The Nexus 4, Moto X and how Google is changing Android perception from "high spec" to "high experience"
0. phoneArena 05 Jul 2013, 12:44 posted on
As I've tried to remind our readership on numerous occasions in my time here at PhoneArena, we all live in a fishbowl. We all have more intimate knowledge of mobile technology than the average consumer, because we all share a passion for the subject and seek out more information. The trouble is that we are still human, and we don't reflect on our views often enough, and instead we use shortcuts to prove our opinions. So, when a company like Google/Motorola is actively trying to change the conversation around Android, it can take longer to land in our community than the average consumer, because we have so many preconceptions...
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29. bigstrudel (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Yet the user experience is exactly the same or better using those "unmatured" OS's. Makes you think. Well not you of course.
38. tedkord (Posts: 4259; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)
A jet burns more fuel than a two seater prop plane. Thats just the way it is.
89. applesauce (banned) (Posts: 165; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)
Interesting turn of phrase. A prop plane is somewhat accessible and reasonably easy to get a pilot's license for. A jet is much more difficult to master and requires more certifications and training, but has great rewards to match, mostly faster speeds and arguably fewer finicky items to be a bother, such that folks will gladly pay for a ticket on a jet, but begrudgingly pay for one for a prop-driven craft. That is, metaphorically, ios and WP could be seen as prop-planes, functional and easy to master, whereas android is a sort of jet, harder to master, but lots more potential besides, though somewhat unneeded by most folk.
56. DaNTRoN (Posts: 135; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)
I literally see no lag my n4 after 4 months. I didn't see too much lag with my previous phones either. I think it all depends on user savvy. Android is an os that requires some maintenance, and that's never been a problem. But if the os is doing what is supposed to and some users can't manage it that's not the phone or the os fault
9. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
"Specs are an argument for fanboys and trolls, because the belief is that specs remove the need for subjective opinion, which couldn't be farther from the truth."
While I'm sure the author's sentiment is in the right place, I nonetheless resent this statement. I consider myself neither fanboy nor troll, but I still place emphasis on specs when judging smartphone choices based on the emotional comfort I receive in knowing that, theoretically, it should have a longer lifespan ("futureproof") than something of lower specifications.
This might seem counter-intuitive, and maybe it is, but it seems that discounting the spec-supremacy argument from the smartphone "wars" strips "our culture" of an emotional attachment to the idea of striving towards the future, and of the progress of the industry. Sure, experience is a major factor, and only the most socially-challenged commenters in this community would discount other people's subjective opinions (and unfortunately I think PhoneArena has at least its fair share of these types), but to narrow down the spec-argument to irrational "trolls and fanboys" is no more noble than those spec-loving trolls/fanboys that demean iPhone users, et al, for choosing a "lesser" platform.
In short, I admit I would LOVE to get my hands on a 3GHZ octa-core-powered 4K-screened 4500 mAh Android-powered device, just for the specs alone. I'm one of those people that loves that sore of thing. I would also argue that such a device suits me better than an iPhone or a Windows Phone, because it suits my needs. I am NOT a fanboy or a troll.
11. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Exynos 5450 or the A57 clocked at 3.0Ghz.
20. bigstrudel (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Seems pretty slow for a PC. Cause that won't run in A mobile device without a huge battery and a fan.
102. VZWuser76 (Posts: 1174; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)
I'm sure they said the same thing about quad core processors running over 1.5GHz a few years ago. The more we advance technology, the more the impossible becomes possible.
As to your earlier comment, yes it would definitely help to optimize the software to the hardware, but unless you either make a couple of devices (like Apple) or set a hardware spec for devices running your OS (like WP) it would be a huge undertaking. With multiple devices you would have so many permutations of the OS that the word "fragmentation" would take on a whole new meaning.
One of the main benefits of Android is choice, not just in the software, but also in the variety of hardware available. With iOS your limited to one model with your only choice being storage capacity. With WP you essentially have the same phone made by different OEMs, the differences being OEM specific software.
