Near Field Communication has always been regarded as a cutting edge technology. You can’t throw a stone now without hitting an Android device with NFC technology. It is a secure way that devices can connect by simply bringing them together. Right now, NFC has yet to find applications in the current smartphone market. The technology is not new, although it has yet to have any big applications. However, NFC has its importance. It simply has to be present in your smartphone if you are buying it for the long run.
2. Appropriately Large Screen
You don’t need an ultra-large screen such as the one with Galaxy Mega. You don’t even need a 5.5 inch screen as in Optimus G Pro. All you need is a 5 inch screen that fits well in your pocket, such as the one Galaxy S4 has. Anything between 4.5 and 5.2 inches is perfect for a smartphone. Anything above that goes into the phablet family and should be considered a different kind of device.
If you are buying a phablet, be prepared to use it with a little bit of difficulty than a regular smartphone. Due to this reason, Asus’s PadFone and FonePad are not quite there with the customers. For a perfect combination of devices, you could have a regular smartphone, 5 inches; a tablet, 8-10 inches; and optionally a small tablet, 7 inches. A phablet is neither there nor here, and it is difficult to get by.
3. Battery That Lasts
Right now, LG G2 comes with a 3000 mAh battery that can last days even with that huge screen.
Apple iPhone 5S’s battery is only around 1500 mAh, and it is nothing compared to those on the Android devices we have. The battery is not going to give more than a day of usage, and it is just inconvenient to have such a puny battery, even with a device as light and thin as iPhone.
Apple could make iPhone a little heavier by including a larger battery and still it would be one of the thinnest and lightest smartphones out there. They obviously chose not to do that. In your upcoming phone, look for a large battery that can give you more than enough backup.
4. Fingerprint Scanner
As Apple has pioneered this, fingerprint sensors should be available on all other devices in the very near future. That is the trend. It is one thing that anyone could admire about iPhone 5S. The fingerprint scanner allows perfect security, and it is also appropriately placed for the most ergonomic use.
5. Optical Image Stabilization
This is something great on your smartphone cameras. As of now, only a few devices come with it, including HTC One, Lumia 920. Other phones, such as the iPhone provide a technology to stabilize the images, but that is not built into the camera hardware itself, and hence it is not that perfect. If you are looking for a perfect anti-shake smartphone camera, OIS is worth waiting for.
Also, if you are not quite looking for front-facing camera quality, start looking. Here is the table containing the best front-facing camera smartphones.
6. Large Pixel Cameras
Once we spoke about the camera technologies, where we mentioned the race for megapixel count has ended for good. Right now, Apple has also acknowledged the fact that the larger pixels, not the larger number of pixels create better images. HTC One was the first ever phone to revolutionize the large pixel size through its HTC One. One has a pixel size of nearly 2 microns each, called UltraPixels. With only 4 UltraPixels, HTC One camera gives us better images than the 8 MP cameras most other phones have.
With iPhone 5S, Apple has also gone with slightly larger pixels of 1.5 microns. That size is still not quite effective though. We want really large pixels. One of the upcoming phones that will have this is HTC One Max which will sport 5 UltraPixel camera.
If you are looking for amazing smartphones, there are a number of things that you need to have on them. A few technologies were discussed in our previous article here. Some of them are discussed here as well. Unless you are getting a perfect smartphone, there is no point in spending too much money.
One of the biggest news of the last two days is the release of yet another smartphone in the Samsung Galaxy family, a phone of no especial features, with 720p 233ppi TFT screen, Android Jelly Bean, 1.5 GB RAM, 8/16 GB internal storage, Exynos 5 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, etc. The smartphone, known as Galaxy Mega is peculiar due to its screen size, of 6.3 inches, which makes it the mammoth of the smartphone market.
Samsung was the first manufacturer to lead the way to phones of unusually large screen sizes. Soon enough, other manufacturers followed, and some even managed to go a few steps further. Is this rat race for large screen sizes come to an end? Is it time for customers to really think about the display technology, rather than the screen size? Let’s find out.
