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Smart rivals of iPhone 4S

Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed the hardware that would be packed inside the iPhone 4S. It will sport the same look as iPhone 4 — a Gorilla glass-front, a sleek glass back and an aluminium antenna band that runs along each side. The device will also have the same Apple A5 CPU as the iPad 2, which is a dual-core, ARM-based chip, running at 1GHz. This should power up 4S considerably for streaming multimedia content, running apps and emails. But, it offers no novelty since you have handsets that offer 1.2 and 1.5GHz dual-core chips.

Cook promised that the iPhone 4S will shoot 8-megapixel stills and 1080p video, from 720p. These have also become commonplace with other high-end smartphone rivals. Yet, we know that no company comes close to the hardware-software integration that we see on Apple devices.

Even as you wait for iPhone 4S to show up in Indian stores, you cannot dismiss the promising line-up of Samsung, BlackBerry and HTC devices that have recently been launched.

Price: Rs 29,000
Often touted as the closest competitor of Apple’s iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S2 comes with its own pros and cons. The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, beats Apple’s smaller 3.5-inch Retina display hands down. Galaxy S2 has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera coupled with a 2-megapixel rear-facing camera for video calls. Add to it a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM processor, encased within a 8.49 mm slim body that weighs just 116 grams. Samsung Galaxy S2 trumps iPhone 4’s single-core processor, 5-megapixel camera, 9.3 mm thickness and 737 grams of weight. However, Apple has now fortified iPhone 4S with the A5 dual-core processor.

Apple’s promised Siri – a smart voice-assistant that can schedule meetings, set reminders, send texts and e-mails, call friends and even answer complicated questions – is going to appear on the iPhone 4S. To be fair, Samsung also has its own “voice solution” for the Galaxy S2, but its vocabulary is limited to calling, music, messaging, scheduling and launching apps.

The Galaxy S2 comes in the 16GB/32 GB model with a MicroSD card slot. The iPhone 4S will be available for 16GB, 32GB and the 64GB, but does not come with a MicroSD card slot. Samsung has packed DivX and XVid file support, which means you will be able to play ripped movies with extra options available in the Android market.

But the biggest difference between the two phones is their operating systems. The Galaxy S2 runs on Android Gingerbread, which is a fantastic OS but the iPhone 4S will come pre-loaded with iOS 5, the latest Apple mobile operating-system with more than 200 new features including a better notification system and deep Twitter-integration. Android Gingerbread is slick, but iOS is intuitive. One new feature in the iOS 5 is that it makes the device PC-free, so the phone doesn’t need to connect to a PC to set up, making it much more accessible. We need to wait for iPhone 4S to hit the shelves before we can conclude this review.

Price: Rs 31,990
Research in Motion (RIM) is known to be facing some stiff competition from across the globe but if they had only thought of devices like the Bold 9900 earlier, they could have been in a better position to challenge the Android-Apple onslaught.

Talking of the positives, Bold is the first phone to release with BlackBerry’s latest operating system BlackBerry 7 that is supported by a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor pushing it right up as the fastest device from RIM. A 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen display in conjunction with trademark QWERTY keypad is just the right kind in this 10.5 mm-thin BlackBerry device.

The resolution has been improved to 640×480 pixels and the touchscreen simply glides under your fingers. Keeping up with improved hardware, the onboard RAM has also been upped to 768 MB. With the hardware all jazzed up, apps open and close instantly, high-definition video recording and playback is smooth and the web browser with the addition of “Just in Time” JavaScript compiler to improve the loading time completes the picture.

You may want to try out the voice-search options that demonstrate reasonable results, but are not as impressive as the ones on the Android platform. The 9900 features a 5-megapixel camera with fixed focus and close-up mode but the output quality looks similar to that of the older BlackBerry Torch.

The thinness on 9900 comes at the cost of its battery power. Older Bolds packed a 1500mAh battery whereas the 9900’s battery is downsized to 1230mAh, giving you a runtime of nearly eight hours on 2G networks. The Bold 9900 also has an accelerometer for device orientation, a magnetometer that acts as a digital compass and a proximity sensor that turns off the touchscreen display when you’re on the phone.

