I listen to a lot of tech based podcasts, and a participant in a recent podcast mentioned something so profoundly obvious that I hadn’t even considered it. While discussing the new wave of supersize smartphones coming along, further blurring the line between phone and tablet, he mentioned that almost without exception there is no direct competitor for the best selling smartphone – the iPhone. It seems that Android and Windows manufacturers want to compete by making their flagships bigger and bigger, rather than taking the iPhone on at its on game.
So can any of these so called “superphones” really be considered as direct competition for the iPhone? I use all manner of devices in my daily life, so this comes from a fairly unbiased point of view, but is it easier to simply make the devices bigger? Bigger battery, bigger display… is this the easy way out? Are devices like the S3 and the One X+ easy devices to make? Does the engineering and software/hardware harmony of the iPhone get enough recognition?
Opinions are still divided as to what the screen size sweet spot really is, some of us like a phone sized phone while some subscribe to the “bigger is better” philosophy. But has the competition ended up competing with each other?
Whether you love Apple or not, their industrial design and fit and finish is second to none. To date this has always been industry leading. So why isn’t there anything else out there that has cutting edge specification with a sub 4.3″ screen? You could argue that the only other phones to rival the iPhone in build quality came from Nokia. The N8 for example remains a fantastic device. It’s beautifully made with one of the best cameras available. Sure, there were issues with the N8, but size and design were not one of them.
Using the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini as an example, this was a disappointing device to some. Compared to the bigger brother (the S3) it had lower specs, but it was a “phone sized” phone. If this handset had arrived with all the quad core goodness of its bigger brother it would have been a huge hit, providing the latest specs in a smaller “phone sized” device.
So why did the S3 Mini launch with outdated specs? Obviously this isn’t the only sub 4.3″ device to come to market under-powered, almost all hardware makers reserve their best specs for their largest devices, but why is this? Why don’t they send out the best possible specification in their best hardware with a 4 / 4.3″ screen?
Are Apple the only company out there capable of the engineering brilliance required to make these types of devices? Surely a monolith like Samsung can do it too? Is it easier to just keep on making bigger devices rather than push the boundaries and compete directly with the iPhone?
Samsung also have devices in all shapes and sizes, so they have options to bump these specs, so do they simply choose not to? Do they believe that the average consumer will believe that bigger is better?
Maybe the market is changing. The S3 is continuing to sell in huge numbers but still, the most popular phone – the iPhone – has a 4″ screen.