A New Era
Among the topics of hot discourse found in the realm of the iPhone, what readers and writers on tech blogs are often searching for is an iPhone killer. Some websites treat it like a grail quest of old; reviewing new phones in the hope that one will be able to finally dethrone what has become so popular - if only to be able to throw off the nonchalant “I told you so”. So many have stepped up to the plate and failed miserably against the juggernaut that is mostly Apple’s ad firm and their ability to con people into thinking Apple devices are “easier to use” and “simpler than windows”. Walk with me as we look at the storied past of the “iPhone killers”
The Motorola Droid
Some still cling onto the Droid as their messiah, a holy messenger from Verizon to deliver onto that network an iPhone-like experience. When you break it down into hardware vs software, there is no real battle, the Droid is a better piece of hardware, even if it is wrapped in a less minimalistic-utopian design strategy than the iPhone. The hardware definitely stacks up admirably, delivering processor speeds that the iPhone 3G cannot compete with and the iPhone 3GS has a hard time keeping up with (and that’s without even resorting to Snapdragon speeds). The camera on the device is several orders of magnitude better than the one on the iPhone, the screen has a better resolution, the GPS app comes with turn-by-turn directions, and so on and so forth.
So the real question is why is the iPhone ubiquitous while the Droid skids around on the periphery of the smartphone war? The answer is simple – it’s all about the OS. iPhone’s Springboard OS is a fantastically designed piece of software; it’s easy to use, simple, and aesthetically pleasing. The Droid still runs the Android OS, which is open source and far more interesting than the iPhone’s OS by default, but less mainstream, it’s more of a “tech nerd” fantasy to want an open-source platform than the public’s idea of what a “cool” cell phone should be. For that reason, the Droid has failed as an iPhone killer.
The Google Nexus One was hailed as an iPhone killer but didn’t live up to the hype. Fans of the Android OS would be better served by looking at the HTC Desire or waiting for the HTC EVO 4G, a phone already being named as the Best HTC Cell Phone.
The HTC HD2
This one is a new phone to enter the arena and fight against Apple. HTC has always made great products, but the HD2 is a particularly inspired phone from the point of view of hardware. There’s a speedy-as-all-get-out Snapdragon processor in the phone running at 1 GHz speeds, easily whipping any iPhone available as of May 2010. An expandable SD slot means that you’ll always be able to increase the amount of memory in the phone. Again we see a 5 Megapixel camera in the phone, a hint that Apple really should take for their 2010 reboot of the iPhone. Overall, the phone is incredibly advanced and feels like a 2010 product, unlike the iPhone 3G that is lagging far behind and the 3GS that’s only marginally better.
The only thing that’s really crippling the HD2 is the fact that the software HTC has built revolves around a Windows Phone OS that’s several years old and incredibly limited. While HTC has largely gotten around this issue with their “Sense UI”, there will still be times that going into the seedy underbelly of Windows Mobile will still be required, and when the illusion drops, customers tend to run for the hills (or next door to AT&T to buy an iPhone). Two phones, seeing any trends?
The biggest hurdle to defeating Apple in the smartphone race is the amazing iPhone OS (which Apple has exploited to no end) and the quality of apps and software on the phone. True contenders cannot just be content to rest on their hardware laurels, otherwise the iPhone would’ve been dethroned long ago, the real uphill battle lies in that perfect combination of beautiful minimal design, a desirable product, awesome hardware specs, and software to back it all up.
Where we go from here with the eternal fight against the iPhone should be into uncharted territory, something that Microsoft finally seems to understand. It won’t happen overnight, but Windows Phone 7 seems to be poised to challenge the throne once it launches in Q4 this year. Microsoft has appended hardware standards to their software, so we should start seeing better competitors against the Apple products. The WPS7 UI is minimal, and interesting, like a Zune HD phone and with far, far better hardware than what Apple feels content currently offering, there’s a good chance we could see the start of a beautiful new era in smartphone tech. With practically no competition, Apple and AT&T have felt right at home taking the money of decent, hard-working people for an inferior product and an inferior network, so it’s high time a company showed them what capitalism is all about.