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10/5/2011
05:38 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs

Anyone who believes that specs make the smartphone hasn't been paying attention to what really matters.

You can count me among the many people who were disappointed with Tuesday's iPhone 4S reveal. Yes, I wanted the iPhone 4S--or iPhone 5--to have a larger screen and a refreshed design. I suppose 4G would have been great, too. But that didn't happen, and multitudes of iPhone fans felt let down.

Before the Apple press conference had ended, fanboyism began to run rampant across the Internet. You could hear the smug tone of superiority in the voices of those who prefer other platforms and devices, in Web forums, comment threads, and on Twitter.

What were most iPhone 4S bashers picking on? The specs and the "stolen" features (as if Android didn't "steal" plenty from the iPhone first).

[The underwhelming iPhone launch may be a good thing. Learn why: Got An iPhone Hangover?]

People picked on the iPhone 4S's small screen, same-old design, lack of WiMax and LTE, and gobs of other specs. Charts, graphs, and tablets sprang across the Web showing how all the specs line up between the iPhone 4S and the myriad other smartphones out there. The Galaxy S II has a bigger screen, the LG Optimus LTE has a bigger HD screen and LTE 4G, the Nokia N8's camera has a better f-stop rating than the iPhone 4S's, and on and on and on.

Gimme a break.

Comparing individual specs between smartphones is like opening up the hood of a Ford Mustang and the hood of a BMW M3 and pointing out why one is better than the other based on its innards. The Mustang's engine displacement alone doesn't make the Mustang better than the M3, any more than the M3's suspension alone doesn't make the M3 better than the Mustang. The point I am driving at is that smartphones are not just a collection of specs. They have to be judged as a whole, not by individual parts. A 1.5-GHz dual-core processor might be fast as hell, but if it is paired with a low-end camera chip, mid-range display, and clunky hardware, what exactly is better about it?

I've tested nearly every smartphone sold by the U.S. wireless network operators over the last 10 years. I can tell you definitively that even phones with the best specs in the world end up lacking something, somewhere.

The tens of millions of people who've bought iPhones didn't buy them for the specs, they bought them because the iPhone does what they need it to, or what they want it to. The same can be said for any platform or device. People buy BlackBerrys because they handle email the way they want it to; people buy Android phones because they like the flexibility and large hardware selection; people buy Windows Phone devices because they're risk-takers (wink, wink; nudge, nudge).

The bottom line here is that we can argue specs all day, but it isn't going to get us anywhere. Sure, plenty of phones have better specs than the iPhone 4S, just as the iPhone 4S outclasses the competition in other ways.

Don't buy a phone--any phone--just because it has decent specs. Buy a phone that does what you need it to, when you need it to, and does it well.

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Rhonindk
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Rhonindk,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 3:23:09 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Good article but it seems to miss a significant point.
Looking at the sum of the hardware, software and ecosystem is great in concept but seldom works for consumer procurement excepting those that have adopted a specific ecosystem and are willing to accept shortcomings in specific areas as long as they can still retain the whole.

As an example, my initial filtering requirements in this area are:
4G or LTE
4" or bigger screen
IOS, Android, WP7+, or RIM

Looking at these as the initial, the 4S does not make the cut on 2 of the 3 required items.
Tommy Tang
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Tommy Tang,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:19:29 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
When you are willing to spend a extra amount to get a good phone, you would also like to look at the specs beside anything else. In a way the specs are also important.
azhark
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azhark,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:20:42 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
You're clearly not a very smart man. If you've tested nearly every phone on the market, you'd know that Windows phone users aren't 'risk-takers'. Infact, to even say that is really pompous, uncalled for, and clearly one of the most fan-boyish comments I've ever heard. You're undermining an OS that is clearly now, if not at par with Apple, providing a much needed gap between iOS and Android.
You've clearly never used one, so don't lie about having used every phone on the market. As far as choosing phones go, people pick Apple not because it 'does what they need it to do', they pick Apple because their ecosystem is built in such a way where the user knows exactly where to go if they have a problem. Some people find that system super-efficient, while some find it suffocating. All phones now do what they need to, or what their users want them to. ALL the OS' are nearly at par and have almost identical features.
So please, keep your superiority complex to yourself, grow up, and stop crying over one bad Apple upgrade. Even being a WP7 user, I give Apple the respect they deserve. They'll deliver in time.
SmarterThanU
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SmarterThanU,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:21:42 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Rhonin - You weren't listening. You dream phone could be 4G or LTE, but the phone or carrier could have reception issues and/or run slower than the raw spec you want. It could have a big screen, but it might not have the right touch sensitivity, brightness or maybe not be as sharp as others. Author Zeman has it right - whatever device a human uses is best when it delivers what the human wants or needs, in the way it serves him or her best. His car analogy is great - some folks would fit best with a Mustang, and others with the Bimmer. Both great "devices" and both preformance leaders in their fields, And it is not about engine displacement (processor) orr transmission (OS or motherboard). It is about the total experience that makes them winners to different people.

And think of people that are close to you. It is not about their IQ, or their measurements - it is how they make you happy and feel overall (I hope).
Nick4114
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Nick4114,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:31:26 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Agree completely. All smart phone ecosystems (or at the very least, the only 3 that are growing - Windows, iOS, Android) deliver more or less the same features. People choose iOS either because it is easy to navigate the ecosystem or because they have heard it's just the best (I know many uninformed buyers who simply get the iPhone because of its hype without doing any background research). And yes, some people do look at specs, because they contribute to overall experience.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. There are reviewers out there who say that in getting to try out the new iPhone, it is demonstrably smoother with the faster CPU. If it is smoother now, that means that it was less smooth before!! Better hardware means that the device can do more, and do it without hiccuping.
mickrussom
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mickrussom,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:39:04 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Um. You might want to check Android's global market share. iOS is a OS that needs to be jailbroken, and apple is expensive and is generally UNFAIR. Also, they are not nearly as innovative as they used to be. Jobs got one favor on the 5th, he was able to leave before watching morons like Tim Cook and others destroy his company. Apple will enter a state of decline now.
Exavion
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Exavion,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:40:43 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
There's no point making statements about variables that might affect phones - every phone has them. The specs are the constant and consistent thing to compare, and people who care about specs enough to do this will judge a phone that way. Some will judge a phone based on how many friends have it, or where they live and what service they get. Either way, these are all types of specs. And people do in fact weigh them when comparing devices.
Joachim_Hettich
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Joachim_Hettich,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:42:17 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Why do so many people assume that everyone else does, or should, think the way they themselves do and buy things for the same reasons they do? If that were the case then product design and marketing would be SO much easier. People buy things for dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons - because it's fashionable, because it's faster, because it's bigger, because it's smaller, because it matches my outfit, because some slick talking salesman talked me into it, etc., etc., etc.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion - just, please, remember that that's what it is - your opinion.
jwc3642
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jwc3642,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:47:46 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
The car analogy is a good one. Last time I checked you can customize your M3 using normal, sport, racing type settings. Lower car height, increase horsepower, tune suspension using buttons on the console.

The mustang comes as is and everyone is the same.

Which car is android and which car is iphone??
Mr chipo
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Mr chipo,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/6/2011 | 4:48:27 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Thank god there are options out there. Get what you like, it is pretty much sure the phone you get will do what you need. There is not such a thing as one size fits all. I personally like iPhone (I do have one) but I am not sure my next phone will be the same one. It is always good to explore other options. Be happy! that is what matters.
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