The Federal Communications Commission announced a plan to repeal the net neutrality rules led by Ajit Pai, the Trump-nominated chairman. He believed that the rules had long halted innovation and was an instance of “the federal government micromanaging the internet”. His decision to endorse the repealing of the rules has been meet with backlash from activists and internet companies, but many conservatives and wireless companies (such as Verizon) have given their support to Pai.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality essentials protect data from internet providers and presents them as equal data. Internet providers cannot see what we do online, and this prohibits them from throttling data download speeds or paid prioritization on websites. The ethical consequences of this could lead to websites being blocked unless a price is paid to access them. This situation can be visualized as represented in a Black Mirror episode “15 million merits”. This is the principle that was put into action by Obama’s administration in 2015.
Now the cable companies are lobbying FCC and congress to end net neutrality which would allow them to effectively tax the internet, a tax that would be placed on every sector of the economy in America.
The danger of this is other countries following suit, net neutrality is already in place under in Portugal. The telecommunications company MEO required users to pay a base fee and had 5 other additional options of around £5 a month which would allow more data in order to access applications ranging from the tiers messaging, video, email, social and music. The abuses that are possible once net neutrality has been removed are endless. The former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler was disappointed by the move, and reminded that the job of the FCC was to represent the consumer; the decision by Pai will only benefit the internet providers.
However the movement to block the repeal of net neutrality is in full swing with a nationwide protest planned the week before the FCC meeting to approve the repeal. There are multiple calls for Congress to intervene due to the potential complications of the repeal and the campaign against Pai has been gaining more and more support. This move to “restore internet freedom” will not be left unchallenged.
2007. Steve Jobs on stage launched the iPhone, the start of what would make Apple one of the most valued companies on earth and would go on to sell over 1 billion models through the years. However has the iPhone actually benefited society ethically or has it left society worse off.
Deloitte carried out a survey on mobile consumers and their day to day usage; the key findings showed that almost half of the 18-24 years old checked their phones in the middle of the night. Even 34% of smartphone users made no traditional voice calls in a given week, up from 4% in 2012, showing that phone usage has become increasingly more about the internet and applications rather than SMS and cellular calls. Time reported that 18-24 year olds checked their phones on an average of 74 times a day. The results shown are concerning as they indicate the high possibility of the rates of phone addiction increasing as access to mobiles becomes easier. Phones themselves are becoming more integrated and they are becoming more capable to do more things at the same time. Some experts have even gone as far as to claim that the smartphone has become the “crack cocaine of technology”, as it has ushered in a widespread addiction. This leads to multiple arguments into the use of mobile phones and whether they have gone too far into interfering with our day to day lives.
Common instances as catching the bus and analysing your surroundings, you will almost certainly notice the majority of people on their mobile phones, the reduction in human contact and physical interactions is causing isolation in society. This ties in with the fact that people who use their phones heavily and on a regular basis tend to suffer from high levels of anxiety and many suffering from depression. The modern day society of 2017 compared to 2007 are very different, and in the time frame, iPhones and smartphones in general have increased in terms of their functionality, they have become more adopted on a larger scale.
After 10 years of the iPhone’s initial release we are left with one question. Have they changed us for the better or for the good?
As the year 2016 comes to an end, it goes with many memories, not all positive but in the smartphone industry there has been important developments. This year we saw the debut of the S7 Edge, arguably the best phone this year along with iPhone 7. OnePlus released two mammoth phones which packed a punch for the price, and Xiaomi recently made headlines with its movement towards a global product launch (fingers crossed CES 2017). However this year has also been controversial with the Galaxy Note 7 suffering from a dangerous battery in a few phones which had the tendency to explode, whilst it was not on a huge scale, it was blown out of proportion by the media. Samsung are now working hard to fix their prestigious image and hope to wow the industry again with the S8.
