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5 beloved features that are dead (or dying) in modern smartphones

by Brandon Russell | August 5, 2017

Our smartphones are more advanced than they’ve ever been. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is a prime example. Featuring a gorgeous all-glass design, the device is packed with all the latest tech, including wireless charging, a fantastic camera, and the market’s most beautiful mobile display. But even it lacks some fan-favorite features.

As the progress of technology marches forward, several features are getting left behind. Thanks to the trend of all-glass and aluminum designs, the era of removable batteries is coming to an end. And how often do we see phones with dual front-facing speakers? Very rarely. Same goes for physical keyboards.

The point is, company priorities are changing, which means the technology that was once standard is no longer preferred. Slowly but surely, the headphone jack is disappearing, and there are signs even more beloved features are headed to the grave. Below are five features that are dead (or dying) in modern flagships.

Dual front-facing speakers

Dual front-facing speakers were never all that common among the most popular flagships, but the feature was always a welcome inclusion when it did appear. Take the Nexus 6P, for example. The device didn’t stand out for any reason in particular, but the combination of a slick design, clean software, and dual front-facing speakers made it perfect for media consumption.

Most consumers have never experienced the goodness of dual front-facing speakers, which is a shame. As edge-to-edge displays become the norm, expect dual front-facing speakers to fade further into obscurity.

Removable battery

The arrival of fast and wireless charging technology has all but negated the necessity of removable batteries, but that doesn’t make the feature’s demise any less missed. Plenty of mid-range devices are still keeping the feature around, but how often do consumers actually carry around two batteries?

With all-glass and aluminum the preferred design language of (most) manufacturers, the days of removable batteries are numbered. Luckily, you can juice your device up in just minutes, which is a pretty fair tradeoff.

Headphone jack

Reports about the headphone jack’s death have been greatly exaggerated. However, that doesn’t mean the day will never arrive.

It started with Apple’s iPhone 7—technically the Moto Z was first—and other manufacturers quickly followed suit. There are rumors the Google Pixel 2 XL may also ditch the headphone jack in favor of Bluetooth connectivity.

That being said, the Galaxy S8 proudly brandishes the beloved port, and there’s every indication the Note 8 will do the same. Whether the headphone jack will go away entirely remains to be seen, but it’s no doubt a debate that will wage on for years.

Small form factor

Remember when all smartphones weren’t monoliths? Nowadays, devices with 5-inch screens and above are increasingly common, and they’re getting bigger all the time, to the point where manufacturers have to include a “one-handed mode” in their software.

Larger form factors aren’t without benefits. The obvious perk is users get a bigger display to stare at. But the most notable improvement larger devices offer is the inclusion of big batteries. Sorry, iPhone SE, but your 1,624mAh battery just doesn’t cut it.

Physical keyboard

The physical keyboard is as rare as Bigfoot. Only once in a blue moon does one show up, and even then nobody wants to believe it.

While there’s still a contingent out there who extol the virtues of a physical keyboard’s tactile feedback, software keyboards have become incredibly advanced over the past several years, and are often easier to use, especially with swipe technology.

Physical keyboards will always hold a special place in my heart having owned a Sidekick 3. But their passing is a byproduct of modern technology offering a better solution. If you truly can’t make the jump to a full touch screen, there’s always the BlackBerry KEYone.


Those five features aren’t the only ones that are dead or dying. Whatever happened to IR blasters? And how long before fingerprint sensors are ditched for alternative biometrics? Pretty soon, display bezels will also be non-existent.

Smartphones will continue to evolve in the coming years and, with that, features will continue to be left in the dust.


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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...