The Implications of Smartphone Stagnation for Users and Software

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Regular updates of smartphones to the next generation of models used to be the standard way we used our devices. Over time, the time we’ve spent between upgrades has increased, leaving yearly updates only for the biggest enthusiasts, or those with the most money to throw around. Saving until you need an upgrade can offer numerous advantages, but it also has implications for the mobile software space. While some software-driven services won’t see any issues from slower updates, others could struggle significantly, and we want to look at where and why this could occur, and whether users should care.

Staying the Course

The software and services which see no negative influence from slower updates will be those with low requirements for both processing power and internet speeds. Consider digital casinos as an example here, and what it takes to run titles like blackjack online games. Titles like First Person Blackjack and Blackjack Switch are cutting-edge, but they’re also not pushing enormous numbers of polygons or gigabytes of data. As such, playing these games on mobile is just as easy as it is on PC, where performance and loading are very rarely a concern, even on smartphones years out of date.

Compare blackjack to something like video editing apps which are common with mobile social media enthusiasts and influencers. These apps like Quik and Splice are dependent on high-quality video and media manipulation, both of which can be extremely demanding even on the fastest PC. Those who rely on social media for work or fun will experience far longer rendering times on older devices over new ones. The same extra waiting times can also apply to users on 4G, where 5G can vastly increase upload speeds on newer systems that support it. For these users, waiting to upgrade can introduce serious frustrations.

Why are People Waiting?

There are two primary big answers to the question of why mobile audiences are waiting longer and longer to upgrade. The first is that generational upgrades between different mobile systems are diminishing, which makes it difficult for users to decide on an upgrade. If there’s no big new feature to engage with, what’s the point in making the leap?

The other ties into how the reach of mobile systems has long since matched its grasp. Most users aren’t looking to push their systems as hard as possible, being happy to instead chat with friends, watch videos, and play games like blackjack. Like with blackjack, none of these experiences suffer for older systems, so unless a device is damaged, they again have no reason to upgrade.

A Refurbished Market

Given the high cost of newer smartphones, it’s perhaps natural that the refurbished side of the market is seeing more profound leaps forward. These might not have the most cutting-edge features, but they can still serve as upgrades, again play casino games or watch videos, and they can be just as reliable. This has been the case for many industries, where Apple especially is seeing profound changes. According to market research, Apple represented 49% of refurbished phones sold in 2022, after increasing 16 percent year-over-year.

As nice as it can be to unbox a fresh phone and peel off the screen’s plastic, this is an experience fewer of us are buying into by the year. Changing patterns in consumer behavior illustrate a step forward in reducing e-waste, and in helping our wallets. It might produce some concerns for the few out there who rely on the most cutting-edge mobile software, but for those of us who just want to play a few hands of blackjack or browse YouTube, the future is just as bright as ever, even on older smartphones.


  • Tristan

    Tristan has a strong interest in the intersection of artificial intelligence and creative expression. He has a background in computer science, and he enjoys exploring the ways in which AI can enhance and augment human creativity. In his writing, he often delves into the ways in which AI is being used to generate original works of fiction and poetry, as well as to analyze and understand patterns in existing texts.