It’s been a week today since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and, evidently, the top-end of the smartphones market is getting overcrowded.
There are many contenders for the top spot in the smartphones sweepstakes, and for a potential customer, comparing all the relevant specs and features of the phones can be a daunting task.
So, Emirates 24|7 took it upon ourselves to dig deep into the specs charts of some of the more popular smartphones today, and present an unbiased (largely) comparison of the five phones we think should bunch up together at the top of the ladder.
We’ve taken care to choose the five competitors from among the same price-bracket (Dh2,300-Dh2,700). In addition, all the five smartphones have been unveiled – so there are no rumoured specifications or features that we’re assuming will/won’t be there.
The five chosen ones, in no particular order, are:
* Samsung Galaxy S4: This is the latest stallion from the Samsung stable, one that we believe has the potential to run away with the No. 1 spot if left unchallenged for too long. Click here for the official Galaxy S4 microsite for more details and images.
* Apple iPhone 5: This, of course, is the favourite if fans and critics alike. Those who love it are, indeed, passionate about it. But those who hate it seem to be display even more passion. Click here for the official iPhone 5 microsite for more details and images.
* BlackBerry Z10: The latest and the best smartphone yet from the recently renamed BlackBerry, the Z10 is indeed the Canadian comany's wild card entry into the Top 5 smartphones. Click here for the official BlackBerry Z10 microsite for more details and images.
* HTC One: In a way, HTC is the poorest cousin among the Top 5 smartphone siblings, with the least marketing muscle and hype-creating abilities. Still, the HTC One is not underprivileged in the features department, and has a reasonable shot at the top spot. Click here for the official HTC One microsite for more details and images.
* Sony Xperia Z: Last, but not the least, this phone marks Sony Mobile's re-entry into the big league. Somehow, during the Ericsson era, the company seemed to lack passion in its phones. With the Xperia Z, that passion is definitely back. Click here for the official Xperia Z microsite for more details and images.
Without further ado, then, here goes the comparison of our top 5 smartphones on various parameters:
Galaxy S4: The latest phone to be launched, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will come bundled with the latest Android OS, version 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. Some of the upgraded features in this version of the immensely popular Android system include a new Gallery app animation that allows faster loading, long-pressing the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons in Quick Settings now toggles the on/off state, new download notifications, which now shows the percentage and estimated time remaining for active app downloads, and a handful of bug fixes and performance enhancements. Android’s USP remains the hundreds of thousands of freely downloadable apps, and the fact that it is a ‘customisable’ platform, allowing phone manufacturers a free hand in hand-picking features that they want to add to their devuces.
iPhone 5: Apple’s spearhead smartphone runs on its patented iOS 6 platform, which integrates Facebook throughout the various other apps on the iPhone 5, such as Camera, Maps or Game Center. The latest OS from Apple did, however, come under a fair bit of criticism from users when they found the upgraded Apple Maps app wanting (Apple ditched the Google Maps app in this latest OS upgrade), in addition to issues with a less-than-responsive Siri (voice-activated online personal assistant). Besides, it is a ‘closed’ platform, and any changes made to the software by ‘jailbreaking’ the phone results in the Apple warranty being nullified. But if anything has the potential to beat Android in the apps department, it’s iOS. Apple fans continue to swear by it, even as there remain those that still swear at it.
BlackBerry Z10: Early adapters of the latest BlackBerry Z10 smartphone seem to love the new BB10 OS in that it has catapulted BlackBerry right among the top players – after being relegated to ‘also-ran’ in the past few years. But even as BlackBerry has added a reasonable number of features and apps to the latest OS, it visibly lags behind leaders iOS and Android. And it isn’t customisable either (the ‘freedom’ to move around icons doesn’t qualify). BB10 is also late in the race, and will have to play catch-up (it released an update within a month of the launch of the Z10) if it is to give the leaders any real competition.
HTC One: The new smartphone from HTC runs on Android OS, v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), and is upgradable to v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) – the same as the Galaxy S4. So, there isn’t much to choose between those two in the OS department.
Sony Xperia Z: The new water- and dust-resistant smartphone from the Sony stables is also powered by Android OS, v4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), with a planned upgrade to v4.2 (Jelly Bean). Planned but not yet executed means that it will lag a bit in the most recent upgrades although rumours suggest that an upgrade ‘very shortly’ is imminent. Stop holding your breath, please.
This is a bit straightforward. The HTC One offers the biggest screen in the category, at 5.41 inches, which makes it the heaviest after the Sony Xperia Z. On the other hand, the iPhone 5 is the lightest (not on the pocket) at 3.95oz although that means a compromise in screen size, which is the smallest at 4.87 inches.
