1 April 2015

Self-Confessed Phone Spotter

Phone-spotting. Verb. a visual attempt to identify the make and model of mobile phones.
''Stop phone-spotting and eat your lunch already.'

Phone spotting identifying phones smartphones
What have we here? (Photo copyright and ownership of www.pocket-lint.com)

iPhone 6. iPhone 5 or 5S, oh wait, Touch ID, 5S. Dimpled back, S5. iPhone 4. Larger screen, Moto G 2014. Galaxy...Ace...Fame...not sure, Samsung make too many mid-tiers. Xperia Z2, maybe Z3. Lumia 1020, don't see many of those.

It only takes one trigger for me to begin phone-spotting: to physically see it in someone's hands. Then it's game-time, a race, a continual competition with myself to get it right each time.

There isn't one major reason why I engage in, what is in effect, an ultimately pointless and strange activity. A part of it is to test my own knowledge in an unrestricted, random environment. It's trying to somewhat gauge the competition and market share between iOS, Android and Windows (I have my doubts about a Blackberry revival, sorry BB users). There's the interest in seeing who's got the newest device and what it looks like in the flesh.

Whatever the main reason may be, I'm always playing this odd little game of mine (although I know I can't be the only one). Passing through (eight) train carriages to get to the front, I'll a) try to spot which phone my fellow passengers possess and b) realise the sheer number of people whose eyes are magnetically attracted to their screens. It happens with friends: 'That's an iPhone 6, he's upgraded from his 5.' Walking through London it goes something like, 'iPhone 6, 5S, Nexus 5 - that's rare, 5S, ahh too late, they're gone, next one, S3.' Even at work it'll be, 'Moto G 2014, good decision,' and a mental high-five to that person - I think verbally congratulating a distant colleague in this particular situation would be too much an expression of 'major nerd'.  

It'll start with the screen size and basic shape. Samsung is somewhat helpful as they plaster their name on the front to 'help' people identify that it is a Samsung and not an iPhone. But most manufacturers do not and even with Samsung (as well as Sony for that matter), they have approximately one billion different devices so that's not a shoe-in to help with the model/product line. Following that it'll be the front-facing camera, its size and position and the speaker grilles. Sometimes the back can be helpful in problem-solving (thanks Apple) but I'll usually have to resort to the rear-facing camera's size and position, as well as other smaller clues such as antenna bands, to bail me out (Motorola's 'X' dimple is a convenient giveaway).

Cases can really throw me, that's when you're usually stuck with just the rear-facing camera to go on: 'Top-centre position, slight camera hump, but it's rounded and there's only one flash, can't be S5, S4.' Candybar phones and/or mobiles built before 2007 are the worst though; I will just about get the manufacturer but that'll usually be it (I scored 12/20 in TechRadar's Ultimate Phone Quiz, not good).

I find it quite enjoyable this indiscrete past-time, especially when you spot a device that's as rare as seeing a solar eclipse in the UK; in my case it's usually the glimpse of a Nexus 5, LG G3 or Lumia 1020/1520 that'll make me nod my head approvingly (as if I am the arbiter of correct mobile phone decisions) and be accompanied by a, 'Hmm, nice.' One may find it odd but a strange satisfaction arises from correctly identifying a smartphone.

What do you think about phone-spotting? 

Where do you usually phone-spot?

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