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What is a superphone?

What is a superphone?

The phrase ‘superphone' was first bandied around at the tail end of 2010.

The best part of two years down the line it's now cropping up in the mainstream media. And as more and more brawny kits come to market that meet that description, we think it’s something you’re going to be hearing a lot more.

But what exactly is a superphone? How exactly does it differ from a common-or-garden smartphone? And what’s so super about it, anyway? Here's four reasons super phones deserve their stellar billing.

1 It's about the power, stupid

samsung galaxy s3 processor

It is a truth universally recognised that the two phones that most deserve the 'superphone' sobriquet are the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S3.

There are a lot of reasons for that, some of which we'll come to later. But one is that they both feature quad-core processors offering twice the brawn of the last-generation of Android smartphones.

What does that actually mean for you and me? Well, from the get-go it means that both phones offer a sense of snap that other handsets can't match. It also makes for a smoother browsing experience and means there's zero lag when opening up apps.

More might also means there's no way you're going to be frozen out of future Android operating system updates, unlike less well equipped smartphones.

Most excitingly, the graphics-shifting capabilities of quad-core processors ought to pave the way for a new generation of games with richer, more complex gameplay and the kind of lush graphics that make Angry Birds and casual gaming ilk look as rudimentary as Computer Space.

2 Large battery

Elvis Presley used to justify his ruinously calorific diet of squirrel fritters and jello and peanut brittle sangers on the grounds that he required that kind of good eatin' to sustain him through his energetic live shows, punishingly busy schedule and even busier love life. In his words: "if you want a bit output, you need a big input."

battery life

That goes double for superphones. Multi-core processors eat through battery life quicker. So, to mitigate against that, phone makers have equipped their kits with huge cells capable of giving them the juice they need.

The S3, for instance, rocks a 2100mAh battery which still delivers over eight hours of use on a single charge. The HTC One X isn't far behind with a 1,800mAh model.

3 Tablet-style screens

According to the universally accepted industry definition, for a device to qualify as a tablet it must have a screen of five inches or above.

With displays of 4.7-inches and 4.8-inches respectively, the One X and Galaxy S3 superphones blur the lines between handsets and their larger cousins more closely than ever before. The S3's panel is 22 per cent larger than its immediate predecessor, the S2, for instance.

Samsung Galaxy Note wide image

Consumers are using smartphones less and less for calls, texts and other rudimentary communications functions. Conversely, they're using them more and more for browsing the web, playing games and watching movies.

So equipping handsets with bigger screens that make those features more pleasurable and more manageable and altogether less fiddly is just common sense.

4 Advanced voice controls

Voice command recognition on smartphones is nothing new. But the Galaxy S3's S-Voice app offers new features and a level of artificial intelligence and personality that far exceeds their antecedents.

iOS 5 Siri

That's not to say that the technology doesn't deserve some of the brickbats that have been thrown its way. The lack of comprehension of what we thought were fairly stock phrases and common vocab that hamstrings interaction can be frustrating, to say the least.

But the fact that S-Voice will surely be updated at some stage means that voice control are bound to get a lot smarter later this year. And although the HTC One X doesn't feature voice controls, you can bet your bottom dollar that they'll be a feature of the company's next superphone.

5 Motion sensors

The Galaxy S3's motion sensor and, more importantly how it uses it in tandem with Samsung's TouchWiz Android software, is a big part of what it sets it apart from standard smartphone.

Nowhere is that more evident in the SmartStay feature, which uses the phone's front-facing snapper to detect users' facial movements and determine more accurately whether the handset is in use.

Assuming it is, SmartStay won't let the display time out, meaning you'll no longer have to keep pressing your phone's display to prevent it from going blank while you're watching a movie.

Category: News
Tagged: mobile phones
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