Sat Mar 7, 2015
At the end of this year, I’ll finally be upgrading to a new phone. After three years with the HTC One S, I’ve realized that… three years is a long time. So, I’ll be skipping the entry-level and mid-tier phones and just shell out for a flagship. For a device you use everyday, it’s worth getting the best.
I’ll be blogging about all the flagship contenders that come out this year in a series of blog posts, then decide on the winner by December. In the meantime, here’s a fun comparison between my three-year old mid-tier phone and the latest iPhone. The results are actually quite surprising:
Now, I’ll freely admit that I’ve cherry picked the specs listed here, but most of these are essential hardware requirements.
It is obvious that the latest iPhone has a far better screen and a bigger battery.
However, the HTC One S and the iPhone 6 are actually on par in a few areas: The same 3G network speed (I’m not bringing LTE into this) and the same RAM. Both have an eight-megapixel camera. Both record 1080p video. All the standard smartphone stuff like GPS and Bluetooth is all on equal ground.
But wait a minute. My HTC One S actually has a faster CPU…sure, it’s only 0.1 GHz faster, but still, for a three-year old mid-tier device, that’s pretty amazing. Not only that, but the One S is lighter, and has extras such as the FM Radio and ability to use Flash in the browser.
Even design-wise, both these phones have sleek curved lines that make for a pleasant tactile experience - but the One S came first. So, on paper at least, the HTC One S seems to hold its own against what is ostensibly the best smartphone in the world.
If only that were true.
My HTC One S has become slow and lags in a number of areas. Heck, even the ringtone stutters and crackles when the phone rings. The undeniable truth is that specs don’t matter. By integrating both the hardware and software, Apple can focus on the user experience from the ground up and is utterly aloof from the spec war. Android phones must have killer specs because only overkill will guarantee a great user experience - like hitting a nail with Mjölnir. By flashing a custom ROM onto my phone, I’ve further divorced the software from the hardware. The camera, in particular, has gone from not-bad to atrocious.
Allow me to emphasize: I’m no fanboy of either Android or Apple and am a user of both platforms. Each have their merits and drawbacks. And I don’t regret going the custom ROM route. But in the year to come, when I’m taking a cold, hard look at the flagships - I’m not going to take the specs that seriously. A 20MP camera is useless without proper image processing. More RAM is useless if it drains the battery. When you design a phone, there are many tough choices to be made, but if you’re not putting the user experience first, then you’re making the wrong ones.