I remember a time not too long ago when I – and many of my compatriots – wouldn't dare use a phone that was anything but the greatest the market had to offer at the time. That meant I had to change phones every few weeks or so to keep up with new releases and ever-increasing production cycles. So I did. I up-traded my newest phone, plus some cash, for something newer. Then it was rinse, recycle and repeat every couple weeks.
This went on for months, nearly stretching across an entire year. I switched phones compulsively to keep up with the latest devices and did my best to fight obsolescence. I wanted nothing shy of the best the market had to offer and couldn't handle a phone losing too much value, so it was always about quick exchanges.
I was a specmonger, and every little detail was just as important as the next. At the time, smartphones were all about dual-core processors, chipset type, qHD displays, RAM, wireless connectivity, micro HDMI out ports and built-in storage space. And I was on a never-ending journey to find the perfect phone, one that I would be able to keep for months, if not an entire year.
It wasn't long before I learned that was never going to happen, that no single phone was ever going to be flawless. And no phone is ever going to be great enough to keep my undivided attention for more than a few months at a time. I discovered this through a process of elimination and, as if overnight, I quit buying, selling and trading so many phones.
But something very important happened during this time. The smartphone market seemingly transgressed beyond the spec sheet. By combining well-refined software with powerful internal components, poor performance is a non-issue among the market's most prized smartphones. The differences in performance between the top phones in our Official Smartphone Rankings™ – Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, Samsung Galaxy Nexus (People's Choice) and Apple iPhone 4S (Expert's Choice) – are negligible. They all run circles around their predecessors and offer a smooth, polished end user experience.
Don't get me wrong, specifications are still important. People have preferences, and specifications are what continue to separate the low-end, mid-range and high-end smartphones from one another. But personally, I have all but quit caring about specifications – at least in high-end devices.
Of all the components that come together to make a smartphone, there are only two that I really pay attention to anymore: the display (size, technology and resolution) and battery capacity. I spend my time worrying about design and aesthetics more so than what it is that makes the phone tick. I'm not saying that I would take a phone with a single-core processor over one with a Snapdragon S4 chipset because it's more aesthetically pleasing. Rather, my point is that the baseline specifications of today offer a level of performance that it's silly that some people squabble over benchmark scores and how much "better" one chipset is than any other arbitrary chip.
The interesting part is that only some of my friends and colleagues are on the same page. I constantly have friends asking me, "Why are you still carrying the One X? Why don't you have a S III, man?" I will admit that it's a better phone, at least on paper. But it's not something that appeals to me.
I quit nitpicking over specifications and focused more on the experience a phone offers and the things I will be staring at each and every day: the design of the phone itself and display. I picked a phone with an amazing display and a design/color scheme that I love. I have now had the One X for just shy of four months and I am extremely content with it (save for not having Google Now).
And while I'm excited for all the phones we're going to see in the next week or so, I'm not beside myself trying to sell off all my devices so I can be the first to get my hands on them once they launch.
What say you, ladies and gents? Do you still find yourself worrying over every little spec, dying to constantly get your hands on the best of the best? Or have you found comfort in a single phone? Design? The experience? Have we transgressed beyond the spec sheet?