I’ve made no small deal about how pessimistic I am when it comes to dual-core devices. This time a year ago it was all anyone could talk about – how amazing dual-core phones were going to be, and how it would change everything. I had more than enough doubt about the giant fluffy unicorn that was dual-core chipsets. However, as inevitable as every senseless push into new tech just for the sake of new tech often is, here we stand with a small arsenal of dual-core devices. Much to my chagrin, I was right, and for every “benefit” a dual-core device offers, it takes at least one away.
Let’s start with the Atrix, shall we? This amazing dual-core phone, the first of the NDIVIA Tegra 2 phones, couldn’t even manage a smooth launcher. Sure, it’ll play Pinball THD like a champ, but what’s the point in owning the phone if you can’t enjoy the UI? Granted, the EVO 3D and G2x have smoother UI’s but both suffer from completely miserable battery life. Dual-core architectures were supposed to improve battery life, remember? Even Google said there would be improvements, because at the very least the garbage collector would run on a separate core if nothing else was being optimized. Yet here we are, screwed into even less battery life thanks to bleeding-edge hardware with little-to-no optimization. But we have dual-core, yay!
There’s no arguing that the performance in other areas isn’t significant. NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chipset allows for 1080p output to televisions, which is phenomenal. Tegra Zone games offer a very rich experience, and we’ve already seen hints of the gaming platform Qualcomm is getting developers involved in for their next generation of smartphones. However, as these “superphones” become more and more like computers, they need to have the battery tech to match. Plain and simple – they don’t.
I know, I know “So what phone do you use that’s so awesome?” Glad you asked! I’ve had a Nexus S for quite a while now. Not since launch, but close, and I routinely get 16 – 18 hours of battery life. I was also fortunate enough recently to review the LG Optimus Black, a phone whose spec sheet included a “24-hour battery”. I got closer to 20, but that’s still incredible in comparison to G2x or the Atrix.
This is not an issue that will be resolved in any meaningful fashion until the next version of Android. Ice Cream Sandwich will take the dual-core optimizations from 3.0/1 and bring phones into the fray. Considering the update cycles of the manufacturers involved in this little debacle, it’s entirely possible we’d all be shopping for our next phone by the time an update to make dual-core phones even worth it for us drops.