The Generally Prejudicial View of "IT Professionals"

There's an phenomonally consistent school of thought shared amongst the distinctly 'Tech-savvy cultist' community of today, notably IT professionals: That Apple is the overly-simplistic devil of all tech. The uniformally adherent perspective of any IT professional is that Apple overcharges, underdelivers and is generally a zombie-inducing antagonist catering to 'pleb-level consumers'. The underlying belief is that Apple is an evil, greedy and deceptive mega-corp who makes money off the ignorant fashionista hordes of the 21st century willing to blindy splash cash for the latest overhyped, underspecced iPhone, iPad or Mac. That they lock down their phones to be exclusive and anti-IT-social and don't allow open-source development, therefore they are simply difficult to deal with and don't deserve the time of day. 

The problem with these opinions is there is a sub-divide on those who fancy themselves tech savvy, and both sides of that coin don't necessarily share the same motives behind the anti-Apple movement. High-level developers working with in-depth machine language, software or network customisation/programming such as C++ and corporate enterprise administrators (who want true open-source customisation options as well as a developer platform that is simpler to executee and distribute). These folks have genuine reasons to want particular customisation features that Apple are still too exclusive to want - such as high-volume distribution of network rollout. These opinions are vastly different reasons for 'hating' Apple when compared to inch-thick knowledge "wannabe's" who imagine themselves as tech guru's, yet don't understand the intricacies and in-depth complexities of how or why Apple do what they do. Unfortunately, the latter encompasses 98% of low-level IT support departments or, even more often, a big-headed gamer who has managed to build a computer or two in his life and thus, as 'gods gift to spec-based logic', is trying to equate desktop-level specs to a mobile processor environment. 

This opinion about Apple is further compounded by the ousting of Apple's strategy (which has been known for years by those paying attention) of throttling performance in older model iPhones in favour of providing better battery lifespan. Note: Battery LifeSPAN, not just Battery Life.

Here's the thing: They are horridly uninformed opinions.

Firstly - All companies do that. It may not be 'official', and Apple are the first to admit it, as usual - but EVERYONE deep in the tech industry knows it's a necessary feature of any modern smartphone to begin throttling performance once Lithium batteries begin to dwindle - otherwise you get sudden shutoffs and shockingly short battery life. It's not a conspiracy theory: it's factual, and necessary, and a fantastic example of when information is withheld from consumers in order to prevent ridiculous outcry over precious little knowledge. I can't wait to see what happens in iOS 11.3 when Apple enable the ability for users to run their 4 year old iPhone 6 at full-spec and watch their battery die within hours. I'm sure that will be Apple's fault, too. 

Anyway. Let's look at some common comparisons that I hear people state on a daily basis about comparing Samsung phones to Apple phones, or Mobile specs to Desktop specs. 

1. "The Note 8 has 6GB of RAM - that's more than my laptop!" - 6GB of LPDDR ram found in mobile devices (The LP stands for Low Power) is NOT the equivalent of even 1GB of DDR4 3000mhz RAM found in modern laptops. It's not even close. 
2. Samsung has 1240 nits of brightness in its note 8 phone - thus a better screen. 1,240 nits of brightness for small portions of screen area (Low Average Picture Levels) is not the equivalent to 640 nits total-screen average found on the iPhone X with better screen calibration and an actual average brightness of over 700 nits on auto in bright environments.
3. Apple are too expensive. Sure - tech has gotten expensive - but the Note 8 was brought out at $1500, the Pixel 2 XL was brought out at up to $1529 and until the iPhone X came out, Apple ironically were the cheapest of the current flagships. 

