Prizefight (week of October 26)
Motorola Droid Bionic vs. Apple iPhone 4S
Motorola Droid Bionic vs. Apple iPhone 4S
The Motorola Droid Bionic proved to the world that a dual-core processor and Verizon's 4G LTE chipset could exist in the same phone. The result is one speedy handset, with plenty of power as well. Aside from the usual multimedia and enterprise features, the Droid Bionic also has Webtop functionality that transforms the humble smartphone into a bona-fide Netbook thanks to a variety of accessories.
However, it faces a serious challenger in Apple's latest device wonder, the iPhone 4S. Even though it's widely touted as merely an incremental upgrade, it has a lot of power under the hood. There's plenty of brains behind this beauty, with a dual-core processor along with a seriously upgraded camera. And, of course, it features Siri, the voice assistant that is the current darling in the tech press. Will the Droid Bionic's Android brawn win against the iPhone 4S' elegant strength? We find out in this Prizefight.
Editors' note: The Prizefight scoring system is as follows: Each judge rates on a 0-to-5-point scale. At the end of each round, we will take an average of the three judges' scores. The final score for each phone will be an average of all five rounds.
Round 1: Sexiness and durabilityDesign and looks count for a lot when you're shopping for a cell phone, so here's where we examine the look, size, feel, and sex appeal of the devices.
|Apple iPhone 4S - 16GB - black (Sprint)||5The iPhone wins in the sleek and sexy department hands down. The smooth glass on both the front and back combined with the steel frame results in a luxurious feel that outranks the Droid Bionic's comparatively bulky heft. The display also seems brighter and crisper.||5It's supersexy with its metal frame and two glass screens, and feels like the premium device it is. Sadly, the glass is all-too breakable. It also has great resolution.||4The iPhone is still slick and sexy, and the most luxurious phone on the market, but dropping this thing is an instant shatter, and it's anything but durable.||4.7|
|Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless)||4The Droid Bionic has a different aesthetic entirely, with its large 4.3-inch display and thick form factor. Its soft-touch matte backing and the sculpted glass do make it more attractive, but its overall heft and size make it look clumsy and awkward next to the iPhone.||4Big and thick, this one's built for brawn, not beauty. While I don't mind the robust aesthetic and larger screen, it looks much less premium.||4This phone makes the iPhone feel like a midget with its expansive 4.3-inch screen. The Droid isn't ugly, but it's not sexy, either. This guy will definitely survive a few drops.||4|
Round 2: Controls and user interfaceSexiness is one thing, but are the phones easy to use? In Round 2, we examine the design and usability of their user interfaces, keyboards, and navigation controls.
|Apple iPhone 4S - 16GB - black (Sprint)||5The iPhone 4S definitely shines when it comes to ease of use. The user interface is dead simple, with all of the apps on display right when you turn it on. With iOS 5, the iPhone now has a handy notification tray, plus it's easier to access the camera from the lock screen.||4Over the years, Apple has added more hidden features that you have to know are there. In iOS 5, that's the pull-down notifications tray. Otherwise, it's famously straightforward and intuitive.||5It can't be said enough, the iPhone 4S still has the easiest and snappiest UI on the phone market. The new software improvements don't add any complexity, either.||4.7|
|Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless)||4We do think the Android OS is not as complicated as some people would have you believe, but it does have a bit more of a learning curve because of all the customization options. We also admit that we're not big fans of the MotoBlur interface.||4The long setup process is the pits, but I do like the Bionic's stylized Android icons. Android in general has some tricks you have to know about to use.||4Android's OS is no chump, but it's still not as straightforward, with all of its options. The tech geek won't mind, but the general consumer will. Plus the Droid, even with all its power, still feels a hair slower.||4|
Round 3: FeaturesWhat do these phones offer under the hood? Here we examine the features in each device and rate which phone offers more.
