Where to begin.
First, the title. Not the headline, which is not lacking in reasons to be mocked itself, but the
<title> attribute. The Title and the URL both are prepended with "Samsung Galaxy S4". That phone doesnt get mentioned until there's two paragraphs left on page 2 (don't even get me started on the fact that there's two pages). Why is it in the title? For SEO and linkbait, that's why! Farhad Manjoo, keeping it classy over there at Slate.
Next, the main photo: a Galaxy S4, attempting to get into Google Image results! Who'd have guessed that a phone not mentioned until the very end would get main photo status!
A closer look at the phone reveals that, yup, it's plugged in. In an article about phone battery life, the main picture is a phone that isnt using its battery.
I haven't even begun reading the article and I've already started to twitch. This is not a good sign.
Smartphones keep getting faster. If you buy a new high-end phone this year, you’ll find it’s noticeably more powerful than last year’s best gadgets. It will let you run much more demanding apps, it will load up Web pages more quickly, and it will deliver sharper, more advanced videos and games.
This is a fundamentally incorrect premise, as whether it's noticeably faster is relative and, from somebody who's actually paid attention to this stuff for a while, very hard to determine, as well as because the speed at which web pages load is due to browsers, not hardware, but I get what you're saying. Go on.
This might not sound like a big deal—aren’t new gadgets always faster than old gadgets? Yes, that’s true. But what’s striking about phones is how quickly they’re getting quicker. This year’s top-of-the line phones are likely to be twice as fast as those released last year. And last year’s phones weren’t slouches—they were twice as powerful as the ones that came out in 2011. This pace is remarkable. Indeed, if you study the speed increases of smartphones over time, you notice a thrilling trend: Phones are getting faster really, really fast—much faster, in fact, than the increase in speed in the rest of our computers. If you scrutinize this quickening pace, though, you’re bound to get disillusioned. One of the reasons phones have been getting faster is that they’re also getting bigger. A bigger phone allows for a bigger battery, which allows for a faster processor. But now we’ve hit a wall in phone size: Today’s biggest and fastest phones carry screens of around 5 inches, and they’re not going to get any bigger than that. (If they did, they wouldn’t fit in your hand, and would thus be phablets.)
...and this is when he veers off course.
There's a valid premise to be made out of those facts: the "speed" (by which I assume he means CPU speed, because my phone already feels faster than a lot of computers because of its flash memory) of laptop and desktop CPU's hit a ceiling of about 3 Ghz per core in about 2007. Now, chip foundries have compensated by fabbing multi-core chip artchitectures, but the focus on speed for the consumer PC market (in which I am including Macs, obviously) has diminished, simply because the processing speed of your average CPU has surpassed the level of perception in everyday tasks. An extra performance bump in my CPU could not load applications any faster than it does now: I'm almost completely throddled by RAM and hard disk speed. (That's why, when someone asks me for a quick performance boost, my first recommendation is always get an SSD if you can afford it. Just as an aside.)
The focus of chip foundries has turned to power consumption: how can I leverage the same amount of computing power out of cooler, less power hungry chips? This makes for smaller, thinner, cooler and lighter devices, which make everyone happy. It made products like the iPhone possible in the first place. CPU speeds will get faster, but that extra performance bump won't be felt in anything but power-hungry applications that are leveraged to use it.
Farhad should have actually mentioned this, because it indicates that power vs. battery life has been an age-old problem in hardware design for years. But he doesnt. Instead, he takes the fact that phones have gotten faster more rapidly than computers have gotten faster and decides that that must be because phones have gotten bigger. Bad conclusion to draw. Why?
Because the most popular smartphone in the entire period he references was a device that got smaller, thinner, lighter and faster, all at the same time. It's almost like Apple gave its customers the best of both wo-SAMSUNG PHABLET SAMSUNG GALAXY GALAXY PAGEVIEWS S4 S4 CLICK HERE FOR MORE.
This sort of thing is the reason why co-workers don't give me stress balls. Or why I have a bat at my desk.
So if the size of our phones—and, thus, the size of their batteries—is now fixed, phone makers (and phone buyers) must make a sharp trade-off.
...fixed? It is? You're going to make a baseless assertion that the size of phones won't grow anymore, and then you're going to make that a cornerstone of your opinion? I sure hope that doesn't come back and bite you in the ass.
The rest of the article (or "blog post", which is what it really is, considering his use of "I" and his constant editorializing) uses Geekbench (which is the basis by which all computer speed can be flawlessly measured and objectively compared, don't you know) to draw a line to the sky showing how fast phones get faster. It doesn't go into software at all (after all, how could software make a phone faster, or make its battery life last longer?), and it doenst even touch PC chips at all. And as he describes how we've gotten to where we are now...
Battery tests on the Samsung Galaxy S4 show that it can last a full day for heavy users, which is pretty good—but that’s primarily due to the fact that Samsung squished a bigger battery into the phone compared with last year’s S3.
So, how did they squish a bigger battery in there? By making it bigger. I thought the size of phones was fixed, Farhad!
It's conclusion, of course, is that with the Galaxy S4 (and phones like it), consumers have no choice but to choose between perfomance and battery life. Except if you just don't want to, and you'd like to continue as is, ignorant of even your own stupid argument.
Which is better, a fast phone or a long-lived one? I really don’t know. I want both.
Well, thanks for nothing. I have to go fix my nosebleed now.