Now there's quick and easy explanations debunking those horridly shallow mindsets above, but I won't bore you with details. I will give one shining example though: Qualcomm 835 (the latest chipset found in most Android flagships to date) has 8-cores, at 2.1ghz for 4 and 1.8ghz for 4. This vastly outspecs, 'theoretically', the 6-core Apple A11 chip. But what people don't know is that the Apple A11 dye is double the physical size. Twice the size means there is far more estate to move information around on, and twice the transistors in a single CPU-dye.  The drawback of this is that larger processor sizes are far, far more expensive to produce than regular chipsets. The genius of this is, despite the added expense, is that Apple can recoup the extra chipset cost in-house and mitigate costs by customising said chipsets for Apple devices. Conversely, Qualcomm and ARM are both selling chipsets - so the key selling point here is CPU real estate and having a small footprint to fit in with multiple manufacturers' designs without sacrificing too much performance. But, since Qualcomm (and therefore ARM, who design Qualcomm chips) both want a profit from chips alone, there isn't the willingness to sacrifice profit of chipsets vs whole-unit profits - they're only selling chipsets after all.  

Apple, right now, have a 6-core A11 'bionic' chipset housed in their latest generation of iPhones, including the iPhone X. This chipset wipes the floor of all competition from
Qualcomm, vastly outperforming even the later-introduced SnapDragon 845 by quite a margin in terms of every measurable metric isolated to the chipset. This is quite astonishing, given the 845 is yet to officially hit the market, and the prior 835 was introduced more than a year ago in the android world. 

But this conversation goes deeper. The idea that one can simply look at a spec sheet and judge which 'chipset' or 'phone' is superior is laughable. This is an idea commonly held by the 'tech savvy' enough of us to know what mHz and RAM is, yet not savvy (or invested) enough to look deeper at true performance.

It's like comparing Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi in sports. One is the worlds fastest ever sprinter, but would be utterly useless in a football game. One is the best Footballer of all time, but would be at least 40m behind Usain Bolt in a 200m sprint. Either way, both athletes far exceed the dominion of mortal men and women in their own respective fields and neither men have any place being judged against eachother - for both of them are the best at what they do.

Similarly, a complex question of which processor is better or which phone is faster can not be answered by 'this chip has 2.0ghz 8core' vs 'the iPhone only has a 1.6ghz 4core'. Don't believe me? Explain the Basemark X benchmark of the Mate 10 vs Oppo R11 - despite the Oppo r11 having a "higher clocked" cpu technically, it scores literally half of the Mate 10's apparently 'lower' spec CPU in the exact same benchmark. 

So all that being said - when it comes to the pure chipset performances - Apple's a11 simply destroys the equivalent generation SnapDragon 835 in both synthetic benchmarks and real world applications, especially CPU-heavy applications. But when the RAM is pushed hard enough that someone has multiple high-consumption apps open simultaneously and is looking to quickly multitask between them, then 6GB of Ram vs 3GB will naturally win. Perhaps a better analysis is this: Samsung phones allow you to have 2 applications split screen and still multitask. That's fantastic, and tailors to 6GB of mobile RAM rather well - but it depends on whether someone is going to use that or not. Running one app at a time and realistically capping out 6GB, or even 3GB of RAM is simply a ludicrous scenario which can only be doctored for synthetic benchmark purposes. It's not realistic. And to that end - I don't see too many people using split screen, ever. 

Another great example of 'Spec before Fact' is the much-touted 1240 nits of brightness that Samsung love to brag about when talking about their own Galaxy Note 8 Display. The true brightness of the Note 8 is 423 nits of total-screen levels on manual settings at max brightness, or 560 nits with automatic in a high-ambient light setting. The true brightness of the iPhone X (according to objective tests) is 726 nits on manual and 809 nits on automatic brightness with high ambient settings. Once again, Apple underpromised and overdelivered - a constant focus for the brand, in direct contrast to Samsung, who tend to overpromise and explode (jokes). 

This isn't to say the iPhone X is the dominant smartphone in every category. In this video: - at 7:16 and beyond, you will see the Galaxy Note 8 destroy the iPhone X when loading apps and generally running when a huge amount of high-RAM consumption apps are open at once (as I eluded to two paragraphs above). I would also concede that, especially for the front camera, the Pixel 2 portrait mode, somehow, destroys the capabilities of the iPhone X when it comes to defining edges of foreground objects, especially non-humans. And it does it with software, rather than dual-lens, which is impressive. 

