As someone who uses multiple phones, there’s this mental check I do when reaching into my pockets. “I need to get X task done, does the phone in this pocket have that app set up?” More often than not, I have to feel the phone in my pocket before I can register what device it is and what I can do with it. It wasn’t until the third day of using the 5X as my daily driver that it really hit me.
Looking at pictures, watching videos, and talking to colleagues, I never truly believed the comparisons to the Nexus 5 of 2013. This couldn’t replace the idolized Nexus 5; not possible. The 5 was a piece of plastic art: something I felt at home with. The 5X was a ploy to pull 5 users out of the shadows and purchase something from Google, I thought.
On that day, I stuck my hand in my pocket, and I grabbed a Nexus 5.
This flashback of memories and emotions hit me, and hard. Lame, I know. But the nostalgia was real. I promptly fell in love with the 5X; this really was the true successor to my beloved first Nexus phone.
After a few weeks of using the Nexus 5X on the daily, I realized just how much that feeling means to customers. People buy the next iPhone not because it’s X amount faster and Y amount thinner, but because it feels like their last iPhone. It’s that feeling that brought the Nexus 5X to market, and it’s that feeling that keeps the iPhone SE on shelves.
Comfort, I’ve found, is the reason my dad loves his Moto X, and the reason my best friend will never leave her iPhone. No matter what you hear from journalists, marketers, or the manufacturers themselves, it’s not about ergonomics. It’s about habit, and, more importantly, familiarity.
As innovation in the smartphone space begins to plateau, manufacturers are going “back to the basics”, hoping to inspire customers to “upgrade” to the phone they love using. Moving forward, this industry is less about innovation, and more about refinement.