BIG, BIG­GER, BIG­GEST

HWM (Singapore) - - Ed’s Note - David Chieng ED­I­TOR

Smart­phones today are locked in a race to be the big­gest, fastest, bad­dest they can be. If you think about it, that’s pretty much where the PC in­dus­try was headed at one point; my CPU has more mega­hertz than yours, my graph­ics card can process more (the­o­ret­i­cal) pix­els than yours, that CPU has more cores and can there­fore rip more MP3s and en­code HD movies faster than you can.

Smart­phones today are go­ing down more or less the same path. De­vices with big­ger and big­ger screens are in­tro­duced year on year. Bet­ter and faster it­er­a­tions of pro­ces­sors (and with more cores) de­but ev­ery other quar­ter. And while this is­sue of HWM was be­ing put to bed, LG Dis­play went and took ridicu­lous to a whole new level by in­tro­duc­ing a 5.5-inch smart­phone dis­play sport­ing a 2560 x 1440 pixel res­o­lu­tion, with a pixel den­sity of a whop­ping 538 pix­els-per-inch (PPI). In com­par­i­son, Ap­ple’s iPhone 5’s dis­play is 326PPI, and the Sam­sung Gal­axy S4’s dis­play sports a 441PPI screen.

The PC mega­hertz wars were even­tu­ally brought to a stand­still, sim­ply be­cause CPUs (and GPUs) got too hot and con­sumed too much power. In­tel re­fo­cused in­stead on power ef­fi­ciency. Sim­i­larly, the mod­ern smart­phone’s only real weak­ness re­mains power con­sump­tion, as those ad­di­tional pix­els, cores, ra­dios and what­not all need more power than ever be­fore, es­pe­cially in an age where be­ing con­stantly con­nected is an ex­pec­ta­tion.

Of course, the PC in­dus­try also re­al­ized that not ev­ery­one rips MP3s all the time, and not ev­ery­one bought multi-core CPUs sim­ply to make their video ren­der­ing go faster. I can only hope that smart­phone mak­ers come to re­al­ize that they’re re­ally build­ing smart­phones first and fore­most, and not de­vices that only look good when it comes to their laun­dry list of fea­tures, but de­vices that are ac­tu­ally use­ful and can make a dif­fer­ence.

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