Clash of the Titans: “Cellphones 2010”

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Now that Google has announced the specs of the ill-fated Nexus One’s successor the smartphone market has four top tier devices again. In this edition of “Clash of the Titans” we quickly compare Apple iPhone 4, Google Nexus S, HTC Desire HD and Samsung Galaxy S. Let the games begin…

Google Nexus S

The Brand:

Obviously Apple is the king here. It’s fascinating how Mr. Jobs turned Apple products into something cool to be owned. I still remember a time when Apple was for the rich and stupid people who thought they were showing off by owning a Mac. Now Apple is hip. Owning an Apple device is a statement and it means that you’re lame only when you’re among linux users.

Samsung is best known for their high quality TV sets. When it comes to cellphones with a touch sensitive screen though, Samsung’s reputation is rather tarnished. Even though the Galaxy S is a superb piece of hardware, it may take you some time to convince people that this is a cool phone.

Both HTC and Google are newcomers to the cellphone market. HTC in fact is a major cellphone manufacturer but the brand is virtually unknown to people. Google on the other hand is a word in the English dictionary. Considering most people who own a smartphone will be using an iPhone, owning a phone branded Google is certainly classy.

Both Apple and Google are cool brands. But considering the over exposure of Apple we think despite the fact that the device has Samsung branding too, owning a Google handset would be the better choice.

Winner: Google Nexus S


The Looks:

All four smartphones look similar. The front panel is dominated by a huge touch screen with a few obligatory buttons. Samsung Galaxy S is the lightest of the bunch.

Google Nexus S looks rather cheap with its metal-free case but it makes up for this with its unorthodox curved screen which fits your face perfectly when you’re talking. It made us think of the legendary Nokia 8110. Nexus S is also the second lightest of the four. The curved screen may or may not be a big deal. But it sure looks different and classy.

Winner: Google Nexus S


The Screen:

Apple’s iPhone 4 immediately gains an advantage with its 640×900 Retina Display screen. Not only it has the best resolution, but its color depth makes it a pleasure to look at this screen. However, despite the slight drop in resolution the moment you see the 4 inch Super AMOLED screen of both Galaxy S and Nexus S you realize that these displays are on an entirely different level. HTC, on the other hand, thinks that size matters. Although the Desire HD has an SLCD screen instead of the shiny AMOLED ones found on Nexus S and Galaxy S, at 4.3 inch its screen is the biggest.

To be frank, despite the apparent differences, to an untrained eye these screens are almost the same. AMOLED arguably gives the best color depth. However Retina Display is nothing to laugh at. That being said we think iPhone’s extra pixels make quite a bit of difference here.

Winner: Apple iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4

The CPU:

All four phones have virtually identical processors. In case of Galaxy S and Nexus S the processors are literally identical. Desire HD uses Quallcomm’s 1 Ghz Snapdragon processor while Galaxy S and Nexus S both have an ARM Cortex A8 chip at the same clock frequency inside.

We do not know at what speed iPhone’s A4 processor runs. What we do know is that it’s based on the same architecture as the Cortex A8. Judging from the fact that its speed is announced at 1Ghz in iPad and kept secret for iPhone 4, it is safe to assume that Apple has underclocked the chip, possibly due to battery life concerns. Note that this does not seem to effect iPhone’s general performance, unless you go out of bounds and something Apple has not pre-calculated. Then again if you delve deep into the device it might also be possible to overclock it.

Though iPhone’s processor is technically slower than the other three, it would be unfair to penalize it for that.

Winner: None


The Memory:

This category has a clear winner. HTC Desire HD has almost 1.5 times more internal memory than its opponents, and it shows. It’s incredibly hard to bring the Desire HD to its knees. No matter how many applications you start at the same time Desire HD seems to run very smoothly.

Winner: HTC Desire HD


The Storage:

The basic internal storage for the standard models seem to be around 16 GB for all devices except Desire HD. Galaxy S has a smaller 8 GB version while, iPhone 4 has bigger 32 GB one. Galaxy S and Desire HD both have Micro SD card slots though which the iPhone and Nexus S lack. These Micro SD card slots can increase the storage space for up to 32 GB. Desire HD needs that especially considering its internal storage is a mere 1.5 GB.

Micro SD cards may run slow but when you do the math Samsung’s Galaxy S emerges as the winner in both storage space and flexibility.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy S

Samsung Galaxy S

The Operating System:

The Nexus S comes with the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system. Compared to that Galaxy S feels ancient with its Android 2.1 Eclair. Desire HD currently comes with Android 2.2 Froyo and will probably be upgraded to 2.3 soon. However Desire has the superb HTC Sense interface running over Froyo which already has some of the improvements done by Google on Android 2.3.

iPhone 4 is the only non-android device here. It of course comes with Apple’s own iOS 4. While the iOS 4 works pretty smooth it’s still a newcomer to the multitasking arena. Overall we think HTC’s Android + Sense combination offers the best experience and the most options.

Winner: HTC Desire HD


The Camera:

Welcome to the age of HD. All four devices are able to shoot HD video at 720p resolution. When it comes to still picture, again all of them have LED flashes. And almost all of them have 5MP cameras. Except Desire HD. That one has an 8 MP camera which practically destroys the others in terms of picture quality.

Winner: HTC Desire HD

HTC Desire HD


The Connections:

By now Micros USB ports are standard on all phones, since the European Union soon will require it. iPhone 4 still doesn’t have one though. apart from that everything is the same for all devices. It is hard to decide. Nexus S throws an extra bit of insane by including the super sci-fi Near Field Communication.

Winner: Google Nexus S

The Extras:

For all its sci fi connection insanity, Nexus S lacks an FM radio, a function still used by many people, especially in Europe. iPhone 4 doesn’t have one either.

The difference in extra functions is felt when we check out what the Desire HD can do though. It’s the only DLNA compliant device here. Furthermore it also includes the Dolby Mobile Audio technology.

Winner: HTC Desire HD


The Applications:

All but iPhone 4 naturally run Android applications. Although the number of Android applications is on the rise iPhone is still the clear winner here.

Winner: Apple iPhone 4


The Points:

1. HTC Desire HD (4 Wins)

2. Google Nexus S (3 Wins)

3. Apple iPhone 4 (2 Wins)

4. Samsung Galaxy S (1 Win)


The Verdict

As you can see all four handsets are clearly matched. To be technical buying any one of these phones is a good decision. We just think HTC Desire HD offers slightly more bells and whistles than the rest.

About the author

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By Fasih

Disclaimer

Daniel works at Riot Games.

Fasih works at Crytek.

They have opinions. Their opinions are theirs only and are not necessarily shared by their companies.

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