The waning Specs Appeal of Mobiles

I’ve had a realisation in the last few months – I no longer care about the specs of the phone which I’m using.

It used to be that when considering a new device I would pore over the spec sheets, ensuring that the shiny new brick I was buying would be among the mobile top dogs when it came to grunt and horsepower. This is no longer the case.

As the proud owner of the Nexus 6, there is exactly one set of specs which I can reel off and those relate to the screen. Increasingly, this is all I care about. If I can see that the battery size is hovering around the 3,000 mAh mark and that the internal storage is greater than 16GB, the rest is just noise.

The specs war

More so a year ago than now, manufacturers were going to great lengths to ensure they could say their flagship had the most/biggest/fastest/strongest something in comparison to competitors. They wanted something they could hang their hat on.

There were some renegades; HTC tried to push the ‘megapixel’ and make the point that larger pixels, rather than the pure count, was what made for a better image. Generally though, Android OEMs in particular went for pure grunt.

To some extent that is still true but mostly – and this is a subjective thought – design is becoming paramount.

Spectacular rather than specs

With devices becoming increasingly generic in their appearance, design is now more important than ever. Long considered the outstanding example of hardware production, even Apple are taking some flak for a series of uninspiring devices. It’s here where OEMs need to start making their points of difference.

HTC and Motorola are both excellent examples of this. HTC have put a lot of love into the design of their One range and both the M8 and – to a lesser extent – the M9 garnered a lot of attention for their looks. Motorola go in a different direction and offer buyers a smorgasbord of options in the Moto Maker – a tool which allows you to heavily customise the look and feel of your device. Different backs to the phone, such as leather and bamboo, really help you feel like the device is unique to you. Their new upcoming range looks set to continue this tradition.

So while there are definite key points which a phone needs to include to keep me interested, it’s certainly the look of the thing which influences my buying decision over anything else. There are some exceptions – such as the recent announcement of the OnePlus Two – where the lack of both NFC and wireless charging makes the device feel like it’s lacking future-proofing. Otherwise, I’m all about the aesthetics.

James Oliver

I have a keen interest in anything from the original Star Wars trilogy through to the Star Wars Expanded Universe – as well as everything that encompasses. Mostly interested in things which fly or make noise (ideally both), I like playing with new gadgets and buying phones on a whim.