Smartphone nirvana doesn't mean no effort is needed!

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I suspect I'm going to have people comparing me with the pot calling the kettle black here, considering the number of smartphones I get through, but more and more I'm realising that a lot of what's really smart about a smartphone is you - and your own set-up and preferences. In other words, chasing the very latest models and swapping devices every few months is - no doubt - fun, but it's expensive and at the end of the day I bet you set up your home/Start screens almost identically to those of your one or two year old devices - I know I do.

In fact, come to think of it, my 'home' screen and core application set up is extremely similar, even across different platforms. In other words, I've been evolving a particular set of expectations and functionality and have worked out what's needed on each platform. And have tuned everything to my own needs and to.... perfection. I suspect you may well be the same.

It doesn't really matter whether the processor is the latest Snapdragon or ARM powerhouse, it doesn't really matter how much RAM is onboard (for most things), it doesn't even matter that much about screen size or camera capabilities (and yes, you heard that right - coming from me!)

Once you've reached a certain plateau of functionality, what really matters is the effort you've put in, the time to install just the right apps, with shortcuts/tiles in the right places, with all logins in place, all accounts set up, all sharing facilities authorised. Get all of this right and your smartphone will run 'sweetly' for you - and it really doesn't matter one iota that you 'still have last year's model'.

Within a single platform, in this case Windows Phone, I even set up my Start screens almost identically when I upgrade or use a review device - making it downright amusing seeing the tech world in a tizzy about the latest UI enhancement or core OS feature when most of the time users won't even notice.

1020 Start

It's a documented fact that, in the Android world, Samsung users get an entire OS upgrade (e.g. Android 4.3 to 4.4) and.... everything looks and feels exactly the same as before - they can't tell the difference. Likewise, on Android and also now on Windows Phone 8.1, the swipe-down notification pane is often missed by new users. I heard an anecdote that when a contact was helping out an Android-using friend and, after eight months use by the latter, swiped down to show notifications, the friend was astonished, having never seen that 'feature' before.

I do wonder how many Windows Phone 8 users will even discover the 'Action Centre' notifications pane after they get pushed the 8.1 update. Microsoft is doing its best, with videos like this, so maybe the message will get out, but I doubt usage of these new features will get anywhere near 100%. In fact, after the 8.1 update, the average user's Start screen will look much the same. 

Even across devices, someone starting on, for example, a Nokia Lumia 800, and then upgrading to (say) a Lumia 920 and then a Lumia 930, will almost certainly end up with much the same tile layout and sizes, since it's not until you get to 'phablet' sizes that the 'three wide' layout becomes a default.

So - searching for the perfect UI, the perfect device, the latest specs and gadgets - it's all enormously enjoyable and those who know what they're doing will get slightly more out of latest gear than with older hardware. But let's not kid ourselves, well over 95% of your (and my) smartphone experience isn't down to cutting edge electronics, it's down to our own finely-tuned and honed set up.

Yes, you can just stick a SIM card in any old smartphone and head off and the basics will work. But put in some effort, spend an hour with it setting everything up and your smartphone just got really smart. As smart as you. Smartphone nirvana.

As the old adage says, it's not what you've got, it's what you do with it....!