Straightforward again. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z offer a full5-inch experience; the iPhone offers a full 1-inch less. Pixel-wise, the HTC One is the densest although the iPhone will here want to talk about its retina display and Samsung will want to highlight the Galaxy S4’s AMOLED / PHOLED screen and stuff. When it comes to display, seeing is believing – so have a look at the screens in real-life to make up your mind if display is what tilts your scales.
Galaxy S4: 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED; 1,920x1,080 pixels, 441ppi
iPhone 5: 4-inch IPS LCD; 1,136x640 pixels, 326ppi
BlackBerry Z10: 4.2-inch LCD; 1,280x768 pixels, 355ppi
HTC One: 4.7-inch LCD; 1,920x1,080 pixels, 468ppi
Sony Xperia Z: 5-inch TFT captive; 1,920x1,080 pixels, 441ppi
Each of the five phones we’re comparing has 4G LTE connectivity – so let’s swiftly move on to NFC. That’s where even as there are no real winners, Apple’s iPhone 5 is the only loser – in that it doesn’t support NFC, or nearfield communications (tap-and-transfer of content and cash) while the rest of the four brands do. Wake-up call for Apple here.
This is one of the domains where the battle is heating up. The Sony Xperia Z and the Galaxy S4 are the clear winners in this department, both offering 13MP rear cameras. On the front, the iPhone 5 really looks archaic now with its 1.2MP front-facing camera even as every other phone offers 2MP or slightly more. In addition, the Galaxy S4 comes with a picture-in-picture concept wherein the photographer can have his ‘live’ image inserted into a photograph or video, thus making picture-taking more interesting (think of how clumsy it was to click yourself with the Eifel Tower in the background… now, think again with you clicking the Eifel Tower with the rear camera while the front camera clicks you and inserts it in the image).
Galaxy S4: 13MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 2MP (front)
iPhone 5: 8MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 1.2MP (front)
BlackBerry Z10: 8MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 2MP (front)
HTC One: 4MP (Ultrapixel), 1080p HD video (rear); 2.1MP (front)
Sony Xperia Z: 13.1MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 2.2MP (front)
Frankly, we need to compare oranges with oranges here and leave Apple out as it has its proprietary A6 chip. Among the rest, the latest entrant – the Galaxy S4 – has the bragging rights to a 1.9GHz chip, followed by HTC One (1.7 GHz). Has to be said, though, the iPhone’s processing speed is great too.
Galaxy S4: 1.9GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 600; or proprietary 1.6GHz octa-core Exynos 5 Octa
iPhone 5: Proprietary A6
BlackBerry Z10: 1.5GHz, dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus
HTC One: 1.7GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 600
Sony Xperia Z: 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4
Samsung has finally decided to come up with a 64GB version of the Galaxy S4, bringing it right on a par with the iPhone’s offering. It does better by offering the 16GB and 32GB variants the option of expanding to 64GB at any stage, while the iPhone mandates you stick to the initial allocation. HTC One doesn’t offer the expansion either, and does not come in the basic 16GB version.
Galaxy S4: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB (expandable up to 64GB)
iPhone 5: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB
BlackBerry Z10: 16GB (expandable up to 64GB)
HTC One: 32GB, 64GB
Sony Xperia Z: 16GB (expandable up to 64GB)
On the face of it, the Galaxy S4 has the most powerful battery although the Xperia Z boasts a Stamina mode that it claims gets more bang from the buck, and BlackBerry swears it has improved battery performance by eons. And Apple wouldn’t say how powerful its battery is – in the event of a lack of user complaints on that front, we’ll assume it’s fairly decent for its screen-size.
Galaxy S4: 2,600mAh
iPhone 5: Not disclosed
BlackBerry Z10: 1,800mAh
HTC One: 2,300mAh
Sony Xperia Z: 2,330mAh
Galaxy S4: Not announced yet
iPhone 5: Dh2,599 (16GB); Dh2,999 (32GB); Dh3,399 (64GB)
BlackBerry Z10: Dh2,599
HTC One: Starting Dh2,399
Sony Xperia Z: Dh2,499
So that’s then, there. Hopefully, this will make your job of choosing a smartphone easier (we sincerely hope we haven’t confused you any more than what you already were) and you are closer to buying your dream device now. We’ll update this when Apple unveils its next – or one of the other manufacturers launches a really cool phone worthy of inclusion here.