Prizefight (week of November 10)
Prizefight: Motorola Droid vs. Apple iPhone 3GS
Prizefight: Motorola Droid vs. Apple iPhone 3GS
many smartphone manufacturers and carriers, the Apple
iPhone is the great, white elephant in the room. Though they might
not want to acknowledge it, the iPhone has certainly changed the game and for
better or worse, it's become the gold standard to which a lot of people compare
other touch-screen phones. While most of the competition might be content to
let their products speak for themselves, Verizon has made a bold move by
singlehandedly calling out the iPhone and AT&T
in its iDon't and "There's a map for that" TV commercials. While the
ads have certainly been entertaining to watch, are they actually true? Did
Motorola really create an earth-conquering smartphone in the Droid? Well, we decided
to find out in our own Prizefight. Read on to see if the Motorola
Droid can really take down the iPhone.
Let's keep it clean, fellas. Ding ding!
Round 1: SexinessDesign 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.
|Motorola Droid (Verizon Wireless)||5The Droid gets points for its slim profile and massive, gorgeous display. It's boxier than the iPhone, but I like how sturdy it feels in my hand.||4Awesome display, the highest resolution on a mobile phone I've seen. It's surprisingly thin, especially with its sliding QWERTY. The fat lip on the bottom...yuck and its square corners are its only blemishes.||4I'm a little torn here. On the one hand, the Droid's touch screen is absolutely gorgeous and you have to give credit to Motorola for creating such a thin device, especially with a full QWERTY keyboard. However, the design is a little blocky and industrial, which isn't particularly attractive.||4.3|
|Apple iPhone 3GS - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5The iPhone continues to be a sleek, attractive device. Other phones are gaining, but it holds its own for now. Compared with the Droid, I like the rounded edges and curved back.||5I'm not bored of it and the iPhone still is the sexiest and cleanest device on the planet. I just don't see that changing.||5This round is about sexiness, and though the iPhone's design hasn't changed much, I still can't deny that it's a simplistically beautiful device.||5|
Round 2: NavigationSexiness is one thing, but are the devices easy to use? In Round 2, we examine the design and usability of the devices' user interface.
|Motorola Droid (Verizon Wireless)||4Thanks to its large display and Android 2.0, the Droid's touch-screen interface is responsive and user-friendly. On the other hand, I'm not such a fan of the touch controls below the display and I miss a dedicated calling button. Also, while I'm not going to add a point for the physical keyboard--I can take it or leave it--the Droid's keys are flat and slippery.||5A touch-screen, physical keyboard and navigation pad. What else could you want? No iPhone "pinching" is missed but Android OS makes sense, with a minimal learning curve. Love the pull-down for notifications. And Widgets for key services like access to turn on or off, GPS, and Wi-Fi are great. Android 2.0 makes it happen with more control overall.||5There's still a bit of "techiness" to the Android operating system, but you really have to appreciate the level of customization it offers. Plus, I think you get the hang of it pretty quickly. Also, while the Droid doesn't have the best keyboard, it is a physical keyboard and I can crank out messages way faster on the Droid than on the iPhone.||4.7|
|Apple iPhone 3GS - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5Even Apple haters have to admit that the iPhone is very easy to use.||5Still the easiest and most elegant OS to use. You realize that pinching is a subtle but killer feature. Accessing voice commands at anytime is great, too. There's no other OS that both my 3-year-old niece and I can use.||5Hey, let's be honest. The iPhone is drop-dead easy to use and you can't underestimate the value in that, especially from a consumer's perspective.||5|
Round 3: FeaturesWhat do these phones offer under the hood? Here we examine the features in each device and rate which phone offers more.
|Motorola Droid (Verizon Wireless)||5The Droid offers a boatload of features and as Verizon's commercial reminds us, it has a few things the iPhone does not, such as a higher resolution camera with a flash and editing options, a removable battery, free navigation software, and better multitasking and customization. Even better, the Droid will beat the iPhone when it comes to tethering.||5All the key features are here. So what stands out? The Droid rocks the faster 3G EV-DO Rev. A, and its free built-in GPS turn-by-turn by Google Maps with voice search left me impressed. Exchange support and a unified mailbox for multiple accounts. Awesome. Plus, can you say multitasking?||5The Motorola Droid is packed with an amazing set of features. Android 2.0 brings native Exchange support, free turn-by-turn navigation via Google Maps, and better e-mail and contact management. Plus, you've got the openness of the Android OS, Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A network, and a user-replaceable battery.||5|
|Apple iPhone 3GS - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5The iPhone also packs in the features and I'm glad that I no longer have to complain about the lack of MMS. It also bests the Droid in a few ways: the sync with iTunes offers access to more video, the app selection (for now) is superior, and you can take it abroad.||4The App Store is more robust and enhances the iPhone's use exponentially. Exchange support here, too. Voice-over commands are actually used. Cut/copy/paste is better implemented. Google's GPS Navigation shows up the iPhone's, but it is said to be coming soon.||5While the iPhone lacks some of the features mentioned above, it counters with world-roaming capabilities and a more robust app catalog. Also, while we talk more about this in the next round, the Web browser and multimedia features have a slight edge over the Droid. Both phones have their pros and cons, so this round is a draw for me.||4.7|
Round 4: Web browsing and multimediaThese handsets do a lot more than just make calls; they also have video and digital music players and Web browsers. We tell you which phone offers a better experience.
