Black Friday Smartphone Report

Black Friday Smartphone Fixya Report

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4 Scores

Synopsis:

It's easy to forget that Samsung's run with the Galaxy S line dates back to just 2010, considering the impact it has had on the smartphone market. Now seen as one of the world's premier smartphone brands, it's been a three-year success for the Korean phone maker, providing users with an excellent mobile device for consumers to seek out on the Android operating system.

With sales cracking the 40 million mark by October of 2013, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has shown its ability to connect with a wide audience of consumers who are looking for an excellent smartphone. But where does it stand on the common issues that plague users?

The Issues:

Overheating - An overheating phone is an issue that's beginning to pop up more and more amongst smartphone users due to the complexity and processing power of phones on the market. With so much horsepower under the engine in such a tiny device, users have reported the phone becoming hot to the touch when the phone is in use for a significant amount of time. Typically this issue presents itself when users are running a gaming app and browsing the web. One of the more common explanations for this issue is the fact that the S4 utilizes a plastic build instead of aluminum used in other smartphone models like the HTC One and iPhone 5s, which could increase the prominence of this issue.

Battery Problems - As is the case with the majority of smartphones with maximum processing power, Fixya users report battery issues with the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 has a tendency to undergo some severe battery drain over the course of a given day, causing the battery to require a recharge before the day is through. Using multiple apps at the same time as well as using the device's camera for an extended period of time are some of the more common issues that users report cause a quick battery drain, as those tasks are some of the more taxing on the smartphone.

Screen Issues - Make no mistake, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a beautiful screen that has earned accolades for its quality, however certain issues with the screen plague Fixya users who own the device. The display is relatively darker than other devices, which affects day-to-day activities that relate to viewing the device. This includes reading text on the device (such as browsing the web), looking at bright pictures taken from the camera, and running apps (specifically of the gaming variety) that have relatively dynamic lighting decisions that deliver a specific mood to the gameplay.

Moto X

Moto X Scores

Synopsis:

When Google acquired Motorola Mobility, the mobile division of Motorola, on August 15, 2013, the future of the Android operating system looked to be brighter than ever. As Google stated on their official website at the time of the acquisition, Motorola Mobility's "patent portfolio will help protect the Android ecosystem" and "accelerate innovation and choice in mobile computing."

The Moto X largely delivers on that promise in the sense that it is likely the best smartphone Motorola has ever built. With an excellent battery life that surpasses the results of most competitors, as well as a sleek design that offers a near infinite amount of customizability for users who choose to go down the Moto Maker route, the Moto X is a phone that deserves a look for users searching for their next smartphone.

The Issues:

Storage Space - One of the biggest complaints amongst Fixya users is the lack of local storage space on the Moto X. With one of the smallest amounts of storage space amongst competing smartphones, as well as no way to upgrade the phone's storage space on your own by buying a memory card, this is an issue which may turn off consumers who don't have the funds or ability to access outside storage on a consistent basis. Although the rise of the cloud has given less credence to these types of issues, obtaining a significant amount of cloud storage does add increased costs to users down the line on top of their phone bill. Other concerns related to a lack of storage include the ability to access the cloud 24/7, as well as the cost of accessing data while roaming or inconvenience of not having Internet access.

Screen Quality - The quality of the Moto X screen falls short of the standards set by many other competitive devices. Items such as text pixelation and saturation (overly bright colors) are common threads for the device, and relate directly to how users view basic media like text on web pages as well as rich media such as pictures and graphics when using the phone. The Moto X utilizes a 720P display instead of the 1080P that is becoming commonplace amongst competitors, which could be one of the reasons why users view the screen quality unfavorably on the device.

Camera Quality - The Moto X's camera quality improves on a lot of the issues smartphone cameras have had in the last few years, but doesn't appear to offer the high-end quality performance expected out of the top phones. With so many users utilizing their camera phone to create and promote content, an average or below average camera can do a lot to turn savvy users off. Photos taken in seemingly perfect light will sometimes have strange, pixelated shapes in the photo caused by a lackluster sensor, and other times the phone's automatic focusing will distort the photo and blur areas seemingly at random. Combined with the screen quality issues users have complained about, the Moto X is likely not going to be a popular phone with consumers who are heavy camera and photography users.

iPhone 5s

iPhone 5S Scores

Synopsis:

Apple has had a pretty firm grip on the smartphone market over the years due to their first mover advantage, innovation and incredible brand power. The iPhone has had an excellent user interface, making it a simple transition for consumers who have never owned a smartphone. This perception has had its share of bumps along the road, like antenna gate and battery gate, but by and large there's no debating that Apple understands how to make a product that appeals to the masses.

