The Hills Are Greener: Why Hardware Soon Won’t Matter

The Hills Are Greener: Why Hardware Soon Won’t Matter

Mar 25, 2013

All the talk about the Galaxy S IV seems to be based around everything but the hardware itself: will the new features be of use, was the Samsung’s ghastly presentation actually quite sexist? The hardware seems to be a secondary thing. This is a trend that one can expect to continue going forward, for the simple reason that mobile devices are starting to hit that computing ceiling where additional power isn’t adding a proportionate amount of value.

RAM will increase, and processors can get faster, but the question may be power drain, and just how much a power increase is worth it. Games will make use of better hardware, but as we’re seeing, mobile games in particular don’t necessarily need to push high-resolution graphics at 60 frames per second to do well. Especially those card games that are taking off on the top grossing charts. The advantage may come in making desktop-style apps, but on a phone there may not be a reason to have all that power, and tablets have concerns about their interfaces being good for work best done on a full-fledged PC. There’s still room to grow, but when phones and tablets have 2 GB of RAM in them while laptops ship with 4 GB, the ceiling is being approached.

The screen in particular is starting to reach a point where any higher resolution would be pointless. The human eye likely can’t perceive any advances beyond 1080p on that size of a screen, and given that 1080p is the highest resolution for most consumer video content, there’s little reason to go beyond that. Tablets and laptops have, in the name of making their screens look better, but there may not be much of an advance beyond that. Picture quality could improve, but there’s no guarantee.

So ultimately, it is going to come down to software. This is where Apple has had the advantage in both hardware and software, but Samsung is certainly doing things that Apple isn’t, and the other manufacturers may need to focus on this going forward. Anyone can build a capable device, especially with standardized Tegra processors and the like, but it’s ultimately going to come down to the experience. When RAM and resolutions equal out, who will have the best device to actually use? The next couple of years could be watershed ones for who stays alive in the mobile industry and who flounders because they provide a substandard experience.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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