Lastly, I guess I really don't see the big deal about occasional lag. There is almost no device (computing or mechanical) that doesn't lag at some point. The fact that we're talking about opening an app in half a second or 2 seconds after the push just seems idiotic, and really is only for bragging rights. If this were about it taking 10 seconds plus I could see an issue, but otherwise it just seems picky and whiny. The only time I've ever seen my phone lag over a second is when I'm listening to music, updating apps, and opening my browser. I'm ok with that.
31. Igneel (unregistered)
"3GHZ octa-core-powered 4K-screened 4500 mAh". I don't think it's a need. It's more like a desire.. moreover, 4500 mAh battery won't be enough for a 3Ghz 4k-screened Android. One of my N4, hacked to use 4200 mAh battery and can only last one day with 7 HOST (hours of screen time). So with 4 times the display res and twice clock speed, maybe it can last a day and 3 HOST like a normal N4.. but then it's what you love and hoped so good luck with that :) I'd like to see a beast like that but won't be needing it of course.
34. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
I need it to fulfill my desire for it, so I would consider it a need. Not that important of a need, mind you, (because I try not to place too much emphasis on material desires like this, though it can be hard not to) but desires and needs go hand in hand.
44. Igneel (unregistered)
Yeah, I understand how that strong desire desire made it seems needed :P I just think it's nice to be able to separate the two and have a better management of them.. And about the specs, I get it. Haha. I can imagine commenting on a long article and trying to clear your point. You've point it good enough.
36. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
Also, I didn't really put too much thought into what it was I was saying at that point, I pretty much just rattled off a bunch of high-end specs. How they went together (HOST issues, etc.) didn't factor in at all. I (selfishly, I admit) just wanted to get my comment over with fast enough that it wouldn't be buried under dozens of other ones at the bottom of the page.
64. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Very true. I wasn't accurate enough with my language there. I think better phrasing would be "Specs become the sole arguing point of fanboys and trolls..."
I don't mean to say that they aren't important, just that there are far more important aspects of the argument. I'll edit that bit for clarity. Thanks for the comment!
136. applesauce (banned) (Posts: 165; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)
I'm sure that such a device is compelling, but at today's standards, it'd be thicker than a Lumia 920 or HTC Vivid with an Otterbox on it, and you wouldn't really be able to enjoy the 4K screen anyway unless it were quite sizeable or your were watching it through a microscope.
13. JulianGT (Posts: 81; Member since: 15 Oct 2012)
In my opinion, every high end android smartphone since 2012 us good for day to day use. Even now in 2013, mid range phones are almost perfect and are lag-less. They practically feel High end.
17. bigstrudel (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
What's happening to the Android midrange is just awesome. Finally pocketable android phones with great performance and displays.
106. hms2407 (Posts: 94; Member since: 25 Apr 2013)
agreed,high-end smartphones are just too big for pockets,their display are too big and can only be operated with two hands i.e xperia z,htc one and s4
143. Charlie_boy (Posts: 54; Member since: 04 Jan 2013)
Exactly, everything essential in a less expensive package!
Corollary to Michael's point, you could use specs to argue which fit your needs and lifestyle. Like, "720p is enough for me" or "I can do with an 8MP camera." No need to chase for the latest and highest specs if it's way too much for you everyday use. Saves you money too.
14. roscuthiii (Posts: 1785; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)
Great read Michael. When's this site making you Editor-in-Chief?
65. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Thanks! I'm not sure I'm anywhere near that level, but the compliment is much appreciated.
88. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
So who is the Editor-in-Cheif Michael....?
How do you find and think how MichealFisher is on PocketNow?
97. ihatesmartphone (unregistered)
18. MistB (Posts: 550; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
My personal opinion is that Android remains my favourite OS, despite using IOS/Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry, no other OS really offers that level of ambition/excitement and innovation with deep customisation to how you want it with a vast choice at your disposal whatever your income, catering to different sizes each way. Plus the platform is going to extra lengths outside of Smartphone and Tablet eventually making it's way onto Google Glass/TVs/Cars/Game consoles and handhelds. The XPhone may not be a spec beast but it'll be the user experience and technology that will count, call the S4's features gimmicks all you like but most of it's features give us an idea of what OEMs can put onto Android without the limitation of the OS being closed. It'll only get better with KLP and if the 512mb of RAM is anything to go by, then our user experience is about to get a whole lot better!
22. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
You can also run command scripts on Android. Like no others can. ®
58. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Yep, that's definitely something that the majority of users care about.
91. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Michael can you tell me if anyone calls another user on PA "Your losing your a fanboy" is that classed as Trolling...?
21. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
This is a point I have been trying to get across for a while (spec
66. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
You can't leave us hanging like that! What's the rest of that parenthetical supposed to say?
82. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
... I said (spec < experience )
I then went on to praise the article
24. bigstrudel (Posts: 518; Member since: 20 Aug 2012)
Focusing on user experience is definitely the right strategy since 95% of smartphone owners have no idea about the specs of their phone.
Specmongers are a tiny fraction of the market. And the budget android market is huge, but the experience on these devices is largely terrible still.
32. Igneel (unregistered)
then why are you even here? it's just a website about phones. The name itself is PHONEarena lol
39. HASHTAG (unregistered)
I guess you own a flip phone?
52. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
He makes a good point though: they are JUST phones. We might find them beautiful, useful, fun, etc. but at the end of the day they comprise only a tiny fraction of what it is to be human.
55. HASHTAG (unregistered)
26. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Awesome article, Michael!! :)
Specs and benchmarks don't matter as long as the experience is smooth and fast.
I got a GS3. Prior rooting, running Android 4.1.2 stock TW I scored ~6500 on Quadrant, yet the device wasn't that fast or as smooth - at least not compared to an iPhone.
I rooted, flashed Liquidsmooth (2.8 atm) running on Android 4.2.2
The phone now FLIES. It's super fast, super smooth (as smooth as iOS, really), and battery life has much improved. And despite having 1Gig of Ram, 1.4Ghz Quad core Exynos 5240 - mid 2012 specs - it is loaded with lockscreen widgets, homescreen widgets, popup widgets, and shows no shortage of Ram. Occasionally a TuneIn Radio app will quit for whatever reason when running in the BG, but nothing other than that.
Oh and the funniest part - now it scores on Quadrant ~4500 - on par with the HTC One X.
So specs and benchmarks mean nothing. Root your phone. Install a custom rom. Phones such as the GS4 which has UNGODLY specs, still lag because of poor software (TW).
28. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
What should the vast majority of people that don't root their phones and install custom ROMs do to get a good experience?
30. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Root their phones and install a custom ROM.
Or hope that they get lucky and they get an OEM software rom which doesn't lag.
For almost 9 months since I had the GS3 I was CERTAIN that the occasional lag was normal because 'Android isn't as smooth as iOS is'.
After flashing LS 2.5, I've discovered that I've never been so wrong.
33. biophone (Posts: 1893; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)
Newer androids are pretty smooth even with stock os. And of course any iPhone is smooth like butter no rooting/jail breaking needed.
35. ilia1986 (unregistered)
I dunno. I read that the GS4 lags - something which if it utilized it's hardware - it would have been simply incapable of doing so.
The iPhone is smooth because iOS is a glorified App launcher and little else.
Edit: Hell I even used my GF's one - she got the Octacore version. It sometimes does lag a bit. And it's actually slower than my rooted GS3 And her battery life is horrible. All that with almost all the S-Features disabled, and careful managing of system toggles.
45. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Wait for a custom ROM. There you will have the option to kill and disable those useless pathetic good for nothing A7 Cortex budget CPU. Over clock it to a Max 2.3 depends on the Kernel and there you are super fast phone that even will destroy the S800....®
67. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Although, I do agree with Commentator on this one. Falling back on the argument that "you can always root" isn't a compelling argument. That's a good option for those of us around here who are more tech savvy and comfortable with messing with our devices, but it's not an answer for the average consumer.
