What does “better” mean anyway?

So I’ve been reading a few reviews over the past several of weeks about the newest smartphones that have either come out or are coming out.  Among them are the Samsung Galaxy S II and, of course, the iPhone 4S.  I was misfortunate enough to stumble upon a review/comparison where the reviewer essentially declared the Galaxy S II the “better” phone because it had “better” specs.  This puzzled me for a moment and I had to process why that conclusion bothered me as it did.  The two primary reasons, I discovered, are these:

  1. Better specs are only one part of a much bigger equation.  User experience is a critical point and is completely relative to each individual user.  Not to mention how the accessibility to tools and programs that will enhance your work and digital life (also completely subjective to each individual user).  One person may prefer a smartphone with at least a 4″ screen, a minimum screen resolution, HDMI out port, micro-USB port, and stereo speakers (media buff most likely).  Now if you’re not entirely sure what I just said, that’s exactly my point.  If you don’t really know (or care) what most of those specs are, then they aren’t truly that important to you.  The best consumer first asks, “What are my needs?”  Then they ask “What are my wants?”  Once they’ve established this they can ask the question that is really at the heart of the issue, “Which device meets all of my needs, most/all of my wants, and I think I’ll enjoy using?”  Simply asking “What’s the best deal?” isn’t good enough because it uses that silly subjective word, which leads me to my second point.
  2. The word “better” is a great word.  It can be used is so many effective ways.  Reviews are rarely one of them.  What’s the better deal?  That depends on your criteria for “better.”  I don’t like bulky things in my pockets.  Scratch that, I really don’t like bulky things in my pockets.  My brother-in-law is the same way.  As a result, you most likely won’t see us sporting a Galaxy Nexus with a 4.65″ screen.  I like something that will have minimum impact in my pocket.  The result?  An iPhone 4/S. because they are thin and narrow compared to most other phones out there.  You aren’t me, so you have different needs, wants, pet peeves, etc.  When you see reviews that say that one device is better than another because of specs, my suggestion is to take it with a pretty big grain of salt.  What are the “better” specs? The specs that give the device the best ability to satisfy your needs/wants/peeves (in that order).
In short, don’t fall for the “better” trap.  Any device that fits your needs, wants, and personality isn’t just the better device, it’s the best device for you.  After all, it’s your money so picking what suits you is the better way to go.
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