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OEMs: Stop Screwing Us Over with Smartphone Tweaks


I can’t imagine the frustration that international Samsung Galaxy S III owners felt when Samsung announced it was going to introduce a new version of the phone with 64GB of onboard storage. It doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface, but someone who coughed up cash for a 32GB model can only store 96GB of data, at the max using a 64GB microSD card. The new owner of a 64GB model will be able to store a total of 128GB of data with the same microSD card. That’s a huge storage difference, especially for those of us with tons of movies and pictures, and it’s unfair to early adopters.

Manufacturers: the people who run out and buy your new flagship phone on the first day, or during the first few weeks, it is available are your biggest fans. They are the ones who have taken to forums and blogs all over the internet to hype up your product because they can’t wait for its launch. Then, months after it does land in their hands, you abandoning them by offering better, more powerful devices to anyone who waited on your products. I understand this keeps your brand relevant as other manufacturers release new phones, but you’re alienating your own fan base.

Here’s another example: I’d love the glossy black Galaxy S III that’s apparently heading to T-Mobile. We saw it for ourselves, but T-mobile still denies its existence to us. What about the T-Mobile customers who went with the pebble blue or glossy white model right away? To assume that none of them would prefer it in black is asinine. AT&T did the same thing recently; it launched its garnet red Galaxy S III months after it released the initial batch of red and blue Galaxy S III devices. I, for one, prefer the red model over every other version. But I would have purchased the white one had I bought the device on launch day. To AT&T’s credit, it did announce that a red version was coming on fairly early in the Galaxy S III launch process.

Choice is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. But choice isn’t a good thing when it becomes a way to attract new customers to a product that existing customers already purchased. It would be one thing, I suppose, to market them as special edition models and hike up the price. That alone would at least let people feel like they got a deal and weren’t paying more for a color. Others, who really want the color, would buy it anyway.

This doesn’t just apply to the Galaxy S III, though. HTC does this all the time on Sprint when it launches a special edition “white” model of its smartphones through Best Buy. It last did this with the white EVO 4G LTE, but it has done it in the past with the EVO 3D and other phones, too. Worse, the problem has been going on since I began reviewing phones back in 2007. I remember when AT&T launched a red version of the BlackBerry Curve shortly after I purchased a silver model.

I guess I’m just on a rant here because I’m in love with the black Galaxy S III but probably won’t ever buy it because I already carry a 16GB model. We as consumers just need to open our eyes more; if you really like a phone, it’s probably worth the wait to see what new models are launched within two months of the product’s initial release. It’s unfortunate, because Samsung, HTC and carriers all love to boast about initial smartphone sales and, ultimately, we’re the ones that end up paying the price of regret when a better model of the same phone is released weeks later.

It isn’t just about colors, either, because ultimately those are the trivial aspects of a smartphone. Sony upgraded its Xperia S to the Xperia SL. Xperia SL owners will get Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich instead of Gingerbread, which has been stuck on Sony’s devices for way too long, as well as a processor speed bump from 1.5GHz to 1.7GHz. HTC launched the One X in Europe with 1GB of RAM and then announced the One XXL with 2GB. In the United States, the One X launched with a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip, but now there are rumors that a more powerful One X+ launching on T-Mobile with a quad-core Tegra 3 chip inside. How are T-Mobile customers who purchased a One S supposed to feel about that? Bummed, I’d guess.

Honestly, that’s probably why you’re always better off either buying an iPhone or a Google Nexus product. Why? Because neither Google nor Apple release products with better specs after the initial release. You’ll always know that a new iPhone is at least a year off, for example, and that your Nexus-branded phone will at least get the next and latest version of Android within a year (unless you’re tied to a carrier, then you’ll have to release the update when they say it’s OK.). Look at Apple, though: it’s still updating iPhone 4 units with iOS 6 and that model will be three generations old when the iPhone 5 launches.

And before I catch the “Apple fanboy” hate comments: No, I don’t own an iPhone. But I feel a need to defend early adopters of new phones who might have preferred a different color or hardware tweak.


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Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...


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