115. ilia1986 (unregistered)
I disagree. If you can read and follow simple instructions over Youtube videos - it's quite easy.
Millions of people perform much more complex operations in their daily lives.
127. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
I'm not saying it isn't easy. I'm saying not everyone is comfortable even trying, so they don't.
132. ilia1986 (unregistered)
Which is a shame, really. Android was born to be tinkered with. :)
137. applesauce (banned) (Posts: 165; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)
Agreed. I know a few folks who won't root because of the chance of bricking the phone and voiding their warranties.
139. roldefol (Posts: 2858; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Could I successfully root and ROM my phone? Probably. I used to speak DOS, after all. But I refuse to take any chances with my phone, because in the end, I need it to work as a phone. Maybe I'm crazy, but I still trust Verizon more than the AOKP folks.
I can't stand the "just root it" argument. It reads like an apology for OEMs who can't be bothered to update their own devices. Which dovetails nicely with Michael's thesis that the software experience trumps the hardware.
37. Kjayhawk (Posts: 281; Member since: 07 Oct 2010)
Proof in point my Galaxy Nexus ran most apps PERFECTLY, and its almost 2 years old...
51. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1106; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
I had the Verizon Nexus and while I loved that phone my Note 2 is better. It's faster, better battery life, SD card capable, S-pen, better display, unlocked boot loader and even faster GPS locks. I would never go back to the Verizon Nexus because it's out classed. And people consider the S4 to be better than the Note 2. Doesn't make me mad one bit. I will soon upgrade to the Note 3 and show them who's boss.
68. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Exactly. I gave my wife my GNex when her old phone broke and she loves it. She has no problems at all. I notice the speed difference when I pick up her phone after using my Nexus 4, but the GNex is perfect for her.
40. tlsmithsr (Posts: 78; Member since: 28 Sep 2010)
I guess one could use that same article as a reason people enjoy the iPhone
50. Commentator (Posts: 2292; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)
Or any phone that anyone enjoys, no matter if it's an iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry, etc.
42. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1106; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
Nice article but I disagree with the spec argument from a power user standpoint.
Why do car and motorcycle manufacturers make vehicles that can go 175+ MPH when the speed limit is only 85 MPH in the US?
It is the desire to go faster. Sometimes cost is thrown out the window when your looking for the best. We are spec freaks by nature.
Should phones be any different? There is a need for simple/mid range phones but people also want specs galore. If the price difference is only $100, spec whores have no issues with paying for speed and features. Each individual is different.
49. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)
Michael H is not a specs freak like most of us here who prefers super or ultra performance and torque and not slow buttery performance. ™
72. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2647; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Nope. Not a specs freak, not a car freak, I just like good stuff.
PS, fanboy: where is the speed limit 85 in the US? Everywhere I've been the speed limit is around 55 to 65 on the highway.
Also, to answer your question: phones shouldn't be any different, but our views could use a bit of perspective. Just because it may take you a fraction of a second less to open an app doesn't mean all that much in the grand scheme of things. The performance boost from one year to the next is often big, but I'm talking more about the argument between the performance of the HTC One vs the Galaxy S4. That's not much to write home about.
107. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1106; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
110. fanboy1974 (Posts: 1106; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)
Diffinately agree that the speed difference between the S4 and HTC One is negligible. For me it boils down to front speaker and aluminum body vs removable battery and SD card. My issue is with the Motorola X. Their pumping that phone up like it's going to be the next masiah. As I said, I'm a power user and my next phone will not have a 720p display. Is a 1080p phone necessary? No it's not but having a 1080p is a pure geek dream. I love to tweak the DPI setting for Apps or do remote desktop. The average person don't even understand what I just said. Just because I want a dream phone I normally don't recommend my choice to others. That's why my wife has a iPhone 5. Apple does a poor job in making you want a S model my wife doesn't care because it looks the same.
43. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6116; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)
Only care bout Motorola because they make quality handsets. Now own by Google it will always get the updates.
47. bonsly16 (Posts: 46; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)
I know it's offtopic, but since when did the thumbs down dissappear and why did it dissappear?