The year was 2011 and the place, Berlin, home to the Berlin Radio Show. Samsung announced a legendary product in its Galaxy family of devices—the Galaxy Note. The product is in its second generation now, with sales going up continuously. It is one of the most successful products from Samsung, and the most successful among the so called ‘phablets’. Note came out almost a year after the first device to mark large screen revolution, Dell Streak, which did not sell well largely due to the cumbersome nature of its form factor.
Note, however, changed the story altogether, by becoming highly successful. Note II is also well received, although we would love to wait. Note family has spawned a whole number of phablets, which was a new term applied to devices between phones and tablets (specifically, between 5 and 7 inches of screen size). Galaxy Mega, by that reasoning, is a perfect phablet.
Screen Sizes of Touch Devices
In the last few years marking the revolution of touch-based devices—smartphones, phablets, and tablets—we have seen that the devices have touched all screen sizes. We have a whole array of phones and tablets with screens going from 4 to 10 inches.
We have the legendary Apple iPhone at the sixth generation now with a screen size of 4 inches, the smallest of all devices in high-end mainstream production. We have BlackBerry Z10 with 4.2 inch screen, Nokia Lumia 920 with 4.5 inch screen, HTC One at 4.7 inch screen, Galaxy S3 at 4.8 inches, and S4 at 4.99 inches. This is the array of smartphones having all kind of screen sizes. After this, we have phablets—LG Optimus G at 5 inch, Note II at 5.5 inches, and now Galaxy Mega at two different screen sizes—5.8 inch and 6.3 inches. Beyond that, we enter into the tablet market, dominated by Google Nexus 7 with 7 inch screen, iPad Mini with 7.9 inch screen, etc., and the list goes up to Nexus 10 with close to 10 inch screen.
Right now, the only size that we expect to be filled is between 6.3 inches and 7 inches. Maybe, Samsung will come up with another phablet with some 6.8 inch screen to fill that void.
The crux of the matter is that we have reached an impasse. Any other screen size probably is not going to make any difference. You can safely put away the search for a fitting phone with large screen size.
What Should You Consider in A Smartphone Display
Another important question here is, how do screen size and screen quality correlate? Galaxy Mega has a 6.3 inch TFT screen, but it supports only 720p HD resolution, which is smaller than 1080p full HD on Galaxy S4 and HTC One. Accordingly, it has close to half as many pixels as in Galaxy S4. 233 ppi is not a very rich screen, in comparison to GS4’s 441 ppi or iPhone 5’s 326 ppi.
Another important aspect to consider is the technology used in the display in question. There are quite a number of smartphone display technologies out there, and you should know which your phone uses. Super AMOLED and LCD IPS are two of the most prominent. While most of the Samsung devices have Super AMOLED HD display, iPhone and most of the other smartphones come with LCD with In-Plane Switching technology. There are a few differences between AMOLED and IPS.
A year ago, if you needed a smartphone of enormous display size, you probably had only one or two options, but now you can get a number of phones from all manufacturers at all convenient display sizes.
The crux of the matter here is, you should consider the display technology used, including the brightness, contrast ratio, resolution, etc., now that you can get smartphones of all display sizes.
A Few Competing Devices
As we noted early, Dell Streak started the revolution, although it was not part of it. Note won the revolution, and following its success a number of phones and tablets came out with extra-large display sizes. A few of them are here.
1. HTC One
One comes with a 4.7 inch screen, which is just perfect for viewing anything, wrapped in a form factor that fits in your pocket perfectly. [By the way, just as Samsung came up with Galaxy Note with slightly larger screen than Dell Streak, they came up with S3 with slightly larger screen than HTC One X.]
2. Galaxy S4
Upcoming Galaxy S4 marks Galaxy S family’s largest smartphone, at 4.99 inches.
3. Droid DNA (HTC, Verizon)
Popular Droid DNA has super bright 1080p full HD display using LCD3 technology. It’s available from Verizon, and outside Verizon it takes the shape of J Butterfly.
