Buying a smartphone: Don’t be fooled by size

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Size - Nokia XL Samsung Galaxy S5

A contact recently told me how he bought a Nokia XL hoping to replace his Samsung Galaxy S5 and was disappointed in the performance. Why did he make such an odd choice? Answer: The big screen. It may sound strange to the mobile geek that anyone would do such a thing, but we must note that to the average person, a smartphone with a bigger size simply must be a more powerful smartphone. Yes; the Nokia XL is bigger than the Galaxy S5.


Mobile manufacturers have found out that different people want different sizes of devices – both high-end and low-end. So, they are providing low-powered devices with big displays, as well as high-powered devices with big displays. As such, you can have two smartphones with a 5-inch display each, and one is significantly more powerful and more capable than the other.

A Nokia XL and Samsung Galaxy S5 may share similarities in display size (5 inches to 5.1 inches respectively), but they are not peers in any other way. An HTC Desire 816 may be similar to the Lumia 1520 in size, but the Lumia is a far more powerful device. What are the things to look for? While there will be other factors and features providing hints, here are four yardsticks you can use to separate the boys from the men even when they are of similar sizes:

  • processor (CPU) type and rating: this is often a true indicator as to how powerful a smartphone is.
  • RAM size: this goes hand-in-hand with the CPU to power the device. The higher, the better.
  • display qualities: does it have protection? what resolution? Sunlight legibility?
  • where you still don’t understand all the technical jargon above, ask for the price. The prices of each device will give you a hint as to their capabilities. A 5-inch smartphone costing N30,000 is likely to be a much less powerful device than a 5-inch smartphone costing N80,000. There are exceptions to this, but it is often a good pointer.

The Nokia XL and Galaxy S5 may share similar display sizes, but the XL is terribly outgunned in terms of power, hence my contact’s disappointment with the XL’s performance. The price difference between both devices should have triggered off an alarm to him too. Another example: the HTC Desire 816 is a larger device than the Galaxy S5, but it is also less powerful. See? A bigger display does not equal stronger muscles. Manufacturers are providing as many options to people with different spending power, so sometimes they put a small engine in a big “car” (to use automobile language) and a big engine in a small car.


That is why the Nokia XL can not be an upgrade to (or even suitable replacement for) a Samsung Galaxy S5. Not unless you need money urgently and are selling off the S5 to buy a cheaper phone. Do not forget this: display size is not a yardstick for determining how powerful a smartphone is.

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5 comments

  1. I take the your point that computer geeks (myself included) might not understand how someone (a non geek) could make this kind of error.

    However, (as pointed out in the article) I must INSIST that you do NOT need to be a geek to realize (or at least suspect) that there is a difference between a N96,000 phone and a N30,000 phone.

    I suspect what actually happened was that he/her recently had a quarrel with his/her one obligatory geek friend (every normal person has at least one, its a rule) and did not want to be the first to apologize. Hence the attempt to make the decision on his/her own and hence the current dissemination of the embarrassing result of his/her stupidity all over the blogosphere. Sad story.

    The moral of this story to normal people is ‘don’t be afraid to ask your geek’. That’s what we’re there for, to answer your stupid questions. We don’t mind. We love showing off our obviously superior intelligence any chance we get. But be warned, once we start answering, you may find it a bit difficult to get us to shut up.

    Take this overly long comment for example….

  2. This @Deen must be a Comic, or a Comedian in his spare time or past life…LOL

    // While there will be other factors and features providing hints, here are four yardsticks you can use to separate the boys from the men even when they are of similar sizes//

    Real men, and happening boys.. would tell you ONLY size matters. Am I thinking what you are not thinking?

    //
    I must INSIST that you do NOT need to be
    a geek to realize (or at least suspect)
    that there is a difference between a
    N96,000 phone and a N30,000 phone//

    Often, the difference is just the price. So,I wouldn’t insist.

    By the way , what can a Samsung Galaxy s5 do.. that the Nokia eXtraLarge can’t..even if slightly more slowly?

  3. As people have said before me PRICE is their(Non Geeks) differentiator while Specs is ours(GEEKS) And they need to ask us before buying. LMAO have to share this.

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