We now know what the rest of the phone market will be competing against in 2023, thanks to our hands-on Galaxy S23 review. That’s a shame, because while Samsung sets the bar for performance and photography when compared to competitors like Apple and Google, I’d be happier if it paid attention to smart moves by Lenovo and OnePlus.
I’m sure you’re joking, right? Lenovo laptops are excellent, but the company is not well-known for its phones. OnePlus phones are also a minor competitor.
Samsung and Apple control a large portion of the global phone market. In the United States, Google is a distant third, and Motorola and OnePlus are only in the top five if ‘everyone else’ is excluded. In other words, Samsung is clearly doing things correctly, and it has nothing to learn from single-digit competitors.
Phones must become more durable and affordable
I want phones to be less expensive because no one has money to spend on expensive phones this year. I’ll keep my phone for another year, thanks; I don’t need 92 more MPs on my camera than I already have. I need to spend my money on heating my house, fixing my car, and commuting to work; additionally, sandwiches in New York City now cost $20.
I want unbreakable phones. I don’t just mean scratch-resistant or durable. I want phones to fall onto concrete or marble without being protected by a case. I want all phones to be as tough as the best rugged smartphones on the market right now.
If that seems like a far-fetched fantasy, keep in mind that water-resistant phones were considered a pipe dream when the first iPhone was introduced. The best smartphones can now all withstand a quick rinse in the sink.
OnePlus and Motorola each met one of my requirements for a phone this year. That was unexpected.
Price competition is difficult, especially when competing against a large competitor. Not only does Samsung benefit from its volume of production, but it also manufactures a large number of the phone’s components. Although it does not have a price advantage, it does have the best relationship with its parts supplier.
Competing on durability appears to be nearly impossible, unless you don’t mind the phone looking ridiculous. There are military-grade phones on the market today, but they resemble Humvees. With the introduction of Lenovo’s Motorola brand, we see that MIL-STD durability can be found in a sleek, elegant device.
As fast-following competitors, I’d expect these firms to compete with some unusual design concepts or software modifications. Instead, they responded to my prayers.
Can the OnePlus 11 be made more affordable and competitive?
Is the OnePlus 11 a worthy competitor to the Galaxy S23? The OnePlus 11 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, whereas the Samsung Galaxy S23 is powered by a ‘Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy.’ According to Samsung, it is faster.
What exactly does ‘for Galaxy’ get you? A 5% speed boost on ONE of the Snapdragon processor’s EIGHT cores. The largest and most powerful X-3 core is overclocked by 5%. Otherwise, nothing has changed.
The OnePlus 11’s cameras are also inferior to those of the Galaxy S23. It has no real telephoto zoom to speak of. The 2X lens is intended for portrait photography rather than long-distance shooting. It takes great photos, but only certain kinds of great photos.
Unlike Samsung, OnePlus reduced the price of its top phone for 2023 rather than maintaining the same price as last year. The best OnePlus phone is less expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S23 and the Apple iPhone 14. Only the Google Pixel 7 is a more affordable flagship phone.
Actually, there is no ‘top’ OnePlus phone this year; there is only one phone, the OnePlus 11. Every OnePlus buyer gets the impression that they got the best, rather than the best they could afford.
There is no loss of processing power if you choose the iPhone 14 instead of the iPhone 14 Pro. There is no loss of camera lenses if you choose the basic S23 instead of the Galaxy S23 Ultra.
There is a cool Motorola phone that isn’t the RAZR
What can Lenovo teach Samsung? Several things, thanks to some intriguing Motorola launches.
It is possible to create a tough smartphone that does not resemble military hardware. While the Galaxy S23 is undeniably one of the most durable Galaxy S devices Samsung has produced, it could have gone even further than the MIL-STD Galaxy Active devices of yesteryear.
The Motorola Lenovo ThinkPhone is a MIL-STD 810H tested phone that looks great in a designer pocket. The backing is made of aramid fibers, which are similar to Kevlar. It can withstand a drop onto concrete from a height of more than a meter. Do not attempt this with your iPhone.
The Gorilla Glass Victus 2 on the Galaxy S23 may be able to withstand a similar fall, but Samsung isn’t bragging about it. If toughness was important, the phone would be MIL-STD 810 tested.
It is critical to make phones more durable. With few exceptions, phones are becoming more expensive. Manufacturers charging hundreds of dollars for a device that can easily be destroyed by an accidental slip in the bathroom is unconscionable.
Imagine if your car’s engine exploded every time you collided with a shopping cart. That, too, would be unacceptable. It’s time for all phones to meet MIL-STD durability, just as Samsung established IP68 water resistance as a standard feature for the best smartphones with the Galaxy S5.
Second, I’d like to see Samsung’s color palette pop a little more. Motorola chose an unfortunate year to collaborate with Pantone, and the year’s Viva Magenta color would look great on a low-cost phone like the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion, but not on a phone that costs around $1,000 in the US.
The natural earth tones, however, are putting me to sleep. Green from plants? It appears to be moss. Cotton blossom? That’s the color beige. This year, at least, Motorola took a risk with color. Better colors are hidden in Samsung’s wardrobe. Instead, let’s see them drape the phones.