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Supporting the new superphones

Both Samsung and Microsoft have either announced or unveiled a line of phones that have been dubbed “superphones”.  In the case of Samsung, the Galaxy Note, considered a cross between a tablet and a smartphone due to its size, contains a massive 5.3-inch display with a 1280 x 800-pixel resolution. Microsoft’s roadmap indicates that they plan to release a superphone in late 2012.
In a race to differentiate their products in a market where new mobile devices are introduced weekly, handset and OS vendors have resorted to upping the ante by debuting products with multi-core processors and large screens.  However, these phones have are losing sight of what made smartphones popular in the first place, a device that conveniently fits in a pocket.  In addition, offering additional screen sizes places a burden on the developers to support.  Two years ago, the standard screen size was HVGA, or Half VGA.  It is 320 pixels wide and 480 pixels tall. A year ago, the standard was the 800×400 pixel WVGA.  Google currently lists 20 different screen sizes on their site compared to three for iOS: 960×640, 480×320, 1024×768 (iPad).  In the case of Android, just supporting the most popular requires 7 layouts to test and this does not include the superphone screens. This increases both the development time and testing cycles as while there are techniques to handle multiple resolutions, each resolution has to be tested.

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Perry Hoekstra

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