Every time a new phone is announced it seems like the new generation has more features packed into it than the last model. This constant addition of new features to handsets has been going on for a long time, but does it add anything of value to a phone?
[dropcaps]We have seen companies add things to phones that are totally pointless, but the companies do not seem to care. Consumers do not seem to care either, if they even notice or use the new features at all. However, they begin to complain when their phone slows down or they cannot find something because it has been hidden beneath all those added features. Hopefully this will get phone manufacturers to realize something extremely important, user experience is the most important feature you can put in your phone.[/dropcaps]
We are going to look at some companies that have begun putting the experience of using their product first.[spacer color=”264C84″ icon=”fa-android”]
The most prominent example that comes to mind is Samsung. Since the original Galaxy S came out in 2010, Samsung kept adding features to it’s Galaxy S series until it seemed to get out of hand. Many of these features were completely useless – I’m looking at you “Eye Scroll” (pun intended) – but consumers kept buying the latest and greatest from Samsung. However, people began to complain when their originally super fast Galaxy phone became sluggish and laggy before their two-year contract was up.
When the S5 was released, something happened that caused Samsung to rethink their strategy…sales declined rapidly. Customers were no longer happy with new, useless features and began to switch to other phones.
This year, Samsung released the S6 and the tech world noticed something completely different about this phone. The useless features were cut, the software was streamlined, and they focused on user experience more than anything else.
Samsung focused on delivering what customers had been begging for, which was an updated UI and better build quality. The removal of expandable storage and replaceable battery did upset some of the hardcore users, but for the mass crowd, it brought with it the premium design and fluid performance they had been asking for. By doing this, the Galaxy S6 and its curved companion have received great reviews and promising sales numbers, two things that Samsung desperately needs.
Motorola might not have the most sales or highest profits, but their Moto X phones have been praised by the tech community on being the easiest to operate and having useful features. The 2013 and 2014 Moto X’s were not cutting edge in the spec department, but Motorola focused more on creating a better user experience rather than faster speeds. That being said, the Moto X is still fast and fluid even though it is running on old hardware.
Motorola also focused on adding features that people would actually find useful. Active Display and Moto Voice are two added goodies of the Moto X that make it really stand out. Not only that, but they are useful daily. When I owned the 2013 Moto X, I used Moto Voice constantly because it was so much easier to talk to my phone than type into it.
Keeping the software near stock also allows Motorola to have updates for their phones ready before other competitors. The 2013 Moto X was one of the first devices to run KitKat, even beating some Nexus devices. The Moto X’s clean interface and simple user experience makes it a phone that can last you a full two years.
Google has been making strides over the last few years to make Android simpler to use and easier on the eyes. The last three Android iterations (JellyBean, KitKat, and Lollipop) have each improved drastically over the last. Android has become much smoother and more fluid to use, with lag being reduced almost completely.
Lollipop introduced the most visually appealing (at least to most) update to Android we have ever seen. It focused on looking cleaner and being easier to understand and use. Google’s new design language “Material Design” focuses completely on letting people know where things come from and how to move within apps. It has not been perfect, but it is nice to see Google focusing heavily on user experience.
Not only have they made Android much easier to use, but it is also much more fun to use. All of the animations and transitions that happen when you tap different things makes the whole operating system seem alive.[spacer color=”264C84″ icon=”fa-android”]
Features are great and help differentiate phones, but when they come before the user experience, then there is a problem. Now that phone specs have reached the level of desktop PCs, we will hopefully start seeing manufacturers focus on their user experience more. Those companies that like to put heavy skins on top of Android need to work on keeping it fluid and offering features that are actually useful. Features for the sake of features is pointless, and will not help a phone or customer in any way.
Do you agree that user experience is ultimately most important or is another feature worth more to you? Tell us down in the comments!