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BW Businessworld

Unnecessary Frills: Smartphone Features You Can Live Without

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That is such a cool feature! Pity I'll never really use it!"
If I had a buck for every time this thought crossed my mind when looking at the latest greatest smartphones, well… you know the saying! Truth be told, while a good feature set is fundamental to a smartphone's success, brands resort to peppering feature lists with "overmarketed" features, meant to distract you into buying the smartphone. Here's my pick of the top marketing buzzwords and pseudo-selling points a.k.a the features you really shouldn't care about in your next smartphone.
More Megapixels?: Last year it was 8 megapixels, and this year the number's 13. The megapixel myth that started in the digital cameras segment has wormed its way onto smartphone specs sheets as well. Sure, an 8MP shooter will best a lowly 2MP phone camera shot each time, but there's much more to better images than packing in the latest generic 13MP sensor. For instance, is the sensor size larger than average, or how fast the lens is (the lower the aperture, the better) or whether there's a dedicated camera button to fire up the camera at a moment's notice?
Eye Tracking Features: Screens that stay on for as long as you're looking at them? Or pause the video when you look away? Sounds futuristic, but the reality is that they're a pain to get to work, even in brightly lit environments. Good luck to you if you plan to use it as a party trick down at the pub! These annoyances mean you'll likely turn the feature off… permanently.
Proprietary Features: With the sheer variety of devices available in the market, what are the chances that everyone in your immediate social network will have the same phone? Leads you to wonder about much advertised features such as the ability for a group of friends to hear the same music across their devices, now doesn't it? If the cool things you can do with your phone are limited to doing only with other exact same phones, you'll never really end up doing that cool thing very often, right?
Insane Screen Resolutions: It seems you can buy any flagship device today, as long as you want a device with full-HD screen. No one tells you about the flipside of the display specs arms race — the power cost, how much each of these features guzzle battery — which is fast becoming a bottleneck to all-day device use. Full HD displays require more juice to keep all those extra pixels lit up, and let's not forget the fact that the graphics card has to work harder to draw out all the extra pixels, which further compounds the problem. The worst bit? Beyond the 330-350 pixels per inch mark, your eyes can't even tell the difference!
Bloatware: I've noticed a disturbing trend of late — in an effort to customise the software experience to differentiate themselves from other brands, most phones ship with so many software doodads that you're left with precious little space to store your own music, documents, movies etc. Worse still, a lot of these 'free' apps are really just promotion-ware anyway, forced onto your device so that the manufacturer can make a few bucks from its partners, at the expense of your phone's storage space!

Highs And Lows
Shoehorning a consumer DSLR sensor into a compact point-and-shoot (P&S) frame leads to some mixed results in the case of the Nikon Coolpix A. It sports the same sensor that can be found in the excellent D7000 mid range DSLR, leading to superb images with little noise/artifacts. Build quality and the handy mix of dials leaves little room for complaint, but the camera suffers on account of a sluggish autofocus. Also, since the lens is a fixed 28mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8, you will get good low light capabilities and a wide enough field of view for landscapes and street photography. That said, its pricing and the fierce competition in the P&S segment limits how many of you will seriously consider the Coolpix A.
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 54,950

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