4. Sony Xperia Z
Xperia Z is this year’s Sony flagship with 5 inch screen. It is waterproof as well.
5. LG Optimus G
Optimus G is the most advanced smartphone from LG and it has the same tech specs as its brother, Google Nexus 4, also manufactured by LG.
6. Asus PadFone Infinity
This is a 5 inch phablet from Asus. It should not be confused with Asus FonePad, which is a 7 inch tablet with phone call capabilities. On an unrelated note, neither FonePad nor PadFone is named right.
7. Optimus G Pro
Upcoming LG Optimus G Pro is a classic phablet with some pretty decent specifications.
8. ZTE Grand Memo
This year’s Grand Memo is one of the devices that ZTE is betting on highly. It has a 5.7 inch screen. [By the way, Galaxy Mega has a 5.8 inch screen version as well, effectively closing the gap in competition with Grand Memo]
9. Huawei Ascend Mate
You know Samsung wants to make a larger phone whenever a phablet of large screen gets released, right? We saw it in action with Dell Streak earlier, and we saw it again with Ascend Mate from Huawei. The phablet with 6.1 inch screen was officially unveiled in CES this year.
These are only a few worth mentioning in a sea of large screen phones.
One of the important things that I look for in a smartphone is how convenient it is to take it with me. A phone is a portable device, and it should be portable. Usually phablets are neither portable nor good enough for some serious work. If you want a phone, the perfect size should be five inches or less, as long as the design is compact enough to be carried around in your pocket. 4.8 inch Galaxy S3 fits well in your pocket and with the same size as that, Galaxy S4 will also fit perfectly. S4 is also thinner than S3. HTC One looks good and has a pretty correct form factor for even tight-fitting pants.
As long as the manufacturers keep the size of the phone proper, fitting well in all kinds of pockets, the screen size can be tweaked. On the other hand, making devices around screen size is not a good design technique. This is the reason why I would not recommend devices larger than the Note II at 5.5 inches. Due to the same reason, Galaxy Mega is not a product that we are excited about, not to mention the substandard tech specs.
Galaxy Mega and such other large phablets actually don’t give you any better user experience than a regular smartphone. They may only confuse you by making you think whether you could have chosen a small tablet instead. Nexus 7 would be perfect in place of Galaxy Mega. Hence, any product larger than 5 inches or at the most 5.5 inches qualifies as overkill and you needn’t be excited about it.
Let’s take a look at the prying open of two devices in the current market—Sony Xperia Tablet Z and BlackBerry Z10. Teardowns of some important, flagship devices reveal the technology, design, and innovative new parts that constitute that product. It is not only a way to understand the inner workings of our popular gadgets, but also a way to find out how tough they are. iFixit’s teardowns, which we looked at other posts as well seek ways in which you can fix an electronic product at your home. Let’s check out these teardowns.
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
If you read our review published earlier of the Xperia Tablet Z, you may know how slim and well-packed this lightweight Sony tablet is. It has been already touted as having one of the finest constructions—waterproof as well—in the market today, and the teardown reveals how painstakingly each part is assembled.
More than that, who tore the device down? None other than Sony itself! Sony’s TV show-cum-YouTube channel, SGNL posted this video of the teardown of Xperia Tablet Z.
It takes you all the way through the various parts—battery, camera, SD card slots, motherboard, etc., in about three minutes. Check this out.
iFixit Teardown of BlackBerry Z10
We all know how BlackBerry Z10 is making waves these days. It is the most ambitious project by BlackBerry in about two years, and BB10 OS is the company’s biggest hope for a comeback into the smartphone industry. BlackBerry Z10 is definitely a very brilliantly built smartphone with quality parts. Here’s iFixit’s teardown detailing the various parts of the smartphone.
Quite charming to see what these devices have inside, isn’t it? iFixit’s professional teardowns and repair guides are very popular. You can also buy tools from iFixit to fix simple issues on your smartphones. It is also recommended that you not try teardowns on brand new smartphones as that will void the warranty of the device.
