Key TakeawaysSmartphones and other smart devices need better long-term support, experts say.While many offer extended software updates, a lot of phone manufacturers still offer basic hardware support.The need for long-term support is only growing stronger as more and more devices become available.
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As the number of smartphone models available worldwide increases, experts say the need for long-term support grows more and more.
Samsung recently announced that only one of its new mid-range A-series devices would receive a minimum of three years of Android operating system updates. Those who purchase the other phones in the line-up would not be guaranteed updates for more than two years.
This, experts say, is just another entry in the long-running list of support issues that many smart devices have seen over the past several years.
"Hardware and software support is desperately needed on a long term for consumers because, in the ever-changing landscape of technology, there are always new things that are coming out and new firmware and software that are being updated to devices that can make things not work properly," Mark Pauley, CEO of Axiom Armor, told Ach5 in an email.
Fighting the Future
If you've ever bought a smartphone, then you probably know the feeling that comes with getting your new phone set up, only to learn a few short months later that the company has released another entry in the series.
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When this happens, it often can feel like your new device has been given a reduced life expectancy. Once the allotted amount of time has passed, and support has dried up, you'll need to move on to a new device.
For many, this life expectancy is far too short, with most major Android phones only being promised three years of major updates. At this point, both LG and Samsung have made similar promises, though the closure of LG's mobile business has left some wondering what will come of that promise.Related: Samsung Galaxy S21 Phones: What You Need to Know
Software is such a vital part of the equation for deciding which smartphone you want to buy, and the limited support is a hindrance that many have to contend with. With many smartphones already costing within the $500-$1,000 range, paying so much for a device that feels obsolete after only a few short years can be extremely disappointing.
Experts like Harriet Chan, marketing director and co-founder of CocoFinder, a software development company, also suggest that manufacturers create dedicated community centers for their smartphone users.
"Hardware and software support is desperately needed on a long-term for consumers because...there are always new things that are coming out and new firmware and software that are being updated..."
"Support service is so important to consumers, as it helps in assisting the consumers with frequently asked questions and provides a wide range of technical support. Support teams provide guidance with electronic equipment, software, and apparel, among other things. This information will be helpful to consumers to solve minor technical glitches on their own," Chan told Ach5 in an email.
Many already offer services like this. However, by expanding on the support options that they already have, smartphone makers could create a more reliable network for users to find the answers they need. Combine this with expanded repair options, and you would be able to keep your smartphone running for much longer than it might typically work.
However, the answer to these issues isn't just to prolong software updates as Samsung, LG, and others are doing. Instead, Pauley says that these companies also should focus on expanding hardware support, too.
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"Device manufacturers can improve the length of support by having more readily available, trained technicians that are available via phone, at the very least. Since this is not always a possibility for most manufacturers, partnering with independent repair shops and support personnel may be the best viable answer," Pauley explained.
By equipping more repair shops with the tools and skills needed to repair their phones, manufacturers like Samsung, Apple, and other major smartphone makers could expand the support options that customers have.
This would be a huge boon for those who don't want to worry about when the warranty for their device will end or if that warranty will even cover the issues they are having with their device.
Furthermore, it could increase the life expectancy of those devices, especially if consumers take a few extra precautions to make their devices more secure.
"Using a good screen protector and a good case is the greatest line of defense protecting against hardware failures. Both firmware and software failures are inevitable at some level, so getting on a protection plan may help in those cases just in case something goes wrong," Pauley said.