This week was filled with Android smartphone news, all of which involved high-end devices from familiar manufacturers once loved by the Android community or with positive ties to it. OnePlus told us when to expect their OnePlus 10 Pro in the US, Motorola let us review their Edge+ (2022) and launched it, and Nothing gave early details on their first device that will arrive this summer.
But while we felt some excitement about the idea of a batch of new high-end phones headed to the market, it’s obvious that few of our readers care. In fact, this is Android now. If it’s not a high-end Samsung phone, or we hit that period about a month after Google releases theirs and the issues start piling up, the US Android world could not care less. It’s really starting to get sad.
To be clear, this isn’t a post about Samsung so much as it is about the rest of the industry. Samsung is dominating here in the US because they make really great phones at various sizes and at different price points. They update their phones better and longer than anyone, update specs, often improve in ways others can’t (or won’t), and they launch without all of the issues that seem to plague so many other phone makers. I get why Samsung phones are loved.
This post is about the rest of the industry and how they need to get their sh*t together.
We used to live in this Android space that had multiple important players doing their own thing. Samsung has dominated forever, but HTC was a household name for years, Motorola carved out its space on Verizon, LG dabbled in success, Google has had both Nexus and Pixel lines that still get people excited on some level, and OnePlus captured the eye of enthusiasts who wanted it all on a budget. But now, it’s just Samsung getting attention and everyone else seemingly ignored.
Why? LG and HTC are gone, so one would think that Motorola, OnePlus, and Google would try and seize on spaces left by those missing names. Unfortunately, Motorola has mostly disappeared outside of their mid-range offerings that I can’t even keep track of. Their lack of commitment to updates has certainly turned a number of potential customers away and their limited releases that mostly involve Verizon are also not helping.
For OnePlus, they decided a few years back that they were on the level of Samsung and it was a mistake. Their never-ending increases in price followed by questionable software decisions, spotty update rollouts, cameras that couldn’t keep up, and really obnoxious marketing schemes have done damage.
And for Google, the Pixel line has been hit or miss over the years, but the Pixel 6 line was supposed to be everything. The phones launched and Google has really struggled with the software on each, possibly because of their Tensor chip, but that’s still not an excuse. As much as I like both phones, I won’t sit here and deny that the first few months of their availability have been a frustrating mess for many who own one.
As for Nothing, I’m not sure why the interest isn’t there. Maybe it’s because of the cheesy faux-limited rollout of their earbuds to create faux-demand annoyed people. Maybe it’s Carl Pei’s goofy zen vibe or that it all appears to be a run-it-back of the OnePlus playbook. Whatever it is, the chatter surrounding Nothing’s products around these parts aren’t very positive.
The thing is, I’m not sure how any of these companies can make that comeback. OnePlus would have to ditch all efforts to turn a profit and ditch OPPO, Motorola would have to start truly trying on several ways they haven’t in years, and Google would have to finally launch a phone that isn’t plagued by problems for its first months. I do think Nothing has a chance to make a move, assuming pricing is right and they really do something as interesting as they are making their first phone sound. There’s also OSOM, making a 2022 version of an Essential Phone that has potential.
So while so many of you are fine just buying the next Samsung Galaxy phone, I am most definitely not. I’m going to keep pointing out the flaws of these other phone makers. I’m also going to stay optimistic about companies willing to give it a try, like the Nothing’s Phone (1) and the upcoming phone from OSOM. I’m going to give Google credit for going their own way with chips and stay hopeful that round two should lead to a smoother launch. If we don’t, then we’ll all end up stuck with One UI…meh.