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How the iPhone became the most boring phone you can buy in 2023

It says a lot about a phone when the most popular thing about its next iteration is the new volume buttons. That’s what the Apple iPhone is in 2023. It doesn’t fold, it doesn’t have a periscope zoom lens, it doesn’t charge quickly, the design has been the same for years, it’s uncomfortable to hold, and its cameras aren’t the best anymore — something that was recently proven in testing Our camera for the Galaxy S23 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro.

In the past few years, iPhones haven’t seen any kind of big new innovation. The dynamic island had the potential to be the innovation we had been waiting for, but it just didn’t come to fruition. When you add it all together, it makes the iPhone the most boring phone you can buy in 2023. Here’s why.

iPhone has a folding problem

iPhone 14 Pro Max with Honor Magic 5 Pro and Galaxy Z Flip 4 in the background.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Samsung has been in the foldable segment for four years now. Moreover, many Chinese smartphone manufacturers like Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi make better foldable designs than Samsung. Heck, even Honor and Tecno are breaking into the foldable niche with the Honor Magic Vs and Tecno Phantom V Fold.

Apple is playing it safe at this point by ignoring the foldable market. The company has all the R&D money in the world to develop a foldable iPhone. Apple fans, please don’t tell me, “Apple will release it when it’s ready” or “Apple never releases a half-baked product.”

The argument that Apple releases products when they’re mature is… wrong. Just one look at the buggy mess that iOS 16 was at launch is easy proof of that. Plus, foldable devices have been on the market for four years now, which is enough time for a segment to mature, in my opinion.

That Apple won’t release a foldable iPhone within the next couple of years is just the success of the iPhone’s success in offering midrange products until it comes out with one big leap. We may already be on the Galaxy Z Fold 7 or so by the time the first foldable iPhone launches.

The argument that Apple releases products when they’re mature is… wrong.

And if Apple is going to stick with the slab-phone design, it needs to come up with a better one. The move to flat edges with the iPhone 12 is one of Apple’s most uncomfortable design decisions in the past few years. Surprisingly, the company has stuck with the same design ever since.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, OnePlus 11 and Xiaomi 13 Pro are more comfortable to hold, thanks to the curves on the sides. I used the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro Max as my primary devices, and all of them were uncomfortable to hold. For a company so intent on making only “normal” smartphones, its current design direction leaves a lot to be desired.

Apple’s camera crown has been stolen

iPhone 14 Pro Max is surrounded by other flagship phones.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Most people in the US don’t realize that the iPhone camera is no longer the best. It lags behind the Vivo X90 Pro in the night mode. The telephoto lens is of limited use when compared to the Galaxy S23 Ultra with its 10x optical zoom. The Xiaomi 13 Pro’s natural depth of field has no competition, thanks to its 1-inch sensor. Oppo and OnePlus both have a fun XPan mode for discovering more wide-shot perspectives. Xiaomi and Realme phones have a wide range of options with long exposures and star trails.

By contrast, the iPhone does not have any special camera feature. There’s a 48MP camera with ProRAW technology, which is great for someone who has time to fiddle with details in Lightroom but not so much for the average user. It’s the most boring camera kit you can carry around with you.

The Galaxy S23 Ultra also significantly narrowed down iPhone video with its Ultra Steady Mode. Any Chinese phone or Galaxy phone focuses faster in portrait mode than the iPhone. Does any of this matter when iPhone sales are at an all-time high? Maybe not. But for those of us with access to products outside of Apple, we see how far behind the company is now on the camera front.

Not having fast charging in 2023 is a big mistake

iPhone 14 Pro Max is surrounded by flagship phones.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I stuck with the iPhones because the Pro Max series was considered the longest-lasting smartphone on a single charge; The iPhone 13 Pro Max was the gold standard for battery life. But that is not the case in 2023.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra lasts just as well – if not more – as the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Combine that with the fact that you’re still stuck with slow iPhone charging benchmarks, and your battery/charging situation isn’t the best. We have smartphones that fully charge in under an hour or deliver 50% battery life in 15 minutes. And that doesn’t take into account the 240W fast charging on the Realme GT 3 that provides a 0% to 100% charge in less than 10 minutes.

There is a misconception that fast charging reduces battery life in the long run. But I used a 2019 OnePlus 7T (with 30W charging, which was considered fast at the time) for three years, and I never had an issue with battery life until I updated the OS. Same goes for the OnePlus 8T with its 65W fast charging; Still going strong. Saying that Apple doesn’t offer fast charging above 27W for safety reasons is a lame excuse when the industry has clearly figured out a way to do so.

Apple, please make iPhone hot again

iPhone 14 Pro Max in the middle with Galaxy S23 Ultra on the left and Honor Magic 5 Pro on the right.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

The latest iPhones are still among the best smartphones in 2023. The shutter speed of the camera is top notch, and it processes the image quickly, while the competition takes a few minutes to get the details in processing. I love the fact that I can easily and quickly edit photos in Lightroom without delay.

But that’s about it. I can’t use multi-window on iOS, and in everyday use the Galaxy S23 Ultra feels more responsive. The OnePlus 11 is more comfortable to hold, and the Xiaomi 13 Pro has a better primary camera sensor.

There is not a single standout feature on the iPhone. It’s an average or even average phone in some areas, which makes it the most boring phone you can buy in 2023. I hope we get exciting new features with the iPhone 15 this year, but if the rumors are any indication, we feel disappointed.

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