There has been one constant among the onslaught of Kindle Fire reviews we’ve seen over the last few days (it launches today): iPad comparisons. Amazon’s new slate has been, and continues to be, constantly compared to Apple’s iPad.

As typical with head-to-head match-ups, reviewers have broken out the spec sheets to see how each device measures up. But do specs even really matter anymore? Several tech writers have been asking this lately, and they’ve been making some valid points…

In this day in age, where user experience is at the forefront of consumer technology, a device’s specifications shouldn’t necessarily matter. But they do. Reviewers and fanboys still constantly use processor speeds and other hardware details to measure a gadget’s worth.

John Gruber does a good job of demonstrating how trivial specs are in a recent blog post:

“Movie reviews are about what the move is like to watch. Is it enjoyable, is it entertaining, does it look and sound good? Imagine a movie review based on specs, where you gave points for how long it was, whether the photography is in focus, deduct points for continuity errors in the story, and then out comes a number like “7.5/10″, with little to no mention about, you know, whether the movie was effective as a piece of art.”

Technology writer Drew Breunig also gives a good example of why a device’s specs don’t mean anything if its software isn’t done properly:

“Gizmodo’s Nook Tablet hands on perfectly illustrates the need for a perceived speed metric:

“I wasn’t expecting mind-blowing performance, but I’ve seen lesser spec’d devices with more polish. Barnes and Noble handlers didn’t allow me to play around with the device on my own, but watching it in action, the sluggishness of the UI and browsing was noticeable. Menu and app transitions, along with page turns and scrolling looked choppy and somewhat unresponsive.”

Compare this to their earlier hands on with the under-specced Kindle Fire:

“So now we see it in the flesh. The first thing that hit us? This. Thing. Is. Really. Fast.””

As Breunig points out, Gizmodo’s writers noticed a huge speed difference between the two tablets. Now guess which one has the faster processor. Devices are a combination of software, hardware, and several other components. Specs really don’t tell the whole story anymore.

Android devices are proof of this. Even with their dual core processors and gigs of RAM, I have yet to come across an Android handset that scrolls and transitions between apps smoothly and consistently. These devices need the software to back up the hardware.

The bottom line is this: we need to stop automatically assuming that the device with the bigger spec sheet is the better product.

  • I believe that internal specs have now matured well enough, that it doesn’t really matter. This happened with computers around 3 years ago, thanks to Intel’s Core 2 Duo. The same is happening to Smartphones. While faster is always better, I believe other factors should be given more importance now.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been telling people this for years
    (Wow it has a better processor and bigger ram bigger mega pixel camera)
    But the iPhone still beats the living crap out of your nandroid phone
    Stop cheaping out on tech that looks better on paper because we all know it’s not an iPhone and never will be

    • Vetle Løken

      Hahahaha… Comment of the year… my Android phone costs more than your iPhone, it IS smoother, it DOES have a bigger screen, it DOES have a higher resolution, it IS faster. My Android, and many other Android based phones, are better (not just spec-wise) than the iPhone 4s. Don’t get me wrong, i don’t hate on Apple’s products, i hate on some of their simple-minded fanboys. The iPhone 4s is a good phone, by all means, but far from the best. It’s easy to use, but why would i need that? It’s not like i can’t figure out how to use a different OS. Get your act together you narrow-minded fanboy.

      • What android phone costs more than the iPhone 4S? This is just an innocent question, I actually have no idea. Even the Samsung Galaxy S2 seems to be a couple of hundred below the iPhone 4S in AUD..

      • Anonymous

        The iPhone 4S is $650. The Nexus is just under $800, while the RAZR and most high-end HTC phones (such as the Sensation XL) are $650 as well. Of course, that’s for 16GB for the 4S and who knows what for the other phones.

      • So tell me Vetle what android phone is as smooth as the iPhone.?
        As a matter of fact I have got galaxy s2 and it’s UI smoothness can’t compare to iPhone 4 not to mention 4s which I also own.

      • J

        and look who sounds like a narrow-minded fanboy…lol troll.

      • Guest

        As long as it’s running iOS I couldn’t give a monkey’s whats under the hood.

      • Anonymous

        Do you even know what “narrow-minded” means? Because he does not fit that description.

      • Steven Malnati

        All of your comments could possibly be true except for one: the iPhone 4 and 4S are the highest resolution phones on the market with the pixel to screen ratio. That’s across ANY phone as of right now. When the Galaxy Nexus comes out, it’ll be a different story, but for now the iPhone takes the cake with that.

      • Anonymous

        The Nexus’s pixel to screen ratio is 115, which is still less than the iPhone’s 126 (from memory, I’m sure about the Nexus’s pixel density but not the iPhone’s). What DOES have a better pixel density than the iPhone is the Rezound; with a ppi of 142, it takes the crown in pixel density.

    • Jon Garrett

      I take you and your comment as a joke.

      In what area does the iPhone 4/4S beat the living crap out of a Samsung Galaxy S II? have you ever even touched a Galaxy S II let alone even used one?

      The Galaxy S II is 6 months old and outperforms apple’s FLAGSHIP iPhone in EVERY category except camera stills quality.

      As for Android phones trying to “be an iPhone and never will be” it seems like its the other way around, I see iOS ripped tons of features from Android and people who jailbreak do so to get iOS to be more like iOS.

      • Anonymous

        wrong… although they are the smoothest android phones out there, every galaxy phone i’ve touched still seems a bit choppy. I want to like android, I really do. hopefully the graphics processor in the nexus helps out… (even though it is inferior to the A5’s dual core GPU.)

      • Jon Garrett

        there’s no way in hell you’re gonna sit there and tell me that the Samsung Galaxy S II is choppy not by a long shot. if you are, then you’re either very dishonest or an apple fan boy.

  • As long as it’s running iOS I couldn’t give a monkey’s whats under the hood.

  • For me it matters more than ever

  • Jon Garrett

    If specs don’t matter why did all the manufacturers (including apple) go from single core to dual core and soon quad core? or 5MP to 8MP etc etc

    If specs don’t matter, why are devices getting better displays, faster processors, more memory, more this more that.

    Specs do matter.

  • Anonymous

    Haha all nandroid users are iPhone wannabes you cheap bastards lol