Sunday, 16 September 2012

Have we seen the last great Smartphone release?

Will we ever see another “WOW” flagship announcement?
How can the mobile phone hardware get any better than what’s already been released?

After last week’s particularly underwhelming iPhone 5 announcement, it got me thinking that I doubt we’ll ever see another flagship smartphone release that makes us (me) go WOW again.

I think it all started in the October 2011 when Apple released the iPhone 4S, that in itself was just a bump fix release of the iPhone 4 from the previous summer.

A month later, Samsung (along with Google) then released their latest ‘pure’ Android flagship, the Galaxy Nexus, which brought a larger 720p screen to the masses with its 4.65” display.

Then during 2012, HTC (One X), Samsung again (Galaxy S3), Nokia (Lumia 920) and Apple (iPhone 5) have all brought new ‘Flagships’ to market (or are about to).

But when you look at the hardware specs of all of these phones, there is nothing much between them all.

Hence my question, is that it?  

What more can anyone bring to the table other than evolutionary, rather than revolutionary flagship smartphones?

Lets look at the primary components in a little more detail.


I’ve bundled these together as I don’t think there's much point of pouring over the details.  Dual/Quad core, 1 to 2 gb of RAM and a decent GPU chip.  All of which will just keeping ticking over and numbers will bump with every new release.  Agreed?  I suppose the only people that what more and more from this combo are gamers, but that isn’t me.


PhoneReleasedScreen SizeScreen ResScreen DPI
iPhone 4June 20103.5”960 x 640326 ppi
iPhone 4SOct 20113.5”960 x 640326 ppi
Galaxy NexusNov 20114.65”1280 x 720316 ppi
HTC One XApril 20124.7”1280 x 720312 ppi
Samsung Galaxy S3June 20124.8”1280 x 720306 ppi
Nokia Lumia 920Q4 20124.5”1280 x 768332 ppi
iPhone 5Sept 20124.0”1136 x 640326 ppi

It goes without saying that numbers and specs don’t always tell the true story.  For example, many argue that the HTC One X screen is ‘the’ best mobile phone display, others would say the iPhone.  And its more than just numbers when you consider how the screen is created; Pentile Matrix etc.

But when you see the list as above, what more can come from the manufacturers?

For example, what would you need 1080p for in 4.5”?

I think its a given that any screen in a future flagship phone will be pretty good. All of the above are testament to that.


PhoneReleasedCamera Mega-Pixel
iPhone 4June 20105MP
iPhone 4SOct 20118MP
Galaxy NexusNov 20115MP
HTC One XApril 20128MP
Samsung Galaxy S3June 20128MP
Nokia Lumia 920Q4 20128.7MP
iPhone 5Sept 20128MP

So in the space of a year, since the release of the highly regarded 8mp camera in the iPhone 4S, nothing much has changed.  The Galaxy S3 uses the same unit as does the new iPhone 5 (albeit a thinner version).  

There could be some mileage in the Nokia “PureView” technology:

But I think most manufacturers (and consumers) have agreed that a high quality 8MP is more than enough for their flagships.

And from experience, I can confirm that the 5MP camera in the Galaxy Nexus is on the poor side compared to say the iPhone 4S.


This is my major bug-bear with smartphone manufacturers.  They seem to think that we all want the thinest of devices.  But all this comes at the expense of battery size.

For example, Apple shaved off a couple of mm between the iPhone 4S and 5, but left the battery the same.

Samsung are obssesed with it too, all at the expense of battery capacity.

Personally, i’d be quite happy to have a device half a centimetre thicker to get a much better battery.

Granted, you’d hope as technology advances, CPUs, Screens and the other components may well start to use less juice and give us more than 12 hours of use without having to leap for the charger.

PhoneThicknessBattery Size
iPhone 49.3mm1420 mAh
iPhone 4S9.3mm1430 mAh
Galaxy Nexus8.95mm1750 mAh (GSM)
HTC One X8.9mm1800 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S38.6mm2100 mAh
Nokia Lumia 92010.7mm2000 mAh
iPhone 57.6mm1400 mAh
Motorola RAZR7.1mm1780 mAh
Motorola RAZR Maxx8.99mm3300 mAh

I have purposely added the Motorola RAZR Android phone to show what can be done with just 2mm extra of thickness above the 'standard' model, virtually double the battery capacity.

I really don’t know why more manufacturers don’t consider this option.


So if previous release schedules are followed, Google may release their latest ‘Nexus’ smartphone in the coming months.  It will no doubt showcase the latest version of Android (rumoured to be named Key Lime Pie), but what will the hardware comprise of?  

How could it top anything that has already been?

What would I want in it to replace my Galaxy Nexus (GN)?

8MP Camera (I’d be happy with the Galaxy S3 / iPhone 5 camera/sensor)
Notification LED Light (I can’t believe Apple still haven’t put this into the iPhone, its crucial to me)

Screen Size (i’d be happy with 4.5” ish, sometimes the 4.65” is a little on the larger size)
Screen Res (Would have to be 720p though)
Screen Quality (Well at least as good as the HTC One X and iPhone 5..... obviously)
CPU/GPU/RAM (Whatever the latest is, as I said above, i’m not a gamer, so not that bothered)
Battery (3000 mAh please)
Soft Buttons (not keen on physical buttons anymore being a GN owner)
Capacity I've had enough of having to micro-manage the space on my GN. 16gb is NOT enough. Next phone must have 16gb + SD Slot or 32gb. 500 mp3, 1 x Clockwork Mod backup, 1 x Titanium Backup set and you're virtually out of space. Not good enough. :(

* Notification LED has its own blog, its that important:

As you can see, its hardly anything that hasn't already been released. Which is the whole point of this blog. But for me, it needs to be all in the right combination, picky eh?

Do you agree with the above? Have I missed anything?

Have we seen everything we are going to see hardware wise?

What technology is coming round the corner to WOW us all?

In the last few months, I come to realise that hardware is becoming more and more irrelevant when it comes to phones and tablets as they can just about already do everything we want them to do. Now, its all about content and the delivery thereof.

"Content is King"....... maybe that will be the title of my next Blog? :-)

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