At the start of the new year I expect to see Snapdragon continue on with the battle against Apple and Mediatek over the crown for the fastest smartphone processor, whilst Apple dominated with the A9 & A10 these years, Snapdragon is recovering from the 810 chip which was very controversial. The new 821 has put Snapdragon back in the race for the fastest SoC. Apple's 7 Plus saw 3GB RAM come to it, however OnePlus packed twice the power in the 3 and 3T for a lot less than the astronomically high priced flagship Cupertino produced. Displays have become top notch with the S7 Edge having the best display on any smartphone with the 5.5 Super AMOLED monstrosity. Beautiful blacks, vivid colours and resolution of 1440 x 2560 allowed it to pack 534 pixels per inch. In the Xiaomi department the Mi Mix stole headlines with a gorgeous display with a 91.3% screen to body ratio, creating the best looking phone ever made. Despite all of the battling the best smartphone of the year has to go to the S7 Edge, closely followed by the innovative 7 Plus. The S7 Edge ticked all the boxes except for the price, but considering what you get, no one can complain.
2017 will no doubt make 6GB of RAM the norm and 1440p displays may get a hike to 4K (even though there is no point in having that many pixels). Snapdragon will almost certainly unleash the 830/835 SD SoC and Apple will rival that in September with the A11. Smartphone manufacturers HTC and LG have been very under rated and have failed to sell many units of their flagship phones, I do hope that neither of them quit the business as the HTC 10 was one of the best phones this year. LG also attempted to bring modular fashion and offered a removable battery and a SD card slot, something we rarely see these days. Sony also released two flagships this year and the XZ seems very promising but we must say goodbye to the Z line that has finally been discontinued with the Z5 Premium leaving with a bang. Xiaomi have also wowed India with the Redmi Note 3 and Mi Max, phones with a low price tag and amazing performance due to the 650 SoC from Snapdragon, whilst the limited release disappointed Western Europe fans, Xiaomi is contemplating a global launch of their next flagship the Mi6.
Battery life needs to improve in every single phone especially with Apple, even with all the advances in tech, phones are struggling to last a single day or two on a single charge, this is not expected. Moto Z packs a pathetic 2600 mAh in a 5.2mm package, plenty of us would not mind a thicker phone if it means battery life will be better. Overall the year has been pleasing and the hype for 2017 has arrived, hopefully Samsung do not kill of the Note line as the Note 7 was looking to be the most promising phone this year but the battery issues have damaged the brand. Maybe 2017 marks a new chapter for Samsung, with a lot of promise.
Since its creation, OnePlus has a soft spot within me.
April 2014 newly formed OnePlus released their first ever phone. The OnePlus One; packing 3GB RAM with a Snapdragon 801. A crisp and accurate 1080p IPS display that was enjoyed by all of those who used it. However the best thing about the phone was the price point, astonishingly OnePlus sold the phone at no profit and this was a huge risk, but it payed off. The cost? A mere £219 for arguably the best specs available at that point. Boldly it took on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the HTC One M8, despite being not so well known. Despite a controversial invite system, the phone received glowing reviews and quickly built a fan base for the relatively new OnePlus company. By the end of the year over 1 million OnePlus One units had been sold. Obliterating the initial 50,000 target. However not all was smooth for OnePlus as they were blasted for poor customer support and some technical issues with the handset. The next year, OnePlus needed to develop the foundation they had laid, thus came the OnePlus 2. Snapdragon 810 paired with 4GB RAM and a rapid fingerprint scanner. Within 64 seconds of going on sale, OnePlus sold 30,000 units in China. Within 72 hours of being launched over 1 million reservations had been recorded, rising to 2 million a week later. There was a slight increase in the price by it rising to £279 but NFC was emitted from the handset. Getting your hands on one was hard due to the invite system still in place, but it was better than before. OnePlus had done it again, they had released a mid range smartphone for androidphiles. A wonderful Oxygen OS gave a clean user experience and unbound customisation. The same year OnePlus released the OnePlus X which was a OnePlus One in a metal body and a smaller form factor. Not only was it cheap at under £200 but it was beautiful and fast, offering incredible bang for your buck. The OnePlus X was the quickest phone to get rid of the invite system that had been despised for so long.
