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Handsets: HTC vs Samsung vs Apple

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Well folks this is not a post regarding a legal patent battle between Android compatriots HTC, Samsung and the iOS iPhone. It is instead a firsthand analysis of the pros and cons of their mobile handsets, along with some comparison between two different network operators thrown in for good measure as well.

In December 2010 I left the closed iPhone ecosystem for the open and free Android clique and boy was I a happy person. The handset I chose at that time was a HTC Desire HD. At first, I was very pleased, however that joy was rather short-lived and was due to both the handset and appalling Vodafone network service. I know refer to Vodafone as Voda-groan…

In December 2011 I changed network operators and moved over to Optus in Australia and chose a new handset in the form of the Samsung Galaxy S2. On both levels I will state it is like being light years ahead on both coverage and functionality fronts.

Handset Screens

Whilst the HTC packed a large 4.3 screen it is certainly no match for the Samsung super AMOLED 4.3 three-inch screen. The iPhone’s screen has always been mediocre in respect of screen color and brightness. The iPhone is not even on a par with that of the HTC handset due to its smaller size. Whilst the color explodes out of the Samsung’s screen and is miles ahead of any other handset TMV have come across to date. Not much more to state here.

Score: HTC 0.5, iPhone 0, Samsung 1

Camera

Cameras are a key element of all smart-phones and whilst both handsets sport 8-megapixel camera’s the quality of the HTC pictures is incredible when compared to that of the Samsung. The zoom feature on the HTC is amazing and simple to use, whereas on the Samsung is lackluster and hard to use. The fact the HTC had an 8-megapixel camera when it was first released in August 2010 before the iPhone 4 with its middle of the range 5-megapixel camera speaks volumes here.

It is sad that Samsung which came out with its Galaxy 2S more than 6 months ago and yet still only managed an 8-megapixel camera and it took Apple more than a year later to release its iPhone 4S with an 8-megapixel camera. The irony being that when both Apple and Samsung included what would be regarded as standard megapixel rate HTC’s phone from a more than a year ago still holds the crown in terms of Camera and photo quality.
Score: HTC 1, iPhone 0, Samsung 0

Interface

Whilst many reviewers have praised the HTC Sense UI, I found it clunky and downright appallingly slow. This may also have something to do with the fact it was running an earlier version of the Android OS. Even still in comparison to the Samsung’s integration the HTC lags behind in usability. I do miss the double old school clock across multiple time zones widget though.

The Samsung device process everything quickly and the fact contacts and contact search is integrated into the call function the usability is dynamic and very well thought through. Yes, the Samsung is using gingerbread and the improvements in usability are plain to see and feel from a user perspective. Despite my ditching of the iPhone, I always stated that the user experience was a little better than anything Android. Well, I now think that the iPhone has met its match in the interface and usability stakes. I now understand why Apple is so scared of Samsung, as it is clear that they should be…

Score: HTC 0, iPhone 0.5, Samsung 1

Contacts

Processing power in terms of accessing contacts was abysmally slow in the HTC – sometimes it took more than five minutes for it to locate the contact I had searched for. Whilst many reviewers have praised the sense UI and its ability to supposedly synchronize Twitter, Facebook, Exchange, Google and more with your contacts is quite frankly a joke. All it did was bring up their profiles separately when making a search within contacts. No integration within the contact file, so instead of one contact you would have several under the same name all a bit confusing and stupid in TMV’s view.

On the flip side Samsung has managed to achieve what HTC unsuccessfully attempted to do via its Sense application. Moving forward Samsung has managed to incorporate everything that HTC attempted but worked it into a much more user friendly and dynamic interface that simply put actually works. Using contacts is a breeze and searching for contacts is super-fast as it should be. The speed difference is interesting becomes both handsets use1.2 GHZ processors. Whilst the iPhone was superior to the HTC in this category, TMV would state that the Samsung Galaxy 2S integration is a few years ahead of the iPhone and its contacts integration.

Score: HTC 0, iPhone 0.5, Samsung 1

Coverage

Whilst yes this is more a network operator issue, TMV would state that we wanted to be sure so we swapped sim cards and across each phone and yes hands down VodaFAIL has to be the worst network operator we have ever had the misfortune to deal with. The fact is I had to pay for 4 GB of data per month, but could never use it because network coverage was so bad and that is in as major city like Sydney. The improvement is massive with Optus.

The fact Vodafone are still able to sell mobile contracts in Australia is quite frankly a joke. My friends working at competitor networks tell me they continually witness roughly 100,000K customers moving away from Vodafone to their networks. TMV would go further and state if Vodafone Australia CEO Nigel Dewes had any sense of honor he would resign with immediate effect.

What was interesting is that the iPhone 4 had significantly less coverage bars and WIFI signal within all the same areas as the HTC and Samsung. Apple needs to pull up its signal receiving socks.

Score: HTC 1, iPhone 0, Samsung 1

Battery Life

Why is that we have phones that are referred to as smart mobile phones, yet what is smart and mobile about having to plug into a PowerPoint every three to four hours? This was one of the key reasons I moved over to HTC because the iPhone would not allow you to carry a replacement battery and so after 4 – 5 hours of hard use moving from meeting to meeting outside of the office I would remain uncontactable. A big fail, that is still a fact with iPhone’s today despite the battery charge lasting a little longer than the HTC.

So, I moved to the HTC and yes, I did carry a spare battery around with me. However, I lost that spare and three months in the HTC would not last more than three hours without requiring a recharge. Talk about another big fail and one that is especially bad for the environment folks.

Thus, it is with great please that I’m able to state that I have managed to go more than 24 hours without a recharge, despite heavy use on my Samsung Galaxy 2S. Enough said!

Score: HTC 0, iPhone 0.5, Samsung 1

Winner

The clear winner is the Samsung Galaxy S2 with a total of 5/6, the camera being the main letdown. The HTC came in a far off second with a score of the iPhone came in as a far off second with a total score of 2.5/6. If you want a phone specifically for the camera than the HTC is most definitely the phone for you. And finally, the iPhone 4S came in a long way from the top third with 1.5/6. In saying this I would probably use an iPhone 4S over the HTC Desire HD.

Handsets: Obviously, there will be the typical Apple fanboy who will come and slate this review, yet at least TMV can openly state we have used each handset with an open mind and we are pretty sure that the great majority of Apple fanboys are too close minded to try alternatives.

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