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Are we getting to the point where specs become irrelevant for the average user?


Aug 13, 2012
This is something I've been thinking about. Since smartphones became popular, it's generally been the rule that the next generation of hardware would be faster and provide a better experience, and the jump between two generations of hardware was rather large. Computers had the same situation until dual and quad cores became common. Now, an i3 is more than sufficient for the average user and the i7 is for power users.

But I'm wondering if the same thing is happening to smartphones. UI's are able to run well on most decent devices made within the last couple years. Do you think we're getting to a point where low-mid range hardware will be sufficient for most users, and the main group buying high-end smartphones will be heavy power users?
Already there. As of the time we hit dual-core 1+ GHz processors, the law of diminishing returns has kicked in. Sure, there is a notable difference between my girlfriend's Galaxy Nexus and my GS3, but she doesn't notice.

1080p vs 720p? Meh. on a 5 inch screen, it's barely noticeable. Even on 32" TVs, most average users don't care.

OEMs have been moving to software differentiation for a LONG time. There is a reason Samsung & HTC each have their own skin...and HTC released a new one within the same time frame as the S4.

The next big spec battle will be battery life. That is currently the limiting factor in mobile computing. Li-Ion batteries haven't changed much in recent memory except in capacity.
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I heard there was actually a break-through recently with a new type of battery. Can't remember the specifics though. Something to do with a film layer I think.

The only thing I have heard about is how HTC sandwiched the battery between the screen and motherboard. It just allowed them to put a higher capacity battery in a smaller space. Haven't heard about that. Would love a link if you can remember where you saw it.
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I think I know a little more about tech than the average user. Even I don't know many of the specs of my phone. The only one I really care about is storage because I know how much storage my music takes.

Regarding the battery breakthrough that doubles the battery life, I'm sure that phone makers will come out with some breakthrough features that will make the phone use twice as much power as before.
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Better battery and storage. If not more speed, then more efficient apps. This is somewhat speed related, but it might not be faster processor.

I have 2 birding apps that I would love to have open before the damn bird flies away.
It still takes at least 10 - 20 seconds to load on rooted and cleaned out Nexus4. They have sound and images.

The astronomy apps with all the star catalogs and images take far less time.
For those that don't follow - there are dozens of star and DSO catalogs. Messier, Caldwell, Herschel, a list of planetary nebula, Barnard on dark nebulae, double star, and so on. Some have to be added as extras.
There's far less birds than that.
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Well the next few things to come is battery wars and also screen size.. with those new flexible screens, hopefully we can hit a tablet size phone before long. I would love this. A choice between the 4.5 standard screen and a foldable to 10 inches would be the best thing ever!

Sony's clamshell Tablet P could finally be headed to AT&T on March 3rd

haha it was a super fail.

Kyocera Echo Review - Watch CNET's Video Review

Or that one?

I think it's a fantastic idea, but the products launched so far haven't reached up to our expectations. I've seen some concept phones with the flex screens, but not sure how close we are.
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It's kind of a vicious cycle. More processing power & ram allows for more complicated apps. More complicated apps require more processing power & ram. Technology will allow us to do more things; things I cannot even imagine right now; but I think it would be naive to think that we are at capacity for processing power in smartphones.
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Bigger, faster, stronger, smarter is the goal in not only technology but also life. I'm guilty of that as are many of you. I used someone else's upgrade so I could get rid of my Galaxy S3 and get the Note 2. I wanted more. With technology I understand the point of diminishing returns, but I still want more. Eight cores, 16 cores, why not. I know I'll never use all of the features, but I know they are there if I need them. Who needs a car that is governed at 155 mph. But you know it's there.

My $0.02
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