Friday night topic: how much do you ask of your phone?


While I was writing about Huawei's Kirin 980 launch this morning, I was wowed a bit by that SoC's CPU cores and graphics-processing chops, courtesy of ARM's latest core IP. I was also impressed a bit by the potential of its dual neural network processors and blazing-fast LTE modem, among its other specifications. I also found myself wondering just how much of the thing's power I would ever use were it inside my personal device. 

See, my phone use is extremely narrow and extremely boring. According to Apple's battery-life tracking features, over 75% of the time I spend on my iPhone 6S (a number that is way too large to begin with) is spent browsing the web via Safari these days, and when I'm not doing that, I'm using the camera. Maybe I'd notice more single-threaded performance from my device's SoC as a result, but the Apple A9 still feels plenty snappy, and early testers of iOS 12 have noted how that update seems to breathe new life into their devices.

I don't do any more than the most basic gaming from time to time on my phone, and it's not for lack of choice. Maybe I might play with artificial-intelligence or augmented-reality applications if my device supported them, but at the same time, I haven't felt compelled to spend my computing dollars on any of the new features Apple, Google, Samsung, and company have shown off at their respective keynotes over the past couple of years. If I need to do anything really computationally demanding, I'll go fire up  my PC.

Perhaps the camera improvements or some other feature in the next iPhone or Pixel device will shake me out of the sense of adequacy I have about my nigh-on-three-year-old phone, but at the same time, I can think of several other things I'd rather spend a thousand bucks or more on than one of today's flagship handsets.

With all that in mind, what's the most demanding thing you do with your phone? Where is it adequate for your needs, and where does it come up short? Are mobile device makers doing enough to compel you to upgrade, or have you gone many years between new handsets? Let us know in the comments.

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