Samsung: 73° and Sunny and the lack of a phone that does everything well
Yes, I know. Cliche title. But it's the best way to describe the Samsung/Android world right now.
Last year we all heard the angry fans and tech journalists crying that Samsung had disappointed with the SIII. They really did. A phone that basically only lacked a stunning design and build quality (and stock Android for the Android fan dreams) fell short to expectations. It was a good phone, likely the best overall Android device of 2012 (same level as the Iphone 5 IMO), but it could have been much more. The only problem is that Samsung knew it did not had to, for it to be a monstrous success.
With the SII, Samsung was able to become the king of the Android market, and apparently the only company which could go head-to-head against Apple. It became the obvious choice for a Android phone by using it's effective strategy of a good phone coupled with intense marketing. The SIII is the proof that, from a business point of view, Samsung was, and is, in the right track. And is it their fault that they chose to go the Apple way of only refreshing their flagship phone with small design tweaks and a spec bump? I don't think so, because once again, it's competitors fell short of their flagship phone.
The HTC One is being deified by tech sites like The Verge for it's design (although highly similar to the iPhone 5 and BBZ10), because it's the closest phone overall to the Galaxy SIV, and it has a better design and build quality. But didn't that happen last year too? Wasn't the One X the phone to beat the uninspired SIII? In my opinion, the outcome this year will be the same. And the people who blame it only on Samsung marketing strategy are clearly blind.
The Galaxy SIV is a better phone than the HTC One.
If it's camera is on the same level of the SIII at least, it will be better than the One's. Battery life will be better too. The SIV will come out of the box running 4.2.2, while the One will come with 4.1.x. Samsung has a much better history in releasing new versions of Android even though they stuff their firmware with gimmicks.
Yeah it has a great design and build quality. But that's not enough. People don't want a ZOE if the phone's camera is only 4mp. And that's also not innovation. If HTC wants to beat Samsung, they need a better device than it's competition. And we all know which phone is that. A phone with no compromises. If HTC had gone with a great camera (SIII, IPhone 5 level), good battery life and better UI (Sense still sucks and that Flipboard Widget they stuck in every ad is crap) this phone would be above the competition. This causes Samsung to be comfortable and lazy. They don't need to make some revolution in phone design or in software, or camera technology because the competition is still behind. The marketing avalanche that HTC is doing is not going to really change much if they are not able to make an truly, complete flagship. A phone that will not be described as "great design and great screen" only, or have a "but" in every review.
Nokia on the other hand, has a phone on the same level of the SIII (maybe above). It is the only company that is trying hard to beat the leaders of the market, but unfortunately their amazing devices, with an amazing camera, good battery life and a great design and build quality, have a compromise too: Windows Phone. Don't get me wrong, as a OS it is great. Superior to Android in some ways, inferior in other, but on the same level overall. But it still lacks apps. Apps that are so mainstream that people buy crappy Android devices just so they can have Instragram for example. I think that it's everyone's desire to see a Nokia Android phone. Honestly I don't even care if it would be stock or not, I'm sure they would be able to add a good skin and features/gimmicks to promote their device.
It's a very boring time in the smartphone market for sure. It seems that every great device has a compromise, and they have hardly any differentiation, apart from OSs.
Apple locks you with a stale OS that does everything in their way and allow little to none freedom for the user (That's what a good portion of the world wants, can't blame them), but in the end it does everything well;
Samsung devices have uninspired design and build quality;
HTC devices have average/disappointing battery life, camera and some hardware choices divide the public (No MicroSD, fixed battery, etc);
Sony is always disappointing with it's screens, camera and a bleh UI;
Nexus devices are always accompanied by a less than great camera, battery life and now Google's cloud only strategy for memory
And finally, Nokia is stuck with WP8, which lacks some relevant apps and a volume of apps.
So, as last year, I keep waiting for a device that will have everything that I want: Great design and build quality, running Android (as of now, IMO, it beats the other ecosystems), stock if possible, with a great battery life, screen and camera and at least a good amount of internal memory. A phone that is complete and has no compromises, that does everything well and has a great design. Is it asking too much?