Monday, 9 June 2014

Help Desk: A New Breed of Smartphones

It is that time of the year again where a new breed of gadgets start popping out from everywhere. The recent Mobile World Congress revealed a lot of juicy information that makes us wanna grab that next-in-line smartphone of our favorite brand. But are we satisfied with what they are showing us?

The new age today determines cellphones based on its elegance, availability and, let's face it, peer pressure. "I wanna have that smartphone because everybody wants it." or a simple "I wanna have that smartphone because it looks good." People determine their smartphone based on what everyone wants rather than basing it on what it really does.

Sony Xperia Z2. Realeased April 2014

The first thing I ask when I see a person buy a new phone is "Why did you pick that?" The common answer would be "It looks good, it's new and people like it." I usually give a follow up question stating "Do you know the CPU speed of that?" and the most common, well actually almost all of the people I ask says "No, what do you mean?" 

Generally, people buy what the companies' advertisements say. Forgetting all other minor details that would affect the lifespan of their smartphones. Some people don't look into it because they change every year to go with fast paced world. But others wouldn't be so happy about the rapidly changing technology. But does it really rapidly changes? My answer is no.

If you know the detailed data to look for in buying a new smartphone, you would know that only a pinch of minor changes are added each year. An example would be the Galaxy S Series by Samsung. There were only a few minor changes from S3 when the S4 was released. The same goes for an iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5 or the iPad 2 from the iPad with the Retina Display.  If you know what you are looking for and you know what you are wasting money on, you'll understand that buying a new smartphone each year wouldn't be wise. Note that I used the term "wasting money". Why is that? If you pay attention to what companies give you, you'll understand that they are just making a fool of you by tricking you into buying the new stuff. (Maybe some people have lots of money to spare so go ahead) For those who wish to learn, continue reading this post and be enlightened on how to choose what your next smartphone should be.

Samsung Galaxy S5. Released February 2014

These following data are what I look at when choosing a proper smartphone. This helps me determine if it's wise to change my current mobile.

1. CPU Chipset/ CPU Speed/ RAM

CPU Chipset is the processor used for the smartphone, this little thing inside the smartphone determines the speed of how your smartphone operates. The number of cores also determine the fluidity of multitasking and data computing. RAM or Random Access Memory determines the amount of running memory the chipset can handle. Always remember that tb (terabyte) is greater than gb (gigabyte) and is greater than mb (megabyte). [1tb=1000gb=1000000mb]

An example would be:

DEVICE                         CPU                                                                         Clock Speed           RAM
Samsung Galaxy S5     Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 Quad-core       2.5 Ghz               3gb
Sony Xperia Z2           Qualcomm MSM8974AB Snapdragon 801 Quad-core       2.3 Ghz               3gb
LG G3:                        Qualcomm MSM8975AC Snapdragon 801 Quad-core       2.5 Ghz               2gb/3gb
iPhone 5s:          Apple A7 Dual Core                                                      1.3 Ghz               1gb

In this case, You may think that having a larger number would be better but the device will say otherwise. You may have a quad core phone with a 3gb RAM running slower than that with a 2gb RAM due to the fact that the 2 must have a balance. It's like your desktop computer. When you have a large amount of running programs and your CPU speed is limited, everything will go slow. In this case, the most balanced phone is the Samsung Galaxy S5. You will notice that iPhone when exiting an app, it doesn't run on background this is due to the fact that it kills app background to make room for built in apps that are always running, such as the weather, calendar, clock, siri, location services, and many more.

2. GPU/ Resolution/Screen Size

The GPU or the Graphics processing Unit is like the creative side of your phone. It determines which games it can play and which videos it can show. Resolution is different from your GPU. GPU is the chipset while resolution is the output or how you see your screen. It does not necessarily mean the higher the resolution, the better the output. the higher the resolution, the bigger the size of the screen can be. So it makes you think, does a 600ppi resolution really suits my 4 inch screen? Absolutely not. The size of the screen is measured diagonally in inches.

An example would be:

DEVICE                         GPU                                                                Resolution              Screen Size
Samsung Galaxy S5:     450mhz qualcomm adreno 330 quad core          432ppi                  5.1"
Sony Xperia Z2            450mhz qualcomm adreno 330 quad core          424ppi 4KHD          5.2"
LG G3                          450mhz qualcomm adreno 330 quad core          534ppi                   5.5"
iPhone 5s          300 mhz powerVR Series 6 rogue G6430 quad core     325ppi                   4"

We can see that they almost have the same graphical power, but if I am to base it on usability on games and videos. The Sony Xperia Z2 has an edge due to it's ability to be used as a second screen for a playstation 4, it's ability to play PlayStation 1, 2 and PSP games, it's ability to run Nintendo DS games smoothly and it's capacity to connect via Sony TV Play and watch full resolution 4KHD Movies from the mobile. Samsung also has this ability but lacks thereof the functionalities like Xperia Z2 does.

iPhone 5s. Release Date: October 2013.

3. Camera

The camera is one of the main reasons people buy an elegant smartphone. It gives the user an ability to carry a digital camera and a smartphone together. It also gives way to easy access uploading via 3G, 4G and LTE as well as easy access storage via social networking sites and cloud drives. The camera also provides a different way of capturing for photographers and videographers alike. 

Samsung Galaxy S5 Camera App
All we have to look at when it comes to these specifications are the resolution, image stabilization and video maximum bitrate. We only look at video bitrate because the resolution will not matter as long as you have a good balancing of video motion. Higher bitrate means better video motion capture.

