Are we getting to a sweet spot where specs don't matter?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Every time you turn around there seems to be some new smartphone with bigger and better features hitting the shelves. One minute you're happy with a phone that has a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM and the next you realize that your phone really isn't that great compared to that other phone that just came out with a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and twice the amount of internal memory. So you pull some strings, put in some extra hours and manage to get that quad-core phone with more RAM and memory just to turn around and find that octa-core processors are right around the corner and your new phone is already outdated. Good game.
It's interesting to see how tech changes each year, but it's also frustrating when you're likely one of the millions of subscribers who use one of the four largest carriers in the United States, three of which require a two-year contract with most of their higher-end phones. Although now each carrier offers an early upgrade program in order to keep up with modern tech for cheap, there's still some repercussions if you're wanting to do so. Namely, you don't get to keep your current device. You never actually own the device, you're just renting them. It's an alright program for people who don't get too attached to phones, but personally I like actually owning things, but I digress.
The reason I bring this up is because recently I've switched my daily driver. I used to use the HTC One all day every day, but recently I've made the switch to Windows Phone 8 in order to get a better idea of what the platform is all about, and especially so I actually know what I'm talking about when I write about it. A crazy switch? Maybe, but so far it's not too bad. Actually, most people that I've talked to about it don't really seem phased that I jumped from Android to Windows Phone - they're more surprised about the difference in specs between the two devices.
It was something I was a little worried about when I made the switch. I remember being particularly annoyed at my iPhone 4S there towards the end of my almost two-year run with it, and it had similar specs. However, it also took the phone almost two years to actually show signs of slowing down. Before that I was absolutely in love with it because of how fast it was. If I had just started off clean and erased all of the photos I took, music I stored and the like I probably would have been just as happy with the speed. That being said, I have been happy with the speed of the Lumia 928 as well.
Do I notice a difference between the two? Yes, there are times where it will take an application such as Netflix or Spotify to load slower than it would have on my One. But is it unbearable? Not in the least. The more I think about it, the more I think it's getting a point where specs aren't going to make a difference. It's kind of like smartphone cameras are getting. I don't think I'll ever need a 41-megapixel camera on my smartphone - I never needed a 41-megapixel camera before. It's great for photographers or consumers that like big numbers on their spec sheets, but it's not exactly necessary in a smartphone. It's the same story with specs. The better specs will get speedier and faster results, but as long as I'm not waiting an ungodly amount of time for an app to load or screen to switch, and as long as there isn't a lot of crashes then everything is gravy for me.
Both Android (with KitKat) and Windows Phone are already optimizing their platforms for phones with lower specs. I guess I'm just wondering how much longer it will be before specs really won't matter when it comes to choosing a new phone.
Readers, what are your thoughts on smartphone specs lately? Do you still care about them, or do they go on the back burner compared to other aspects of the phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!