Does the Android world need more powerful sub-4.5″ phones?

In a word, yes.

At least that’s what GSMArena and over 6,300 people so far since yesterday, 15th April 2013, have suggested.

GSMArena Petition

The Change.org Petition highlights in the following way:

The market for high-end smartphones is disproportionally populated with slabs of gargantuan size. We feel that given the choice, a substantial number of users would prefer the latest hardware and software achievements in a more compact, mid-sized form factor.

To:
Android phone manufacturers
We are witnessing high-end smartphones getting bigger by the day. We feel you should not reserve the mid-size phones for the mid-range. We strongly urge you to rethink your mobile portfolios.We firmly stand behind the idea that high-end smartphones should not turn into mini-tablets or at least, users should have the right to enjoy the latest hardware and software achievements in a more compact, mid-sized form factor.Android smartphones manufacturers should not forget that portability is a key feature for any phone. We, the mobile phone users urge you to start making mid-size smartphones with high-end specs.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Well, certainly, even as a Note II owner, I would be inclined to agree.  One of my friends was eager to leave Apple for an Android-based device and after researching for months on end decided to opt for an iPhone 5 anyway.  The size was the problem.  He couldn’t get better specs in a phone closer to 4″ and in the Android world the hardware specs makes a bigger difference than the Apple offering let’s face it.

Don’t get me wrong, I fell in love with the Nexus 4 but then opted for a Note II because it wasn’t that big in the pocket, really, and the massive screen was just so beautiful for media consumption. Big is good in my opinion as a lot can get done on a 5.5″ screen.

So, why do I agree with this? Well I have a few reasons: Samsung Mega 5.8, Samsung Mega 6.3, Sony Xperia Z, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy Note II, Oppo Find 5… the list continues for phones over 4.5″ and each has it’s own charms and a great spec to match.

Find me something under 4.5″ which fits the bill?  Only China’s Small Cosmic X1 comes close and the spec isn’t quite there even as a quad core, nor does it fit into the 4.2″ size GSMArena are looking for.

So, if you’re one of those who is still looking for something to fit in your pocket and life with power to boot, go sign that petition.

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Samsung UK’s attempt to dodge honouring Sudden Death Warranty Claims

Since November there have been stories of the Sudden Death Syndrome on the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

The problem is said to effect a limited number of Galaxy SIIIs. Sadly most people don’t get to use the eMMC Brickbug Check app from the Play store to check if they’re effected because, let’s face it, 9/10 users don’t know about, or expect, a manufacturing defect like this to go on without being dealt with.

This means they also don’t know that they should keep their devices regularly backed up because if it’s going to go, that’s what is going to happen.  The preventative measure is to obtain Android version 4.1.2+ for your Samsung as it is a bug specific to the 4.1.1 (and older?) firmware.  There’s over 500 pages on the XDA Developers site so it’s becoming more prominent for sure.

Now, I have read online customers of various countries having problems getting Samsung to play ball with honouring this clearly obvious manufacturing defect under warranty if you happen to have a cracked screen.  The web has brought to my attention people who have had a broken screen for four months so the damage was totally unrelated, but I have personally met with an individual currently being refused the mainboard repair under warranty because of a small crack on the glass at the front of her SIII.  Now, I say glass not screen, because the phone worked fine for 7 months+ after the glass cracked in a tiny spot in the corner, not even near the LCD.  The buttons worked, the LCD was unaffected, the touchscreen was not affected at all.

The size of the crack blamed for mainboard failure

Really though?

Yet here we go, Samsung UK said the following first:

One of our engineers has tested your phone and they have found that it is no
longer covered by the manufacturer warranty because it has been subjected to
physical damage. The following part(s) will be required to repair your
handset back to working order:
GH82-06521A-A/S ASSY-PBA MAIN(COMM)GT_I9300/GH97-13630A-MEA FRONT-OCTA LCD
(SVC)_GT-I9300,BTU,CO; METALLIC BLUE/

The cost of the repair to your handset inclusive of parts, labour and
postage will be 248.77 GBP.

If you agree for the repair to continue on your handset then please contact
the following department to make a payment 02000011455.

What? £250 almost, charging for two parts, one being the mainboard (which isn’t her problem, clearly) and the other being a perfectly fine LCD (just because it happens to be attached to a slightly damaged piece of glass).

Come on Samsung, she’s not stupid.  After consulting with me she heads back to Samsung to get further help.

Their next reply after a back and forth communication and chasing the Service Centre and Customer Services constantly?

One of our engineers has tested your phone and they have found that it is no
longer covered by the manufacturer warranty because it has been subjected to
physical damage. The following part(s) will be required to repair your
handset back to working order:
GH82-06521A-A/S ASSY-PBA MAIN(COMM)GT_I9300/
The cost of the repair to your handset inclusive of parts, labour and

postage will be 167.33 GBP.

If you agree for the repair to continue on your handset then please contact
the following department to make a payment 02000011455.
Woah, so wait Samsung.  You’re charging for the mainboard replacement here at nearly £170 and nothing for the LCD? This means two things:
  • You are agreeing this can be fixed without replacing the LCD as it is an unrelated defect, not driven by the physical damage on the glass.
  • You are charging her for a mainboard replacement which is a manufacturing defect and should be covered under the warranty, irrespective of the glass state.

Let’s face it Samsung.  You know it’s a manufacturing defect, you’ve acknowledged it and offered preventative solutions, but you want to charge her for this.  The crack in the glass didn’t cause the fault after 7 months.  How could it?  Sure, if there had been liquid crystal all over the mainboard it could be blamed, but unless you’re planning on sabotage whilst the phone is still at the service centre, I know this wasn’t the case.

Now the latest they have claimed so far on the phone, not in writing, is the following points:

  • The warranty is not void for the mainboard due to physical damage (Johnny at Samsung UK Customer Services)
  • They will not repair the mainboard under warranty unless the screen damage is paid for first as it is one of their “rules” in the service centre (I heard that as, “money making scams” when told it)
  • The screen repairs cost between £30 and £200 (the individual in this case was quoted £130, which makes no sense as it’s literally a piece of glass that’s broken not the LCD itself and in all honesty she doesn’t need this done!)

So, I can’t imagine there is any motivation behind them saying no to fixing the mainboard under warranty except to ruin the life and bank balance of someone trying to work three jobs whilst studying just so they can make a little extra money.

I owned a Galaxy SII, I own a Galaxy Note II and I’m really considering if this is the right way to go now.  Perhaps the Apple customer service element was right all along.  Perhaps Samsung shouldn’t just be afraid about its cheap plastics but how it treats its customers.