However - the iPhone X performs more than 3x faster in any CPU-heavy task (such as editing photo's - portrait lighting - editing video - high-spec games) than the note 8 up to the point where the RAM limit is reached, and the camera on it would be (in my opinion) at least the 2nd best if not equal best for rear-facing, photo's and 2nd best front-facing. So it's a pretty excellent balance between the two, and with by far (again, in my opinion) the best screen, and objectively the brightest screen with best colour reproduction.

The point here is this: Apple 'sheepiness' aside, I think there's a trending anti-Apple popularism that runs rampant in the slightly, but not overly tech savvy 'prosumer' crowd of 2016-2018 that vastly misunderstands the true hardware within both devices and draws comparisons that simply aren't relevant nor factual. And whilst I get accused of being an Apple sheep daily, I would argue there's a much more prevalent bias within those that accuse me - and I would be far more willing (and capable) to back up my perspective with objective fact in most instances. However, since the question of 'what do I think is best' is asked of me quite a lot, here is my current opinion of which flagship smartphone performs best at which particular category as of writing this.

Best Day to Day Performance: iPhone 8 Plus/iPhone 8/iPhone X
Best Camera: Google Pixel 2/Google Pixel 2 XL
Best Aesthetic Design: iPhone X
Best Practical Design: Galaxy Note 8 if you have big hands, otherwise iPhone X
Best Screen: iPhone X (close runner up: Huawei Mate 10) 
Best Battery Life: Note 8
Best Default Camera post-editing software: Note 8 (scaling bokha is awesome - but easily reproduced in 3rd party apps on Pixel's or iPhone's).
Best Ecosystem: Depends on other devices, but Apple's communicate better (W1 chip / Airdrop etc)
Best Voice Assistant: Google Assistant, with BIXBY second - Siri is utterly trash and horrible beyond belief in comparison. C'mon Apple.
Best Ergonomics: Galaxy S8/S8+ and, yes, the iPhone X. 
Best Bank for Buck: Huawei Mate 10/Note 8 on sale/Oppo A73 on budget/iPhone X if you're invested in Apple and money's not an issue - iPhone 8 Plus if you're invested in Apple and money IS an issue. I would say a Google Pixel 2 32GB is better than an iPhone 8 32GB though.
Best Use of Storage: iPhone 8/8 Plus/X - HEVC (h.265) on the latest iPhone generation allows for roughly 1/2 the space taken up by Video's and photo's with no loss of quality. That makes it outstanding in terms of physical local storage. Apple's PhotoStream has been around long before Google Photo's and operates exactly the same - so any arguments that Google has 'unlimited' photo's with the Pixel 2 is simply because they unlock unlimited storage space for purchasers of their phone. Paying $1.49 for 50GB or $4.99 per month for 200GB unlocks the exact same methodology of feature - but since photo's and video's are 1/2 the storage they are effectively 100GB and 400GB respectively (albeit not unlimited). Take that as you may.

Best 'Phone' overall: Not realistically Answerable. It depends on the user - just like every, single, other relatively unbiased informed consultant will always, and has always said. I personally don't believe there is realistic competition in tablets to the iPad Pro (an opinion backed up by the most reputable sources including MKBHD and Linus' Tech Tips among many others) - and I use my iPad daily as a work device - therefore I'm inclined to stick with Apple. If someone is heavily invested into Google Assistant or Google Home + LIFX or any of the many other Google ecosystem devices, however, I'd recommend the Note 8 or the Pixel 2 (depending on size preferences or importance of camera).

At the end of the day, I absolutely love my iPhone X and don't regret the decision to get one whatsoever. But there's also a couple of really interesting and unique features to the Google Pixel 2 that I wish my phone had - Notably Google Lens or the better edge definition to portrait photos. If I were to change from my iPhone X today - it would definitely be to the Google Pixel 2 XL. But I can't see myself changing anytime soon.

There you have it folks. My opinion on current handsets - as well as my opinion on typical anti-apple arguments. Shush, ignoramus. #inbeforehate. 

- Tom