I’ve noticed an uptick in complaining from fans about new flagship Android handsets this year, starting with the HTC One M9 and moving onto the OnePlus 2 and most recently the Galaxy Note 5. Basically, it seems that every major Android phone released this year has one or more glaring flaws or missing features that Android fans simply cannot overlook for one reason or another.
Droid Life’s Kellen Barranger sums up this dynamic quite nicely in a long essay about how Android vendors this year have all released phones that leave him and many other fans feeling as though they’re buying an incomplete product.
“Over the past few years, we have seen display technology from Samsung that looks more life-like than your TV and is mindblowingly good,” he writes. “We have seen processors reach PC-like power and efficiency levels. RAM is insanely fast. Technology is, well, pure awesome right now. So why is it that every single Android manufacturer can’t make us the perfect phone.”
He then proceeds to post a list of grievances for all the ways 2015’s flagship Android devices fall short. The Galaxy S6 and S6 edge both lack superior battery power; the Galaxy Note 5 lacks a microSD card slot and only comes with up to 64GB of storage; the Moto X Pure Edition lacks a fingerprint scanner; the OnePlus 2 has a fingerprint scanner but lacks NFC; the LG G4 is made with “terrible faux leather.”
You get the idea.
While I sympathize with some criticisms of smartphone manufacturers’ design decisions, I also have to wonder if Android fans are being too nitpicky about this year’s devices. I also wonder if there’s every been anything close to the “perfect Android phone” that Barranger has been dreaming of.
(And yes, I’ve complained about Android quite a bit this year but that’s almost entirely to do with the agonizingly slow upgrade process and not carriers’ hardware design decisions.)
Apple fans mostly go crazy for the new iPhone every year also it clearly lacks some of the features that Barranger ticked off as major omissions from this year’s models. The iPhone 6 still only has a measly 1GB of RAM and it offers battery power that’s decidedly “meh.” Despite this, Apple fans have never completely flipped out en masse about a new iPhone missing pieces of technology because the iPhone gets the most important parts of the overall user experience right: A high-quality camera that takes beautiful photos, a silky smooth operating system that’s free of lag and carrier bloatware, and a first-rate app ecosystem.
The bottom line is that all smartphone designs require trade offs. Apple has for years sacrificed larger batteries and microSD support in favor of building insanely thin metal phones. Technology can only evolve so fast and manufacturers have to make tough decisions every year about what they can and can’t include in their devices.
But when you take a step back and look at the big picture, you realize now is a pretty good time to be an Android fan. Because while you may not ever get the “perfect” Android phone, you’ll still get one that absolutely blows away the phones that were available last year.