2015 has come and gone, and so has its flagship smartphones. Doesn’t mean 2016’s smartphones can’t rock the show. I know it has only been 4 months, but most of the main competitors have released their year of hard work upon us, and it’s as good as it gets.
There’ the Samsung Galaxy S7, and its more radical brother, the S7 Edge. LG innovated the magnificent LG G5, with its incredible modular design. HTC went ahead and recently released their choice for 2016, the HTC 10. And finally, we have the Xiaomi Mi5, a surprise competitor who managed to grab the spotlight due to some of the features I’ll be sure to mention later on in the article.
Right, some of the smartphones here have unique features. But most of them are improvements over their previous counterparts, and that’s what makes them special.
So, I wanted to talk about the factors that went into some of the changes in features, and why it happened.
I mean, why did Samsung opt for a 12 megapixel camera instead of last year’s 16 megapixel-clad S6? Isn’t that a downgrade?
And why did HTC kick out of its flagship feature, the BoomSound speakers? Is this year’s speaker any improvement?
I’m going to be answering all of these questions today, and a lot more. So, let’s get cracking with the..
Samsung Galaxy S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7 was the first flagship to be unveiled, followed by the LG G5 on the same day. In typical Samsung fashion, the Galaxy S7 packs top notch specs along with world class build materials. This revolution in build materials was brought along with 2015’s flagship, the Galaxy S6.
Right, so there are a few changes in the Galaxy S7 from the Galaxy S6 that remains questionable. The most talked about being..
Why does the Samsung Galaxy S7 pack a 12 megapixel camera?
The reason why this question remains is because last year’s Samsung flagship packed a camera with a higher megapixel count. To be specific, a 16 megapixel snapper.
So, the primary question that would go through the average Joe’s mind would be: Isn’t that a downgrade?
Well, to answer that question, let’s go through a bit of camera 101.
Let’s start this off with what a megapixel actually is.
a megapixel (MP) is a million pixels; the term is used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but also to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays.
In layman’s terms, 1 megapixel is a million pixels. So, if a camera can capture pictures with a resolution of say, 5 megapixels, then the resulting image will be made up of 5 million pixels. A megapixel is commonly used to measure the resolution of a camera, so, it was not long before people started using it as a standard for all cameras, everywhere.
Now, don’t get me wrong: megapixels are extremely useful in one aspect. Cropping. You see, if you take a picture with a higher amount of pixels in it, you can crop said image and not be left with an overly pixelated mess. It’s the sensor that plays a huge role in making a picture actually look good.
Being the genius that Samsung is, they integrated what is called ‘dual-pixel’ technology, which basically allows faster shutter speeds, and way faster autofocus. Basically, each individual pixel is paired with another pixel whose sole purpose is to focus better. Since focus and shutter speeds are much better this translates to faster and cleaner low light images. That is a pretty good trade-off for mre megapixels.
So, that’s the official reason why they incorporated a 12 megapixel shooter. And they managed to do so while still maintaining compactness.
The HTC 10 was released very recently, and it was hyped up quite well. Like, hyped up.
In my opinion, the HTC 10 is a cumulative effort to eradicate the errors of the previous generations. It’s all-metal body, and very chamfered edges provides a brilliant form-factor. Also, it has a great camera and a good screen. But, it got rid of one of the most staple features that made up the HTC flagship culture; The BoomSound speakers.
Why did HTC get rid of the Boomsound speakers for the HTC 10?
This decision created widespread resentment on the internet because as everyone would tell you, HTC is nothing without its brilliant speakers.
The BoomSound speakers are perfect, not just for audiophiles, but for your average consumer as well. It is positioned perfectly, right in the front of the device, while other manufacturers still insist on putting it behind or even beneath their smartphones.
The speakers are also essentially big on volume. all the while remaining distortion free, and giving out rich bass.
So, why did HTC get rid of this feature on the HTC 10?
Well, if you take a gander at the HTC 10, the answer is quite obvious. It was done to make space for the physical home button which also doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
HTC wishes to solve this issue by incorporating a speaker set inside the regular earpiece, and it also adds actual sub-woofers to the bottom grille, which is insane.
And reviews everywhere also claim that it sounds good too. Along with this, they also have high-res audio support for ear-sets, for the audiophiles out there.
The Xiaomi Mi5 managed to turn the eyes and grab the hearts of whoever saw it first. Why?
Well, let me put it this way. There were 2 versions of the Mi5 that were unveiled at launch. A ‘prime’ version, and a ‘pro’ version.
The prime version of the Mi5 has a glass and metal build reminiscent of the Galaxy S7, and is powered by a SnapDragon 820 chip-set, along with 3 gigs of RAM. It also features 32 gigs of storage. And this sweet deal can be purchased for around $400.
The ‘pro’ variant is basically the same thing, but with 4 gigs of RAM, and 128 gigs of internal storage. It retails for $500.
So, in laymen’s terms, flagship specs, and a good build, for a relatively low price. So, the one question that struck me was..
How did Xiaomi make the Mi5 so cheap?
Let’s begin with Margins. Margins are the difference in price between the cost of what it actually takes to make a product, and the price it’s sold for. In layman’s terms,
Retail price – cost price = margins
Where, retail price is the cost at which the product is sold, cost price is the cost at which the product is manufactured, and that extra money left behind are the margins.
Obviously, a company needs margins to make profit. But, not all of that profit is actually, well, profit. What I mean is, the extra money used by the company for research, marketing, and advertising, especially advertising, is added to the retail cost of the product.
But some companies go a tad bit overboard with the margins. Adding bucketloads to supplement their income when not quite necessary. that’s why smartphones from huge companies cost a lot.
Xiaomi, on the other hand, is based in China. So, it can get all the extra margins through cheap labor and raw materials, coupled with very low income taxes.
So, it’s able to manufacture headsets at a much cheaper rate.
Well, those were some of the frequently asked questions about each of the new flagships of this year. However, there are a lot more floating around there, so expect another article soon.