When it comes to picking a new smartphone out of the crowd, it now only comes down to a few differentiating features. While each manufacturer has their own tendencies when it comes to make and materials, most devices look very much like one another – a mostly black, white or gunmetal slab with a large, high-res display on the front with a few capacitive buttons along the bottom of the face.

Nowadays, differentiation is usually defined by a device's innards rather than by design: what size display and what display technology it utilizes, how much RAM and built-in storage it has, what wireless radios it has and which processor (and graphics) it uses.

By now, many people have formed some type of brand loyalty when it comes to different parts and pieces. For instance, some won't even consider a phone if it has anything but a Super AMOLED display; thus, those people generally stick to Samsung. Likewise, there are loyalists to Qualcomm, Exynos and Tegra chips. In that, there is usually an underlying loyalty to a certain manufacturer (i.e.: HTC likes to use Qualcomm chips while Samsung prefers its in-house brand, Exynos, if possible).

In the end, what all of this amounts to is disappointment when a popular manufacturer decides to use different components due to compatibility issues. An example of this is the HTC One X, which comes in two versions: a global version and the LTE-enabled U.S. version for AT&T. When HTC announced the One X at Mobile World Congress, it was revealed (to no real surprise) that, unlike the international version which comes with a quad-core Tegra 3, it would come with the dual-core Qualcomm S4 chipset (with a Krait CPU).

Despite the S4 smoking it's quad-core counterparts in various benchmark tests, there were still a large number of people who were upset that the U.S. wouldn't receive a quad-core One X. The very same thing is expected to happen tomorrow during Samsung's Unpacked event in London tomorrow. (Our fearless leader, Aaron Baker, will be on site, so keep an eye out for coverage.) Samsung announced the quad-core Exynos for use in their "next Galaxy" device just last week. However, it doesn't support LTE, and will more than likely be swapped with the S4 in the Sates. And I'm willing to bet people will be up in arms about it all over again.

Yesterday afternoon, Kevin O'Quinn of Android Central wrote a piece titled, Why my dual-core S4 is as good as your quad-core. O'Quinn (rather unscientifically) explains that he gets "all the performance of the quad-core (and then some), plus amazing battery life." Digging further into the article, though, he adds a couple numbers and specs that give more credence to the claims. O'Quinn says:

"Based on a 28nm production process, the Krait CPU is powerful, and power efficient. The "pipe" (the electronic path that data flows through) has been widened and lengthened, which allows it to chew through more instructions at any given time."

Battery life claims are generally hit or miss when it comes to processor technologies and SoCs. And the "two cores instead of four" isn't as convincing as it sounds. Simply put, they're all minute improvements and no CPU improvement will quite compare to a full-on revolutionary improvement in battery tech.

After countless benchmarks, Internet fanboy fights, marketing claims, sparse whitepapers and endless back and forth from one loyalist to another, all I have to say is this: I have no loyalty to a specific processor or number of cores. I've explained in the past that I don't care about benchmarks. And I don't care about clock speeds or "improved battery life" claims. I don't care whose processors are clocked faster than whose and I don't care that any U.S. version of a phone comes with a lowly (albeit more powerful) dual-core processor instead of a quad-core.

In the end, when it comes to phones and processors, all I care about is fluidity and topnotch performance. I couldn't care less if my phone uses an Exynos (dual- or quad-core), Tegra 3, S4 or even an S3, so long as the performance is great. I have the AT&T Galaxy Note right now, which uses a Qualcomm S3 chip and performance, for the most part, is great. It stutters from time to time, but it's never enough to make me pull my own hair out.

The question is: how do you ladies and gents feel about this issue (that really shouldn't be an issue)? Do you count cores? Clock speeds? Benchmark tests? Or, like yours truly, do you not care at all except for real world performance? Are you upset that the next U.S. Galaxy may not feature a quad-core Exynos? Or are you just as happy with the S4 and LTE?

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Products mentioned in this Article

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50 Reactions to this post

"Do you count cores? Clock speeds? Benchmark tests? Or, do you not care at all except for real world performance?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