Sony Xperia Z2 Lowlight Capture

An example would be:

DEVICE                         Resolution     Image Stabilization     Video Max Bitrate
Samsung Galaxy S5      16 mp           Digital                        16 mbps
Sony Xperia Z2            20.7 mp        Digital                        50 mbps
LG G3                          13 mp           Optical                       20 mbps
iPhone 5s                      8 mp           Digital                        20 mbps

It is not just the camera megapixel I look into. You have to know the build of your lenses. It's not public knowledge but the lens used by Apple and Samsung are made by Sony. That is why the images produced by both phones are top quality, the same as Sony itself. The most important thing to look at when choosing a phone's camera is the bitrate of video. The higher video bitrate, the better image and video results will be. Based on the current specifications above, Sony Xperia Z2 has the best camera there is. iPhone does have great resolution in bright lighted areas but it lacks the great quality when it shoots at low light, unlike the other 3 phones. I compared the results and in my opinion, the best photo goes to Xperia Z2.

LG G3. Coming Soon. Expected Release Date: June 2014.

4. Durability and Resistance

The next thing to look at is the device's durability and resistance. Is it waterproof, dust-proof or shatterproof? Is the device scratch resistant? Choosing the best and optimal device for your needs have to include a variety of durability and resistance to certain danger areas.

Samsung Galaxy S5:
Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- scratch resistant
- dust and water resistant 
Sony Xperia Z2:
Protection: Shatter proof and Scratch resistant Glass
- scratch resistant
- dust and water resistant
LG G3:
Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass 3
- scratch resistant
iPhone 5s:
Protection: Gorilla Glass
- scratch resistant

The YouTubers give us an idea which phones are extremely sturdy. And based on the actual drop tests, Xperia Z2 withstands everything with the exception of pixel defect. I would say Samsung S5 is the sturdiest but it's back cover is made of plastic, making it of less importance to the drop test. iPhone on the other hand, breaks immediately when dropped. When it comes to water resistance Z2 and S5 are good with the water up to 1.5 meters. That makes photoshoots underwater a nice thing to do.

5. Battery
Samsung Galaxy S5 Wireless Charging Plate.

The next important thing to look at is the Battery Capacity of your phone. Larger numbers doesn't mean better batteries. Sometimes it has something to do with built in running apps and bloatware. We all know that Apple has the largest number of bloatware-running-in-standby apps that's why it's battery only lasts less than 10 hours of talk time. Comparing the 3 remaining phones, Sony is the best option because it doesn't have as much bloatware as the two although it wins only by a pinch.

Another thing to look at is how are your smartphones charged. One thing to remember is that the best smartphone will always have the proper accessories after unboxing. Unfortunately, all these smartphones have only a corded charger included with them. But, you can buy magnetic wireless chargers for Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2. A plus for both these smartphones.

6. Maximum Compatibility

Samsung Gear Flex
The last thing to look into when choosing a proper smartphone is the maximum compatibility of your smartphone to devices around your house. Of course a Mac user would buy an iPhone because of it's better compatibility with the laptop. It also applies to people using an Apple TV but, an Apple TV is a standalone device and does not need an iPhone or Mac to operate. All you need is an iTunes which is available for all OS. But the question is, is it compatible with your other devices at home i.e your TV, your tablet, your game console? Samsung phones do not have a built-in UpnP or wireless streaming compatibility for a Samsung TV. Another question is if your smartphone is still compatible with your old smartwatch and other accessories. For Samsung phones, not all are compatible with the smartwatch. Only selected devices. And for the new Smart Watch, only the Galaxy S5 is compatible. Also, the S5 is not compatible with older accessories (except bluetooth headgears).

DualShock Compatibility
Sony Xperia Z2 has a built in UpnP support for direct Sony Bravia TV Streaming or any other Smart TV that has WiFi support. It also has direct compatibility with Sony Xperia Z line phones. It is also compatible with most Apple products. One of the best compatibility feature of Xperia Z2 is it's smartwatch compatibility even with the previous generation of smartwatches. And another great compatibility is it's DualShock controller support, making it compatible with PS3 and PlayStation 4 controllers. It may also act as a second screen and may also be used for remote play with PSVita and PS4. 

With compatibility, Sony Xperia Z2 has the edge.

Sony Smartwatch 2


This leads us to answering the question, which smartphone would be the best to buy currently. My answer would be the Sony Xperia Z2. Even though it's not the sturdiest of the bunch and it's not the most powerful one, Camera, Battery Life and Compatibility beats out the rest. You could always buy a protective case and a screen protector to even out the odds. The point is, for me, as a gamer and a playstation user at that, the Sony Xperia Z2 is the best smart phone right now because of the current and upcoming releases for gaming. I'm not being biased but if you look at it closely, specs wise, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 are almost at tie, Galaxy being a little at edge there but Compatibility features of Sony would beat Samsung any day. But of course, specs doesn't really matter if you are a fanboy or not, right? It's still the daily activities we do that determine which phone would best suit us. But it I were to pick without looking at any devices, I'd pick Android any day. The iOS just feels too restrictive and you won't even be able to rescue files once it crashes and burns.

Take my advice. Don't do mainstream, instead, pick something that would best suit your lifestyle. It's not about the branding. It's about the usability. Choose wisely because it's your daily companion.

Thank you for reading and Good Day! :)
thejanraphaelbc (c) 2014