Phones aren’t boring, it’s the fight that’s boring. If I had to prewrite stories for the next major phone launches, I could get them more than half right. Samsung will make phones with more cameras and talking features that nobody wants. Apple will make thinner phones with improved cameras and not enough features everybody wants. The same boring battle, fought by the every year. 

I get the review units and I test them. I take hundreds of photos and find silly differences that only a reviewer who’s seen hundreds of photos from hundreds of smartphones would care to notice. I’m sure this coming year’s Samsung will zoom farther and focus closer. Next year’s Apple will focus faster and capture a wider dynamic range. 

Do most people even know dynamic range when they see it? Was dynamic range missing on iPhone photos before? Why are Apple and Samsung constantly improving the cameras over seemingly every other feature?

Is that really a big improvement?

It isn’t just cameras, of course. There will also be new processors inside. The will likely ship with one of the first chipsets, perhaps with a thanks to the new Samsung and Qualcomm friendship. 

Apple will introduce its own new chipset, but the next won’t get it. It will go to the iPhone 15 Pro, or possibly , if history is our guide. The iPhone 15 will probably use this year’s chipset. 

Apple iPhone 14 Pro two-thirds back

The next Qualcomm chip will reportedly offer a performance benefit of around 30-40%. Is that a lot? It sounds like a lot. It’s a double-digit amount. If I got a 30-40% pay increase, I would be delighted. Therefore, I should be delighted by a similar performance boost in my phone processor.

Not really. In truth, that’s not how the performance boost will show up in real world usage. The difference will be negligible, at least compared to this year’s model. If you’re upgrading from a phone that is two or three years old, the difference will be much more noticeable, and that’s just fine. Most people keep phones that long.

Processors improve by 30-40% per year, but that doesn’t make them exciting. Qualcomm can talk our ear off about all of the possibilities enabled by the new Snapdragon platform. Until a manufacturer actually builds a phone that can do everything the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 allows, it’s just an engine looking for a car, or a truck, or a tank.

Here’s how Apple and Samsung can fight for me

I’m tired of the same old improvements when I’ve been asking for the same old improvements every year and haven’t gotten them. Here’s what I want, and I can’t believe these haven’t been a top priority in the smartphone wars thus far. 

Better battery life. I don’t just want this on my phone, I want this on my tombstone. This has been a constant theme of my reviewing life, asking for better battery life. Battery technology improves very slowly, so it will always be a hard feature to deliver. Still, recent innovations have been moving power management in the wrong direction. 

Instead of adding super-bright screens that run twice as fast and draw untold more amperage, make screens that are conservative and adapt better to save power. Instead of making phones thinner, make the batteries larger. A few millimeters makes a big difference in battery cell size. 

Gorilla Glass Victus 2 covered phone on asphalt

I want improved durability. The recent innovations from Corning with Gorilla Glass Victus 2 are very exciting. A phone could theoretically survive a drop onto a concrete sidewalk. Improving durability is more important than any camera improvements Apple and Samsung will make.

My phone is the most expensive thing I may completely destroy while in my bathroom. One drop onto the tiles, or into the bathtub if I don’t have a water resistant device, would cost me hundreds of dollars. There isn’t anything else I own that carries such risk.

I’m a serious klutz. I take the risk because a smartphone is a necessity, but there’s no reason my phone should break if I drop it. That’s a deliberate design choice by the manufacturers. Devices are pretty and brittle. I’d like to see improvements in durability before I get more zoom lenses or a 30% faster processor inside.

Cameras are easy, batteries are hard

It isn’t a coincidence that Apple and Samsung keep fighting the same fight again and again. It’s an easy fight. Camera sensors improve yearly. Microprocessors will advance until manufacturing has shrunk to its theoretical limits. Improvements in battery life, durable glass and materials, and other useful advancements are slower to appear and less appealing to tech enthusiasts. 

We may have to wait for a breakthrough, but I’d love to see one of the top two manufacturers break the pattern this year and make the phone we want. Instead of focusing on the competition, I’d like to see Apple and Samsung focus on what would really benefit me, a customer.

This content was originally published here.