With more flagship device upgrades, have we reached ‘peak smartphone’?

My latest Techspotting segment for KITV, where Lindsey Fukano and I discuss the latest flagship smartphone releases from Samsung and Apple. How much better can they get? Will the new tariffs on Chinese goods affect pricing? And how does Disney’s upcoming streaming platform compare with giants Netflix and Hulu?

Q: Apple is expected to unveil its next iPhone next week, but how much more advanced can it be? Have we reached ‘peak smartphone’?

A: We’re definitely in an era of the smartphone as a mature product. There’s nothing left to revolutionize, so each new model is just the next stage of evolution.

Last month we got the top-of-the-line flagship Android smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy Note 10. And it’s beautiful and powerful and the Note is the smartphone that proved that the world wanted a big, Pop Tart-sized screen. It still has the stylus for writing and drawing, but this year it gave up the headphone jack, after Samsung made fun of Apple for doing the same thing a couple of years ago. It’s also $1,000.

Apple’s fall keynote is next Tuesday, the 10th, and the headliner is always the iPhone. Last year we got the XS and the lower-cost XR. Nobody knows what the new iPhone will be called, but some reports say it’ll be iPhone for the lower cost model, iPhone Pro for the higher end model, and the iPhone Pro Max for the larger screen. Like the latest Samsung flagship, it’s expected to feature a larger more powerful camera module, with three lenses, adding a wide-angle option.

Q: How are the new tarriffs expected to affect tech products like these?

While larger industries like renewable energy, agriculture, and auto manufacturers have the most to worry about, tech products are definitely going to get more expensive. The tarriffs that went into effect yesterday hit smaller electronics and components, which of course make the products they go into more expensive.

But the tarriffs slated for December are more worrisome, as they’ll directly impact smartphones, computers, laptops. Apple, Dell, Microsoft will all be affected. The holiday shopping season might actually be strong as people hurry to buy before Dec. 15. But long term it means higher costs for everyone, and does give foreign companies like Samsung an advantage.

Q: Let’s switch from hardware to services. If we can’t afford a new smartphone, maybe we can sign up for Disney+?

A: Right. Disney just had its D23 Expo, which is basically like a Comic Con just for Disney properties. But remember, Disney owns pretty much everything these days — Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic. And the big news on the entertainment front is the upcoming launch of Disney+, which is Disney’s own streaming video service. It’s going up against Netflix and Hulu and other offerings.

Not only will this service have all the movies and shows Disney owns, but a lot of original shows, including new exclusive spinoffs for Star Wars and Marvel. And they’ve priced it competitively, $8 a month, compared to Netflix at $12. They even had a promotion for $4 a month if you paid for three years before seeing a thing. Along with the upcoming launch of Apple TV+, the launch of Disney+ in November is probably going to mean a sea change in the streaming space.

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