Since Apple launched its first cell phone more about 14 years ago, the company has stuck with one new iPhone release every year. Until recently, when it added a new line of low-priced iPhones, Apple would only release one device per year. Typically, this would include a base model and a few other variants including a Mini, Pro, and Pro Max. Apple would also keep the older versions in the market while new devices launched.
On the other end of the spectrum were the much cheaper Android brands that are known to release several devices within the same calendar year. When Google acquired Motorola in 2017 for instance, 11 new Motorola devices were released that same year.
In 2018, Sony churned out the Sony Xperia XZ2, Xperia XZ2 Compact, Premium, and XZ3 all within a short space of 6 months. What’s worse the distinction between these devices is barely noticeable which can make things quite confusing.
More recently, Samsung which is one of the few premium Android phones, released the Samsung Galaxy M01s, Samsung Galaxy M31, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy A51, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip all in 2020. You have probably wondered at some point why this is so. Why does Android have more new phones being released? Why the craze to release more phones by Android brands. How is it so easy for them? And why is Apple not trying to match them by releasing more smartphones? In this article, we will take a closer look at some of these questions.
How are Android brands able to release so many phones?
First, let’s talk about why it is so easy for Android phone makers to release so many phones within a short duration. The most obvious reason for this is the difference in the quality and cost of materials used for making both types of smartphones. This is one of the main reasons why Android phones are considerably cheaper than iPhones.
Android brands are focused more on meeting the needs of different classes of users. This gives them the liberty to use cheaper materials. For instance, many entry-level Android phones are built with a plastic outer shell. While this is surely not very durable. It is comparatively cheaper than Apple’s cheapest phones.
But perhaps the major reason why we have so many smartphone releases is that Android phone manufacturers are trying to fulfill the needs of different categories of users by producing mobile devices that appeal specifically to them.
For instance, some users do not need the high-level capabilities that an iPhone offers. They probably need a device that can simply surf the internet or use social media. For such classes of users, a 108MP camera or 18GB of memory would be overkill.
Users like this give Android phone manufacturers the incentives they need to produce the affordable devices they make. They specifically target users that do not need top-of-the-line sophisticated devices. This is why many Android brands produce low to mid-range phones equipped with the simple specs and features that users need to add to the growing number of yearly releases.
Android phone makers continue to churn out more devices to take up more shelf space than their competitors. You’ll find this same strategy at work in many other industries like food, electronics, cars, sporting goods, and so on. The goal is that by providing variety and taking up more space, they are more likely to be seen by consumers that need the specific products they offer.
Another factor that motivates variety for Android devices is the freedom to follow technological trends. For instance, with the recent popularity of 5G connections, many Android phone makers now produce non-5G variants of their devices for countries where the 5G network is not yet available.
Some smartphones like the ASUS ROG Phone 5 were built specifically for mobile gamers. Phones like the Galaxy Flip and Galaxy Fold series were also released in response to the growing popularity of foldable smartphones. Smartphones like this exploit the edge of new technological trends because Android brands tend to have greater freedom to produce phones however they want. This is why many flagship Android devices feature much-advanced hardware that may even be better than iOS phones released around the same time. For instance, the ASUS ROG Phone 5 featured a 144Hz display and only cost RM2999, but the more expensive iPhone 12 pro only had a 60Hz display. Similarly, Android phones tend to feature higher-spec image sensors compared to Apple phones. Of course, this does not necessarily translate to better picture quality since other factors may affect the picture quality.
But the specs and tech asides, the major reason why Android phones are so assorted is that the manufacturers want to make phones that will win users over more easily. By releasing multiple versions of the same device with some extra features they can easily market their product across a broad spectrum. So, if a user were to be more worried about battery than hardware, they could easily find an Android device that offered this and if they wanted the best of both worlds, they can still find a device that suits this purpose without breaking the bank. This is the main appeal of Android devices and the main reason manufacturers can’t stop making them.
Is releasing more Android smartphones a good thing?
The truth is, launching several releases into the market every year is a solid marketing strategy that seems to be working for many smartphone brands. However, doing this also introduces some problems. One of the major problems that this causes is the fragmentation of the Android Ecosystem. This is mainly because it is practically impossible for every Android device to upgrade to the latest operating system.
Compared to Apple’s latest iOS 13, the overall adoption rate of new operating systems in the latest Android phones is significantly lower. This can be attributed to the enormous variety of Android devices available
Of course, some of this fault actually lies with the manufacturer and not the users. Many of them are slow to adopt the latest OS. One major factor that contributes to this is that many manufacturers try to add extra functionality and support to the standard Android operating system by adding customized skins to the OS.