L.j. Costanzo I prefer performance, and build quality, but if the more cores or "higher tech" get me better performance/build quality for better price, then I'll focus on cores and clock speed all day
Anonymous I work in an area where 3G and 4G are weak. I've seen my Blackberry Torch 2 and Motorola Atrix get a signal while the HTCs and Samsungs around me couldn't. All the clockspeed in the world won't help you if you can't get a connection. Real world performance is what matters.
Gibby Garcia only the really obsessed are very particular and concerned about all those specs and they need to get a life or end up marrying their gadgets...
James Adelan Cowie Real world performance is the best way.
Muath F. Al-Bulbul See, there goes why android fans are a big pile of hypocrites. If you ask anyone in the world they would give it to performance, including 90% of the people posted above, but given the fact that android lags even with their flagship devices (HTC One x, Transformer Prime .. etc), they would still defend them infront of a Windows Phone device not even a second generation one with a 1Ghz single core. Windows Phone is the real true perfectly engineered OS.
Gordon Christie Performance isn't everything cos,my s2 according to scores isn't that far behind the HTC one x so really wether its a better phone or not depends on how it works in real world after all although its,a dual core,phone only one half is used most of the time
Adrian Salazar Specs are important but it all in real world performance. I just went and got me a iPhone due to all the the lag, freezes, random reboots and shitty battery life and it's not like I had a shitty android phone. I had a htc evo 3d clocked at 1.7 ghz and I finally decided to make the jump to a iPhone. At least it works.
Benjamin Padilla Android needs specs to perform well unfortunately. Still the best OS in my opinion because of it's functionality. It's such a versatile OS.
Osama Qureshi dual core a15 krait processors are gonna blow quad cores out of the water.
Tommy Snyder My razr never lags I think people are impatient so they think it lags but its simply loading just like any pc
Daniyal Ahmed If say no I do need a good spec'd phone because it jut makes me feel safe that it's not gonna lag. I <3 my s2
William Hall Lumia 900 and windows phone have done it right!!!
Itsok Imawelder Its all about the specs.Iwant a computer first phone second
Jameson Philip North An amazing processor does nothing when an operating system crashes or is buggy. Same goes for having a slow hard drive or a crappy screen. It's the same for computers. I have a workstation with dual quad core Xeons and 16GB of memory, but it's still slow if I get a virus. If you have enough performance to never lag on anything you do, there's no need to have more.
Jacob McClure The issue with android is the high RAM and CPU demands, HTC has fixed CPU demands to a extent, but RAM is still needed, most only support a max of 1 gig. :/
Reginald M. Jefferson Performance, Performance, Performance!
Ronta Thompson My Sensation beasts in every realm. Still can't make it stutter. I have my dual core clocked down a little for battery and it still ropes. Soon as the quad core 7 inch tablet phone with 4g cones out ill retire him though.
David DiPilla I have a dual core andorid piece of crap phone its slow and laggy my iphone 4 has one processor and is much faster then this crap but all andorid phones get slow and laggy after a while junk lol
Nick LaSorsa For my tablet I care about specs (transformer prime) because that equates to better usability and actual performance. For phone I just want fluidity, solid build quality, and good apps (lumia 900).
BossMan Atl Only real world performance counts.
Giemuel Uy all this won't mean sh** if the unit has terrible battery life!
David Harness Only performance.
Amie Lee Greenway Real world performance. I don't have even remotely enough time to do all those benchmark tests. I'm constantly going to work, going to the grocery store getting this getting that. As long as my Razr performs up to par, I'm good.
Jose Angel Santiago By the way I love my sg2 epic touch
Jose Angel Santiago Honestly...how much faster can a phone get? Id rather have a glitch free phone with superior performance,than one that has 4 cores etc etc,and performs like crap!!!
Antonio Vazquez A phone that can text and make phone calls lmao, that's it
Matthew Harman Just want performance...
Elliott Schooley real world but i wont buy a device unless it has great specs for the time hence my galaxy s2 epic touch, love it but cant wait for 4.0 on it
Lewis Hachmeister Is there a single person who cares about numbers and not performance?? Sounds like a rhetorical to me.
Hubert John Abiera Performance. People seem to forget that there are two main sides to engineering phones: software and hardware. Great performance come from the mixture of both.
Kong Yang Real world performance but I like to back it up with benchmarks.
Taylor Braney Real world performance. For example my HTC Titan II with a single core processor never lags and is really quick with everything. But my dual core Atrix lagged all time and never really felt smooth and I love Android. I just cannot stand when my phone lags, won't download an app for some random reason, or gets stuck in a constant reboot cycle.
Tyler Bullis Its 2012. If it isn't Quad core I won't bother.
Jared Rodriguez Performance is the main thing but, specs give you an idea of how the phone will perform. The OS has to be taken into consideration, too. A quad core processor on a flip phone is just crazy and not necessarily make the phone work any better than other flip phones.
Erman Guido Don't care
Zach Cline Real world performance.
Derick Williams I worry about real world performance. Since, you know.. it only took several years to optimize desktops.. (and they still have a long way to go)
Tonny Be 8 cores, 8GB's (DDR3).. What else is there to count, or care about for that matter? 8-)
Josh Veerkamp Performance. All the cores, memory or data speed in the world doesn't do you any good if it runs like crap.
Jordan Brown Specs mean nothing to me. Real world performance does.
Fred Wong Performance is the key for me.
Ian Slade Real world performance and real world battery life!
Rashaud Cook It's sad because the one X has four cores and the 4s still out perform it lmao
Edward Atienza specs are good but real world performance is what really matters
Eddie Gutierrez Performance and RAM AND ROM AND MEMORY!
Rani Hinnawi Performance is where it's at. Why get a dual or quad-core CPU if you still get lag? Don't get me wrong, I love Android (mainly HTC), though Windows Phones are getting the right idea. They could up their specs a bit, though (higher screen res and stuff)
Jomar Lee Streeter Performance speaks louder than statistics!
Nick Valle High Benchmarks are very important to me lol
Daniel Bogarin real world performance

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