2-in-1 adapters.

Regardless, many switched to wireless headphones due to this change, which was the outcome Apple intended when it removed the audio jack from the iPhone 7 to sell AirPods. But, as we’ve said before, wired headphones are better than wireless headphones.

2. No Charger in the Box

a smartphone, charger, and cable on a desk

Like headphone jacks, Apple also killed the industry norm of providing a charger in the box. Apple claims this move is justified because you probably already have a charger at home, so there’s no need for an extra one. As a result, this helps reduce e-waste, which is better for the environment.

However, this strategy is problematic for four reasons:

  • The charger provided in the box is almost always the best one for a phone because it’s designed specifically for that model. Anything else is suboptimal and can even damage your battery if you buy a faulty third-party charger.
  • If you’re buying a new phone that supports 45W fast charging, for example, but you only have a 15W charger at home, you’re not getting the full value of your purchase.
  • If you need to buy a fast charger separately, it has to be shipped to you in a separate box with extra packaging, which produces more carbon emissions and waste. Hence, it’s more harmful to the environment than simply providing a charger in the box your phone came in.
  • When you buy a new phone, you might also donate, gift, or sell your old phone to someone else along with the accessories it came with. That means you’ll need a new charger for your new phone, but this change hinders that norm.

3. Lack of a MicroSD Card Slot

64gb microSD card from Lexar

Having a microSD card slot alongside the SIM card tray used to be the standard; the feature is useful and convenient. But lately, Android flagship phones have dropped support for it to free more room inside the body of the phone for other components.

For most people, internal storage of 128GB is enough, so an external microSD card is simply unnecessary. But if you’re a power user who plays demanding games or downloads movies and shows, that might not do. In that case, a total storage of 256GB is a safer choice.

The problem is that internal storage is way more expensive than external storage. For most flagship phones, an additional 128GB of storage costs $100 extra. This sucks because you can get a microSD card of the same capacity for less than $20.

4. No Wired Earphones in the Box

wired earphones

Alongside a charger, companies also provided wired earphones in the box. The idea of not bundling these essential goodies with the phone was unheard of in the tech industry until 2020 when Apple removed them from the iPhone 12’s packaging.

For Samsung users, this trend was particularly unpleasant as it meant they’d no longer get AKG-tuned earphones with their flagship Galaxy phones.

But the strategy became mainstream regardless because it was profitable and saved costs. Plus, given the rise of wireless earbuds, wired earphones were losing their charm anyway.

5. You Can’t Remove the Battery

apple-self-service-repair
Image Credit: Apple

Removable batteries became extinct before any other feature on this list. While iPhones have never had them, Samsung ditched them in 2015 when launching the Galaxy S6. There are mainly three reasons for this change: user safety, waterproofing, and ergonomics.

Smartphone batteries weren’t that big earlier, but a capacity of 5000mAh is the norm today. While this is great for longevity, it’s also a bit riskier. Letting users open their phones and mess around with big batteries isn’t safe. After all, you don’t want your phone to pull a Galaxy Note 7 on you and explode in your pocket.

So, sealing the battery away is the right decision. Doing so also facilitates waterproofing and makes the device slimmer because companies can fit the internal components more tightly. Unfortunately, this also means your phone will be less repairable than before.

6. No SIM Card Slot on iPhones in the US

simcard-vs-esim

If you live in the US, you may have noticed that the iPhone 14 series is eSIM-only and doesn’t have a physical SIM card slot like all the previous generations. Apple claims that eSIM is more convenient—and it is in some cases—but it also poses two new problems.

Firstly, while it’s true that most major carriers in the US support eSIM, many smaller ones don’t and require a physical SIM card. So if you’re subscribed to one of them, you have no option but to switch carriers which is an unnecessary inconvenience.

Another problem with eSIM is how it restricts you from traveling internationally. For example, if you’re going abroad for a vacation, you may want to buy a weekly prepaid plan for local network coverage. The problem is that eSIM is not common anywhere other than in developed countries, so it severely limits your travel options.

Smartphones Will Continue to Evolve

The evolution of smartphones has been quite a sight to see. But while the progress is certainly admirable, the sacrifices that come along with it sometimes leave a bitter taste.

Some changes are understandable, such as non-removable batteries and no physical home buttons, but others seem to be clever business strategies rather than technological advancement. Regardless, smartphones will continue to evolve and excite us.

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