Windows Phone has had one major thing going for it since it’s inception – fluidity. Even the lowest end Windows Phones have always seemed to be effortless in their transitions, form Home screen to apps, or browsing, or whatever else you have always done. It’s simply a well done operating system that rarely suffers form lag or “jankiness” unlike many Android phones can be susceptible to lag either due to coming on phones without enough chutzpah, or becoming spyware infected, or what have you.
Windows Phone is rather like Apple in that way. Apple’s iPhones and iPads have long been able to do more with less. Apple had never put a full gigabyte of RAM into a phone until the iPhone 5, which is just around 6 months old. Even the iPhone 4 sported a single core processor at a time when dual-core CPUs were becoming more and more common in smartphones. And yet despite all that, iOS has remained smooth and fast.
More With Less
Windows Phone as mentioned, is similar in that way. However, we are reaching a point where quad core processors, and indeed octo-core processors are making their way to market. iPhones have managed to avoid any issues with quad core CPU’s (although we have not seen this year’s line up yet) but can Windows Phone afford to not jump onto that particular bandwagon? I’m guessing not.
The iPhone has mind share, and a reputation for being great. Whether or not that’s an earned reputation or not is another coversation. But with Windows Phone failing to gain much traction in the marketspace it seems that Windows Phone OEMs will have to at least consider going with quad core processors, and unfortunately that is for mostly wrong or at least dubious reasons.
Joe consumer walks into a store looking to buy a smartphone. What smartphone you might ask? A sales associate approaches. “Here’s a phone with four cores, and here is one with two. What is a core you ask? Well the CPU basically determines how fast the phone is. Four is more than two right? So, you want more. Ok, here you go.” This conversation could ring out around the world if Windows Phone ignores the quad core trend and sticks with two. Sure, for the most part, it probably doesn’t need four and will still be able to keep up (or at least look like it keeps up) with the big boys, but at the end of the day, four is more than two.
And yes, this is an extremely simplistic way to view things but let’s face it, dear reader, if you are reading this, there’s a good change I’m not talking about you. Rather, I’m talking about the tens of millions of average Joes and Janes that will be buying smartphones this year. Some will be buying for the first time, some as an upgrade. So it’s the way OEMs have to look at things. Four is bigger (and therefore better) than two.
Battery Life Debate
There also remains the great battery life debate. More cores equals better battery life because more gets more done faster. With the technological world pretty much split down the middle on this issue, it’s hard to gauge a material benefit. But what it boils down to is this as follows: A phone needs to do stuff. And more cores allows the phone to do stuff faster, which means it can go back to not doing stuff sooner which means less power overall will be used to do stuff. It seems to make sense, but whether or not it’s actually true and whether or not it makes a significant enough difference to justify the cost is another animal entirely.
There also remains the question of heavy duty tasks. One thing Windows Phone does like to hang its hat on is Microsoft Office compatibility, and productivity. Sometimes productivity can really give a processor a migraine. PowerPoints in particular can cause a CPU to have a bad day with graphics, animations, music, etc.
Games, both now and certainly in the future are also becoming more and more intense and graphics-heavy. It’s true that most games available now can be run decently on a dual-core processor, but in the future, that may no longer be the case. And let’s face it, at the end of the day most phones are entertainment devices as much as communication devices. Remember, we’re thinking about Joe-consumer here.
Windows Phone finds itself in a position where it really can’t afford to pass up this elevator and catch the next one. Windows Phone OEMs really need to keep up with their proverbial Joneses and stay in line with current technology trends, lest they continue to be passed up by other devices because of the myth that “more cores” equals “better”, in which efficiency and UX are not accounted for. Does the world really need another reason (real or imagined) to not buy Windows Phone? I think not.
Let’s not hand them one.