Smartphones, especially the flagship devices released by the biggest and best-known tech giants in our world, are always the best tools to showcase up-and-coming technologies. That’s because, aside from being the perfect tools to read the news, snap better selfies, play games, and redeem the latest freespin casino bonuses you find online, they are also the perfect eye-catchers for the media. The biggest, “baddest” tech companies out there are always making the headlines, testing how much the public is excited about their innovations (that can later be sold to integrators around the world). And there’s a lot of competition in the background because the success or failure of a certain feature can shape the future of the industry as we know it.
Apple usually likes to put itself in the position of the innovator. And it’s quite often mocked by Android users because of the delayed rollout of certain features Android phones had “for years”. While it might be a combination of risk management and fan dedication, the fact still remains: Apple has been repeatedly “beaten” to the release of many new technologies by its main rival on the smartphone front, South Korean giant Samsung.
The latest example of Samsung winning the “arms race” is the adoption of Qi, the wireless charging standard that has quietly won the latest “format war”. Qi was established as a standard in 2010 by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), with members like Philips, Toshiba, Nokia, Bosch, LG, Samsung, and Apple. The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP, later AirFuel Alliance), with members like Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel, and Samsung, too, among others, released a concurrent standard called Rezence in 2012. Despite the big names behind it, Rezence lost the “war” with Qi, which has become the “de facto” standard today. Apple’s first Qi-compliant smartphone, the iPhone X, was released this year. Samsung, in turn, beat Apple to the adoption of the technology – Samsung introduced the technology into its Galaxy S6 product line and released a Qi backplate for its Galaxy S5 phones in 2015.
Another example would be the usage of OLED screens – organic light-emitting diodes instead of a backlit LCD screen. Let’s be honest, though: Samsung has the advantage of being one of the biggest innovators in display technology and a provider of displays for much of the industry (its market share is expected to drop to 72% by 2019). Apple has, for a long time, stuck to its LCD tech, finally giving in to the pressure of providing users with more energy-efficient screens. Ironically, it’s the same Samsung that provides Apple with its AMOLED displays used in the iPhone X.
I’m sure the list could go on but let us just stop here for now. Apple will always be remembered as the company that started the smartphone revolution – but this doesn’t mean that it will always be ahead of its competitors. On the contrary – it seems that Apple likes to play it safe. Whether it’s a good thing or not, only time will tell.