As flagship Android phones become more competitive and the differences between them seem to narrow, marketing teams are throwing more numbers and jargon at us to convince us of the value of their products.

But it’s a mistake to judge phones by their specifications. . It can no longer be argued that better performance always means a better device. A flagship may give you the best design built with the highest quality materials, but that’s about all you can guarantee.

Here’s how to cut through the hype and figure out why some phones are better (or worse) than they look on paper.


The characteristics of the processor are packed with numbers, for example, the number of cores. or clock speed, which shows how fast and powerful it is. In fact, installing the same processor on two different phones will not result in the same performance.

There are too many other factors in the game. The quality of other components used, how well the operating system is optimized (each phone has its own build of Android), and how the manufacturer chose to install the processor. Some may prefer to tune it more for battery life at the expense of raw power, or vice versa.

And while it’s safe to say that a high-performance processor is better than average, this is only guaranteed for models of the same generation. In some cases, a modern mid-range processor can outperform a previous generation flagship processor.

stop judging android phones by specs

Let’s also consider the elephant in the room.

If you’ve ever compared your flagship Android phone to your friend’s iPhone and felt like the iPhone seemed faster, it is. Benchmarks show that while these scores are somewhat comparable in multi-core performance (for resource-intensive tasks such as gaming and high frame rate video), the iPhone is in a different league in single-core performance. This covers everyday tasks like swiping, scrolling, and opening apps.


The amount of RAM in the current flagship phone ranges from 4GB to 8GB. Does this mean the 8GB model is twice as good? No.

Here’s the thing about RAM: it’s only useful when you use it. Free RAM is a waste of RAM.

If you use apps and games that require huge amounts of memory, then yes, performance will be better than on a 4 GB device. But these apps and games don’t exist on Android, so assuming you get better performance just because you have more RAM in your phone, there can’t be more bugs. This will protect your phone from the future, but nothing more.

stop judging android phones by specs

Even on phones with the same amount of memory, performance will not always be the same. The speed and responsiveness of a device is largely determined by how well the operating system is optimized. Very few devices work with the stock version of Android. Instead, manufacturers use their own highly customized versions with additional features and applications.

Some of them are more efficient than others. Even after a factory reset, the amount of available RAM will vary depending on the phone model. And anyway, Android is very good at memory management. So if you’re using a very budget device with limited RAM, you won’t have to worry about this.


Screen specs are always filled with jargon designed to impress.

There are OLED and LCD, resolution, pixel density and so on. And now the refresh rate too. The 120Hz display on the new Razer Phone should allow for smoother scrolling, which could result in an improvement in the perceived speed of the phone. Expect more phones to have this in the future.

OLED is often regarded as the best display technology due to its greater contrast ratio, dynamic range, and better power efficiency. This is also required if you want to use the Google Daydream VR system. But at the flagship level, the difference between OLED and LCD might not be as big as you’d expect.

Unfortunately, whichever type you use, not all displays are the same.

First, there are potential quality issues. More recently, we have seen the LG V30 screen showing uneven brightness across the screen on some devices.

And the Google Pixel 2 XL had screen burn issues. This is where images that remain on the screen for a long period of time burn into the display permanently and remain visible at all times. The state of Android and the navigation bar are prime candidates for getting burned, but it can take many months or even more.

And then there are the ways manufacturers customize their screens. Some opt for very bright displays with vibrant colors, others prefer a more natural look. There is nothing right or wrong here, it’s all about personal taste. But once you get used to one, the other may be completely inappropriate.


When it comes to battery life, bigger is better. But, as always, everything is not so simple. A smaller battery doesn’t automatically mean poor battery life, as long as it’s paired with well-optimized software and a power-saving processor.

stop judging android phones by specs

But there are so many factors that affect battery life that it’s impossible to judge how well a battery will perform from its performance. Maybe you are using one of these energy saving apps. Or maybe you’re in an area with poor network coverage, so your phone needs to use more power to maintain a connection.

If your battery is not performing well, you can try to improve it. And don’t forget that battery capacity decreases over time. If you find yourself getting an hour less screen time than you did a year ago, that may be entirely natural.


The main thing to remember when looking at header storage specifications is that the actual amount of space available to you will always be much lower.

stop judging android phones by specs

Internal storage contains the operating system and pre-installed apps, and is often 10 GB (or more). That 32GB phone without an SD card slot can creak at the seams after six months of use.

Another missed detail about storage is its speed. It’s rarely mentioned in specs, but it can make a big difference in your phone’s overall performance. If you’re wondering why your phone seems to be slower after a few months of use, one of the factors could be your internal storage performance slowdown.

The only way to find out the read/write speed of a phone’s memory is to check the criteria in online reviews.


Specifications have always been used to try and sell cameras, and smartphone cameras are not immune to this. Thankfully, smartphones have been spared the «megapixel race» — the misguided belief that more megapixels means a better picture — but there are still many other areas in which they compete.

All but the cheapest phone cameras now take decent pictures on in good light conditions, so the focus is on their ability to shoot in low light. There are many hardware factors that can affect this, but they are not always as important as they might seem.

The main one is the diaphragm. This is the size of the opening between the lens and the sensor, and it determines how much light the camera can absorb (measured as an f-number, with a smaller number representing a larger aperture).

stop judging android phones by specs

The LG V30 has the largest aperture on a phone at f/1.6. It captures a third more light than the f/1.7 lens on the Galaxy S8. But that doesn’t automatically mean it’s better.

The larger sensor also captures more light. So make big pixels on the sensor. So does optical image stabilization, which allows the camera to use slower shutter speeds. It’s very hard to compare them meaningfully, so putting them down to the numbers on the datasheet won’t tell you anything.

Camera software

But the hardware part is not the most important thing in a phone camera. More than ever, it is the software that is responsible for creating the images. HDR+ mode on pixel phones For example, it takes a quick picture and combines them into one image with high dynamic range and low noise.

The effect is so good that it is able to overcome many hardware limitations and surpass those cameras that should be better (based on their specifications). Most large phones have similar features, although they don’t always work well enough.

How the software handles images is also important. Some manufacturers produce ultra-sharp images with vibrant colors that are sharp but not realistic. Others prefer softer, more natural images. The worst cameras have software that delivers flat digital photos that look boring. In these cases, choose the best camera app. may I help.

Ultimately, the best way to evaluate a camera is to look at sample images and decide for yourself.

Phone selection

Not so long ago, specs were an important indicator of the quality of an Android phone. Each generation of devices has been better than the last, and each bump in specifications has brought tangible benefits.

But this is no longer true. Smartphone development has largely stalled. Most phones $300 and up will give you an HD display, a fast processor, and a decent camera. But it is impossible to understand how these details will be translated into real performance. Some mid-range devices far exceed expectations, some flagships disappoint. The Android spec race is over.

Do you still look at specs when buying a phone? What phone do you have and did it live up to your expectations? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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