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Has the pandemic recession canceled ultra-premium smartphones?

Life has changed for all of us. Already, major trade shows and product unveilings have been canceled, and the closure of factories is leading to delays and shortages for many electronic gadgets we’ve come to rely on. When you factor in the record number of unemployed people, the uncertainty of the future, and how people are refocusing on the bare necessities, it spells trouble for the ultra-premium smartphones that rose to popularity over the last few years.

The rise

Apple set the trend for ultra-premium phones. During the early years of the iPhone, its price remained at the sweet spot of $600 outright — or $200 with a 2-year contract with a carrier. However, that number increased ever so slightly to $650 starting with the iPhone 4 in 2010, then rapidly surged to $1,000 with the arrival of the iPhone X.

Not surprisingly, Apple’s rivals followed suit and embraced the $1,000 benchmark. Ever since, the prices of smartphones kept on rising.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Other tech segments aren’t immune to this practice, but they’re not as rampant as the smartphone industry. There are always going to be luxury devices that come to market, such as Samsung’s Q900 QLED Smart 8K TVs, LG’s InstaView refrigerators, and gaming PC rigs, but most consumers aren’t likely to replace them every couple of years — as they do with smartphones.

The death of on-contract pricing fueled smartphone makers to push the envelope. Consumers are now treated to finance pricing, making the $1,000+ cost of these ultra-premium phones appear more attainable when it’s broken down to monthly payments over the course of 24 months — and in some cases, 30 months. It’s tough to justify forking over $1,000 in one transaction, but it’s easier to pull the trigger at $34 per month.

And fall

Prior to the sudden changes caused by the outbreak, the U.S. unemployment rate was at 3.5% in February. Estimates anticipate that it’ll soon be around 17%. A staggering 6.65 million people filed for unemployment benefits in just a week ending March 28. The rate may well continue to rise given the final total for last week’s numbers.

As much as I’d love to see a respite in the unemployment numbers, it’s unlikely to happen when some states are extending their mandated shutdowns on non-essential businesses. New York announced extending it until April 29, while New Jersey’s extension effectively will keep quarantine measures in place until early May. With people out of jobs, spending money will be tightened for many.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Data has shown that smartphone owners are holding onto their devices longer, pushing off the need to upgrade sooner. Sales figures, too, have indicated that people are looking at lower-priced smartphones. In fact, the best selling phone of 2019 was Apple’s iPhone XR — beating out newcomers like the iPhone 11 Pro. Tight budgets will only accelerate this trend.

What about the competition? Interestingly enough, Samsung’s best selling phones were the sub-$500 Galaxy A50 series, followed by the Galaxy A10. Neither its Galaxy S10 or Note 10 smartphones made the top 10 list last year, showing consumers are taking pricing into consideration with their buying decisions.

Value takes precedence

The last year has yielded smartphones that push ultra-premium pricing to new heights. Foldables such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the reimagined Motorola Razr, and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip have garnered our attention for being fresh and boasting next-generation designs. With prices ranging from $1,500 to over $2,000, though, they’re unlikely to be winners for tech fans who suddenly find themselves on a shoestring budget.

In an interview from early February 2020, Samsung’s Head of Product Management, Paul Scott, told our Contributing Editor, Andy Boxall, that people demand premium phones. “They want innovation, the best camera, the best screen, and they want 5G for future-proofing. Last time we had the Galaxy S10e, and this year we’ve gone the other way,” Scott said, referencing the $1,400 Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra.

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

However, a report on the best selling smartphones by Counterpoint Research found that people weren’t interested in buying Samsung’s top-tiered smartphones, like the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+, and weren’t looking to spend more money. Instead, the trend is swinging in the opposite direction.

Attention has swung to value models, which doesn’t necessarily exclude powerful phones. The Google Pixel 3a drew plenty of attention for how it closely matches the Pixel 3’s performance at a fraction of the cost, while OnePlus’ smartphones continue to be a fan favorite for their high-end hardware and affordable pricing. Looking ahead, we may very well witness this shift with the anticipated announcements for the iPhone 9 (aka iPhone SE 2, or iPhone SE 2020) and a spiritual successor to the OnePlus X.

The worldwide recovery will be key

Anshel Sag, Consumer and Chip Tech Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, thinks the smartphone’s fate has everything to do with the global economic recovery. “I expect that unfortunately, the economic impact will without a doubt put us into a recession and that will affect smartphone volumes,” said Sag. “That said, I don’t think the premium market will be impacted as much unless we get into a global depression, as a result of prolonged isolation and shutdowns.”

Less than three months have passed since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S., but quarantine measures were only put in place in the last month. If this were to persist, there will be dramatic implications for the ultra-premium segment.

“I don’t think the market fundamentals of the smartphone industry will change unless we enter an actual depression,” said Sag. “Then I could absolutely see the value segment becoming the primary focus of the smartphone industry and the high-end becoming much smaller.”

Time will tell if manufacturers continue their regularly scheduled course, or adapt to the evolving conditions of this pandemic. Smartphone launches already planned for 2020 will likely proceed as planned, but we’ll start to see the impact of 2020 on smartphone design at CES 2021 and MWC 2021…if they take place.

