One topic that you won’t hear much from the nattering nabobs of negativism regarding Apple’s iPhone vs. the rest of the smartphone industry is this little thing called spectrum, which is related to product positioning.
The smartphone market is a broad spectrum of products; from cheap, low-end, entry level models with little storage, crummy screens, low memory, and a distinct inability to do anything an iPhone will do beyond text, calls, and camera. That’s a large part of the smartphone market and Apple doesn’t play at that end. Where does Apple play and why is that important?
It’s About Specs, Man
No, it’s not about specifications. That’s a contrived game made up by technology know-it-alls, critics, and the aforementioned nattering nabobs of negativism. Apple doesn’t devote much effort to keeping up with the Joneses’ specification bullet points.
Yet, that also means that where Apple plays in the product spectrum– the premium side– there will be competitors that sell products with features the iPhone does not have.
Here’s a perfect series of examples from Samsung. First, the Korean giant has a seemingly endless line of smartphones, while Apple keeps the iPhone line tiny by comparison. Second, Samsung loves to leap frog and one up Apple on specifications. The new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has a quad HD screen with four times the resolution as the iPhone 6s Plus.
Wait. There’s more. Samsung’s premium models have more RAM, faster CPU specifications, more CPU cores, and a number of other bullet points for features and functions Apple seldom bothers with implementing until it can do so the way Apple does things. The new Samsung flagship has an iris scanner, ostensibly to add another layer of security. The iPhone does not and still relies on Touch ID for extra security.
What is interesting about some of these differences is where they are different. The new Samsung models have more RAM and faster CPUs with more cores, yet in most benchmarks Apple’s seemingly– and it’s on paper– anemic A9-series CPU squashes the competition with better performance. In other words, more RAM, more cores, and even a CPU that clocks faster, absolutely positively does not result in greater performance.
That quad HD screen sure looks nice, though.
Samsung’s models also boast a level of water resistance, boasted by Samsung, where Apple remains silent on an iPhone that clearly has better such water resistance than previous models. Why doesn’t Apple make a waterproof phone?
It’s not important to most buyers but Samsung makes it a point of differentiation. The same holds true with their cameras. Apple proved that megapixels were the 21st century version of megaHertz by using a sweet combination of camera lens, camera sensor, and software to product photos that were obviously better than competitors but used few megapixels. Samsung focused on improving the camera and it’s arguable that the Galaxy Note 7 may have the best you can buy in a smartphone.
Isn’t that important to Apple? Probably not too important because it follows the quad HD screen comparison. Most customers cannot tell much difference in screen quality between the quad HD and Apple’s somewhat-behind-the-times HD in the iPhone 6s Plus. With Retina at 400 pixels and beyond it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Samsung’s Galaxy cameras seem to perform better in low light than the iPhone, but low light is what most everyone– regardless of camera– tends to avoid.
Yet, the thing to understand here, and seldom mentioned by tech writers and critics, is this. Apple occupies a small portion of the entire smartphone spectrum which ranges from entry level and dirt cheap phones, to mid-range Chinese knock offs, to Samsung’s line, to Apple at the premium end. Additionally, premium has a variety of meanings, the least of which is the highest specifications because hardware makes up only a portion of the whole smartphone user experience, and iOS remains clearly differentiated from Google’s obviously stolen and derivative Android.