What do people look for in selecting a smartphone for personal use? There’s cost. There’s specifications (for those who want the most powerful devices). There

Specs are not everything

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The iPhone 5 side-by-side the Xperia P

What do people look for in selecting a smartphone for personal use? There’s cost. There’s specifications (for those who want the most powerful devices). There is the question of 3rd party apps. Then there’s experience (I’m not sure if to include performance in here, as there is a wide range of performance to look at). There’s battery life. Some areas are grey, but valid all the same.

There are those who think that everything is about having a phone with the highest specifications possible – you know, the largest display, most powerful processor and all that. I disagree. In my opinion, a lot more people care about other things apart from the specs sheet.

On a personal note, before the current crop of mega smartphones arrived, I was keen on having the most powerful devices possible. Incidentally, once display sizes outgrew 4.5 inches, I lost interest. You see, the most powerful devices had the largest displays. Unfortunately, those huge displays hinder my experiences. My sweet spot is 4.3 – 4.5 inches. Give me a 4.5-inch display smartphone and put in the most powerful processors, and I wouldn’t mind. But anything bigger just inconvenienced me.

I loved the HTC One X while I had it. Everyone could tell that I did. But I never fully got used to the big 4.7-inch display. Remember the Samsung Galaxy Note II? That is another powerful device that I loved, still I couldn’t get used to the 5.5-inch display. Note that I am speaking about my personal preference here. There is nothing wrong with all display sizes. There are people who prefer larger displays, but there are also those. Point: it is not always about the highest specifications.

The Sony Xperia P, with a 4-inch display, a superb camera, and great music capabilities, is one of the smartphones that I have found the most comfortable and convenient to use in recent times. One-handed use was a joy. It was powered by a Dual-core 1 GHz processor. It wasn’t the highest specified smartphone in the market, but it was a sweet note with me. Besides the poor battery life, that device gave me a very good experience.

The iPhone 5 runs on dual-core processors, as against what obtains on Android smartphones where quad-core CPUs are the present kings. Yet, there are people who prefer the iPhone experience every time. Apple has refused to join the specifications race, yet they have a loyal following. Yet iPhones keep selling by the bucketful. Smaller displays than the average Android flagship, less rated processors too. Even the OS is more limited. Yet, because of the experience, iPhone lovers abound. Specs are not everything.

Most people will buy devices based on how they feel about those devices. Anyone can scream specs all they want. I believe that we are moving into a period where specs will become mostly meaningless. Perhaps save for the niche geeky crowd, the average consumer will care nothing for those specs sheets. By the way, I am yet to meet anyone outside of the geeky crowd that has ever asked me if a phone does multitasking. Oh; multitasking is important to me, but none of the average phone users that consult me have ever said to me, “I want a smartphone that does multitasking.” The word largely means nothing to them on a mobile. Perhaps multitasking is overrated after all. Dunno. I want it on my device though, because it enhances my experience.

The ecosystem is another factor that influences mobile choices. There are those who need (or want) access to tons of apps. There are those who require certain services, and this weighs in on choices. Battery performance is another factor for others. Preferences vary from person to person, but one thing is clear: people are not as excited about the specs race anymore like they used to be. I am one of them.

We are already seeing scenarios where less specified devices outperform more powerful devices in real life use. Who cares about benchmark scores? The specs war is becoming overrated. Experience is (almost) everything.


  1. /// There arethose who need (or want) access to tons of apps. //

    Present sir.

    Hardware specs are mostly academic stuff for the geeky.

    Just like cars, mobile devices can be classified as low, middle and high end.

    One could look for specific features (battery life, display size, waterproofing, whatever), but at the of the day, one phone is just like any other,

    Hardware has never excited me. software however hugely does.

  2. In other words, Mr. Mo’s stinker is a veiled attack on the rampaging Android army, especially its field marshals. Emmanuel Olalere has also abandoned Android for Apple kingdom.

    Anyway, what would a smartphone be without specs? Apps and specs are what make a smartphone different from a mobile phone. So, if some people don’t care about specs, they can always opt for any mobile phone around.