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Hoverwatch keylogger for Android

A keylogger Android application is basically any software or program that allows you to monitor or watch the keystrokes of someone else by recording these keystrokes while they use their Android smartphones. The application then allows you access to the recorded information. Since the whole point of a keylogger Android app is to be able to monitor someone without their knowledge, keylogger applications have enhanced features that ensure that the monitoring process is carried out in a stealthy manner. We shall go into full details of the features and particularly those of the Hoverwatch keylogger for Android later on in the article.When it comes to the legality of using hacking software programs such as the keylogger Android application, such programs are for one legal to own or possess. However, when a keylogger App is used for criminal purposes such as identity theft or stealing then the use of such application is illegal and thus punishable under federal law as well as state laws. 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Isn’t that very easy?Now that some basic information about Hoverwatch has been established it is time to get into the details of some of the features that have been integrated into the Hoverwatch keylogger application for Android . These features include:The invisibility featureThis is the most essential feature of Hoverwatch keylogger Android App. This particular feature ensures that the Hoverwatch app stays hidden so that your monitoring activities stay hidden from those being monitored. This in turn means that accurate information is obtained and especially for parental control purposes.Tracking of text messages and callsWith this feature you can track all the outgoing as well as incoming calls and text messages. 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If you are searching for a keylogger app for Android then you should definitely give the Hoverwatch keylogger Android application a try.

10 can’t-miss deals for the Fourth of July weekend

Believe it or not, the first half of 2020 is finally over. It’s July and we’re ready to tackle the rest of the year. It’s time for hot days and hotter deals.The 4th of July is the perfect time to save on new gadgets, gear, and gizmos. If you’re on the hunt to pick up something new for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, consider the following offers.While these deals are already worth your attention, we’re here to sweeten things up even more. For a limited time you can save an extra 15% on your purchase by entering coupon code JULYFOURTH15 at checkout on purchases of $50 or more.Jam Audio Tune In Neckband Style Bluetooth HeadphonesDon’t change the channel — Tune In’s ergonomically designed collar rests on your neck for up to 12 hours of playtime. These earphones let you play music from your device via Bluetooth technology. Use it during workouts, jogging, or commute. The neckband style makes sure that you won’t lose your earphones no matter what you do. $30MOZA Mini-Mi Wireless Charging Smartphone GimbalCapable of stabilizing your phone for stunningly smooth shots, gimbals are already pretty impressive, but the MOZA Mini-MI goes one step further. Engineered with wireless charging tech, this smartphone gimbal keeps your device energized while you record. $95VILTA-M Pro 3-Axis Handheld Smartphone Stabilizer GimbalTake your video shoots to the next level with this VILTA-M Pro 3-Axis Handheld Smartphone Stabilizer Gimbal. Made for creative, adventurous production, the VILTA-M Pro features various focus and zoom settings choices for cinematic quality footage. $119Robo 360° Rotation Smart AI Object Tracking GimbalThe Robo Smart Gimbal lets you film yourself totally hands-free. Using AI technology, Robo automatically recognizes your face and follows you wherever you go. It proceeds to intelligent shooting with infinite 360° rotation — once your face is detected, it starts taking pictures or videos automatically. $40LOFT Battery Base for Google HomeGoogle Home has great voice-controlled features and quality audio but falls short when it comes to portability, as it must remain plugged-in to work. LOFT is a portable battery base that solves this problem by making Google Home cordless, thus portable, so you can move your device from room to room with ease. $17JOT Battery Base for Google Home MiniThe JOT is a portable, battery base for your Google Home Mini designed to provide rechargeable, cord-free mobility at your fingertips. Simply nest the Google Home Mini securely into JOT to untether and enjoy cordless use anywhere in your home. $17datAshur PRO² 256-bit Encrypted USB 3.2 Flash DriveWe usually use flash drives for on-the-go storing and transferring of files whether for school, work, or business. But sometimes these very ordinary drives are prone to malware as well as easy targets to hacking. Never compromise your data again! datAshur® PRO² is a fully-encrypted flash drive that gives advanced security to your portable data. $80CleanTray UV Light Sterilization CaseLet’s face it. Your phone and other daily items are 10 times dirtier than most toilet seats…and you touch it about 47 times a day. Get rid of all the nasties with this CleanTray UV Light Sterilization Case. Using 4 UV-C LED lights, this case kills 99.99% of germs and bacteria in just 5 minutes — 2 times faster than other UV devices. $70Bluetooth Smart WatchAdd some intelligence to your everyday accessories with this sleek, modern smartwatch. Just add in your own SIM card, and this watch allows you to make phone calls, send text messages and much more right from your wrist. It’s also optimized as a fitness watch with a pedometer, calorie calculator, distance meter, and more integrated into the watch. $30BENTOSTACK POWERHUB 5000Less is more. The BentoStack PowerHub 5000 is a compact accessory organizer combining a charge cover, Type-C hub, and a storage compartment, all in one minimalistic stackable case. $100

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