Have you noticed the tech CEOs and top executives are constantly engaged in bashing the competitors’ products? Our favorite tech companies and their executives badmouth the competitor products almost all the time, especially when the competitor is winning on several aspects. It is not peculiar, but quite a bit distasteful (on the part of the bashing company) considering that the winning company not only bashes back, but enjoys being silent in a debonair sort of way.
BlackBerry & Apple
One of the recent so-called opinions was from Thorsten Heins, CEO, BlackBerry, about—the obvious competitor, Apple iPhone.
Australian Financial Review conducted a minor interview with Heins, in what he mentioned this:
Apple did a fantastic job in bringing touch devices to market … They did a fantastic job with the user interface, they are a design icon. There is a reason why they were so successful, and we actually have to admit this and respect that.
History repeats itself again I guess … the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don’t innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly. The user interface on the iPhone, with all due respect for what this invention was all about is now five years old.
What you can notice is that the CEOs are not basing their opinions on lies. They are definitely either too subtle about the device they are bashing or speak the truth in a mild way accusing the other guy.
Apple & Samsung
Apple has been really shaken to the core by the release of Galaxy S 4. Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing in Cupertino, Phil Schiller was very disturbed by GS4, it seems. He tweeted this:
That link from F-Secure he mentions in the tweet gives us some unsettling results about Android’s security. Here is a graphic that explains it.
That is the statistic of threat families and variants identified in 2012 year end by F-Secure. One other thing that IDC identified is that about 70 percent of all mobile phone shipments in 2012 belong to Android, while only 19 percent belongs to Apple. It looks as if the more the phones the more the threats, something similar to the whopping number of security threats targeting Microsoft Windows for nearly two decades of dominance in desktop operating systems market.
Android is being targeted by the malware developers, and you really have to have one of these security apps installed.
Phil has taken care to show us this particular PDF. One thing that escapes one’s attention is the fact that this particular report was published back in December, and it is no longer news. Check this Google index snippet we found:
Why was Phil sharing that document right about a week before the launch of GS4? Not stopping there, On , right on the day of release of iPhone’s biggest threat, Schiller told to WSJ this:
Android is often given as a free replacement for a feature phone and the experience isn’t as good as an iPhone.
He didn’t stop there, on a separate interview with Reuters, on the same day, he said this:
With their own data, only 16 percent of Android users are on year-old version of the operating system. Over 50 percent are still on software that is two years old. A really big difference.
HTC About GS4
HTC was also seemingly disturbed about Galaxy S4’s launch, considering the fact that GS4 could outsell HTC One and remain on top of business, keeping HTC’s profits down despite their coming up with an equally great smartphone.
HTC President, Jason McKenzie appeared glad because he believed HTC has a better product than Samsung. If so, there is no reason for these comments from him, told to CNET:
Watching the presentation, it looks like they invested a lot in marketing instead of innovation.
HTC’s bashing doesn’t end there. In another interview, the Chief Marketing Officer of HTC, Benjamin Ho told:
With a continuation of a plastic body, and a larger screen being the most obvious physical change, Samsung’s new Galaxy pales in comparison to the all-aluminum unibody HTC One. This is more of the same.
HTC remains the best option for those people looking for the best technology wrapped in premium design. Our customers want something different from the mainstream, who appear to be the target for the Galaxy. Our customers want original cutting-edge technology, mouth-watering design and a premium feel from their mobiles, which is why we created the HTC One.
That is actually true, and it is almost time for me to put HTC One up at a spot in our list of most durable smartphones.
It is definite that the release of Galaxy S4 has shaken several pillars. Every smartphone manufacturer and their mother has watched the show that Samsung put up in New York, and they are feeling heavily daunted. It is up to them to find a way to gather sales for their devices.
One or two specific aspects worth mentioning are these. First of all, Apple’s allegation of Android’s security threats is based on facts. Android does have more threats than any other smartphone operating system. It however is probably not going to deter people from purchasing Android devices. Look at the specific example of Windows vs. Linux and Mac OS X. For the better part of the last two decades, Windows did dominate the desktop world despite being the most erratic OS with many, many security threats.
