Skip to main content

Why do Android smartphones suck?

Google's new Pixel smartphone
Make Android Great Again? 


It overheats.

It runs out of charge fast.

The camera sucks.

It hangs.

Why do Android smartphones suck?

Many iPhone users say they won’t return to Android, and wonder why Android users are stuck with what they consider a subpar experience.

Alternatively, many Android users have many a time found themselves having to settle with a shortcoming on their phone.

The same predicament comes up when you are shopping for an Android device. Finding the perfect,  or near perfect phone seems impossible. You have to pick a shortcoming.

So why is this the case? Why can’t the thousands of Android smartphone manufacturers make the perfect device?


The answer boils down to how Android phones are made.

When cooking, a chef envisions to deliver a certain experience - flavour, aroma, colour,  texture.

There’s, however, another way of cooking. You can open your kitchen cabinets and your fridge, look at what you have, then decide what to cook based on your limitations.

How Android smartphones are made is closer to the second way of cooking with what you have.

Manufacturers will start with a budget and a target selling price,  say Kshs. 10,000. From this, they may look at making KSh. 2,000 per device,  meaning their costs have to be limited to KSh. 8,000.

The next consideration is numbers, with KSh. 8,000,  what processor with the highest number of cores can we buy (quadcore, octa-core), how much RAM can we throw in,  what’s the biggest display we can have and many other superlatives.

This process is called “bill of materials”, or BOM.

The objective of picking parts that sound larger or faster is to entice buyers who compare numbers, given they have little experience of how the devices will perform. A buyer will assume that a phone with 8 processor cores (octa-core) outperforms one with 4 (quad core) since many lack the information on how each has been made. Alternatively,  they may have the details,  but they may be too complicated to decipher.

The result is a smartphone that has been put together not because of its ability to deliver a particular experience, but with the objective of meeting a certain price point, yet make it as attractive as possible to a buyer.

The screen is as large as possible, but not clear.

The processor is fast and has cores that you need more than one hand to count,  but overheats.

The manufacturer threw in a lot of parts, but had to skimp on the battery, or did not optimise the experience for battery life.

Contributing to this experience is Qualcomm, the company that dominates the middle to high-end market for smartphones. Qualcomm makes the processor that powers many Android phones. They too have been in a rush to deliver faster and smaller processors (smaller processors consume lesser power).

At the same time, there is pressure for processors to support high definition cameras and videos,  gaming,  but not exceed a certain price. The result is processors that on paper provide certain advanced capabilities, but in practice only do so for a few minutes before overheating.

Why, then, don’t a few Android manufacturers break from this pattern?

Well, a few do, mostly high-end devices like the S7 Edge.

Standing out is, however, costly. First, most of the supply chain is designed to follow the BOM format.

Secondly, many phone makers calculate that breaking the ranks would more of cost them than benefit them. Given that many buyers lack the information to tell oranges from lemons, they are likely to go with that is bigger, faster and cheaper.

This is why Google has finally decided to make its Pixel smartphones - to influence the smartphone market to break from a race of delivering bigger and faster,  to one that hopefully focuses on offering experiences, and innovation.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Heineken 0.0 Best Alcohol Free Beer

What if you wanted to drink a beer, but without getting drunk? Say, you don’t drink alcohol, or for one reason or another, you are off alcohol. Or perhaps it’s a working day, and you would like to have a cold one in the middle of the day but without all negative effects. Well, you could. Welcome to the world of Alcohol-free beer.  Over the last few days, I’ve been enjoying some Heineken 0.0 rather than the typical beers. Now, Heineken 0.0 is a beer, in the malt lager style as the standard Heineken, the only difference being that all the alcohol has been removed - it contains less than 0.03% alcohol, which counts as safe enough even for those who are pregnant or affected by alcohol, according to Heineken. It smells very close to a Heineken, tastes close to a Heineken, and you even keep taking a piss like you would when drinking a Heineken - but you never get drunk.  How do they remove all the alcohol? From my research, they brew a standard Heineken beer as normal, then use some form

Should I buy a Smartband?

 Mi Band 5 is a nifty smartband with long battery life, a colour screen and lots of features including call and SMS alerts, a weather app, and fitness tracking  If your phone is always on vibrate or silent, it might seem too much to have a device around your wrist that alerts you every time your phone rings or an SMS checks in. Yet, that has been the most convenient thing about getting a fitness tracker, or more so, a smart band.  The smart band turns your wrist into a screening device for which calls to pick or to ignore, without having to dash across the room or house to check your phone whenever it rings. The other surprisingly convenient thing about these smart bands is how long their batteries last. One of my early fears was a device that would need charging every other minute. But my first try saw the Mi Band 5’s battery carry on for 21 days after charging. This was with no heart tracking and low-level sleep monitoring. The battery life is so good that I have switched on some o

Kenyan products: The art of punishing your consumer

This post was written in 2011. Facts may have and indeed have changed - but the conclusion has not.  Dormans instant coffee tastes better than Sasini instant coffee. Ramtons electronics are manufactured for Kenya's Hypermart Limited, yet maintain a high product quality Peanut butter used to taste so good, but you could not afford it on the pocket money that you got back in school. A few years later, you have your first real job and your first "disposable" income. You buy your first real tub of peanut butter, probably the first in your life. You feel proud that Dominion peanut butter is manufactured in Ruiru, a town that you visited in your campus days to withdraw your pocket money, it was the nearest bank ATM to your campus.  This was before Equity bank became a mainstream bank and decided to open an ATM in your campus, and before M-Pesa meant that you

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Note: This is a dated post and has since been mostly passed by events. SAB Miller beers including Castle and Peroni are no longer widely available in Kenya after their exist. Sirville Brewery was bought out by Brew Bistro before being permanently shut in a tax dispute. Kenya is a land of milk, honey, beaches and taxes. I have penned, or is typed, a newer post here .  Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya. Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close. Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one.  I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinion of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives one free, extra hangover for every hangover you get

A to Z of Girl Pick-up Lines

Girl,  You are like a breath of fresh air , like an outstanding piece of Art in an art gallery  There are many things you and me can be, but it puts a smile of satisfaction on my face and a smile of envy on my buddies faces that you both beautiful and bootyfull  E ither your creator must have taken the greatest care creating you or your cheated your way around heaven, 'coz you clearly the prettiest girl on earth  D on't ask why my breathing quickens every time I see you; setting my eyes on you makes me feel like I am drowning in your beauty, I have to catch my breath   Exciting, Exotic, Elegant, Electrifying ; so many definitions in english , but when it comes to the human race, girl, you are the one and only definition of all the above  W hen I say you are fly , it may be due to the sensation of flying off the ground that I get when I am around you. Some girls are beautiful, a few are decent, even fewer got class; I didn't know I could find all this qualities in one gir