History Repeating: The Misguided Smartphone Spec War

The word is about, there’s something evolving
Whatever may come, the world keeps revolving
They say the next big thing is here
That the revolution’s near
But to me it seems quite clear
That it’s all just a little bit
of history repeating
– the Propellerheads featuring Shirley Bassey

Yesterday the iPhone 4S went on sale in France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK and US, and it reignited the smartphone world’s most ridiculous debate: specifications.
1

As many will know the iPhone 4S ships with a dual core processor, an ~800MHz Apple designed, ARM based, A5 chip to be precise. It is the first iPhone to make the jump to multi-core architecture and iOS’s ability to assign different tasks to different processor cores brings about notably faster performance. In fact Apple is heavily promoting the iPhone 4S as being twice as fast as its iPhone 4 predecessor. This is an important specification change and it is worthy of discussion. What quickly makes it ridiculous is comparison.

Take Android. It’s premium smartphones have long had dual core processors. The first, the LG Optimus 2x, was announced back in January. In the nine months since it has been joined by high profile models such as the Motorola Atrix, HTC Sensation and Sensation XL, the Samsung Galaxy S2 and imminently the Nexus Prime. Even with the Optimus 2x its dual cores were already running at 1GHz, while the cores of the two Sensations and Galaxy S run at 1.2GHz. Meanwhile the Prime (teased below) is expected to race along on 1.5GHz cores. Whatever is Apple doing releasing a new iPhone which is already so significantly behind the competition? It hasn’t, and this is the inherent problem in the smartphone spec war.

3

Spec wars are nothing new. ‘Geeks’ like ourselves have been comparing their new and custom built computers for years, delighting in extolling the virtues of their faster processors, RAM, storage and graphics cards. They proudly run benchmarks under strict settings and laud their victories over one another. Furthermore they are justified to do so. Now, given the spread of smartphones and the rise of geek culture, ever greater numbers of people are hearing about gigahertz and megabytes and are keen to start the comparisons. Surely that’s fine? No. No. A thousand times no.

What geeks have long understood, the mass market is rapidly confusing. Specifications in and of themselves are not what can be compared, only the performance they bring. The main point of strict benchmarking is in ensuring that not only are apples compared with apples, but that Golden Delicious is compared with Golden Delicious. By comparison today’s mainstream smartphone users not only fail to recognise different varieties of apple, but different fruits altogether.

More from TrustedReviews

LG Q8 finally brings the V20’s promise to Europe

Atari is now in the speaker business… and the hat business

Thinner Moto Z2 Force could come with a huge trade-off

HyperLoop One

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop gathering pace as NY-DC link gets ‘OK’

N64oid

Is this proof an N64 Classic will follow the SNES?

Agents of Mayhem preview

cats 17

Why you’ll want to download this OnePlus 5 update today

Golf rory

British Open Golf Live Stream: How to watch online for free

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for Xbox One down to under £9

Samsung Gear S3 finally gets Samsung Pay support in UK

Welcome to the all new Trusted Reviews

Netgear Arlo

Netgear Arlo Pro

Cat Amazon

Are you kitten me? Pet translation devices tipped for future smart homes

fire emblem warriors

Fire Emblem Warriors

pokken

Pokkén Tournament DX

TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb 5

TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay now lets you use your PayPal funds at the checkout

assassins creed origins

Ubisoft teases new games for Nintendo Switch, coming ‘quite soon’

amazon echo

Ask Vodafone: Mobile network’s first Amazon Alexa voice skill is revealed

Google Feed

The Google app’s new personalised feed might just drag you off Facebook

z2play 9

Moto Z2 Play

Mira Prism

For just $99 you can bring AR to the iPhone 7

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S9 displays may be the same, save one major new feature

movie theatre

The Netflix Effect: ‘Binge-watching’ is coming to movie theatres

Porsche MIssion E

Porsche’s latest electric car chargers put Tesla to shame

EE logo

EE’s new 20GB SIM-free deal is the best value tariff you’ll see all summer

Int-Ball

These are the first images from the ISS – as captured by a zero-gravity drone

iMac 21.5-inch 4K (2017)

LG V30 case

LG V30 design ‘confirmed’ ahead of IFA 2017 launch

iPhone 7 vs iPhone SE

Waiting for the iPhone SE 2? Sadly, it could be a one-and-done

Google Glass Enterprise

Google Glass 2 has arrived, sort of

Denon AH-C621R

Denon AH-C621R

BBC Proms

Get ready to listen to the BBC Proms like never before

Fender Newport Monterey Bluetooth speakers

Fender’s new Bluetooth speakers look just like tiny guitar amps

Garmin Vivosmart 3

Garmin Vivosmart 3

airplane

Is the laptop travel ban dead? Electronics restrictions lifted by TSA but UK fails to follow suit

KitSound Immerse

KitSound Immerse Wireless Headphones

Emojis

It’s World Emoji Day and Apple is showing off all of its newcomers

Porn Block

Privacy fears as UK plans age verification for porn sites

WhatsApp

New WhatsApp feature could give Apple’s iMessage a run for its money