|Apple iPhone 4S - 16GB - black (Sprint)||4The iPhone 4S has plenty of the same features as the Droid Bionic (WiFi, 8-megapixel camera, GPS, etc.), but it offers Siri, a voice assistant that seems on first glance to be more intuitive than the voice feature on Android. iPhone users will enjoy iMessage as a built-in internal messaging system||4The dual-core A5 processor is lightning fast, and Siri is a fun and useful update to voice control. Newsstand, Cards, and Find My Friends bring helpful features natively, but iMessage is the most quietly elegant and possibly most useful new feature in iOS 5.||4The 4S matches many things, but it still falls short compared with tech specs. Most of the improvements came with iOS 5. iMessage is the answer to BBM, and Siri is a peek into the future, but it's still not a game changer. Just yet.||4|
|Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless)||5Yet, we have to give the nod to the Droid Bionic on this one because it also has 4G, HDMI, and DLNA compatibility, and the optional Webtop platform that turns the phone into a portable computer.||5The Droid Bionic matches the iPhone 4S in dual-core processing, then adds on 4G LTE capability, DLNA support, and an HDMI-out port for everyday use, plus it's got those neat-o optional docking station and laptop accessories--as long as you're willing to pay for them.||5The stats don't lie. There's 4G connectivity, HDMI out, and the ability to dock this and use it as a portable computer. DLNA support also makes this a BEAST.||5|
Round 4: Web browsing and multimediaThese handsets do a lot more than just make calls; they also have Web browsers and multimedia players. We tell you which phone offers a better media and Web-browsing experience.
|Apple iPhone 4S - 16GB - black (Sprint)||5The Safari browser on the iPhone continues to be best in its class, and the 8-megapixel camera on the 4S makes it one of the best camera phones on the market.||5The superior 8-megapixel camera and sensors take the cake. iTunes with iCloud syncing drops the cherry on top. Videos would be even better on a larger screen, with Flash support.||5Safari is still the best mobile browser on the market, and its speed and performance has improved with the 4S. When it comes to camera, both are 8 megapixels, but this one isn't even close. Pictures and videos were superior in every way. It's not even close.||5|
|Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless)||4We liked the browsing experience on the Droid Bionic, too, especially because of the speed boost we get from 4G LTE. The Droid Bionic's larger screen offers a wider display for movies and TV shows. However, the camera experience was poor; there was quite a bit of shutter lag, and pictures seemed overexposed.||4The disappointing 8-megapixelcamera didn't accurately reproduce color and clarity, but I appreciate the larger screen and Flash support.||4Browsing on the larger screen is a better experience, and watching videos is excellent, too, but the camera doesn't even come close to the iPhone's in color temperature or sharpness. It's no contest.||4|
Round 5: Call quality and general performanceCell phones aren't worth much if they don't make good calls and can't keep up with your demands. In the final round, we check out just how well devices work as a phone and everything in between.
|Apple iPhone 4S - 16GB - black (Sprint)||4We tested the iPhone 4S call quality on Sprint, and were pleasantly surprised at the volume and clarity we experienced. However, data speeds did not compare with the Droid Bionic's.||4With three carriers to choose from, the iPhone has the call quality advantage, but its lack of 4G support limits it to technically 3G speeds.||4Call quality will be a different experience with the multiple carrier versions of the iPhone, but it's still solid overall. Data speeds, lag behind significantly with HSDPA, and early reports of a shorter battery life hurt it here.||4|
|Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless)||5The Droid Bionic's 4G LTE speed is definitely apparent when loading Web pages and streaming video. We loaded CNET.com twice as fast than with the iPhone 4S on Sprint 3G. Call quality was pretty good, too, though we did encounter the occasional static crackle.||5Verizon's 4G LTE is fast and coverage is generally strong. The entire system hummed along smoothly.||5Call quality is very good as well, but the difference is Verizon's 4G network that delivers here in San Francisco. It's not even close.||5|
The winner is...
Apple iPhone 4S - 16GB - black (Sprint) (4.5 pts)
Motorola Droid Bionic (Verizon Wireless) (4.4 pts)
128 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment