The Best and Worst of 2015: XDA Edition
The year is almost at an end, but it doesn’t look like Android’s dominance will subside anytime soon. Although we all share the experience of running an Android device here at XDA, each and every one of us will have a unique Android experience based on his or her device, region, carrier, and more.
But there are some aspects to the Android experience that can result in a shared common experience. That’s why we asked you, our readers, your thoughts on the best and worst aspects of Android throughout the year. Let’s start off with the bad news first, shall we?
You guys voted, and the results were very clear. The Snapdragon 810 won the “worst of 2015” vote by a landslide. Some commenters were wondering how the Snapdragon 810 is related to Android. It’s a valid concern, given that the chipset is by no means exclusive to Android devices. Yet, the SoC has shown up in so many 2015 Android flagships that it’s hard to separate the “Android experience” with Snapdragon chipsets.
In particular, this beast of an SoC has been engulfed in controversy since the release of the LG G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9, both of which suffered from overheating issues. In addition, Sony’s Xperia Z3+ and Z4 were confirmed by the company to experience the same thermal problems. So what went wrong, and who’s to blame for the poor experience of early Snapdragon 810 devices? We’ve discussed the issue in depth before, and what it comes down to is an issue that both Qualcomm and the OEMs needed to fix.
It simply was not a good year for Qualcomm. In January, the announcement that Samsung was ditching the Snapdragon line in favor of its own Exynos chipset plummeted Qualcomm’s market value. Many in the Android tech scene claimed that the Snapdragon 810 was to blame for Qualcomm losing its biggest customer, but Qualcomm of course denied this allegation. The company released a statement featuring many of its partners showing their intent to continue implementing the 810 in their flagship devices. However, by this point many consumers saw Qualcomm’s defense of the 810 as simply damage control.
In Qualcomm’s defense, it really does seem that the performance issues of the 810 SoC were a bit overhyped (although the GPU performance still left a lot to be desired, particularly on high-resolution displays). Qualcomm’s third iteration of the 810 solved some of the thermal and performance issues plaguing the chipset. We’ve seen that devices such as the Sony Xperia Z5 and Google Nexus 6P were able to tame the 810 beast, while devices like the OnePlus 2 were unable to do the same. The variation in how the later 810 devices turned out gives some credence to the idea that OEMs were partially responsible for the poor performance of early 810 devices. In the end, what really killed the 810 was the marketing fiasco surrounding these early 810 devices that led consumers to lose trust in the company. Qualcomm desperately needs to nail the 820 chipset, especially with the looming threat of competitors such as Huawei’s Kirin and MediaTek entering the market once dominated by Snapdragon.
Qualcomm might have disappointed many of us with the 810, but this year wasn’t all that bad. Many commenters noted that the mid-range market has been killing it lately.