Great Software and High Refresh Rate Display: The Holy Grail of Smartphone User Experience

What constitutes an ideal smartphone ? It is a question that has no definite answer. For some people, the answer may be the most powerful processor and large amounts of RAM. Another person may prefer a smartphone that can shoot the the highest quality images and videos. For another person, battery life may be the most important deciding factor when purchasing a smartphone.

All of these factors are undoubted of great importance. However, when it comes to the immediate user experience provided by a smartphone, two factors trump everything else. They are display quality of a smartphone and more importantly the software. I have been using Galaxy S8 from the middle of 2017 to the middle of 2019. it proved out to be the classic example of a great device with an excellent display and very good cameras marred by incompetent software. In order to achieve the smooth user experience I expected from a flagship device, i had to go to the developer settings in my S8 and turn off the window animation scale, transition animation scale and animator duration scale. Even then the software experience did not prove to be optimal. Samsung Experience UI proved to be a heavy skin on top of android and reloading of apps was a common experience. Visually, I did not have much problem with the Samsung Experience UI, however, the stress it put on the 4GB RAM in Galaxy S8 was considerable. At the beginning of 2019, S8 received the One UI update and it significantly improved the software experience. It was still not the optimal user experience I wanted from a flagship device, but One UI proved out to be a significant milestone in the history of android skins by Samsung.

2019 was my second year of using the Galaxy S8 and by that time the battery life had also taken a hit. Despite the phone having just a 3000 mah battery, the charging speeds using Samsung Quick Charge adapter was quite slow. I ordered Oneplus7Pro on June 5, 2019, from amazon.in and it arrived the next day. I chose the Oneplus7Pro over the Galaxy S10E due to the former’s larger screen, display with no notch or cut out, Oxygen Os and Warp Charge feature. IP68 rating or wireless charging were not high on my list of priorities.

By now, I have been using Oneplus7Pro for over an year and the phone never disappointed me even in the slightest especially when it comes to the user experience. Oxygen OS and the 90hz QUAD HD+ Amoled Display proved out to be a killer combination. it also helped that the phone runs on the Snapdragon 855 chipset and has 8GB RAM.

My personal experience with the Oneplus7Pro is also reflective of a present trend in the smartphone industry. in fact the brand Razer understood this in 2017 itself. They had launched the device Razer phone in 2017 with a Snapdragon 835 chipset, 8GB RAM, stock android and a 120hz LCD display. Razer made a follow up to this device in the year 2018 while retaining the software and the high refresh rate panel and upping the hardware to Snapdragon 845 and adding a vapour chamber cooling system. Later brands like Asus and Xiaomi also entered this arena of gaming smartphones that boasted combination of great software and a high refresh rate display.

However, this post is not about gaming smartphones (that will come later) but about more and more smartphone brands embracing better software and high refresh rate displays in their smartphones. Samsung, the smartphone giant launched their Galaxy S20 series in this year with optimized One UI software and 120hz Super Amoled displays. Oneplus upped their game in 2020 by launching their Oneplus8Pro with a 120hz dynamic amoled display and Oxygen OS as usual. Asus launched their third iteration of their ROG (Republic of Gamers) with a 144hz amoled display panel and option for stock android like user experience. Realme launched their X3 and X3 Superzoom with 120hz amoled displays but with the not so well reputed realme os. However, the midrange price and flagship level specifications (Snapdragon 855+) of these smartphones makes them a tempting buy.

By all means, this trend shows no signs of fading away. The question is, why should it? It is a welcome trend.

Some References

https://www.androidpolice.com/2019/09/15/android-games-phones-high-frame-rates-90-120fps/

Information Courtesy: MKBHD, Dave Lee, XDA, C4ETech and Android Police.

Featured Image Courtesy: Lisa Fotios from Pexels

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