The perfect phone can’t exist

The 5x, S6 and 6
The 5, S6 and 6

Well, to be precise, the perfect smartphone for me can’t exist. It’s the law. Or rather, the laws of physics…

A while ago I took the plunge on a phablet. Not just any phablet, but the monster that is the Nexus 6. It’s not codenamed “Shamu” for nothing. It’s huge.

After a while I decided that it was just too big. It’s awkward to hold, and awkward to carry in a pocket. My previous phone was the Nexus 5, and I thought that hit the sweet spot for size. I was looking forward to the release of the new Nexus 5x, which promised to be much the same but with the latest specs and a few new features… and then I started confusing myself.

The 5x is indeed a spec update of the 5, but it falls short of the state of the art. That’s reserved for the new phablet, the Nexus 6P. In order, presumably, to both keep the price of the 5x down and to differentiate the products in more than size, the 5x has several compromises.

The lower resolution screen, HD rather than QHD, I could live with, as I think HD is fine and QHD is just battery draining overkill. The 5x, though, has a lower spec processor, an LCD screen rather than AMOLED and less RAM. The processor and RAM probably aren’t significant for my use cases – I don’t play games, for example – but going to a lower spec than my Nexus 6 felt like a step backwards that was psychologically hard to take. The screen type was also not important – I quite like the ambient display feature, which is more power efficient on AMOLED, but I could live without it if I was getting an alert LED back (something missing on the 6).

There was an alternative though. Enter the Samsung Galaxy S6. High end specs in a small package. I decided to give a go, getting the Edge model. It seemed to tick all of the boxes…

… And yet once I had it set up, I found I missed that big old screen on the Nexus 6. The bigger screen made reading text easier, and because the on screen keyboard was also correspondingly bigger it was easier to type on accurately.

I’m sticking with the Samsung. While I couldn’t get a refund, I’d have been able to exchange it and was tempted by the Nexus 6P, to stick with a phablet (and one that, being fractionally narrower than the original 6 actually feels more comfortable to hold). I held off though, partly because the shattering story had just broken and I wanted to see how that panned out, and partly to give myself more time to get used to a smaller phone again. I was also put off by the switch to USB-C charging, as I’ve accumulated enough Micro USB chargers to have one handy just about everywhere.

So there we have it. Until they come up with a phone with a large screen that folds in half there is no perfect phone. You just get to choose which compromise to make.

in Mobile

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