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The impossible quest for the ultimate smartphone
Reported by Jean-Claude Elias | Dec 23,2011 | 22:56
You are tech-savvy and looking for the ultimate smartphone available now on the market by reading and comparing online reviews and comments. I wish you luck. This could be a road to frustration and a nail-biting situation.
Whereas online reviews often are an excellent way to know more about the device you are buying and to avoid taking the wrong decision, in the very case of smartphones it has become more of a curse than a blessing.
In the typical case information found on the web is priceless. It has become the main source for most of us, greatly helping in decision making of all kinds, not only when it comes to technical issues but also when searching for medical advice, matters pertaining to art, politics, culture and virtually every single topic on earth. Discussion forums in particular can prove to be enlightening, that is if you have time to spare reading them.
This being said, the market of smartphones is such that terms like war and confusion describe it better.
It is a dreadful mix of approximate opinions, unprofessional writing, biased conclusions, amateur analysis and conflicting reporting that is creating chaos in the field. Reviewers and commentators are not the only ones to blame. Manufacturers too have their share of responsibility.
In a recent twist, for example, a very negative review of Nokia’s Lumia model was posted on an Indian website. It was then followed by a violent counter attack initiated by commentators who said that the Lumia actually was a superb smartphone and that the negative review was nothing but a pack of lies. Finally the “negative reviewer” claimed that the “positive comments” came from web addresses belonging to Nokia and Microsoft — and therefore were strongly biased. Who would you believe?
But conflicting reviews are but a small part of the story.
How would you choose between four very different operating systems, Apple’s iOS, Nokia’s Symbian, Google’s Android or Windows Mobile? I am not even including the excellent but esoteric and very special BlackBerry — it’s a world on its own; if you want it you just get it. After all they all are high tech giant companies with an impressive track record of success, innovation and accomplishment. Making a choice based just on the maker’s reputation is hard if not impossible.
Moreover, going through long lists of technical characteristics leads to even more frustration, since no smartphone has it all. I am still dreaming of the device that would sport all the specs I have in mind.
Apple’s iPhone 4S is a real beauty and a powerful device. Yes but... it does not playback wma audio, an important Microsoft’s standard; it’s also on the expensive side with a price tag of about $1,200 for the high-end 64GB version. Nokia’s Lumia will bring you confidence, a chic look, and wide compatibility with the external world, thanks to its universally used Windows Mobile OS. Yes but... it has a single processor; most other smartphones are faster!
Samsung’s Galaxy S2, apparently is a king in its league and probably the strongest competitor to Apple’s iPhone. Yes but... it still has not received Android’s new version 4.0 as its operating system, and there have been rumours on the web (I insist, “rumours”, like in “unverified”) that the quality of the phone calls it makes is not on a par with other smartphones. Ah, those impossible to verify reviews!
When a technical approach fails, when pragmatic comparison is hopeless just trust your heart, and your budget. Put aside your tech-savvy mind and follow your heart. If you like the device and it is within your budget, go ahead and get it. Any new smartphone model by Apple, Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Google and Blackberry will more than please you. Just avoid saying “it’s great but I wish it had this or that feature.”
 Whereas the market of computers has matured with clearly defined lines and systems, that of smartphones has not yet. It is all the more strange that smartphones are nothing but pocket computers with telephone capability, the latter part representing less than 15 per cent of the devices’ features and capabilities.

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