Is smartphone technology ‘good enough’ already?

by XB on 15th October 2012

in News

The mobile spec-hardware race continues apace, if anyone wondered what improvements could be made to smartphones, then recent rumours show just where it’s headed. It was only this year that we saw the introduction of a 720p display in a Sony Xperia smartphone and now early next year it looks like we will see a 1080p smartphone display as the new flagship.

Sony isn’t the only one though, HTC is also rumoured to bring out a 1080p smartphone – there’s every chance that 1080p displays could be the new norm in the flagship race next year. However, how far can the boundaries keep being pushed before the difference to the average consumer becomes negligible?

We were wondering this yesterday whilst posting about the 5-inch 1080p JDI display with 443PPI pixel density. The 342PPI pixel density display of the Xperia S is one of the best we’ve seen and unless you have your nose to the screen you’d never really need anything better (obviously we’ll reserve judgment though until we’ve actually seen these new 1080p 5-inch displays in person!)

With Sony Mobile looking to use quad-core chipsets for the first time in the 2013 Xperia range, we also do wonder how fast progress will be beyond quad-core processors. We just have to look at the desktop PC market to see that we’ve not seen the same leaps and bounds in the processor market that we saw since the early Intel Core 2 Duo and quad-core days.

How many of you run anything greater than a quad-core PC? We’d imagine it is very few. It will be the same for the mobile market – yes, the chips will get more efficient, fabrication sizes will decrease – but we doubt we’ll see more processor cores and higher clock speeds will massively increase until battery life is much improved.

Moving on to cameras, smartphone camera technology is fast rivalling point-and-shoots and for many people photos taken on their smartphones are ‘good enough’. Yes we complain about noise, sharpness and most of us would love to see a return of a xenon flash on a Sony Xperia. But let’s get real, most people don’t print huge canvases of their smartphone pictures. They’ll use it to share onto social media sites and that’s it.

For us, there is one fundamental area where smartphone technology has stood still and that is battery life. Whilst we’ve seen seismic shifts in most other components of smartphone technology, the same cannot be said of battery life. Back in the day, battery usage on feature phones weren’t even a consideration for most people as they just lasted for days. Fast forward to today and it’s generally accepted that you need to charge your phone every night.

We’d love to be able to get even two solid days usage out of a modern smartphone – including tethering, GPS, watching movies etc. We’re a long way off this for now, but this is what we long for most. So for us, the answer to our title question is an unequivocal no. Whilst there are some areas of smartphones reaching diminishing marginal rates of return (displays, chipsets), there are others that can still be much improved with battery life heading the list. We’d still like a xenon Xperia too if Sony is listening.

So over to you, have you reached smartphone fatigue? Are new mid-range smartphones good enough for your day-to-day use? Or do you still find excitement at the very cutting edge. We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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