We only hope that RIM gets developers to make more games for the platform. What you do get in plenty are apps that help with travel and check on news and sport updates. The other interesting feature is the BlackBerry Balance that is meant for people who are provided with BlackBerrys by their employers. This lets you switch from a locked-down business mode to an open version for playtime, allowing you to install your own apps. Overall, it’s a clean yet sturdy device that feels great in hands, is easy to type on and looks business.

Price: Rs 35,990
In the confusing array of Android phones out in the market, the HTC Evo 3D stands out — for its sheer size, glass-less 3D viewing feature and speed.

A powerful dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor handles multitasking with ease, plays video smoothly and delivers gaming graphics that are better than many smartphones. Running the Android 2.3 Gingerbread version, HTC Evo makes mobile internet experience truly gratifying. Websites render beautifully on the 4.3-inch 3D high-definition, multi-touch display, as do videos or games.

A set of backlit capacitive Android buttons, a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera above the screen, a 3.5-mm headphone jack, micro-USB port, dedicated camera button and a switch to choose between 2D and 3D camera mode is what you will find on the device.

But what makes Evo different from the other Android devices is the bulging set of two 5-megapixel rear cameras, capable of taking 3D photos and videos (720p). Even as Evo 3D can display 3D content without eyeglasses, take 3D shots, or even record 3D video, it does not hold a candle to what you have seen of 3D in theatres.

It would be advisable to contain the 3D consumption since it drains the battery out in three hours flat, the phone can otherwise juice up for about 6.5 hours. In 2D mode, images are crisp, colourful and super bright thanks to the built-in dual LED flash.

You can also record HD 1080p clips, giving mobile shutterbugs a reason to smile. HTC Evo 3D comes with 4GB of internal memory that may be sufficient for the average user but not enough if you want to make the device your choice gadget for entertainment on the go. Nevertheless, it supports a memory expansion card so with a small investment the memory shortage can be addressed.

Best reasons to get this should be because Evo’s 3D’s display is crisp & big, the bundled HTC Sense 3.0 user interface is far more superior than third-party interfaces and the dual-core processor inside makes it a breeze to use while surfing. 3D, of course, will be limited to some friendly show-off.

Price: Rs 28,490
Just like the BlackBerry 9900, this latest smartphone from RIM packs in an enviable set of features. The Torch 9860 is the closest “iPhone-like” device from RIM’s stable. Thankfully, it is nothing like the older BlackBerry Storm (an all touchscreen handset). Doing away with the QWERTY keyboard and SurePress clickable screen, the device’s 3.7-inch touchscreen packs in the highest resolution (480 x 800 pixels) on its display.

Torch 9860 measures 120 x 62 x 11.5 mm and weighs about 135 gms, making it marginally bigger and even lighter than the Apple iPhone 4S. The new Torch has 1.2GHz processor, that is unfortunately only a single core, making it score less than Galaxy S2, iPhone 4S or even the HTC Sensation. The Torch 9860 comes with 768 MB RAM, which is respectable, and 4GB of built-in memory. And since it doesn’t do HD 1080p video like many smartphones, for instance, the LG Optimus 2X or stereoscopic 3D images like the HTC Evo 3D, the single-core processor should work just fine.

RIM’s inclusion of Liquid Graphics in new OS 7 compliments the performance of music and video player (helping the 1.2GHz processor to reduce any system lag) and new media can be added by simply plugging in and drag-dropping the files. There is a voice search feature on the device but it is mostly a hit and miss. The main problem with the voice-recognition search on Torch 9860 is that it isn’t intuitive like iPhone 4S’s promised Siri nor does it do a Web search — instead, it just searches from within device content.

The 1230mAh battery on this BlackBerry will give about half a day of action on 3G network (if you include the Twittering, emailing, voice calling, listening to music and watching couple of videos).

First Published: Mon, October 10 2011. 00:08 IST