What Apple Becoming Global Smartphone Leader Means to iPhone Users

Global smartphone sales are in a nosedive, but Apple is so far avoiding the worst of it, with one surprising result.

Phone sales from Samsung and other smartphone makers are suffering the effects of a slowing economy, while the iPhone is expected to see a tiny growth. The result is that Apple is on the cusp of overtaking Samsung as the leading smartphone maker in the world. And this could be bad news for iPhone users.

“While competition between the types of smartphones has certainly contributed to the maturity of each respective platform, they have taken very different routes to their current feature set. Apple releases iOS features in a very methodical fashion, waiting until the technologies and user interfaces are mature and ready for everyday customers, while Android tends to embrace bleeding-edge functionality, sometimes at the cost of stability,” Alexis Talarico, team leader at mobile app company Swenson He, told Lifewire via email. “Unless one platform or the other completely disappears, which would be highly unlikely in the near and medium term future, there will continue to be a push and pull between the two ecosystems.”

Smartphone Competition

The pace of smartphone innovation over the last 15 years has been intense. It’s hard to think of another product category where things have moved so fast. That’s partly down to the fact that multi-touch, all-screen smartphones have been an entirely new category, partly because smartphones have become the way that the majority of the world uses computers and gets online, and partly down to the competition caused by this huge sales potential.

That is to say, Apple and Samsung have been going at it tooth and nail for the past decade, and the result has been phones with an insane set of features packed into them. Phone users have enjoyed faster, ever-more-impressive cameras in their pockets, wireless earbuds that seemed like science fiction a few years ago, incredible high-dynamic-range screens that can stay on all day, and plenty more.

Samsung Galaxy Fold - folded
 Samsung Galaxy Fold. Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

For Apple users, the effects have been even more dramatic. The chips in the iPhone got so powerful that they surpassed what was available even in laptop and desktop computers while bringing all the benefits of mobile computing, like incredible low power use and the ability to run fast and cool without a fan. It’s not a push to say that the M-series MacBooks, with their all-day battery life and workstation-level performance, would not have happened without the iPhone.

If the iPhone becomes the market leader, dominating worldwide smartphone sales, then will Apple ease off the gas?

Coasting Along

On the one hand, Apple has let entire product lines wither in the recent past. Until the M1 MacBooks, the entire Mac laptop lineup was coasting and even getting worse. From the incessant removal of useful ports to the butterfly-keyboard debacle to supposedly “pro” computers that got hot and noisy as soon as you did anything more strenuous than checking your email, the Mac looked like Apple had forgotten about it.

That all changes with the switch to Apple Silicon and the rebirth of the MacBook Pro with an SD card slot and HDMI port, but it shows that even modern-day Apple can get lazy or negligent.

On the other hand, the iPhone is Apple’s moneymaker, and even if it pulls ahead of Samsung, that’s no reason to slow down.

First iPhone on display under glass at Macworld 2007
 First iPhone on display. ArnoldReinhold / Wikipedia

And, of course, it’s not just Samsung.

But becoming the global smartphone leader might have another problem for Apple, in the form of increased government scrutiny. It’s one thing to play fast and loose with monopolistic practices when you’re not the market leader, quite another when you’re clearly selling more phones than anyone else.

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