Comparing the iPhone 4 to Other Top Smartphones
|iPhone 4, DROID Incredible, Evo 4G, Nexus One|
Two months ago, TechNewsDaily did a tentative comparison of the iPhone 4 and the DROID Incredible. Now that the iPhone 4 is official and details about it are plentiful, it’s time to revisit the question: How does the new iPhone stack up against the competition.
Since we did the iPhone/DROID Incredible comparison , several other high-end smartphones have come out, further complicating the question.
The easiest way to do it is to look at the top smartphones on each of the major carriers. For AT&T, the obvious choice is the iPhone 4; Verizon currently has the DROID Incredible; Sprint has the Evo 4G; and T-Mobile has the Google Nexus One (which is also available on AT&T).
There are very few clear-cut winners, to be found in this competition, though. Take operating systems, for instance. Basically it comes down to a discussion of whether iOS4 or Android is better. Barring fanatical testimonies, it's actually a pretty even argument, especially with the recent introduction of multitasking in iOS4.
All three Android phones are running Android 2.1 and will presumable get 2.2 soon. The Incredible and Evo 4G also run the HTC Sense interface over the top of Android, which is widely regarded as the best Android "skin" available. [Read 11 iPhone 4 Features You Need to Know About .]
Next we look at screen sizes. The Evo 4G would seem to win, hands down, because of its 4.3-inch touchscreen. However, things aren't so simple. The iPhone has the smallest screen of the bunch (at 3.5 inches), but it also has a resolution that blows the other three phones away (960 x 640 pixels with 326ppi resolution). Apple's "Retina Display," as it's called, may very well trump larger screens because it renders images and text so crisp and clear.
Like the discussion of operating system, comparing processors is a battle of iPhone vs. Everyone Else. The iPhone 4 uses the same Apple A4 processor found in the iPad. It is known to be quite fast, capable of handling media and good at saving battery power. The Qualcomm Snapdragon processor found in the other three phones is noted for having the same characteristics and the same speed (1GHz) as the A4. Like the operating system comparison, there is no clear winner here, either.
One of the few areas where iPhone 4 doesn't rise directly to the top is when comparing networks. AT&T is well known for having problems with dropped calls and poor data connections for current iPhone users, especially at 3G speeds. AT&T also recently instituted data caps on all new phone contracts. The Evo 4G has an obvious advantage because it can access the faster 4G networks; however, there are so few 4G networks ready for traffic that only people in major metropolitan areas will be able to use 4G any time soon.
Storage is a tricky comparison to make, as every user has different needs. The iPhone comes in 16GB and 32GB versions whereas the other three phones use microSD cards to expand memory as the user needs. The Incredible has 8GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot. The Evo 4G comes with an 8GB microSD card included, and the Nexus One comes with a 4GB card.
All four phones have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, although the iPhone 4 does jump ahead slightly with 802.11n Wi-Fi compatibility. But what is more interesting is the ability of some phones to act as Wi-Fi hotspots by rebroadcasting the 3G network signal as a Wi-Fi signal to other devices such as laptops. The Evo 4G is the only one of these phones that can do this right now, though the Nexus One should have this functionality with the release of Android 2.2.
For once, the iPhone is a clear leader. It is the only phone capable of recording HD video (at 720p resolution), and early reports indicate that its larger sensor pixels make it better at taking stills, even though the Incredible and Evo 4G have 8 megapixel cameras compared to iPhone 4's 5 megapixels. The iPhone and the Evo 4G are also the only two phones in this comparison with front-facing cameras for video conferencing. It's not yet clear which one has better video conferencing abilities, although it does appear that Apple's FaceTime application is fully featured.
Regardless of how disparaging Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been about Adobe Flash recently, the fact remains that a large portion of Internet content, especially video, is run on Flash. That means any good Web-connected phone can benefit from Flash. Although there is still no good solution to getting Flash on phones, the DROID Incredible and the Evo 4G do have "Flash Lite." The Nexus One is supposed to become Flash-compatible with the release of Android 2.2, but the iPhone 4 will never be Flash compatible unless Jobs undergoes a dramatic conversion.
Battery life is such a subjective comparison point because it can vary based on user habits. However, the iPhone 4 was announced with such incredible battery life specs that it can't be overlooked: 7 hours of 3G talk, 6 hours of 3G browsing, 10 hours of WiFi browsing, 10 hours of video , 40 hours of music and 300 hours of standby. By comparison, the Incredible is rated for 5 hours of talk time and 146 hours of standby; the Nexus One is rated for 7 hours talk time, 250 hours standby, 5 hours of 3G Internet use, 7 hours of video playback and 20 hours of audio playback; the Evo 4G is rated at 6 hours of talk time.
That being said, it's likely the iPhone 4's actual battery life won't be as amazing as it sounds. None of the other three phones come close to those estimates in real-world use, and smartphones are known for short battery life simply because they do so much.
Size and Weight
The iPhone 4 was touted as the thinnest smartphone in the world during its announcement. It's 24 percent thinner than the previous iPhone and thinner than the other three phones here. These phones are all thin, so we’re only talking about millimeters here, but the difference will definitely be obvious when holding them.
Despite being super-thin, the iPhone 4 is actually the second heaviest among the top smartphones, though. The Evo 4G both wins and loses in this category. Its 4.3-inch screen is much larger than the other phones, but that also makes the entire device much larger. It's half an inch thick, which is actually kind of hefty for today's phones, and it's significantly heavier than any of the other phones.
There are plenty of other details to compare in these four phones. All have GPS capabilities; the Incredible and the Evo 4G can receive FM radio signals; the iPhone 4 and the Nexus One have second microphones for noise cancellation; and the Nexus One is the only phone that can't connect to a TV to display media.
All of these phones have a base model that is just under $200 when bought on-contract through their respective carriers. The Nexus One is the cheapest, at $179 on the T-Mobile network. The 32GB version of the iPhone 4 is $299 with an AT&T contract.