Only one way that Apple can counter Android evolution is by coming up with better hardware, a thing that we have been asking them to do for quite some time. Apple doesn’t provide with iPhone a number of features that Android phones provide easily—NFC, USB-on-the-Go, etc. BlackBerry is almost the same. These platforms lack a number of things that Android provides, and yet they somehow want to command premium prices. The business model is either bound to fail or succeed. You know the luxury smartphone market still has customers.
HTC One is a great device, something that HTC should be proud about. Still, they are worried so much about GS4. There are a few aspects that GS4 rocks in, such as the screen and a number of Samsung-supplied apps. HTC probably doesn’t have a software division as vast as Samsung’s to come up with a lot of ideas that would differentiate its phones. However, it doesn’t mean the device is bad.
An important point that I will elaborate on an upcoming article is that the tech companies can do a lot better than badmouthing the competing products. These strategies have backfired more often than not. One thing that they can do is come up with good products with great features at good prices. Any company that is struggling should innovate badly to stay on the market; if not, it would be too late when they realize their mistakes.
Here’s a tweet I had posted on 14th: LG is spooked:
A lot of changes have come about in the smartphone market since the release of iPhone in 2007. Apple’s entry has paved way for other OEMs to innovate in smartphone design. This particular graphic from BBC shows it pretty clearly.
On the other hand, since its inception in 2003, BlackBerry has been quite a unique force in the professional world, with mostly business class users. Its technologies, including BBM and the signature keypad have been instrumental in its success.
However, after 2007’s full-touch iPhone, BlackBerry slowly gave the market away to Apple and other companies like Samsung. The comeback that BlackBerry made this year with the release of Z10 is probably proving to be profitable for the company. Here, we will review the features of both the current iPhone and BlackBerry Z10 and see which is the better smartphone.
Tech Specs Comparison
First of all, let’s compare the technical specifications of both these devices.
In terms of the technical specifications, the clear winner is BlackBerry Z10 with the larger screen, faster snapdragon processor, more RAM, major connectivity improvements including micro USB and NFC, and quad-band LTE.
When we compare these two smartphones, the major defining factor is the operating system running on them rather than the hardware specifications. When we compare the operating systems, the table may turn in Apple’s favor. Let’s check out various differences.
Clearly the faster one of these smartphones is BlackBerry Z10 with a much better Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.5 GHz processor. Apple’s custom-designed Swift microarchitecture powers A6, while Qualcomm’s Krait microarchitecture powers Snapdragon. In the industry circles, there is a hushed acceptance of the superiority of Snapdragon processors. All of them perform in stellar fashion in benchmarks.
For instance, let me attract your attention to this particular benchmark. This is Geekbench results obtained for iPhone 5 and Z10, the data was given by various tests conducted.
BlackBerry Z10 can perform a little better than iPhone 5 based on these tests.
It is safe to assume iPhone 5 shells out quite a bit of performance with its low end hardware. One other thing is iPhone 5 was released much earlier than BlackBerry Z10. Four months of smartphone market is equivalent to four years in literature.
BlackBerry Z10 clearly has a better display than iPhone 5. The technology used is the same. What set Z10’s display apart are its larger size and much larger resolution. The ppi ratio of 356 is better than Retina Display touted by Apple.
The only thing that sets the display back is its brightness factor. iPhone 5’s display can provide 525 lux of brightness, while Z10 gives only 295 lux.
The Operating System and Apps
The most important difference between these two phones is in the operating system in use. BlackBerry Z10 uses the latest QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system, while iPhone comes with iOS 6.1. Both these are proprietary mobile operating systems that perform really well.
One of the reasons why iPhone performs in benchmarks even with less than amazing hardware is due to iOS and its app ecosystem built to work perfectly with the hardware provided.
