How are newer smartphones better?

Hi, I have a Droid Incredible (released in 2010). It can take good pictures, provide great navigation, record notes via audio, and is fast all around. I’m curious what is better about a modern smartphone exactly. Can someone give me a real world example of something they do on their new model smartphone that they couldn’t with an older model?

The newer generations of phones use newer data protocols (LTE, etc.) to achieve much higher data rates. And they tend to have lots more memory for apps, music, etc. And some are equipped with snazzy new things like NFC that nobody I know really uses. Other than that, you are correct, a three year old model is plenty fine.

The newest iPhones come in different colors!

It can handle more sophisticated apps, and the interface in general is better. The pictures are clearer, it runs faster, but it’s really just marginal improvements.

I will say that a smartphone from pre-2010 feels like a phone first that can also do other things but a new phone feels like a handheld computer that can also make calls. It’s a subtle but distinct though perhaps arbitrary difference.

I’m glad you started this thread; because I’ve been thinking about this lately.

New technology is great; especially when there’s an abundance of it. One reason I think it’s great is that the good stuff rises to the top, and the other stuff doesn’t. The end result is a super good product.

Where I’m going with this is that iPhones were awesome when they first came out; but now that other phone manufacturers have had a chance to get into the fray; we’ve seen a ton of innovation. I loved my iPhone it was such a great toy… until I dropped it and ended up getting a different model. I realized that the phone itself is just a toy. Heck they’re even marketing it to kids now more than ever. (all those colors?) There are maybe 5 apps I really use on my phone that aren’t gimmicky. For me, in no particular order if I could have a phone with only 5 apps/features on it. In no particular order 1) Calculator 2) Camera 3) GPS 4) Internet Browser 5) Stop Watch / Timer. Now that I think about it, I’d give up calculator for music player.

I know I’m in the minority here; but I’m finding myself moving back to a simpler phone, not a more complicated one. Now that I own a tablet computer (Windows 8) that’s very portable; I am able to transfer a lot of phone functionality to a much easier to use interface.

So to answer your question, IMfez; I’d say there is nothing I can do on a new model smartphone that I couldn’t with an older model.

A newer phone will probably be faster with a larger and/or sharper screen. If your current phone is fast enough then you probably don’t have a lot of reason to upgrade, save your money. I have found that Android can get slower over time, not unlike WinXP did.

I guess “internet browser” covers a lot of stuff that an app would make easier but I use the following at least once a week:

Text
Podcast
Banking
Stock Alert
News Alert
Metro Alert
Email app
Yelp app
Pandora
Facebook
Paypal
Misc. Games (2-3 games d’jour at a time)
My Fitness Pal (calorie counter)
Podcast
Evernote (notes/reminders)
Weather
Sports (scores and updates, actually 2 separate apps)
Uber (taxi service)

I’ve had a string of devices - original iPod touch, 2g iPod touch, Droid Incredible, iPhone 4s, and now a Samsung Galaxy S4. All of the above are still in my house and get used for various tasks. I definitely notice when I’m using an older device, especially the older iPod touches as the touchscreen isn’t as responsive and the resolution is pretty lousy compared to the new devices.

Comparing my S4 to my Incredible, the newer phone is much larger (obviously). The Incredible felt fast when it was new but now when I use it it feels noticeably sluggish. The accelerometer is a bit wonky compared to the new one, and the battery life isn’t as good. There are certain apps that won’t install on the older hardware, but nothing that greatly affects my life.

Mostly I just consider it a fact of life upgrade. With Verizon they’re going to charge me $X per month whether or not I take advantage of the 2 year upgrade plan, so I take advantage of it.

Better camera and in-phone effects
Probably can take a drop better
Thinner and lighter
bigger, sharper screen
Fewer hardware buttons (may or may not be better depending on how into hardware buttons you are)
better predictive text

Main difference (to me) vs of my Samsung S3 vs the Droid Incredible (owned both) is it works much better/faster as a browser and the screen is more usable. Better, sharper screen makes a big difference to me in everyday use. Fast and accurate voice to text conversion for entering text into texts is also a big deal to me.

Compared to a Droid Incredible specifically, they’re just not (much) better. Mainly because the DINC was simply a fantastic phone. I had one as well and would have been perfectly happy to keep it for a number of years more but unfortunately I busted the screen a while back.

My new phone, a RAZR MAXX HD, is great as well, but I can’t say it’s noticably faster. The extra internal storage is nice, but I had an upgraded 32GB card in my DINC so it had plenty of storage itself. I also like being able to use the Android Chrome web browser which supports multi tabs at once, but it’s not like you can’t browse the web on your phone. The new Android versions seem a little more stable, I get fewer crashes requiring restarts on the new phone. If there’s a difference in picture quality, I haven’t noticed it.

I have found audio streaming via bluetooth to be a little better though. I could stream audio to my car with my old phone, but now I can change tracks from the steering wheel and get song info displayed with the newer bluetooth firmware on the new phone.

In other words, if you’re happy with it, stick with your phone. It’s probably not worth the trouble to updrage and you’re not really missing much.

Most times, unless you have something to directly compare to, you won’t recognize the differences and benefits. I use the HTC One, below, since it’s made by the same company.

RAM was a limitation on earlier devices, where even running at 1 GB, background applications could be killed, and generally caused things to slow down. The Incredible has 512 MB of RAM, so it has less flexibility to multi-task as efficiently as current devices.

The Droid Incredible also doesn’t use LTE tech, so from a data speed standpoint, it’s doing nearly everything “smart” or wireless, at a much slower pace. This also has bearing on the ability to talk and use web simultaneously, for example.

I believe the Incredible saw support up until Android 2.x, so there is the fact that it won’t be supported with current versions of Android, which will include everything from a smoother better designed OS, to security updates and a host of new features.

In a more real world example, compared to the HTC One, the quality of photos will vary by quite a bit, due to everything from a change in bigger sensors and flash usage, to the software side, where you have image stabilization and an abundance of features, ranging from HDR images to slow motion HD video. In the simplest terms, it becomes much easier to take better pictures/video in various lighting.

That said, it was an amazing device, but even six months can prove to be a lot of time in the mobile arena. A lot has and continues to happen in three years, but it’s a matter of how much you want to pursue the potential of current devices. By no means are they a necessity, but if you’re looking for it, the objective and practical performance gap is certainly there.