The smartphone market is full of players, the rivalry between which is only growing every year. This is typical for all price segments, but the lower the cost of production, the stronger the competition – it is not surprising that in such conditions, manufacturers must use various tricks to put their devices in the most advantageous light. This article contains the most popular techniques of recent years – some of them are noticeable even before purchase, but some appear only after weeks of use. Each item specifically answers the headline – what the manufacturers sacrifice.
The Right Cameras
Instead of a telephoto module, a useless macro or depth sensor is installed
Relatively speaking, now in smartphones, there is a bundle of three rear cameras proven over the years: the main, ultra-wide-angle and telephoto (for the use of zoom without obvious loss of quality). Sometimes they are supplemented by other useful sensors (an additional camera for another zoom or a ToF camera), but very often manufacturers violate this trio for the sake of economy and abandon the telephoto camera, replacing it with a module for shooting macro or a “depth sensor” (or all this at once).
In practice, this is nothing more than a trick: the installed macro cameras have a very low resolution and no autofocus, which makes it difficult to take at least some acceptable pictures, and the “depth sensor” (a camera that helps make portrait shots with background blur) is often completely useless and can easily be replaced by any other camera.
Protection against dust and water ingress
This is not paid attention to until the first accident.
In the budget price segment (even the average budget), it is very difficult to find a model with protection against dust and water ingress – it is provided by the use of silicone/rubber plugs inside the ports. It is unprofitable for manufacturers to bother about this, and therefore when buying not the most expensive models, you need to be prepared for the fact that the ingress of any drop can be fatal. In fairness, companies sometimes install a plugin for the tray for SIM cards, but the smartphone itself still does not pass the certification of full protection against water and dust.
Conversational is especially affected if the stereo system is simulated.
Manufacturers have chosen the right direction and in recent years have been equipping their devices with real loudspeakers and even a stereo system, but there are catches. First, often volume alone has nothing to do with quality (strong distortions and hisses are noticeable at above average). Secondly, in the case of a stereo system, not two speakers are often used to reproduce two channels of sound, but rather one and a half – the conversational one is twice as quiet as the main one.
Proximity and light sensors
Without them, it becomes impossible to use the gadget comfortably.
Fighting for every penny of the price of a smartphone, companies very often abandon these sensors – the proximity sensor is replaced by a virtual analogue (based on readings from the front camera and the gyroscope/accelerometer), and the light sensor is completely abandoned. This is a real problem, at least in the lower price segments – the smartphone becomes impossible to use comfortably. On the Techsblogger there is a separate article about this, but in short: the virtual replacement of the proximity sensor works extremely poorly (the smartphone often does not block when talking or is unlocked even before the call is completed), and it is better to forget about the correct operation of auto-brightness in a smartphone without a light sensor.
And sometimes even security patches
This is a key problem not only for budget smartphones but also for gadgets up to $ 600 – very often they come with an already outdated system and then receive one Android update (with a long delay). Now manufacturers have already realized that the update guarantee is a good marketing tool, so they often announce how much the smartphone will be supported. If nothing like this is indicated on the official website, and the manufacturer, in general, has a bad reputation in this regard, then it is better to avoid his device. Otherwise, you risk buying not the most relevant device, which in a year will become completely obsolete.
Honest screen frequency
Or they play dirty, levelling the high frequency
Buyers are always led to numbers, so when the long-awaited technological shift appeared in the smartphone segment in the form of an increased refresh rate of the display (a smoother picture), almost all companies immediately entered the race – naturally, inventing new tricks for buyers. In some cases, you can’t manually set the maximum frequency: either standard or dynamic mode is available (when the frequency is adjusted automatically based on the content displayed and other factors). And if in the case of flagships, the second option works well and justifies itself, then in budget models it is rather a marketing ploy, because the increased frequency is turned on extremely rarely (and sometimes only in some branded applications).
Another trick is the use of an insufficiently powerful processor, and this is a really dirty move on the part of manufacturers. Buyers willingly lead to an increased refresh rate of the screen, but after a while, they notice that even the main screen sometimes lags – the chipset simply does not cope with the rendering of a high frame rate. Perhaps the first problem comes from this – companies are well aware of the lack of performance and almost everywhere artificially limit the high refresh rate of the display.
This drawback will face not the owner of the gadget, but all his contacts
The quality of microphones can not be assessed by characteristics (besides, no one indicates their specifications), and many reviewers do not even pay attention to this – as a result, it is the microphones that become one of the most mysterious components, forcing buyers to rely only on the decency of the manufacturer. But the savings do not spare anything: often in budget models, there are rather mediocre microphones that do not know how to deal with noise (like the wind or other people’s voices), or simply quiet.
Replace it with plastic even inexpensive models
The plastic case has its advantages: it is lighter, does not heat up so much, and does not crumble when falling. However, installing it in a smartphone more expensive than $ 400 is somehow unaesthetic on the part of manufacturers, but this is still not uncommon. With a plastic case, the gadget loses its premium, and time quickly acquires scratches and scuffs.
Because of this, I want to give up a vibration in principle.
Like the microphone described above, the vibration motor can only be checked manually (even reviews will not help). And sometimes it’s just terrible — so much so that you want to turn it off altogether. This may seem like a sucked-out problem, but modern operating systems and firmware are full of effects, complemented by tactile feedback – when a lousy vibration motor is installed in a smartphone, it spoils the entire user experience, especially if you used to use the device without this problem.
Sometimes manufacturers are sophisticated in marketing.
It is not at all news that some manufacturers have come up with a new trick and, under the auspices of the struggle for the environment, do not put a power adapter for it (and sometimes even a cable) in the kit with a smartphone. This can be recalled in this article, but there is another sophisticated move – in every possible way to advertise ultra-fast charging, focus on exorbitant speeds of replenishment of 50% and 100% of energy, but do not put an adapter of the appropriate power in the kit.
It’s like advertising a convertible, but selling a folding roof as an additional paid option – initially supply the car only with a hatch.