Editorials

4GB smartphones should go the way of the dinosaur in 2015

Most consumers tend to buy 4GB smartphones, or 8GB or 16GB smartphones instead of 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB smartphones, but Samsung’s move to ditch 16GB Galaxy smartphones completely and embrace 32GB models (minimum) is a move that must be applauded. Apple continues to sell 16GB iPhones for the simple reason that Cupertino “forces” customers to buy higher storage models and pay additional funds as opposed to making the more inexpensive models the most desirable. In case you’re wondering, Apple has no reason to ditch 16GB iPhones when it’s forcing people to upgrade to 64GB iPhone 6 models, for example, and make an additional $100 per customer.

I’ve just received word that a number of Windows smartphones will not receive the Windows 10 update due to their 4GB storage size. I was shocked to discover that 4GB smartphones still exist, and I think that they’re a disgrace to customer spending.

The sad reality is that most consumers don’t realize how small 4GB smartphones are. By the time a customer gets the Windows Phone device and opens the box for the first time, the majority of the 4GB is eaten up due to the operating system memory requirement. Thus, a 4GB model could have no more than 2GB available on the device from the start – which is super small for consumers who want to take pictures and use their device storage to download apps.

And a number of consumers don’t realize how relatively small 4GB of storage is to 16GB. Most devices come with 16GB of storage. Whenever a device comes with only 4GB of storage out of the box, it’s clear that the manufacturer “skimped” on storage in order to reduce the price. It’s the same reason why manufacturers offer a few models with such small storage; you’re not going to find high-end specs in small-storage smartphones. The small storage, like the inferior specs, are obvious signs that the device you’re getting is cheap – even if it feels premium in-hand and seems to be relatively well-made.

But the one reason why manufacturers should stop making smartphone models with less than 16GB of storage (whether 4GB or 8GB) has to do with updates. Microsoft is now limiting which devices can update, and the 4GB models won’t make the upgrade to Windows Phone 10. This is the most offensive part about 4GB smartphones: that is, that their cheap price and low storage eliminate them for future updates to Windows Phone 10, for example. At the end of the day, what good is it to sell customers these phones, make them think they’re getting a deal, only to leave them out in the cold for future updates? It’s been the case since 4GB smartphones and 8GB smartphones that most customers expect to buy a phone and have it last for at least 2 years. If a customer buys a 4GB Windows Phone, for example, thinking that he or she will get future updates and will not, is that not rather deceptive on the part of manufacturers? Although I work in the field of tech, I’m smart enough to know that not every customer is as knowledgeable about these things as I am.

Simply put, 4GB smartphones should go the way of the dinosaur in 2015. Why? because 1) they’re often the smartphones that are disqualified from update eligibility, 2) they don’t provide enough storage room to have much of a good experience with a device, and 3) many customers buy them as cheap options not realizing that the price of update eligibility removal is too high of a price to pay for them. If a customer invests a certain amount of money into a phone, then he or she should have the opportunity to see that smartphone updated for two years. If that isn’t the case, then manufacturers need to be more forthcoming about the lack of update eligibility. As for me, I’ll continue to tell customers not to buy these cheap smartphones because, when push comes to shove, 4GB smartphones are satisfying because of their cheap nature in the here and now but have no future updates to anticipate. If this is the case, why buy these devices in the first place?

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