The Biggest, Baddest Hardware Failures, Kodak and Apple X is in

Co.Design reviewed the hardware in 2017 and listed the baddest ones. Among them, Kodak and Apple X is in.

The Smartphone Featuritis Plague

The iPhone X is the epitome of fluff-over-function. It’s a phone packed with features that nobody asked for. Its edge-to-edge-but-not-really screen is impossible to use with only one hand and wastes hundreds of pixels on its round corners and top notch. FaceID created a user experience nightmare by eliminating of the home button in favor of arbitrary gestural UI. Yet Apple’s marketing has managed to successfully polish these unnecessary features into the “Phone of the Future.”

To be fair, Apple is not alone. The Samsungs, LGs, Huaweis, Xiaomis, and Oppos of this world suffer from the same terminal illness in a market that has plateaued: Featuritis. Many of these smartphones are virtually indistinguishable–and thus, their makers desperately need distinct features to attract buyers. Take the Galaxy S8, with its needlessly curved display, three methods of biometric authentication–fingerprint ID, crappy facial ID, and iris scanners–and lousy Bixby assistant. Or the LG V30 and its alleged military-tested durability (its screen shatters just like any other phone) and its three-microphone system for recording concerts. Or Oppos’s absurd artificial intelligence-powered selfie beautification engine.

It’s an arms race for superfluous features, all powered by the same OLED screens, comparable cameras, and “neural” processors. And don’t look for it to change anytime soon. There’s no motivation for companies to break the one-year-upgrade-cycle and actually come up with a truly innovative product. Featuritis is here to stay.

Kodak’s failed return to photography

The saddest product failure of 2017 was the return of a classic icon: Kodak. The company, which came out of bankruptcy in 2013 after selling half a billion dollars in patents, attempted a comeback with a camera phone designed for photo fans who wanted more than what you’d find in a typical smartphone camera. The Kodak Ektra featured a dedicated 21 megapixel, optically stabilized, high-speed sensor that dwarfed the typical 12-megapixel sensors in current cells, and it looked pretty too, with a cool retro design that recalled the company’s old film cameras. Even its name echoed of one of the company’s old glories–the famous Ektachrome high-speed color film that defined the feel of legendary magazines like National Geographic.

I wanted one. I’m glad I never got it. According to critics, the Ektra’s physical build was poor, the camera sensor and software was laggy, and it produced lousy photos and video. What’s more, its Android operating system was outdated and the entire package simply wasn’t worth the $500 price tag. As CNET put it, “Kodak should have never made this phone.”

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