Is Phone Hardware Hitting The Roof?
I have a HTC One X, by some abbreviated to ‘HOX’, I usually refer to it as the ‘One X’. I’ve had it since the 14th of April, 2012. It is a good phone. There’ve been some issues, namely phantom touch and weak GPS signals. The former has been taken care of by RMD-ing it to tech support, while the latter doesn’t really bother me too much as it gives quite amusing Sports Tracker results. Except for the GPS, which was a design flaw with some of the first batches of One X’s to hit store shelves, the One X is still a perfectly functioning ‘little’ phone.
Before the One X, I had the HTC HD2. This phone came two years before the One X, and featured a single core 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, 512mb ROM-memory and 442 RAM. It’s main flaw was that it ran Windows Mobile 6.5, but that was quickly taken care off by flashing it to Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread).
After a year or so of using the HD2, the memory was filled with crap that I couldn’t get rid of. In order to install or update a new app, I had to remove one or two apps that didn’t want to transfer to mSD-memory, until I kept having to clear cache-memories of apps, essentially logging me out of every app I frequently use, just to get that 1MB advantage. I still had to endure that same thing for another year, as I was on a two year contract.
When that contract was over, I switched to the One X. It features an Nvidia Tegra 3, Quad core, 1.5GHz CPU. One GB of RAM, 32GB of storage. It started on Android 4.0.2, got upgraded to 4.1.1, and it will be upgraded to Android 4.2.2. soon-ish once that upgrade is available. I’ve now had it in my possession for 16 months, and will have to part with it in 8 months. I’m on a ‘phone-lease’ contract as of right now, because it was cheaper. I will have to give it back once the contract is over, and I’ll get a new one as per my contract.
The problem is: I don’t really want a new one as of this moment.
It functions fine. It can still handle everything I throw at it (except Sports Tracker, but that is another matter). On another note, the generation gap is smaller than ever. The only real change for the 2013-range of phones is the screen-resolution, which has gone up to full HD (1920×1080) on, for example, the HTC One and the Sony Xperia Z. Sure, the Z has this nice gimmick that it’s water proof, but I’ve never had my phone come into contact with excessive amounts of water anyway.
Sure, processor speeds have gone up a bit, there’s now excessive amounts of storage (I’m never gonna need more than 32GB on my phone now that I have a tablet anyway). Full HD sounds nice, but I can hardly spot any real difference 1280x720p screen, and I have near-perfect vision (if not perfect, haven’t gone to an eye-exam since I was 5). The biggest problems these smartphones still have, is battery life. Even the best performing phones can’t handle more than 24 hours of action. My current phone can idle for about 2.5 days before slipping into a coma.
There’s only so many things or variations you can do to a, let’s be honest, rather boring rectangle. You could make it into a triangle, but some popular (sadly finished) TV-show already tought us that probably isn’t the best of ideas. The only thing you can do is improve on the same concept. I.e., faster speeds, smaller pixels, bigger screens, bigger batteries. But there is a point where that isn’t going to matter anymore, because it’s biggest flaw is also it’s raison d’etre: it’s a phone.
It’s not a computer. It’s not a TV. It’s not a router. It’s not a camera. Even though it tries to be all of these things, it will always be a much crappier version of the real thing, because it is still a phone. It’ll have to fit in your pocket. As far as I know, there still isn’t a way to put a DSLR-mechanism inside your phone. Even though your phone puts out 1080p, it still sucks looking at it on a 5″ screen while I’m enjoying myself playing Skyrim on a 22″ monitor. Handling anything other than crappy toilet-games is annoying, because your thumbs will be in the way for the whole shit. Yes, you can use Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 controllers now with clips, but really, who’s going to clip his phone on a 360 controller just to take a shit? For the longer rides, let’s say by train, I’d be playing Civ V on my tablet. No point in playing 20 games of patience. Oh, and don’t get me started me on that Candy Crush-crap. Newer phones undoubtedly have faster internet speeds, but do we really need faster internet for browsing websites? I’m going to look that illegally downloaded movie on my PC anyway.
The only thing left to really improve upon is battery time, and there is some promising development in that aspect. I once read graphene could potentially store lots of energy, but graphene is still impossible to produce on an industrial scale. Until that is finished, we won’t be having any magical advances in battery life. I’m not a scientist in the field though, so I might not be entirely up to speed on the what’s and whatnot’s. I mainly browse Reddit.
Meanwhile, I’m looking for ways to keep my phone and start paying a lot less to the carrier (i.e. a ‘Sim-Only’ deal). My phone, as is, is perfectly adjusted for my own preferences. Every game I’ve ever played is kept stored on this thing; from Plants vs. Zombies to Zombie Road Trip. It is as of yet impossible to carry these savegames over to another phone, although some games have begun using cloud-saving.
That’s another thing: it’s not the hardware that’s going to be important for the next few years; but the software. And, above all, the way manufacturers like Sony, HTC and Samsung handle updates to Android. Version 4.2.2 has been out for a long time now, and I’m still waiting for my promised update. HTC seems to be dropping the ball in that respect. However, they did offer more support on the One X than they did on the HD2; luckily the HD2 had a thriving mod-community to set things right. I just hope they continue support on my One X for quite some time.
I don’t know what the situation will be like in 8 months. Maybe some jaw-droppingly gorgeous phone will be unveiled and I would have to swallow my pride and get it anyway. But until then, this is a serious question which I think is worth discussing.