Do we really need more powerful mobiles?

mobile processors

In the last 24 hours, I have written about two powerful new devices, the LG Optimus G and the Motorola RAZR i. Of course, there’s also the iPhone 5. There is a race for more powerful mobile devices. While it is exciting and all, it seems to me that it is mostly hype, as all that extra power is hardly a real need.

Apart from a niche device like the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, whose huge display and stylus lend it to graphics design use cases, many modern mobiles seem more than powerful enough. I am not sure how much more productive the extra processing power of a RAZR i, iPhone 5 or Optimus G will make me in the regular day-to-day use cases. I also doubt that there are any new day-to-day tasks available that require all that “Oooomph”.

Before I got the quad-core 1.5GHz HTC One X, I owned a Samsung Galaxy S2, which was a dual-core 1.2 GHz beast. Truth be told, it is the same tasks that I used to execute on the S2 that I run on the One X, and there is minimal (if any) improvement in productivity. The extra processing power is hardly ever called upon.

Benchmark tests are good, but they mostly present results that are obtainable in the most extreme situations. For day-to-day usage, most people will never be able to notice the difference in the performance of a dual-core and a quad-core processor.

Real Needs
On a personal case, I would list a more powerful battery or better battery life as a real need that will impact my everyday usage and/or productivity than more powerful processors. A better camera? Yes. Better audio production? Sure. A better, more responsive display? Yes. This means that a smartphone like the Motorola RAZR MAXX should be of real benefit to me compared to any of these new muscles in the hood because its 3300 mAh battery actually increases my productivity. Perhaps a Lumia 920 too, with its more responsive, more usable display and superior camera.

I know that we homo sapiens enjoy our bragging rights. Perhaps this is all about that? My mobile is more powerful than yours? Or perhaps this is just about the innate human drive to keep pushing the boundary, which in itself qualifies as a real need, but not just for everyday use.

Anyway, your call: What would you put on your list of real needs? Would you include more processing power? On a scale of needs, where would a more powerful processor rank on your list of real needs?

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12 comments

  1. It won’t rank at all. What would rank will be efficiency and usability. I will rather have a 1/4 core processor on a device with an OS that is very efficient and does fine on that than have a quad core processor on a device with an OS that guzzles processing power and still lags despite the extra computing power. (This reminds me of Windows7 vs Windows Vista. 7 is far more resource efficient than vista and freezes less often on similar specs) Efficiency is the key for me here.

  2. Is the human spirit , my brother. We want the latest badest Monster of a smartphone. Many of us could live with something less, but wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less when theer’s a beast on the market. Even of it’s an overkill!

    That’s why I’ve been vacillating so far in getting my prime smartphone. By November, my mind would be made up, though.

  3. You’ve said it all. We need the useful tools to do the needed day to day chores on our mobiles. If dual core on android or single core on other platforms can carry out the functions, why rush to buy the extras you will never need? We need to realize that the manufacturers are using us the consumers to make money and increase their rankings all at our expences.

    Give me a good battery life and a smooth functional phone. The “cores” single, dual or quad can go bite the dust.

    1. If you run multiple tasks all at the same time, you cannot asks cores to go bite the dust. It’s the multi core that ensures the smooth running function of your phone. It is important.

  4. A more powerful processor, more internal memory and a bigger screen mean nothing on a phone without a significant improvement in battery life.

    I tend to ignore specs until a device is up and running. Specs on paper are meaningless if the device doesn’t function as well as is presumed.

  5. … I am not sure how much more productive the extra processing power of a RAZR i, iPhone 5 or Optimus G will make me in the regular day-to-day use cases. I also doubt that there are any new day-to-day tasks available that require all that “Oooomph”. …

    Well, all these very powerful processors are not really designed for the normal day to day needs as we have devices in the low to midrange cadre for such. Just like in the PC world, they are target at the gamers and some other resource intensive computing needs, but of course, anyone that likes having the latest and ever more powerful hardwares is welcome.

    And yes, the latest hardwares may also serve to eliminate the annoyances you have complained about on Android a couple times in the past concerning lags. On the manufacturers side, how do they aim to move to the top and also stay on top if not by churning out more powerful hardwares that also drives the software evolution? There are no softwares on hand to take care of the power of these processors, but they will soon emerge. Since the screens are ever getting bigger, why not a CAD software that doesn’t need internet connection or voice services that does require external server side computing.

    Intel have not been in the picture in mobile processors and to break in, they have to offer something that can equal or even better the competition and if they should gain acceptance, the already established companies in mobile processors just have to react to regain their leadership position.

    And to your question, faster is always better and so, I will always go for the faster and more powerful processors if the price is right and if the promise of less power consumption is practical and there is true gain in usage time.

  6. I believe we do need as much as power AS CAN GET OUR TASKS DONE efficiently.

    I used the Nokia 5800 for over three years because it got my tasks done, and I happen to hate waste of any kind.

    Truth be told, most people do not need a smartphone at all.

    But, if you sometimes use your phone like a desktop PC (connect to a full l_sized keyboard, an external hard disk, a big screen LCD monitor, run processor intensive games and apps), of course you need all the power you can get.

    If competition forces the price of hardware really low, why not? All things being held equal, the more powerful a phone, the better.

    1. I think you have mentioned it all. We don’t do these tasks everyday. But those days come when you demand so much from your device. The multicores easily kick in to give you a smooth ride. If one knows he doesn’t do more than chatting and browsing all the time, you don’t even need a smartphone. But imagine all those hovering actions and graphics using the stylus on the Note 2 with a single core, na OYO you go dey.

  7. I believe we are almost at a point where processor on smartphones is at peak. Manufacturers of laptops hardly make noise about processors like this because laptops already have minimum specs thats ok for day to day task.
    Android esp is getting to a point where we already expect a device to have some minimum specs anything extra is just there.

  8. I have a 1ghz single core Samsung Galaxy YP-G70 (aka Galaxy Player, its Samsung’s answer to the Ipod. Its just much bigger at 5′). Within it I have close to 200 applications and games (excluding the 100s of ebooks-sci fi and a lil psychology mostly not geeky books like Spacyzumas’).

    My Tab (or player???) Is coupled with a 2500mAh battery (a good enough 480×800 resolution).

    Save from playing Samurai Vengeance and te Runes Guild beginning, my 2010 specd device has never stuttered or frozen. It may not have a quad core processor or some fancy display or x-ray visions yet its perfect for me (not being able to make calls-wlan only also helps on the battery life which is already of a humongous capacity).

  9. The GHz race is way overstated and over-emphasized. I own a Nokia E71 and a Samsung Galaxy S2, and any task that my S2 can do (taking calls, sms, pics [maybe less better], browsing [i aint using chrome, drains my data and battery much faster than opera mini], videos, social networking) my E71 can do it and survive a full day at it

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