Sunday, June 27, 2010

I've been looking at new phones for a while



There has been much speculation (much of which has now been revealed) about the new technology being introduced in the mobile phone industry.  HTC introduced the Evo back in April, Apple stirred up their rabid fan club again with the iPhone 4, and now Motorola has announced its new Droid X.  This kind of stuff gets me excited.  That's mostly because I'm a gadget nut who's also in the market for a new phone.  Since no one has decided to let me play with any of these devices myself (also after pre-release hype and research), the majority of my knowledge is based on what I've read, mostly stat sheets and all that good stuff.

When HTC announced their new super phone for Sprint, the Evo 4G, it was all the talk of the mobile device gurus.  It had everything you could want: 1GHz processor, 8mp camera, 720p video recording, HDMI output, front facing camera, etc (all of which now seem standard).  The biggest selling factor was the fact that the phone was 4G (WiMax service) capable, which always ridiculous connection speeds.

Only a month after the announcement of the Evo came Apple's earth shattering, remarkable, miraculous, walking on water iPhone 4 for AT&T.  It was announced to set the standard for what every other mobile device would do in the future, which would be done by catching up to what everyone had already been doing in the first place.  The iPhone 4 has all of the specs the HTC Evo boasts with a few differences.  The camera is a 5mp instead of 8, and I think it's important to note that the iPhone's processing speed is unknown but believed to be near 1 GHz.  Also, the iPhone lacks a HDMI output.  The largest advantage that the iPhone 4 has over other devices is that it sports what Apple calls a "Retina Display," which is a high resolution screen that is supposed to condense pixels to such a small point that the retina doesn't notice.  Is it awesome? I don't know.  I haven't seen it, but this display has received rave reviews.

What I find most amusing is that one of the marquee features of the iPhone is the Face-Time app that allows users to make video calls.  One reason this is amusing to me would be because I've been looking out for technology like this to be made available for a while.  In fact, this is technology that has been available for a while, and the HTC Evo was actually the first device in this lineup to offer the feature, although if you read the reviews of the iPhone 4 you would think video calling was something that Steve Jobs created just for the iPhone.  It's also important to note a major difference between the Evo and iPhone video calling features; the Evo can make video calls over 3G, 4G, and WiFi networks while the iPhone's Face-Time app can only be used over a WiFi connection.

Finally, the latest flagship phone for Verizon Wireless was recently been announced to be the Motorola Droid X.  The original Droid was the first device to actually put a dent in the iPhone's sales, and is seen to be the device that brought Google's Android operating system into the mainstream.  The Droid X sports all the usual specs (1GHz processor, 8mp camera, HDMI output, blah, blah, blah) however, the Droid X surprisingly lacks in specific areas.  The Droid X doesn't have a front facing camera (no video calling) and sports a fairly unimpressive display (barley an upgrade from the previous Droid).  Also, the length is reported to be fairly bulky at 5 inches in length.  Does it sound like a terrible phone?  Absolutely not.  In fact, the preloaded Blockbuster application that allows  a user to rent movies and play them in HD on their TV is pretty impressive; however, I can't help but feel like Motorola didn't quite do all they could have for the Droid X.

What do I think?

I've been impressed with the strides HTC has made to become a premier manufacturer of elite smartphones (see Evo and Incredidble); however, I can't think of many circumstances that would cause me to switch to Sprint.  I will admit that the iPhone is a stout device but (like all phones) not without its flaws.  It's not light years beyond the competition (it has finally caught up to the rest of the smartphone industry), but there's no way anyone can take anything away from it.  With that said, there's no way you could convince me to go to AT&T for anything.  AT&T's lack of a reliable network has been well documented, and I don't see any reason to jump to a piece of hardware that doesn't even work.  Also, it's hard to argue that at the rate Android devices are growing that Apple won't get left in the dust, and I believe that's something that will happen soon unless Apple changes its development strategy.

What am I going to do about a phone?

I have no idea.  I definitely won't make a decision without first testing a device.  I'm keeping a close eye on one that seems to be flying under the radar, the Samsung Galaxy S.  It has all of the features of the previous three devices mentioned and will be made available on all carries as it will not be considered a flagship device for any of them.  For now though, I can't say what I intend on doing; however, I do look forward to keeping up with all of the newest and latest gadgets hitting the market in the future.

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