Budget Phone Week: Do we really “need” fast phones?

My week with an ultra-cheap Firefox OS phone comes to a finish. What have I learned?
For a start, I’ve learned that the ZTE Open really isn’t much of a phone at a hardware level. That didn’t take long to learn, mind you; aside from the bright orange colour and reasonably nice rounded corners, the rest of the experience has been on the decidedly slow and painful side.

Journalist comes to conclusion: Cheap phone is cheap. Nobody is particularly surprised.
Journalist comes to conclusion: Cheap phone is cheap. Nobody is particularly surprised.

To an extent, that’s to be expected, because this is meant to be a cheap phone. I’d argue that it perhaps should be even a touch cheaper within the local context, because for not a lot more you can get a much better unlocked budget Android handset, and if you don’t mind being locked to a carrier, you can get handsets even cheaper too.
Firefox OS, though, is a fascinating critter, and I’d love to see what it can do on hardware that’s just slightly more capable than the ZTE Open. I’ve a sense that it might just fly in the right circumstances, and I’d really rather like to see it do so.
You can't do everything, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss the larger app catalogs of iOS/Android.
You can’t do everything, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the larger app catalogs of iOS/Android.

It doesn’t have every app, but it covers the very basics well enough, and I do like the very open nature of its approach. I wrote at length when Firefox OS was announced that it probably didn’t stand a chance in the Australian market, and that still feels to me to be true, but then I have to remember that we’re not the core market for what Firefox OS is selling?
It’s also been an interesting week in terms of refining my own expectations around what I expect out of a smartphone platform and device. I wasn’t surprised that I could tolerate the lower resolution display screen, because as a keen retro gamer I’m all too used to blocky visuals.
I was surprised by how much I expected to be able to pull out the phone and take a photograph of something in an acceptable manner and speed, although my experience with other budget handsets suggests that the ZTE Open’s particularly woeful camera is a bit of an aberration.
The ZTE Open's camera has mushroom for improvement. (I'll be here all week, folks. Try the salmon.)
The ZTE Open’s camera has mushroom for improvement.
(I’ll be here all week, folks. Try the salmon.)

What about the question at the top, as to whether we “need” fast phones at all?
There’s the obvious rejoinder that nobody “needs” a smartphone at all; it’s hardly as vital as air, water, or access to a game of Bubble Bobble every once in a while. Beyond that, however, it has refocused what I’m looking at when I’m assessing other handsets.
I spend twenty minutes this morning simply messing around with the Nexus 5 and the iPhone 5S, and I appreciated their speed and ability that much more. I’ve got a few phones mid-review at the moment, and I’m assessing what they can do — and what they can’t — with a significantly refreshed perspective.
I’m also never, ever — EVER — touching a nano-SIM adaptor ever again.
Now, can I go back to a phone I actually like? Please?
Monday:Can I survive on Firefox OS?
Tuesday: Firefox OS and productivity
Wednesday: Can Firefox OS keep me ‘appy?
Thursday: I see what you did there: Screens, cameras and entertainment
Friday: Do we really “need” fast phones?

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