Why are we being cheated by phone manufacturers?

Why are we being cheated by phone manufacturers?
Hey, manufacturers - play fair

You know what really grinds my gears? Smartphones getting better features in other countries. Sure it's not the most glamorous of things, but boy, does it rub me up the wrong way.

So what's triggered my latest outrage? Well it's the news that HTC is launching its fabulous One smartphone in Japan - with a microSD slot.

Now before you all jump on board the "but look at its pretty uni-body" and "it already has 32GB of internal storage" bandwagon, take a moment to hear me out.

Apart from the silly name - the Taiwanese firm has dubbed it the HTC J One - the inclusion of a microSD slot is a sensible choice, providing users with far more flexibility.

Design is fine

It still keeps its premium metal chassis; the only difference is you can take part of the rear off to access the aforementioned expansion port. I don't see any issue with that.

This detracts from the overall finish in a really minor way and the bands found towards the top and base of the HTC One we all know and love makes it look like middle section could be removed anyway.

Design aside there's still the argument that the One has more than enough storage packed inside its metallic frame.

This may be the case for some of the lighter mobile users out there, but for anyone who's planning on taking full advantage of all the features on the handset it's a different story.

Firstly the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, Sense 5.0 UI and pre-installed apps take up a whopping 6.66GB of storage on the HTC One - space that I'll never be able to use, so out of the box I'm immediately on 25.29GB. Okay, that's still not bad - but wait.

Zoe's a big gal

HTC is making a big deal out of its Zoe and video highlight feature and while these photo-come-video clip montages are a pretty smart, every one I make gobbles up 0.5GB of precious storage.

Say I make six video highlights in my first six months of getting the handset and that's another 3GB I can kiss goodbye - I'm now down to 22.29GB, and that's before I've even considered downloading any music, games, movies or apps.

Needless to say once I've stuck a few films onto my HTC One, a selection of banging tunes and some HD games (NFS and GTA 3, two great titles, munch nearly another 3GB) I'm beginning to push the limits of the storage and it's making me think twice about creating another video highlight reel.

It's a shame, because you shouldn't have to constantly question whether your phone can handle a feature which it made such a big deal about in its marketing.

Japan isn't the only country which has been treated to this flashier version of the HTC One, as the Taiwanese firm has also produced one for China which sports dual-SIM ports alongside the microSD slot. What about the rest of us?!

Not so fast Samsung

Now don't go thinking this is a purely HTC issue. Most manufacturers are guilty of similar shenanigans.

Take a look at the Samsung Galaxy S4. When I found out it would be packing an octa-core processor - which I admit sounds ridiculous - I was giddy with excitement and I waited to welcome the next generation of smartphone with open arms.

Sadly reality hit when Samsung announced the likes of the UK and US wouldn't be treated to this next step in mobile, instead lumping us with a quad-core, 4G-enabled S4.

I can already get a Samsung Galaxy S3 which has four cores and LTE connectivity and seeing as I live in Britain with its frankly below-par 4G offering thus far, I'd much rather have the eight core behemoth. It's only a bit faster... I want a massive leap forwards (check the benchmarks if you don't believe me).

I'm on a roll

What's that, you want another example before you side with me? FINE. The Sony Xperia Z rocked up early ahead of the HTC One and Galaxy S4, in Las Vegas of all places, with its dust- and waterproof body.

A fine USP for any smartphone, and even more so for one flaunting a full HD display and powerful innards.

But then, a bombshell for the US market, as it was revealed it would actually be getting the Xperia ZL - the non-waterproof, bastard child of the Xperia family. Because that's fair.

I understand it's hard to please everyone, but when it comes to flagship products - the phones which are meant to prove how fantastic a manufacturer is - it seems counterintuitive not to offer all the latest and greatest features to everyone in every market.

I'm all for tailoring the devices to specific regions when it comes to mid- and low-end handsets as they are generally harder devices to push with fewer stand out features and highly diluted markets - but when it comes to the big guns the analogy is simple. Go hard, or go home.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.