What’s in a premium device?

The world of smartphones is filled with tons of options on the android side. Apple also sells several generations of its devices simultaneously. Apple and Samsung are largely considered the premium device makers in their respective segments. This premium marque allows them to charge exorbitant prices for their products. It also ensures a very high level of interest in said devices. The premium nomenclature is probably not completely accurate as we will see shortly.

What makes a premium device? The internal specs are probably the first place that a person looks to compare devices. Let’s see how the two device makers stack up on that front.

Stepping up to the ring for Apple is the recently announced iPhone X (pronounced “ten”). The device is packed with all the newest and greatest technology Apple has to offer. It has a hexacore processor dubbed the A11 Bionic. Apple developed a tri-core GPU in house which is said to be significantly faster than the unit found in the outgoing iPhone 7. It has an OLED display produced by none other than Samsung. It includes advanced facial recognition technology. It has dual camera set-up including a telephoto lens which allows for special depth effects to be applied to photographs. The camera units also have optical stabilization for better low-light performance. It comes out of the box with IOS 11, the newest, most feature-packed version of Apple’s mobile operating system.





Samsung’s most well-equipped device is the recently released Galaxy Note 8. The device also has an OLED screen produced by Samsung. It either has a Snapdragon 835 or equally powerful Exynos 8895, both are the most powerful mobile processors currently available on the market. They underperform compared to the A11, but are miles ahead of all other competitors. The GPU is an Adreno 540 which was also the most powerful mobile graphics processor on the market until the new A11 was released with its tri-core GPU. The phone has a dual-camera setup with optical-image stabilization and the camera performance is effectively tied with that of the iPhone. It has a larger battery than the iPhone and by most accounts should have marginally better battery life. It was shipped with Android Nougat and should be updated to the latest Oreo version in due time.

Now for the rest of the upper-end market. There is Sony with their Xperia ZL1. It is also sporting a Snapdragon 835. There is a 19MP camera without optical-image stabilization, but one that still performs admirably. The GPU is also an Adreno 540. It has a lower resolution screen at 1080p. Another maker in the space is HTC, bringing its flagship U11 to the table. The device has a 2k screen just like the Galaxy device. It also has a Snapdragon 835 with an adreno 540 GPU. It has a 12MP camera in the rear and a huge 16MP lens for the front-facing camera. There is no dual camera set-up in the rear. The other big contender in this space is Google, with its largely home-baked Pixel 2 XL. The device is also sporting a Snapdragon 835 with an Adreno 540. It has an optically stabilized 12MP camera in the rear, but no dual camera set-up.

All of the aforementioned devices ship with Android Nougat, with the exception of the Pixel which will ship with the newest version of Android—Oreo. Consumers will tend to have a preference for either Android or iOS, but the two mobile operating systems have nearly reached a point of parity at this point in their maturity. It is largely a matter of choice. All the devices listed are running effectively the most advanced mobile operating systems on the market.

These devices are all spec’d out to compete evenly with Samsung and Apple. However, they are not mentioned in the same breath as those premium devices in most laymen circles. It is clear that they are all equally capable devices. The problem seems to be one of brand cache. It leads to only one conclusion, which is that premium refers to the brand and not necessarily the device. Slap an Apple logo on any of those also-rans and they suddenly become premium. Their existence continues to challenge the perennial winners and I can only hope that they can continue coming to the party. We all benefit from the competition.

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