This is likely to slow down the process of getting new updates for smartphones that run on this OS. Sometimes hardware is the problem since the hardware of some phones is simply not designed to support the latest software updates that are being deployed. Considering the wide variety of Android devices with different specifications, optimizing the latest OS to work for every smartphone that has been produced in the time before the latest OS release can be difficult. Apple on the other hand does not have to worry about this.
However, the picture is slightly different if we examine it from the buyer’s perspective. While it might seem like having so many options to choose from is good for consumers, this is not quite valid. In fact, according to several marketing research, people are less likely to make a purchase when they are presented with too many options. This is a real problem that Android phone manufacturers need to be aware of.
While it is true that shoppers are likely to be attracted to a large display table with several phones on show, having too many choices available with very little variation between them can make it more difficult to choose. Even when people eventually make a choice, there is a lingering concern that they have made the wrong choice.
Thus, from the viewpoint of the users, releasing so many Android devices in a year with very features that distinguish them is not very beneficial. However, for the manufacturer, it still works as a solid marketing strategy.
So why can’t Apple make more iPhones?
Well, maybe they could. But it wouldn’t make so much marketing sense for Apple to do so at this point. Apple sells the exclusivity and uniqueness of its products. Introducing so many smartphones in a year could potentially overwhelm their potential customers and make the product lose its appeal.
Another likely reason why Apple is sticking with a single release per year is to avoid the update problem that has been mentioned above. By only releasing a few smartphones, Apple has been able to keep up with updates. They don’t have to worry about a new update running on a new iPhone or not since only a few have been launched in the past few years.
Also, Apple prides itself on having an integrated ecosystem of its devices. This is why Apple Homepod, Mac laptops, Apple TVs, Ipads, and Airpods can easily share files. The integrity of this interconnected ecosystem is heavily dependent on being able to control and limit variations to a few devices
Finally, the fact that Apple is the only brand that builds iOS-powered mobile devices is another obvious reason why there can’t be so much variety in its product offering. Unlike Android phones that are made by numerous competing brands, Apple is its own major competitor in a way and this reduces the need for variety. Hence, we can expect Apple to stick to its trend of few releases per year while Android brands continue to attempt to outcompete each other with new variations of their product.
To answer the initial question, the main reason Android phone makers tend to release more devices is so that they can meet the needs of different categories of users in their target market. Just like Apple targets users that prefer phones in the higher-end of the spectrum, Android’s target market is users with specific needs who are likely to look out for specific features in the mobile device they purchase. Hence, manufacturers have to introduce varieties in their offerings to appeal to these different classes of users.
However, the fact that the latest Android phones have so many variants can introduce some challenges with software upgrades leading to issues of fragmentation. Apple sticking to only a few devices per year effectively avoids this problem and guarantees software upgrades for users. Also, the fact that Apple maintains an integrated ecosystem makes it essential to limit the choices for security purposes.
Of course, this also means limited options for users who can only choose between variants of the same model every year. Also, users on a budget can only opt for older versions of Apple smartphones. For those who still want to keep using the latest devices and cannot afford to shell out the high cost of Apple phones, they might have to choose between one of several Android phones available. There are many top-quality budget options available and many of them have higher specs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best new android phones coming out?
Every year, Android phone manufacturers release several new flagship devices or variations of earlier models. Some of the best new android phones coming out this year include the Google Pixel 5a 5G, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3, Huawei P50 series, Nokia 10, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE.
Buy brand new android phones or second hand?
You can indeed save yourself some money by buying a second-hand refurbished phone instead of brand new android phones. However, this may not necessarily be a better choice compared to buying a brand new device. Refurbished phones also don’t come with the warranty cover that you get when you buy a brand-new phone.
What are the top-rated Android phones?
There are many Android brands that are naturally considered premium. They offer higher quality devices with higher specs and features. Of course, this also means they come at a higher price point compared to other brands. Some of the top-rated Android phones that may be considered the best phone of the year come from brands like Samsung, Google, Huawei, Oppo, OnePlus, and so on.
Are Android phones better?
Many of the Premium-priced Android smartphones are just as quality as the latest iPhones. However, one can hardly say the same for the cheaper Android devices. Overall, Android phones offer a combination of value, extra features, and variety than Apple does with its limited lineup of devices.