It has been expressed a million times. Phones are coming out of the woodwork and carrier shelves are running out of space. Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC and a handful of other manufacturers are pushing out phones like the world may end tomorrow. Android and the mobile realm are bursting at the seams.
HTC is easily one of the most active Android OEMs around. Every couple months, they release a new phone on another carrier – sometimes several on the same carrier within weeks of each other. Take the Sensation for instance. It released back in mid-June and was quickly followed in July by the myTouch 4G Slide. Now we're catching wind that the Sensation's older brother, the Ruby is slated for an October release. Sensation owners, I'm sure, are not excited to hear about yet another, better HTC-made Android phone headed to T-Mobile. But my beef is not with HTC releasing 20 phones per year, it's that they're doing it with no rhyme or rhythm and without classifying any of their phones.
What do I mean? Imagine if every car that was released by Ford came with a different name. Instead of having the 2011 and 2012 models of the Focus, you might have a Focus and Attentive. If this were to happen with every model from every car manufacturer each year, it'd be impossible to walk into a car dealership and know exactly where to begin. This is unfortunately the route many cell phone manufacturers are taking, despite how similar buying a cell phone can be to making a car purchase.
Let's take a gander at Samsung. They, too, have a reputation for releasing a slew of phones, one after another. But Sammy has broken down their naming scheme to make more sense and better classify devices. As Dustin Earley of Android and Me states, it all started with the Galaxy S line and the sub-classes break off from there. Galaxy S devices are top-tier Samsung phones, everyone knows that by now. Then you have R, W, M and Y classes. (Take a peek below for a visual breakdown.) R stands for “royal” or “refined,” which is a slight step below the S series. The W series means “Wonder” and is a high-tier device. Mid-tier is classified by M, which means “Magical” and entry level devices are under the Y class, which translates to “Young-minded.” Apart from the classification, Samsung has a set of generic tags they place on device names for clarification: numbers for different generations (i.e.: Galaxy S and Galaxy S II), Pro for keyboards and LTE/4G for well, LTE or 4G connectivity. Finally, "Plus" indicates that improvements have been made in specifications or features, not design.
Knowing this, it is very simple for a customer to more quickly sift through the tens of Samsung Galaxy series phones. If you want a premium, second generation Samsung phone with a keyboard, you're looking for the Galaxy R II Pro. Simple, no? Even as device naming becomes more complicated, like a Galaxy Y III Plus Pro LTE – which is an entry-level, third generation device with a keyboard, updated features and LTE connectivity – it's still pretty easy to tell what the device is.
LG has started a very similar theme with the Optimus line, though it isn't as clearly defined as Samsung's.
This is something that many tech-heads, who keep their eyes locked on tech sites all day, take for granted. Of course, you may know the specific specification differences between all of the current smartphones out, but the average consumer hasn't the slightest clue. Breaking it down for them and giving them a guide makes a world of difference. Plus, I'm no fan of crazy, off the wall names like "Holiday" or "Amaze" (seriously, HTC?) to begin with.
Now, back to fan favorite HTC. Aside from the mid-range myTouch line, trying to sift through their extensive lineup and pick a specific phone based on tier and features, by name, is near impossible. A customer will fare better by visiting HTC's robust website and looking at the pictures of each individual phone, or browsing through our shop, where you can wander for hours if you don't know exactly what you're looking for.
Not only is HTC's naming scheme askew, but they release entirely different phones on every carrier. If you're on Verizon or AT&T and you want a top of the line HTC phone, your only options are the Incredible 2, ThunderBolt or Inspire 4G, three comparatively underpowered phones. On the other hand, HTC's current, dual-core flagships – the Sensation and EVO 3D – reside on T-Mobile and Sprint. Unfortunately, if you want one of these flagships on AT&T or Big Red, your only option is to wait. Samsung, however, focuses on releasing a similar phone on each carrier around the same time. Granted, carrier nicknaming can quickly make sorting them out a bit of a problem and they should fight that a little more strongly, but it was widely known that the Captivate, Epic 4G, Vibrant and Fascinate were all part of the original Galaxy S line. They could obviously make their classes more widely-known, but at least they're headed in the right direction.
Maybe I'm just partial because I'm not particularly fond of ridiculous names. I always enjoyed RIM's number scheme, but with time, even that has become rather convoluted and hard to keep up with. Are all touchscreen phones part of the Torch 9800 line? But what about the Bold 9900? What comes after 9900? Do they go to 10000? You get the picture ...
Out of all the naming schemes out there, Samsung's has the most structure and market appeal, especially to someone who may not sit and read about phones every day. How do you feel about HTC's naming scheme – or lack thereof? Do you think they need to clear things up for customers a bit? And should they focus more on getting similar devices on all carriers around the same time?
Image via Android and Me