|Motorola Droid (Verizon Wireless)||4The Droid offers a great video and media player and access to the Amazon MP3 store. On the downside, it needs access to a full-fledged video store for buying and renting movies and TV content. Music quality is admirable, but video quality could be a tad better.||4Web browser is excellent. I like the icon-based faves and bookmarks, but it's a step below Safari. The 5-megapixel camera with flash shows up the iPhone. Amazon Marketplace is solid. Media player is very basic. You need to download a video player app, and the Droid chugged through standard MPEG-4 files that the iPhone played flawlessly. Drag-and-drop media syncing is crude.||4The Droid's Web browser is quite good, especially with the addition of visual bookmarks and simplified list view of open windows. However, I'd say it's still slightly behind the iPhone's Safari browser, particularly with the pinch-to-zoom feature. The smartphone is also very capable at multimedia, with a decent media player and the Amazon MP3 Store, but it doesn't quite offer the same seamless experience that the iPhone offers. Also, while it has a better camera than the iPhone, the picture quality certainly didn't reflect it.||4|
|Apple iPhone 3GS - 32GB - black (AT&T)||5Though you become a slave to iTunes, you're offered a better selection of media for playing on your iPhone. Music and video quality is excellent.||5Safari's still the best mobile browser. Media player also bests the Droid. Syncing with iTunes shines and access to content available from the iTunes Store is massive. Sites like CNN would display video content on iPhone, but failed on the Droid. Camera is not up to par, but video editing and uploading interface are both better.||5Something that sets the iPhone apart from the competition is its excellent Web browser. Honestly, this is the one thing I pine for. Of course, the iPhone also offers top-notch multimedia capabilities and performance. You have access to so much content, especially video, through iTunes, but of course, the drawback is that you are tied to iTunes.||5|
Round 5: Call qualityCell phones aren't worth much if they don't make good calls or can't keep up with your demands. In the final round, we check out the call quality of both devices.
|Motorola Droid (Verizon Wireless)||5The Droid's call quality is excellent. The signal was always strong and the audio was loud and clear.||5Excellent call quality on both sides, reliable calls, better performing 3G network (and yes, I know its regional, but still a faster 3G even outside of San Francisco). Longer talk time and speakerphone sounds better.||5The call quality on the Droid is really impressive. Audio was incredibly clear, whether on regular calls or speakerphone calls. Also, there were no connectivity issues with Verizon.||5|
|Apple iPhone 3GS - 32GB - black (AT&T)||4The iPhone's call quality has improved as AT&T rolls out more spectrum; it still suffers from occasionally patchy sound and dropped calls.||3Call quality still an issue, with more echo and "What was that?" Dropped calls are still happening and 3G was more inconsistent. I made a call from the Droid to my iPhone right next to each other and the iPhone didn't even ring.||3The iPhone's call quality wasn't bad but there was definitely more background noise, and speakerphone calls had a slight echo. In addition, there were a couple of failed calls during my testing.||3.3|
The winner is...
Apple iPhone 3GS
iPhone 3GS: 3
Motorola Droid: 2
Wow, and here we thought the iPhone versus Palm Pre Prizefight was close. After five intense rounds, both the Motorola Droid and iPhone 3GS wound up with the same number of points. Normally, our tiebreaker would be to score to the next hundredth of a point but since both phones score 4.6 even, the next tiebreaker is to choose the phone that won the most rounds. In this case, the iPhone won 3 and the Droid won 2, so the iPhone wins again.
However, this shouldn't be taken as a loss for the Droid or Verizon--quite the opposite. To come in and almost beat out the iPhone says something. As a number of readers have commented, this isn't about being an iPhone killer; it's about giving customers a choice, and it looks like the Droid is giving Verizon subscribers a fine one.
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