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Anica Jean Carter
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Goophone, the notorious China-based maker of smartphone impostors, is already offering a knockoff version of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
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Creative lunch boxes
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The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.

~Mark Caine
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With some states already framing how marijuana will be regulated and taxed for adult consumption, it is just a matter of time before other states follow suit.
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Populist Smartphones: How Stagnancy Became Good Business

The two largest smartphones makers in the world have surprised very few people in recent years. Apple made a plastic phone (that they still refuse to call plastic), upped the size of their phone (and they're getting ready to do it again because they didn't go big enough last time), and began to try shrinking the bezels on their device. Oh, and they ditched the skewmorphism that has been stagnating in iOS for 4-5 years.

Oh cool, a fingerprint scanner in the home button... that's so edgy...

Samsung hasn't made a major revision to their flagship device in two years now. The screen gets ever so slightly bigger, the camera, too, and they pile more 'features' (read: BLOAT) in to convince consumers that it's new and shiny and cool. And Samsung is certainly popular. In my office, if you don't have an iPhone, you have a Samsung (well, one of the other PAs has a sh*tty little LG Gingerbread phone because he dropped his Samsung). I have the lone Motorola, a custom, Texan-made X.

But as I see how my co-workers use and discuss these phones, I have come to a realization: these phones haven't changed not because Samsung and Apple lack innovation, but because that stagnation is in their interests.

You heard me. Phone makers are keeping things the same year after year on purpose. Because that's what consumer like. We are to blame- well, not us. If you're reading this, chances are you're a nerd and choose your phone not because of what's popular but rather for your specific needs. You could be a Nexus user, or a One user (your numbers are certainly growing), or even a fellow Moto user (WELCOME!!!!). But chance probability is that you're a Samsung user, and that's just fine, if Samsung works for you.

However, in most instances, you're just working for Samsung, and that... needs to stop.

See there are two massive forces that keep users in iPhone or Samsung. The first is popularity - and it's utter bull. Everyone else has an iPhone, so I'll get one, too! NO! Stop it! You're better than that! If the 'simplicity' of iOS, the clean look and utter inability to change anything about your phone except your ringtone, background, and case, then yeah, knock yourself out (if you're a Man head and get an iPhone, I understand completely, as picking an ecosystem and sticking to it is a very sound decision and something I try to advocate).

Popular doesn't mean better (it sure as hell doesn't mean BEST).
Popular doesn't mean better for YOU.
Popular just means that, popular.

All it has is volume. If you have big hands, tying on the iPhone could be much harder than Android and the bajillion different keyboards you can download and use on it. If you tend to fill up your phone, a Samsung and all of it's pre-installed software might take up space you'll end up needing (a microSD card can help, but not everything can go on it, and and nothing replaces just having adequate internal storage to begin with). Certain services are iOS only, and if you need them, you're pretty much stuck (my apologies - learn to branch out).

iPhone is widely serviceable, but certain OEMs are much better about dealing with broken phones than others (my Moto had a defect and died, and Motorola sent me a new one in less than 3 days - and they let me pick new colors, but I stuck with the ones I had). iPhone has a wider range of accessories (though the margin is shrinking), but no matter how many cases you have, it'll still look like just another iPhone. That goes double for Samsung.

The second deadly force that's killing innovation and making these companies a killing is xenophobia. Fear of change and the unknown. Specifically fear of change in their phones. Most users don't truly understand how a smartphone works. They know how to find and use whatever it is they use a lot - and that's about it. Several Samsung users here have not taken the widgets off the phone that came pre-set on the homescreen. They haven't even changed the freaking background (my mom hasn't done that on her X, neither has my dad). Many of them are severely distressed when they get a new phone because it means figuring out how it works again. Because they don't know the OS on their phone, they just know how to make calls and watch cat videos.

iPhone users didn't have to learn any of this about widgets and homescreens because they live in the app drawer. You can make a folder, and that's it. The idea of choosing a keyboard, or choosing a launcher, it makes them very confused, and they hate it. So they belittle the launcher. They scorn the widgets. And they stick to their little app drawer on their little phone.

It's a matter of preference. They have a very specific expectation about how a phone works -how their phone works. And they don't want that to change. And so it doesn't. iOS changed the icons and some colors and everyone lost their minds. Samsung is scaling back TouchWiz ever so slightly, but it remains much as it has always been (stuck in previous design eras). They know if they change it, the light users will become enraged. And those of us who hate TouchWiz can just run our own launcher. My family jumped from Samsung to Motorola, and I really should've driven home from college to go through it with them because going from TouchWiz to stock Android had left them a little confused. Because they had gotten used to TouchWiz, having to adapt to a new UI meant learning their phones over again. And most people simply couldn't be bothered to do this. So they re-up, even if the phone isn't really new or innovative.

It doesn't have to be innovative. It just has to work like their old one did. Because if they can't get calls or cat videos just like the old one, then what was the point of buying a new phone at all?

How do we fight this? Well, on iPhone, we simply can't. If you can't put on a custom keyboard or text tone, you sure can't use a third party launcher. But Android has those, and so I say unto you: get one, and switch between your launchers. Learn how Android as a whole works, not just the iteration of it on your phone. Knowledge is power, and if it's not unknown, you can't fear/hate/despise it.

Judge your next smartphone on the merit of how well you'll use its features. Do you use the S-Voice controls? Do you need a fingerprint scanner that could let thieves into your phone with decade-old hacks? Do you want to knock or shake your phone to wake it? Do you need security but want a way to keep your phone unlocked while it's close to you (Trusted Bluetooth needs to be on every device. Period.)?

It's a smartphone - and you'll live with it for two years. Be smart when you choose it.

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