Smartphone Specs Stupidity: Debate Rages

When InformationWeek's Eric Zeman argued that Apple-haters cracking on the iPhone 4S specs miss the point, some of you begged to differ. Join this hot reader debate.

Laurianne McLaughlin, Editor-in-Chief,

October 7, 2011

11 Min Read

When InformationWeek's Eric Zeman wrote this week that he was tired of the constant game of specsmanship between Android and iPhone smartphone fans, you readers spoke. And how: The story had 48 comments as of Friday morning. Few tech devices inspire as much passion as smartphones do, and the passionate debate that you started on this topic is worth sharing--and continuing.

"Before the [iphone 4s ] Apple press conference had ended, fanboyism began to run rampant across the Internet," Zeman wrote. "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."

"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," Zeman wrote. It's the sum of a smartphone's parts that matters, he said.

You had plenty to say to that.

We've gathered up 12 debate-worthy comments below. Consider them, then join the conversation.

SmarterThanU writes: "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 performance 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). "

jwc3642 writes: "I don't think anyone would prefer the mustang over a M3."

AreCF writes:"jwc3642. Are you serious? Check Mustang sales vs. M3 (or even the entire 3-series sales). "

ANON1244594108572 writes: "i find the people that search for specs, have no idea what the spec actually means... for instance those people who wanted "flash" last year... not a single one knew that it actually was a bad thing to have on their phone...(crashed/ drained the battery/ didn't actually play 60% of the content/ the content it did play was twice as slow as Html5 content/ no single flash web based game that used keys could actually play on their Android phone/ yet these clueless people wanted "flash" on their Android.... great... for them.. i guess...."

azhark writes: "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. "

Nicko writes: "I think the author is partial to the iPhone, so he will probably tell you that unless you have hours and hours to tinker and make an Android 'usable' , you should get the iPhone. I believe that there is a lot more to it than that.

If you dislike iTunes, a Windows or Android would be preferable. If you really like iTunes, iPhone is probably easiest. If you need a physical keyboard, iPhone will not work for you. If you are already with a certain carrier, that may limit your choices. If you might use a lot of data (watching youtube videos or using Pandora radio), be aware that Sprint is the ONLY carrier that does not cap or throttle your data after it reaches a certain limit. Those that cap will charge outrageous prices for data overages. I have never used the new Windows Phone operating system, but have heard that it is very simple, easy to use, and allows you to quickly see or get done what you need to, rather than going through many screens - an advantage over either iPhone or Android. Android is very intuitive as well, despite iPhone fan's cries - otherwise it would not have roughly double the market share of the iPhone. It is easy enough for the masses to use. Perhaps its greatest strength is the number of options - from free to $200 and top of the line.

So really, it depends on what you want, what you need, and you specific preferences. I am betting you could learn how to use any smart phone operating system."

anonymoustache writes: "When the iPhone came out years ago, my early adopter friend immediately bought one at the exorbitant price of $600. I was in the market for a new phone and did my research comparing specs and I purchased a Sony Ericsson P1i. All the specs at the time were better than the iPhone; better camera, physical keyboard, etc.

I didn't want to be a iPhone drone though I owned an iPod and a MacBook Pro and was highly satisfied with each.

Years passed and when the iPhone exceeded the specs on my P1i, I bought one. I had been so consumed with specs that I had lost sight of the most important spec; user experience. My girlfriend bought a Droid a few months ago because she wanted the physical keyboard and had heard great things about the device. I wasn't convinced because when my parents and brother became early adopters of the first Droid, I had the opportunity to try the interface. Yes, the specs are there but what a lousy interface. It seemed that the engineers that designed the phone had realized that the interface was the most important aspect.

If I have a car with all the bells and whistles and I have to read the manual to figure out how to set the clock, the car becomes less desirable. I may have a wonderful piece of engineering, but understanding how an actual user will experience the car is the most important aspect in my opinion.