So how does the iPhone 5s stack up according to users who own the device? Let's take a look at some common problems.

The Issues:

Battery Problems - As we mentioned in the Samsung Galaxy S4 section, battery life is a common complaint for users with cutting-edge smartphones. The new A7 chip improves battery life compared to previous iterations (such as the iPhone 5), but issues with the battery still continue to dog Apple devices according to Fixya users, especially when running apps and using directions via location services. These battery issues aren't a new thing for Apple users, who underwent some pretty significant battery drain problems with the iPhone 4s, and may turn off some consumers who are travelling a lot and in the market for a phone that has extremely reliable battery life on the road.

Fingerprint Passwords - With the NSA's programs thrust into the national discussion during the release of the iPhone, it's probably to be expected that users would be concerned about the presence of a fingerprinting chip in a user's cell phone. However, we should make it clear that this concern should not be a pressing one for users at this time. Apple stores the fingerprint password on an A7 chip on the actual phone device and does not upload that data to iCloud or share it with any other apps. Furthermore, users are able to forgo using the fingerprint app if they choose to—instead of logging into their device via fingerprints, they can utilize the common numerical code or not choose to implement a password at all. Furthermore, the fingerprint password feature received an extremely limited amount of reported issues with the actual implementation of the feature—there doesn't appear to be a widespread issue with the passwords not working or anything of the sort.

Display Size - Although there are a limited number of complaints about the implementation of the display and how it functions on a day-to-day basis, Fixya users do complain about the phone occasionally crashing and being forced to reboot due to screen freeze. Fixya users also report disappointment with the display size in comparison to competitors' phones on the market. Apple's roughly 4-inch by 2.3-inch display is small in comparison to other select phones on the market, which makes mobile browsing and app usage more difficult as a result. Although the display size for Apple has increased in size from the 4s to the 5 (and 5s), it's uncertain whether Apple will make the decision to increase screen size again in response to pressure from Android manufacturers making larger and brighter phones.

HTC One

HTC One Scores

Synopsis:

HTC hasn't had a big impact on the smartphone market over the last two years—that is, until the HTC One hit stores. Both critics and consumers marveled at the beauty of the device, lauding its ergonomic features and industrial design. In a market that's saturated with specs and unimportant competitive advantages being thrown around, sometimes it just takes creating a beautiful product to get you noticed and in the discussion. That's what the HTC One has succeeded in doing.

So while the HTC One has a great design and some very compelling hardware features, which issues are users struggling with on the device?

The Issues:

Battery life - A common refrain amongst smartphone users, but one that seems to especially hit home with HTC One Fixya users, is the lack of juice on the device. A lot of this has to do with its big screen and fast processor, but the HTC One has a greater share of battery issues compared to the other smartphones in this report. The battery also takes a while to charge (again, likely due to the size of the battery to account for the screen), which can cause issues for users who need to recharge quickly while on the go. Some users report upwards of five hours needed to charge the device to full battery—this is likely an outlier, but does reflect the battery issues that users experience when using the HTC One.

Audio Issues — The HTC One also deals with select audio issues for some Fixya users, who report hearing a subtle hiss in the background while making phone calls and (less so) when listening to music on the device via the speaker system. Users who utilize the speakerphone to make calls while driving should be aware of this issue when speaking on the phone. However, it does not appear to affect the other person on the line, which means the issue is restricted to your own usage and doesn't make it more difficult for others to hear you. These speaker issues are becoming less and less common with smartphones as they improve, and could be a deterrent for users who use their phone's built-in speakers a good amount of time.

Camera Quality - With such a gorgeous screen, it's slightly confusing as to why the HTC One has a fairly disappointing camera. Fixya users report having a lot of difficulty shooting pictures in the middle of the day with photos coming out extremely saturated. However, night photographs appear to come out much better. It should be noted that this may have been a conscious decision by HTC for their camera – the device has been promoted as an "UltraPixel" camera, which essentially means that there are fewer pixels in each photo but those pixels are able to display a brighter range of light. In other words, the HTC One camera is going to function better in poor light for users compared to their competitors, but isn't going to deliver the high-end quality photos that other smartphones are capable of producing.

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