The diminishing pleasures of a new phone

After more than 3.5 years the battery of my trusty Samsung Galaxy S8 isn’t holding out long enough anymore. So it was time for a new phone. I already had determined that it would be another Samsung and I had my eye on a Galaxy S20 Fan Edition. I wanted the following:

  • a bigger screen, because I’m getting a little older;
  • preferably no rounded edges, because that reflects light in an annoying way;
  • a relatively fast processor, because it must last for at least the coming two years.

The S20 FE had this covered. The 5G version has a slightly faster processor than the 4G version. The only slight downside is that the screen isn’t as good as the regular S20 or S21 and the glass is probably more prone to scratches. The fact that is has a plastic back isn’t a con for me at all. I fondly remember the interchangeable plastic back of the Note 4.

At the last day of the cash back promo period I decided to go ahead with a very attractive offer. I don’t think I bought a phone that was as cheap as this one yet. That only proves that technology is plateauing. It also means that technical gains are currently so minimal that it steals the joy out of getting a new phone.

I fondly remember the joy of progress each phone I had got me. My timeline of phones:

iPhone 3Gs (2009)

The first smartphone I had. Although it didn’t offer much more in terms of productivity than the PDAs I used, the fact that you could go online (I didn’t do this on my PDAs or only very sparingly) opened my eyes and changed everything.

Samsung Galaxy SII (2011)

As great as the iPhone was, I always thirst after better technical specs, as is illustrated by my choice of the Atari Lynx over the Nintendo Gameboy. The Samsung Galaxy SII was the best you could get at that time. I got one the day it was released.

Samsung Galaxy SIII (2013)

After two years, the SII was no longer the cutting edge of smartphone technology. Back then, you were happy your phone, or more to the point, your battery would last two years. I got the SIII that was already on the market for almost a year. It turned out not to be as trustworthy or as good to use as its predecessor. I was glad when I got the chance to trade it in, for a:

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (2014)

This was such a cool phone! It was big. It had a stylus. And a great case that you could attach to the phone itself. When after three years I felt it was time to upgrade, the Note 4 didn’t agree and operated almost just as good as when I first got it.

Samsung Galaxy S8 (2017)

I wanted something a bit smaller. So I opted for the regular S8 and not its bigger sibling, that also was too expensive for me. I enjoyed that it was significantly faster. And the overall quality of the device was excellent.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (2021)

Now that even the cheapest phones have a screen of 6.5 inches, I also wanted one of similar dimensions. This time I didn’t opt for a flagship model, mostly because of the price. Maybe because of this, the changes from the S8 aren’t very big. It just doesn’t feel like such a big deal going to a new phone. Maybe also because staying with a Samsung phone is such a seamless experience. For now the bigger screen certainly feels like a luxury and only time will tell how great of a phone this will turn out to be for me.

The camera of the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE can take beautiful pictures.

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