So, the iPhone 4 has become and integral part of my daily existence. My girlfriend prefers my phone over her Droid. This is because the Droid, while extremely versatile and a powerful device, takes a manual to understand. I wish the iPhone was more customizable, true. But the overall experience has been a joy and I wouldn't trade it. "

captbilly writes: "The only reason why one may not be able to find the best phone by simply looking at the specs is because the specs that really matter have not been well quantified. I have had all the iphones, several Android phones and several windows mobile phones, and the bottom line is that the top of the line Android phones are better than the iphone, while the Windows mobile phones are unbearably quirky. 4g does matter, as does the siz of the screen or the speed of the device (notice I didn't say speed of the processor). But in the end it is the whole package that the user deals with. You may have to put up with a plastic case to get the 4g and Android OS, or you may have to give up the cute little phone you find appealing to get the actual functionality you want.

Apple will continue to lose market share to Android as long as they try to fit every customer into a single piece of hardware, and a single closed system. Last summer I predicted that Android (then 1/3 the size of ios) would surpass ios market share within a year. In fact, the Android market share is now double that of ios, and is still growing. If Apple continues to think that they can sell the promise of coolness as if it was the same as the best product, theynwill continue to lose market share. Maybe Apple only wants the niche market of high customers who are satisfied to pay more for less, it has made Apple money before, but I just don't think they can do it with such obviously lower tech products (oh, and a lot of lawsuits). "

hlubinv8l writes: " Eric, I agree with you 100%.

People who buy products (any products) on specifications alone often miss out on the better option.

Comparing the specs of a garbage truck and a Ferrari, a person who is looking at the specifications only would choose to drive the garbage truck, because it has a larger & more powerful engine than the Ferrari, it has larger wheels than the Ferrari, it has a more roomy interior than the Ferrari, etc."

G2G writes: "You hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head. After all we are talking about smart-phones. Not sure which of those two words to scream more loudly. I would love to conduct a test. Take the most popular Android anchor and any iPhone right out of the box (helps if they are activated, but no customization whatsoever). Get a statistically significant sample of people who don't own a smart phone (they have to at least know a phone number). Have them make a phone call on each phone. Any bets on which phone wins the connected call race? If you're serious about photo quality, get a real camera. Serious about watching movies, get a big TV. To be the "Smartest" a "Phone" must be the easiest to use as a phone, doncha think? "

TechnologEase writes: " I don't know what the fuss is over 4G. For plugged in equipment, it may be fine, but... I've had 4G for almost a year now and it's not a deal breaker to have it or not have it. I live in a major metro area and I can only get it downtown AND... it destroys my battery life. So it's still practically worthless unless you are using on a 4G capable device in your home. Even in the iPhone, assuming even a better battery... until they can get power consumption handled, it doesn't really matter. I turn it on for specific downloads and it's off the rest of the time. A lot of these "high speed" protocols are worthless without better battery life or less power needed to run the said function. So it's a pointless debate anyway. Mine stays OFF."

DustinJamesTiberend writes: "It's fascinating to me how hard it is for Apple fans to admit defeat. This article is hunched over on the last crutch that apple has left with the whole "lt's all about the ecosystem and the five hundred thousand million apps I can download." -- give me a break. The app wars were a gimmick two years ago and they are a gimmick now. The iPhone, simply put, is no longer state-of-the-art. I get the point that the article is trying to make -- different strokes for different folks -- but you do not choose between an M3 and an freak'n Mustang. you choose between an M3 and G37. The iPhone's survival as the single most-sold phone is the result of Apple's marketing and their completely anti-competitive/proprietary embracing policies that have locked their consumer base in with a passive penalty. What is that passive penalty you ask? That is the hundreds if not thousands of dollars that their consumer base has spent on apps and accessories that are not transferable. They will have to completely (with no exception) sacrifice them if they choose to jump ship. Apple seems to have forgotten (or i guess it's possible that they never really knew) that adaptation is just as important as innovation. The iPhone 4s is a shining example of this blindness. IMHO, the war has already been fought an won...Android has prevailed and Googlrola will only cement that fact.

It really just comes down to this, Android offers consumers a freedom that is totally unparalleled."

Got more to say on this debate? Join the conversation.

About the Author(s)

Laurianne McLaughlin


Laurianne McLaughlin currently serves as's Editor-in-Chief, overseeing daily online editorial operations. Prior to joining InformationWeek in May, 2011, she was managing editor at Her writing and editing work has won multiple ASBPE (American Society of Business Publication Editors) awards, including ASBPE's 2010 B2B Web Site of the year award for Previously, McLaughlin served as a senior editor, online for Business 2.0 and as a senior editor for PC World, where she started her technology journalism career in 1992 as a news reporter. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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