At its iPhone 4S event on Tuesday, Apple boasted of its new phone’s specs by comparing it to a number of Android competitors. But as much as newly minted CEO Tim Cook raved about the 4S, the question remains: Does the 4S truly stack up to the rest?
For the sake of comparison, we’ve taken some of the latest and greatest handsets across today’s most prominent mobile operating systems and broke them down relative to the new iPhone. First, we have the Droid Bionic, Motorola’s latest and greatest 4G smartphone offering. There’s also the Samsung Galaxy S II, the much-anticipated sequel to the popular Galaxy line. And of course, we have to include the underdogs: Samsung’s Focus (which runs Windows Phone 7.5, a.k.a. Mango), and one of RIM’s most recent handsets, the BlackBerry Bold 9900.
So let’s get to it.
First, let’s compare these guys on what matters most: Their insides.
The Samsung Focus packs the weakest punch sporting a 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, while the Blackberry Bold has a slightly faster 1.2-GHz Snapdragon model. The iPhone 4S and the Droid Bionic both house 1-GHz dual-core chips, the 4S an Apple-designed A5 processor, the Droid Bionic an A9 processor. The Samsung Galaxy S II also features a 1.2 GHz dual-core chip.
Honestly, single-core chips are yesterday’s news. iPhone or not, two cores are indeed better than one.
We weren’t given the specifics of the iPhone 4S’s battery, but it’s safe to say it’s either the same as the iPhone 4’s, a 1420 mAH battery, or better. The Blackberry Bold sports the smallest in the battery department, a 1240 mAH battery, while the Samsung Galaxy S II has the largest, a 1650 mAH one (the better to juice up that super large display with). Schiller promised us 14 hours of talk time with the iPhone 4S; we’ll see if that holds water.
Only the BlackBerry measures in smaller than the iPhone when it comes to display size. The Bold has a practically teensy 2.8-inch LCD. The iPhone 4S has a 3.5-inch retina display, just like its predecessor. The Samsung Focus has a larger 4-inch Super AMOLED display.
The Android models embrace the “bigger is better” ethos: The Droid Bionic has a 4.3-inch qHD display, but the Galaxy S II trumps even that with a gargantuan 4.52-inch Super AMOLED screen.
Although the larger phones are great for media consumption, a smaller phone fits more easily into pockets and doesn’t look ridiculous when you actually talk on it. Display size, therefore, is largely a matter of personal preference and depends on how you plan to use the phone.
It should be noted that the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the only one of the bunch to include a hardware QWERTY keyboard (and not a slide-out version), while the rest utilize onscreen touch-based keyboards.
The Samsung Focus and BlackBerry Bold both have 5 MP cameras on board. We thought that pictures taken with the Focus were sub-par, and somewhat on the blurry side. It does offer HD video recording capabilities, though. The Focus is an older phone, it came out in 2010, but the Bold 9900 debuted this year.
8 megapixels seems to be the standard in 2011. The Droid Bionic has an 8-megapixel camera. The Samsung Galaxy S II does as well. Both take bright, detailed photos. So finally, the iPhone 4S joins the 8-megapixel trend, also with photo editing functions. All three of these guys have 1080p video recording capabilities, so you can capture whatever it is like you like to capture with your smartphone camera with exquisite clarity and detail.
The Samsung Focus and Droid Bionic are single carrier guys. The Focus runs on AT&T’s HSPA+ network, while the Bionic sails on Verizon’s CDMA and LTE networks.
The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is the first 4G BlackBerry, and it’s available on T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon’s networks.
The Samsung Galaxy S II comes in different flavors that run on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint’s networks. We tested the Epic 4G Touch, which is available on Sprint’s 4G Wi-Max network.
The iPhone 4S will be available on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.
Hardware wise, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 is really the only phone that’s behind the times (though saying RIM needs to catch up is hardly news). Android and iOS are still battling neck and neck for world smartphone domination. And we should have some new Windows Phone Mango handsets later this fall, which should bump up Windows Phone’s offerings to better match that of Android and iOS (hopefully, at least).