    And yes, to me, both hardware and software specs matter for a full smartphone experience. Ask those who have the stunning HTC One or Galaxy S4 or LG Optimus G Pro. As for Apple, iPhone 5 and its loyal fans, they are already joining the ‘specs war’ because the iFans see Android specs and desire same on iPhone.

    If not, why did Apple increase the screen size of iPhone from 3.5inch to 4inch? I thought Steve Jobs said 3.5inch was the perfect size. The camera mega pixel on iPhone also moved up to 8mp on iPhone 5.

    The above clearly invalidates the thesis by Mr. Mo that everybody, including Apple, no longer care about specs. In fact, Mr. Mo should expect to see evidence of Apple joining the specs war when the new iPhone 5S launches later this year.

  3. Apple are not pushing the specs on their devices as fast as those Android manufacturers because they are not in direct competition with the Android manufacturers. The same applies to Nokia on Windows Phone because the competition there is not so robust. On the Android side, there are many manufacturers trying to better one another and also differentiate their products somehow from the rest of the Android manufacturers.

    But the massive competition on Android is what’s driving innovation at great pace. Even Apple are beginning to react to this gradually when they realized that they are gradually losing some of their loyal fans. Nokia too are slowly catching up with the trend because, whether they like it or not, specs sheets does matter.

    Mister Mo’s gradual change in disposition towards mobile specs may have some subconscious link to Nokia’s backseat in deciding the direction of mobile innovation and that’s very natural though he may not realize it.

  4. Personally, I often go with opinions from users rather than specs & figures, Just like Mr Mo said, my prefarred size for a smartphone is 4.0, anything above that is inconvenient. I respect Apple for not partaking in the whole quad core & ultra pixels madness. But a phone with descent specs just like the xperia P is very much ok.

  5. I don’t believe in the “specs sent everything stance”. .. to me it’s better to have and not need than to need and not have…

    either way, my next phone is going to be a Galaxy Note 3

  6. Mr Mo never said specs are not important, he only said they’re not everything, and I totally agree.

    Once the phone doesn’t freeze, it’s operations are fast and smooth, and I can ge useful apps (which is the reason I like Android), I’m cool with it.

    In a nutshell, a good user experience, backed by a good battery life, is all that matters.

    I like big screens too.

  7. Its all about user experience but not specs, as a geek I’ll say that specs are only part of the user experience drama.
    I love a good range of great devices not but there specs but how it helped me.
    A peti trader like his nokia touch: it simple saves his money and time and last long.
    I loved nokia java becoz it flashy, beautiful and cool.
    SYmbian was not very smple and beautiful but had great apps and games I neva liked or used it instead I went for costly java phones.
    When android came out I switched to it becase it was cool and of the great apps and games.
    As time went on, more great apps and games came out but I was getting fustrated as a result of limitations to some of the apps by the low spec I had so, I had to find a better device. To do that I must need the specs.
    So my friends, its all about the user. When I write computer programs, I have one thing first one my mind the user

  8. Every power user would tell you that phones with low specs are limited in the apps they can access. The cutting edge in technology always begins from the flagships, and some manufacturers of chips like nvidea even create content that work their chip( tegra anyone?).
    There’s a factor called gadget lust, where we might not actually need the phones but we just gotta have it. We’re now programmed to want the next big thing, now most flagships have more power than is necessary.
    The truth is that even when we know its not necessary we all want the phone that can do even the yet to be invented stuff. That’s why we’ll always want our smartphone to have the highes possible specs.

  9. Omo c plenty grammar, d truth b told ehn. Anybody wey no consider spec suld rather stick to the 3310 na. As for me, specs na d number 1 tin wey me dey check before i opt for any fone e.g. Screen size, Prcessor, Memory, Camera, Expandable External memory. These r really important bcos if dem no dey important, our fone makers no go upgrade dem, so to ma oga at the top n my boss Mr. Mo, no b argument at all, Specs dey very important. Shikena

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