2 May 2016

Feature Removal Competition Bonanza! (Rant)

Happy May everyone! Let's just get on with this. Kicking things off this month we have another rant targeted straight at the smartphone industry.

If you're the kind of person who gets pissy if their phone brand gets slated, then don't worry because this rant doesn't target any of the big brands (Samsung, Apple, Huawei, HTC.etc.) If you are however a LeEco (formerly LeTV) fanboy, then I suggest you close your tab or turn back now.

I am a huge smartphone, tablet, and gadget enthusiast, ask anyone I know about this and they'll confirm that. Sometimes when I'm bored out of my arse I may end up looking up what the tech industry's getting up to, particularly in the Chinese market as a lot of the latest innovations in smartphones lately appear to originate from there. Case and point...

6GB RAM in a smartphone? Vivo Xplay 5 Ultimate. Straight outta China

First 2K resolution display (2560x1440) in a phone? Vivo gets it again with the Xplay 3S (a lot of people attribute this to the LG G3 which was the first phone by a major brand to include a 2K display but not the first overall.)

First deca-core (yes 10 CPU cores) smartphone? Introducing the Zopo Speed 8!

So whether you think Chinese tech is wondrous or just a pile of cheap crap, it's tough to deny that they're innovative and are driving many of the features that are seen in many modern smartphones today. However lately, there's been another minor craze that's been rearing its ugly head with LeEco (and possibly UMI as well turns out UMI thankfully has more sense) hyping another feature, or more accurately, hyping a lack-of-feature in a certain phone. LeEco have decided to cut out the 3.5mm headphone jack, a feature which is seemingly commonplace among smartphones nowadays.

Now I've always had a very low opinion of LeEco, I've always seen them as a very backwards company who somehow managed to successfully piss everyone off by hyping their first batch of phones like hell only for them to skimp on various features. For starters they skipped the SD card slot and while this alone is enough to turn me away it's something that a few manufacturers are sadly doing, their phones run Android but have no Google Play which is partly down to the fact that China has very limited access to Google's services but despite that, most other manufacturers still include Google's services on their devices when selling their phones outside of China.

The whole removing the 3.5mm bullshite started after a rumour cropped up about Apple's next major iPhone release, the iPhone 7 of course, which is rumoured to be skipping the headphone jack. LeEco decided to take this rumour and go full retard with it and remove the jack from their latest lineup of phones (which still by the way, skip all of the aforementioned features as well.)

Now here's the part where I ask what the whole point of this is, there are very few USB type-C earphones out there (I forgot to mention that LeEco are hoping to phase out the 3.5mm jack in favour USB type-C earphones) and this is a move which will only hurt LeEco financially (probably for the best in this case as LeEco have consistently failed to learn from their mistakes) and a company like LeEco who is still a small name in the phone world needs as much financial backing as they can get. Not to mention that maybe some people want to use their headphones while their phone is plugged into say, a power bank of some sort? Bluetooth headphones exist sure, but not everyone wants to use bluetooth. The only reasonable way around this is if LeEco are so stubborn over this is to either include an adapter or include a second USB-C port.

One thing I want to put out there as well is the fact that another reason why LeEco did this is because they wanted to beat Apple to this. Imagine if Apple decided not to ditch the audio jack in the next iteration of the iPhone. I really hope they don't as not only would this NOT piss a load of people off (I have never owned an iDevice as writing this so it wouldn't affect me, at least not at first) but it would also catch LeEco with their pants down, making them look like a proper set of twits.

That being said, this would be around 150% as juicy as it normally would considering that not-too-long ago they lashed out at Apple for being an outdated company because they released a small flagship smartphone (LG did the same, but the difference here is that LG actually make decent phones.) I dislike Apple and I hate defending them but I have to stick up for them here, a small flagship is a brilliant idea considering that everyone is jumping on the 5.0''+ craze, leaving those who want a smaller phone either in the dust or treated as second-class citizens by forcing them to buy phones with budget specs. LeEco also brought up the fact that Apple aren't innovating, I'm not going to go into this, but if LeEco are implying that they're the top innovators then they're completely fucking delusional. Name one thing that LeEco has done that practically any other manufacturer hasn't and no, removing basic features and pissing off entire internet communities by doing so doesn't count.

Now I can see this audio jack being phased out eventually, and if more manufacturers jump onto this ludicrous bandwagon then the big brands will follow, there's very little we, the consumers, can do about that. With manufacturers already phasing it out, it'll happen eventually, maybe not for a year, maybe not for another two. We don't know. Right now it's only one relatively small manufacturer who's doing this, if Apple does decided to jump onto the bandwagon and phase out the jack in favour of lightning-port earphones (as the rumour goes) then that will be the beginning of the end for the audio jack and we don't like it, well there's not much we can do. We vote with our wallets, if you think a company's done well, buy it. Otherwise, if they've fucked up, avoid it.

8th May 2016 Update: I have decided to release a follow-up post to this rant when the iPhone 7 is released to see if LeEco really have gone and dun goofed with their frankly idiotic removal of the headphone jack (like I said, LeEco did this to beat Apple to the pie despite it possibly not even happening.) If Apple does include the 3.5mm in their iPhone, expect LeEco to be thoroughly humiliated in this follow-up and judging by the latest iPhone 7 leaks, it's really not looking good for LeEco. I'll go grab the popcorn because this could be juicy!

12th June 2016 Update: Very disappointed and saddened today to see how Motorola has now jumped onto the feature removal bandwagon with the Moto Z. Their only saving grace here is that they've left it in their mid-range Moto G models (which is more than what LeEco have done.) Still I'd like to know why they think this removal is so necessary because all I'm seeing is "let's remove this audio jack cos Apple might be doing and it's the trendy thing to do!" To make things worse, it looks like the iPhone 7's jack removal is a given. Although there is still one last glimmer of hope...

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