Editorial: Why We’ll Never Have The Perfect Phone
So you’re waiting for that perfect phone, it’s bound to happen sooner or later right? An OEM will finally bow to consumer demand and make a phone with all those features that we want at a reasonable price and in doing so conquer the market. Wrong.
In a recent Discuss feature we asked you, “What’s the One Thing You Want to See on Your Next Phone?” Hundreds of answers later and it became apparent that many people expect too much from OEMs. Some of the answers we received did indeed fall within the realms of plausibility as far as the technology goes. However, the vast majority will not see a phone for many years due to a simple eternal factor, companies desire large and long term profits. We often forget that as power users we do not make up the vast majority of the market and our desires greatly differ from those of the average user. We are generally more hungry for battery life and storage, and as such these may take little priority when developing new models. The features that do take priority are those that are set to make the most money, these include but are not limited to: size, shape and numbers. Whilst many of us would prefer to sacrifice some precious millimetres in exchange for a higher capacity battery, for many users it is the look of a device that draws them in. Shape is obviously dictated by fashion trends set by the larger OEMs or based upon gimmicks (i’m looking at you LG G flex). And finally, we arrive at numbers. Big numbers, the bigger the better, right? By this I am referring to of course the specs, which whilst not being as impressive once you fully understand them, make a big difference to the lay person’s purchasing decision. These are often twisted to better facilitate the sales pitch.
The image here is taken from the specs page of a current flagship and shows a common problem with how the average user sees a phone before purchasing. “402 hours” of battery life? That’s almost 17 days, that’s about the same as my old Nokia!” This of course is inevitably followed by great consternation just a day or so later. The majority of readers here will realize that it is in fact the number above this which is the significant factor here. 2840 mAh seems like far less by comparison and will likely require charging each night with moderate to heavy usage depending on factors such as screen size, processor and even network strength. Whilst OEMs can still project this façade, they are far less likely to give a significant leap in battery capacity. The same can be said for processors, as when people go in to a store looking for a new phone, it is not the make or model of a processor they hear, it is cores. Octo-core? That means it must be good, sold!
It is in manufacturers’ best interests to create a phone that can be beat the following year. If it is in theory possible to place 512 GB of internal storage in our mobile devices, why hasn’t it been done? There are multiple reasons for this, the first being cost, as it still remains very expensive to buy this size of storage from manufacturers. Cost aside however, we currently live in a world where a phone with 128 GB of internal storage is considered significant. Any company would hesitate to leap to 512 GB when 256 GB can be used in several years and still be a major promoting factor and then make a further leap several years after that. Finally storage has become a controversial subject of late, many flagships have seen SD card support disappear in a bid to promote higher internal storage models of devices and cloud storage services.
It is commonly stated that “perfect is the enemy of good enough”, by which in this instance it is meant that in the search for this hypothetical perfect phone we can easily become distracted from that which we already have. It is human nature to desire more. I sit here looking at the phones on my desk, the latest addition features a 5.7 inch display, dual sim capability, a Snapdragon 801 and a 3000 mAh battery. It meets my every need, however I can immediately bring to mind a small list of things that I would change about it if I could. I also firmly believe that if I were given these features another list would come to mind in a never ending cycle. We should of course always strive for progress, but for now we still have some great technology in our hands. We may never see that perfect phone, but we will see some great devices along the journey.
“The flagship is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of code spilled by all those OEMs and developers so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a market. Think of the endless features claimed by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel, forced upon the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings.”
– Carl Sagan (of course, I could be paraphrasing here)
Which features do you think OEMs could release now that would still meet their interests? Leave a comment below!