In my opinion it was the greatest phone OnePlus released due to its price, performance, and amazing design. 2016 saw the release of the OnePlus 3, a powerhouse of a phone offering twice the RAM that the original OnePlus had A radical redesign saw the sandstone finish, get replaced with an all metal finish, allowing it to compete with Samsung and Apple in their beauty pageant. An AMOLED panel was also used, offering better colour accuracy. Upon release there was no initial invite system, which made a lot of people content. In terms of critical acclaim, OnePlus 3 was the best, the perfect Android smartphone. But, once again the price rose to £309 but in the UK it soon soared to £329, £110 since the original OnePlus. It is sad to see OnePlus move toward the mid-high end of the pricing spectrum and the newly released OnePlus 3T confirms this. Priced at £399 and offering practically marginal gains over the 3 with a slightly faster SoC, a beefier battery and an improved camera. OnePlus should look to reboot the X line, as they have lost a lot of territory in the low end price point they had dominated in the past few years. Notable competitors such as Xiaomi have dominated Asian markets to the point where many of their phones are being imported due to the value of money they offer. If they were to do so, a 5” smartphone with the internals of even the OnePlus 2 would no doubt satisfy many. Despite the potential, I do see OnePlus moving away from the budget territory and more towards the higher end and it is a shame to see them do that
For a long time Google has been known for the Nexus handsets it has produced over the years. I still remember the Google Nexus 4, announced in 2012, it was the thing of dreams. The price point was what people fell heads over heels for. If I can recall, it was priced at around £239, which at the time meant it obliterated anything within that price point. The Nexus 4 changed the smartphone industry and created a new movement towards powerful budget phones. Google then went on to produce the Moto G through Motorola who they owned at that time. The Moto G was also seen as a revolutionary phone due to the fact it was available for less than £150. Now the Nexus 4 won many awards due to the power it offered for the money and that simply it was a great phone.
The next year Google released the Nexus 5. Now Google did increase the price £299 which moved it into mid budget territory. However the phone was critically claimed especially due to its wonderful display and a snappy snapdragon processor. The Nexus 5 simply worked due to its wonderful OS and the power it had. The build quality had been questionable but for android fans it was their dream phone. The Nexus approach had been seen by fans as phones they would buy due to it being cheap and what they wanted. The year following the Nexus 5, Google released the controversial Nexus 6. Google faced immediate backlash on the astronomical price rise to £499. The traditional mid to low budget Nexus approach had been abandoned and the Nexus 6 only offered the Vanilla stock OS many had loved. Despite the Nexus 6 being a decent phone, the price raised a lot of questions and the un-google like approach had surprised many people. The Nexus 6 also had a 5.96" display which put off some of the Nexus fans due to it being too large, this put Google between a rock and a hard place. They could either make a smaller phone at a mid range price, or a more expensive, larger phone. So the following year Google released two phones. The Nexus 5x and the Nexus 6p.
The 5x was mid range at £339 but during summer you could pick up the 16gb for £169 at carphone warehouse. The 6P was more expensive but was also in terms of specification more powerful, with a larger display. Google was in a great position with both these phones but this year they opted to remove the Nexus line and introduce the Pixel line. Genuinely I am glad that Google retired the Nexus line rather than tarnish it by abandoning what it really set out to achieve. Upon seeing the release of the Pixel I was sceptical immediately due to its sky high price point, I believe that Apple and Samsung are the only companies that can get away with £549+ price points due to their reputation and following. I have not yet got my hands on either the Pixel or Pixel XL but based on the design that they have, I am wary of Google being accused of copying Apple. The new approach will no doubt be questioned more and more, but I have very little doubt that the Pixel will be criticised over its performance as a phone rather the mindset of Google will be questioned. Rather I am hoping that Google will reintroduce a Nexus line alongside in order to battle against the OnePlus and ZTE phones. The Nexus line will also fulfil the hearts of true android fans who have wanted a vanilla nexus at a medium price point with great specifications.