There are quite a number of features that BlackBerry 10 holds against iOS. Let’s check them out.
iOS is your plain vanilla mobile operating system that introduced quite a number of features in 2007. It has all the favorite touch gestures and apps that you need for regular smartphone operations.
We discussed the app availability by operating systems in another post. Looking through that, you will get an idea of the difference between Apple iOS’s nearly 800,000 apps and BlackBerry 10’s slightly over 70,000 apps. In terms of app ecosystem, iPhone is way ahead of BlackBerry and Windows Phone. The only mobile OS that can match iOS’s app availability is Android.
BlackBerry 10 OS has certain important features.
BlackBerry Hub is an app tightly integrated to the OS. It can be viewed from any app. The feature known as Peek lets you do a simple gesture (swipe up and then right) and see the BlackBerry hub app. The Hub gives you a number of notifications, email, SMS, social media updates, etc.
Another feature known as Flow keeps BlackBerry Z10 glued to your social media profiles. A simple swipe to the right and you are looking at some important notifications.
In this video prepared by the biggest fans of BlackBerry from CrackBerry.com, you will get an idea of the operating system.
Multi-tasking with BlackBerry is much improved. Here, you can open up and keep up to 8 apps at the same time. In our first review of Z10, we did look at the various features including the keyboard, time shift camera, improved interface, etc.
Another important thing is Flash support in the browser. While Apple iOS doesn’t support Flash, BlackBerry 10 does. Also, HTML 5 support on BlackBerry 10’s browser is at 485 points (11 bonus), while iPhone 5 browser scores only 386 points (9 bonus).
Both these cameras have autofocus, but on BlackBerry Z10, you can move the autofocus to a different object if you wish. Also, Z10 allows you to select the aspect ratio of the picture—16:9 or 4:3. Also, Z10 gives you a number of shooting scene options, which are not there on iPhone 5.
However, the actual comparison comes when we look at actual pictures taken with these devices.
Digit has done a pretty good camera comparison between these devices. Here are the pictures.
[Z10 left, iPhone right; click to enlarge]
In another comparison, CNET found out BlackBerry Z10’s amazing capability in the outdoor situations. In low light, it shows again how BlackBerry is no match to iPhone 5.
Z10’s camera gives much better outdoor shoots and color reproduction than iPhone 5. It however fails in low light conditions. It has long way to go to be able to compare to one of the best cameras available in the smartphone world today, Nokia Lumia 920. Here is a comparison done by Gizmodo between Z10 and Lumia 920 in low light.
Z10 is not yet in the US. Recent report gives us that one of the carriers is selling unlocked Z10 for a thousand dollars. While Apple iPhone 5 is available to purchase
, BlackBerry Z10 will soon come to the market.
In terms of price, both these devices are on par with each other. iPhone 5 sells with contract anywhere from 199 dollars. In the UK, BlackBerry Z10 price is around 500 pounds which will be around 750 dollars. This is the unlocked version. Most of the outlets are selling the contract version of BlackBerry Z10. BlackBerry has tie-up with almost all carriers out there—Orange, T-Mobile, EE, O2, Vodafone, EE, 3, etc.
So, that’s it. These two smartphones are coming with amazing capabilities. They have great hardware specs and amazing build quality. BlackBerry Z10 has Gorilla Glass protection, while iPhone doesn’t say what protects its glass, but we know its Gorilla Glass. It is also one of the toughest smartphones. They are both premium devices running premium operating systems. Also they are user-friendly.
The price is the only thing that separates them from other smartphones in the market. They tend to be a little more expensive than Android devices. It is also one reason why I would suggest one of these devices only if you are absolutely certain you want one of them. Otherwise, you could simply go with an Android phone. BlackBerry Z10 wins in areas other than app availability. Even though BlackBerry Z10 was released with the highest number of apps for any first generation OS, Apple is far ahead in an unreachable position with the highest number of apps for any mobile platform.
If you really need to get your work done and have quite a bit of fun with games, then iPhone is the device to go with. If you are willing to wait for apps to come in the future, and you need slightly better hardware, then select BlackBerry Z10.