Why do manufacturers hold back some specifications?

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: July 26, 2011

Over the past year, the mobile market has been flooded with Android devices of every shape, size and flavor imaginable. We have traversed from the land of the Snapdragon to the era of the dual-core, from tiny displays to a-little-too-large displays and we're quickly approaching the age of pocket-sized HD displays. But what I simply cannot wrap my head around is why manufacturers are holding back the specifications of some phones and releasing them with last year's specs.

What do I mean exactly? Earlier today, Phone Arena revealed that Samsung is currently working on an Android smartphone that will come with the highest resolution and ppi found on a phone to date, a 4.5-inch display at 768 by 1280 pixels (332 ppi). Sounds great, right? It sounds awesome until you read that the device is sporting a single-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor (MSM8250). Seriously, Sammy?

Let me be clear, not every phone needs to ship with a dual-core processor. There are tiers of phones and not every phone needs to be a flagship device. In addition, not everyone will need the power and speed incorporated with dual-cores. My point is, however, that manufacturers constantly release phones that have every awesome feature in the book … except one major component. There is no phone that has absolutely everything.

Take the Droid 3 as an example. It comes with a 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core processor, 512MB RAM, a 4.0-inch qHD display, 16GB of built-in memory and a decent 8-megapixel camera with 1080p recording. What's missing here? 4G, of course. Some may argue that the Droid 3 is fine without LTE because it's already a quad-band phone, but what about those users that want both LTE and a QWERTY? Both the Sensation and EVO 3D are missing NFC and a sales manager at HTC leaked that the Taiwanese company is working on a "slightly better," NFC-enabled device for a September release. What about the unreleased Bionic? It ships with a measly 512MB of RAM.

All of these missing features probably seem like nitpicking, but this has been going on for as long as I can remember. Even RIM was guilty back in the day. They would release a GSM version of a phone with either GPS or Wi-Fi. CDMA users usually got no love with both GPS and Wi-Fi missing. What is it that makes OEMs choose one core feature and cop out on the rest?

Phone Arena notes that this mystery Samsung device may be the upcoming Nexus Prime. I think it's safe to say that the next Nexus phone will not ship with a single-core processor. The Nexus S should have been dual-core, seeing as Gingerbread introduced support for multi-core processors. While I don't think Phone Arena is entirely wrong, this exact device is not the Nexus Prime. That said, it could be a prototype of said phone with future plans to upgrade the CPU.

Regardless of whether it is actually the Nexus Prime or not, let's hope this phone doesn't ship with a single-core. Having such a beautiful display go to waste for lag and low frame rate would be a terrible shame.

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