Every time a new smartphone hits the stores, we hear the manufacturer claiming it “the best” at one thing or another. The problem with this approach is that “best” can be a very subjective term. And it’s only a problem for the consumer, by the way. It’s us who have to do our own investigations on whether something is better than everything that has gone before or not.
But, occasionally, someone else does a bit of the work for us. In recent years, the good people at Guinness have included smartphone categories in their book of world’s records. The records aren’t always – if ever – about performance, but the mentioned devices do set world’s records in their own right.
Remember when we said “best” was subjective? You think it’d be easier with things that can actually be measured accurately, but even this is not quite so simple. Officially, the world’s thinnest smartphone is the Vivo X5Max, at just 4.75mm. The problem is that it isn’t a very good smartphone, and so some manufacturers refuse to acknowledge it. The Vivo is 4.75mm (0.19in) thick and, while impressive, it does have some issues. The device does qualify as a smartphone, and runs Android. However, a phone so thin means a very small battery, and little room for quality components. Audio is said to be terrible, photos apparently look like they were taken in 1998 and that battery? Well, a phone call or two may well have it on its knees.
You can see why major manufacturers scoff at the title. It does work, though, however poorly, so it gets to hold the record. At least for now.
Forget thin and small, big is where it’s at. Or at least it is for Samsung. Forget phablets and even 10″ displays on old iPads, they don’t compare to this.
Samsung teamed up with Cricket Communications in 2009 to build the world’s biggest smartphone. They came up with the catchily named SCH-r450, a slide-up, full hardware keyboard phone. Such things were common at the time, and probably made for a good blueprint for such an exercise. The phone measured 15 feet high, 11.2 feet wide when opened, and 2.5 feet thick. The SCH-r450 has a 5.8 x 4.7 ft LED display, and every single part of the phone worked as it would if it were “normal” size. The weight is an impressive 350lb, so pockets and purses might need a little reinforcement.
Is this even a thing? Well Guinness seem to think so, at least. For those not in the know, a selfie chain is a continuous sequence of selfie images taken on a single phone by different people.
In Mexico City, phone maker LG managed to amass enough people to take 746 selfies in a 2 hour period. According to LG, they could have done a lot more, but they ran out of people. In total, approximately 2500 people were present to assist in setting the record. And, to answer our own question, the previous record was 531 selfies on a Galaxy A5 so, yes, it is a thing.
Okay, so we’re all thinking it has to be an iPhone, right? After all, we see the queues outside stores on launch day, so it has to be Apple who hold the record. Alas, no, we’d all be wrong thinking that. It’s actually Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi who hold the crown. Xiaomi are one of the fastest growing smartphone makers in the world, increasing market share where others are losing theirs. With that in mind, it might be no surprise to hear that they hold the record, but there’s more to it.
Every year, on the company’s birthday, they open up a huge range of deals and offers on their smartphones. They will also often coincide this with the release of a new model. In 2015, the promotion day was so successful that over 2 million Xiaomi smartphones were sold in a single 24hr period. This dwarfs single day figures for anybody else, including Apple and Samsung. True, it’s not sales of a single phone, but it’s still pretty impressive. It’s actually even more noteworthy, when you consider that Xiaomi were only celebrating their 5th birthday at the time.
In 2015 Microsoft, who owned Nokia at the time, launched a $29 smartphone. It was a little limited in what it could do but had access to facebook, Opera browser was built in and Twitter access is also available. Aimed at 3rd world markets where the thousand dollar smartphone was never even at the races, the phone proved something of a minor hit.
Until, that is, 2016 turned up. In February of that year, Indian phone maker Ringing Bells announced an Android smartphone for $4. Competitors accused Ringing Bells of fraud, saying that such a cheap device was impossible to make. As if to confirm the lack of validity of the Freedom 251, fewer than 6000 are thought to have ever made it into people’s hands, and many have resorted to the courts in India to get their money back. So, does the Freedom 251 qualify as the record holder? It appears not. Guinness World’s Records cannot be gimmicks, so the Freedom 25q1 does not qualify as a record. So, for now, Microsoft still hold the record for the cheapest smartphone ever.
And we reckon $29 is still a pretty good price for a brand new phone.
In Part 2 of our look at smartphone world’s records, we’ll take a look at some of those who didn’t quite make the printed record books.