RANT No replaceable battery? No storage expansion? No headphone jack? Only marginal performance boost? Why do people still bother upgrading their smartphones?

Really hate the evolution smartphones have taken over the last few years, I must say. First they take away the ability to swap out the battery (especially for high end devices), giving the phone a very predetermined life span. Anyone who's been using a phone for several years know that after a while - maybe a year or two - batteries tend to hold their charge shorter and shorter and eventually burn out completely. And after those 1-2 years it's about time you bought a brand new high-end handset, at least if you ask manufacturers and retailers. Because constantly selling new phones is obviously a significantly more lucrative business model than giving you the option to just fork over 10 or 20 bucks for a replacement battery.

First it giveth...

When the first smartphones came out, they evolved so immensely each new iteration, that new features and upgrades in terms of performance and screen resolution and size really were a huge step up, even for the casual user. Also additional features, like the IR blaster allowing you to control your TV with the phone, were good selling points.

...Then it taketh away

The same can't be stated quite as much today - more like the opposite, really. Marginally snappier performance and slightly better camera is the only real benefit upgrading your phone today. When the already high definition handset screens of yesteryear are only replaced with new models offering even higher resolutions. Resolutions you might not even have on your big screen TV, or even at the movie theatre. That alone doesn't sell many units anymore. So the one and only thing that really seems to matter today is the sheer eye candy of having a sleek and slim phone. The selling point today isn't battery life or durability. It's all about having a bezel-less screen and a phone so thin that it bends and snaps when a mouse farts on it. The hysteria around slimming the phones down, to make them look prettier, has come to the moronic point where they either explode when charging, due to having the battery so tightly crammed that it can't stand being charged (in the case of the Samsung Note 7), or by having core functionality sacrificed in the process.

Behold... The iDonglePhone 7!

At least the latter was the excuse Apple gave for omitting the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. Everyone who aren't a completely brainwashed Apple fanboy knows it's nothing but another cash grab by the almighty Apple; consequently making even more money off their proprietary peripherals, such as adapters, dongles and wireless headsets. Even if there are 3rd party options, they still make a lot of money from licencing fees just for having them equipped with the proprietary lightning plug rather than a standard USB port like any Android phone would use.

"At Apple we like it neat and tidy. That's why you don't need any ports. Instead, for any type of use case, we've got you covered with another dongle for you to purchase, then carry around everywhere and ultimately misplace! That's COURAGE! (...and also, it's because we're a buncha assholes, but you probably knew that already.)"

The 3.5 mm jack wasn't slashed because it was obsolete (it most certainly isn't), it was because it's an free, open standard that didn't generate any extra $$$ for Apple. Instead offering just a single lightning port, does. 

With only proprietary ports, Apple have complete control over anything its users plug into their devices. And as usual, Apple fanboys will argue that's a positive. Because why would you want to plug in some filthy Sennheisers into your phone, if there are overpriced crap earphones with an Apple logo on them for you to purchase in the first place? Using anything besides Apple's own products will only get you viruses...right?

ThioJoe is pretty darn spot-on when it comes to Apple phones

But the while the omitted headphone jack is still mainly an Apple exclusive feature (or lack thereof), it decay of smartphones obviously didn't start there.

No Expandable Storage - is there any excuse?

Shortly after seeing batteries being "non-user-replaceable", we started seeing expandable memory become a thing of the past. You can argue all day that cloud storage and streaming is the future, making local storage less relevant. But I haven't seen that trend really making local storage obsolete. Operating systems get larger and larger, much like apps get heavier in terms of data use. And higher resolution cameras continuously make even larger, more pixel-dense images. All this still needs to be stored somewhere.

What it all boils down to is commerce, really. Phone manufacturers don't like the idea of cheap SD cards, since it's a missed opportunity to charge extra for additional built-in flash memory. Because why would you shell up hundreds of dollars extra for additional onboard memory when you can just buy a 128 GB micro-SD card for 30 bucks?

ZDNET's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes really puts his finger on it:
"Manufacturers can't charge a premium for an SD card slot, but they can charge a $100 for a few extra gigabytes of flash storage."
You could argue that computers don't come with floppy drives or perhaps even an optical drive today either. But that's mainly because other means of expanding storage have largely made them either obsolete or redundant, like external hard drives and USB thumb drives. It's not like you only have the option of either buying a computer with a 64 GB hard drive for $250, or one with identical specs only with a 256 GB drive for $1,000. That wouldn't make much sense, since you always have the option to replace the drive or expand the storage otherwise. But that's pretty much the deal with today's smartphones, iPhones especially. It's like a big leap backwards, to the old days of standalone MP3 players, where you had a fixed on-board flash memory only large enough to store about 5-10 albums.

All smartphones I've owned, up to my current Galaxy Note 4, have all had:
  • User-replaceable battery
  • Expandable storage through SD card
  • Headphone jack
  • Removable back plate
  • Multiple SIM slots (in addition to the SD card slot, not just a single slot for both SD and SIM2)
They've all been cheap phones imported from China. There's even an Asian version of the Note 4 that has dual-SIM support, but it only has 16 GB of internal storage, so I ultimately opted for the standard 32 GB version. But my point is, the Note 4 came out in September of 2014 and was imo the last truly practical flagship phone Samsung ever made.

I suppose one reason not having an SD card slot or a replaceable battery on a phone, would be to make the body more solid and water resistant. But why wouldn't the USB port and SIM slot be just as bad if that was the case? So, it's all just marketing bullcrap.

If I were to buy a new phone of a somewhat renowned brand today, I'd have to choose between either an LG or....well an LG.