Each year brings the advent of new mobile phone technology. In January 2010 we saw the arrival of the Google Nexus One and 1 GHz processors, which is actual still enough processing power for smartphones. That year also saw WGVA displays (480 x 800) and Apple's "retina" resolution (640 x 960). The next year saw dual core processors, but except for those into gaming, this only marginally improves smartphone experience. The most notable improvement of smartphones in 2011 was the camera, with the Sony Xperia Arc, Samsung Galaxy S II and the Apple iPhone 4S being equipped with excellent camera's. This is nothing really new in the smartphone world, Nokia having released a series of phones with excellent camera's, the most recent being the Nokia N8, and Samsung Pixon released in 2008 having been a very competent camera phone. Still in the Android and iOS world, before 2011 camera's were mediocre.
Predictably 2012 brings us more power with the dual core Qualcomm Kraits getting more performance per core than any other previous platform and the quad core Tegra 3 and Exynos chipsets. What all there have in common is the integration of power saving technology together with larger batteries. 2012 also brings us larger displays. While we did see the 4.65-inch Google Galaxy Nexus, around 0.25-inches is occupied by the on screen buttons. The HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III combine larger 4.7 and 4.8 inch displays with dedicated buttons, effectively being another step larger then the Galaxy Nexus.
While the larger displays are the most apparent evolution this year, what is more amazing is that it is being done while improving battery life.
|From 65 to 45 to 28. The HTC One S Qualcomm S4 chipset uses the 28 nanometer process.|
In 2014 we expect to see chipsets built on the 20 nanometer process.
Comparing the best smartphones (so far) of 2012, with the best of 2011 yields some interesting results.
Screen size and battery
Galaxy S III: 4.8-inch (720p) Super AMOLED and 2100 mAh battery
HTC One X: 4.7-inch (720p) IPS2 LCD and 1800 mAh battery
HTC One S: 4.3-inch (qHD) Super AMOLED and 1650 mAh battery
Galaxy Nexus: 4.65-inches (720p) Super AMOLEDand 1750 mAh battery
Galaxy S II: 4.3-inches (WVGA) Super AMOLED and 1650 mAh battery
iPhone 4S: 3.5-inches (640 x 960) IPS LCD and 1432 mAh battery
Battery life test results from GSM Arena (Source 1 and source 2)
Samsung Galaxy S III - 10:20
HTC One X - 9:57
HTC One S - 9:42
Samsung Galaxy S II - 8:35
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 8:23
Apple iPhone 4S - 7:41
Apple iPhone 4S - 6:56
Samsung Galaxy S III - 5:17
Samsung Galaxy S II - 4:24
HTC One X - 4:18HTC One S - 4:03
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - 3:01
Samsung Galaxy S III - 10:1
HTC One S: 9:28
Apple iPhone 4S: 9:24
Samsung Galaxy S II : 8:00Samsung Galaxy Nexus: 6:02
HTC One X - 5:45
We have highlighted the 2012 models in bold. If you look at it, from the 2011 models only the Apple iPhone 4S fares well in this comparison. While it place last in terms of talk time, it did well in web browsing and video playback tests, but this is really because of the small 3.5-inch display.
The Samsung Galaxy S II faired well in the web browsing test, but this can be attributed to it having the lowest resolution of any phone in the comparison.
Basically, the new power saving technology does wonder for talk time. Super AMOLED displays and the new chipsets also save a lot of power on video playback (the LCD display of the One X is the reason why it placed last here).
For web browsing, Super AMOLED displays are not the most power efficient. Still the Exynos Quad powered Galaxy S III beats the HTC One X by a fair margin. Looking at the three competing power saving technologies the Exynos Quad does seem to do best.
Chipset technology used
iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II, Galaxy Nexus - 45 nanometer process
One X (Nvidia Tegra 3) - 40 nanometer process, companion core
Galaxy S III (Samsung Exynos Quad) - 32 nanometer process, voltage scaling
One S (Qualcomm S4) - 28 nanometer process, voltage scaling