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Apple iPhone 4 vs HTC Desire HD

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TMV thought it about time that we got around to comparing two of the hottest phones on the market. Each handset has been around for a while now, and as such we have had plenty of road-testing time. It should be noted each handset TMV tested were not media copies from each respective brand. Instead TMV preferred to test general handsets sold to the public. In the first instance the iPhone tested was a good friends lent to us for one week (we provided them with a replacement iPhone 3GS for the loan period). The HTC is owned by TMV. Unlike previous reviews this time round we will review each phone’s key features against each other.

Screen
One of the biggest selling points of the HTC Desire HD is its massive screen. At 4.3-inches and 480×800 WVGA resolution, it beats most other smart phones and it’s super bright and crisp too.

The iPhone 4 is smaller than the HTC Desire HD’s at 3.5 inches and this does make a big difference. The resolution may be higher at 640×960 pixels and Apple calls this its Retina Display. Apparently, it displays more pixels than the eye can see, which is a little pointless in our opinion. You’ll struggle to see pixels in WVGA resolution as well.

iPhone 4: 3/5                          HTC Desire HD: 5/5

OS
The iOS4.3 debate vs. Android 2.2 has been going on ever since both platforms were launched, the argument generally boils down to who prefers what. A number of new features have launched with iOS4.3, including Apple’s community gaming platform Game Centre. iOS4.3 also supports a number of other Apple-related services including iTunes Ping and TV rentals.

Both Android and iOS4.3 have many similar features, including folders, multitasking (although iOS4.3’s isn’t as true as Android’s), Exchange email support, both with unified inboxes and the ability to change your home screen wallpapers. Both updates also offer a much faster operating speed too.

But the biggest difference between the HTC Desire HD and iPhone 4? The HTC Desire HD features Flash 10 which provides better browsing experience. It is here where the iPhone falls down, as the majority of consumers are both familiar and used to watching videos using flash.

iPhone 4: 4/5                          HTC Desire HD: 4/5

Applications
The iPhone’s App Store has always been the leader of the pack and it’s not surprising when you consider there are more than 300,000 applications on offer.

The Android Market features fewer applications, with over 125,000 applications available. However, the Android Market does boast the highest percentage of free apps, with more than 57 percent on offer for absolutely nothing when compared to the Apple app store.

Yet does free necessarily mean good? Apple does have a screening process to ensure minimum quality levels. Whilst Android does not seem to have any reasonable quality standards and so many Android apps are hit and/or miss in terms of user experience and app quality. This is especially visible when comparing gaming applications on each handset.

iPhone 4: 5/5                          HTC Desire HD: 3/5

User Experience and Intuitiveness

Whilst yes this is purely subjective, it pains TMV to state it; but the iPhone 4 wins hands down as syncing important data is seamless and a breeze.

Whereas, syncing from my Mac to my HTC Desire HD is non-existent. Note to HTC and Google; some of us do want to leave the closed ecosystem of Apple, however you’re not making this transition easy for us.

Why are their two separate Android apps for contacts? What is the point of one application for storing contacts in alphabetical order (when you have over 3000 contacts it is quite frankly useless), and another separate application for searching through your contacts? Why-o-why are Android users required to use a totally separate app to search their contacts database?

Android have improved but simple logical solutions for everyday user tasks is rather abysmal.

iPhone 4: 5/5                          HTC Desire HD: 2/5

Sound and vision
Both the iPhone 4 and HTC Desire HD feature a whole load of extra features and the key element for HTC is probably its Dolby Surround Sound and Dolby Mobile integration that allow you to watch movies in crystal clear quality with stunning sound to boot.

The iPhone 4’s speakers are pretty impressive, but as Apple is the music industry monster, you would expect something special. Gone is the tinny mobile speaker music and in come the punchy tunes from Apple.

The addition of Dolby pushes the Desire HD into the lead, especially as the cinematic experience provided by the 4.3-inch screen is far more superior to that provided by the iPhone 4.

iPhone 4: 3/5                          HTC Desire HD: 5/5

Web services
Both the iPhone and the HTC Desire HD feature their own mobile cloud backup, location and restore services. The Desire HD wins here because the service is free in comparison to MobileMe, plus offers a better suite of services without having to download extra applications as you have to on the iPhone 4.

iPhone 4: 3/5                          HTC Desire HD: 5/5

Camera
The HTC Desire HD features an impressive 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and autofocus – exactly as you’d expect from a super-powerful smartphone. There’s also a whole host of fun modes for you to play with to add a little pizzazz.

The Apple iPhone 4 features a 5-megapixel camera with flash and tap to focus. The iOS4.1 update brings HDR to the table, too and although it’s slow and doesn’t work as effectively as we’d like, it does offer a slight improvement to photos. We also find the camera takes photos a little too quickly, resulting in blurry pictures. Theoretically, this shouldn’t be an issue but in practice it is.

iPhone 4: 4/5                          HTC Desire HD: 5/5

eBooks
Apple’s iBooks first appeared on the iPad and have now made the transition to the iPhone with iOS4. iBooks allows you to download ‘tens of thousands of books’ from the iBooks store and read them at your own pleasure. Books cost between nothing and well, as much as a book would.

The HTC Desire HD also features eBooks through the Koboä eBook store. It allows you to make notes and annotations around the books. You can also add bookmarks as you can with iBooks.

Although we don’t know how many books will be available to view on the HTC Desire HD, the large screen of the device coupled with the annotation functionality ensures HTC is ahead of the pack in terms of functionality in this area.

iPhone 4: 4/5                          HTC Desire HD: 4/5

Carrier Signal & WIFI Reception

Data, 2G and 3G are performed particularly bad on the iPhone. In the same areas where the iPhone only picks up one or two out of five bars the HTC Desire HD always managed to pick up four to five bars. This was the case in the three different locations we tested both handsets using the same sim card (network). Subsequently, it is clearly not a network problem.

Reinforcing this is the appalling WIFI reception experienced when using the iPhone 4 on our home broadband connection. Whilst the HTC Desire HD continually picked up full five bar WIFI reception no-matter which room we were in, the iPhone 4 only managed to pick up one bar of WIFI reception.

iPhone 4: 2/5                          HTC Desire HD: 5/5

Verdict

Whilst on paper the HTC Desire is miles ahead of the iPhone 4 in terms of feature set offerings, for TMV it all comes down to user experience and ease of use of features in each handset. On this area it is a draw; whilst the HTC Desire HD packs a punch in terms of feature set, the iPhone 4 wins out as all features are intuitive and easy to use – despite the fact the camera and speakers are lower quality.

Across all areas reviewed the Apple iPhone 4 received a total of 33 out of a possible 45. The HTC Desire HD scored 38 out of a possible 45.

However, in TMVs view the real decision comes down to a rather simple element that is often overlooked but extremely important for ALL phones – signal strength in terms of data, 2G and 3G and WIFI. In this respect the winner overall is the HTC Desire HD. What is the point of any smart phone handset if it’s ability to pick up reception is quite frankly unacceptable? Whist the iPhone 4 may have a better integration of features and user experience, if you cannot get decent reception everything else becomes irrelevant, as you cannot use the feature set.

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