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10/5/2011
05:38 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs

Anyone who believes that specs make the smartphone hasn't been paying attention to what really matters.

You can count me among the many people who were disappointed with Tuesday's iPhone 4S reveal. Yes, I wanted the iPhone 4S--or iPhone 5--to have a larger screen and a refreshed design. I suppose 4G would have been great, too. But that didn't happen, and multitudes of iPhone fans felt let down.

Before the Apple press conference had ended, fanboyism began to run rampant across the Internet. You could hear the smug tone of superiority in the voices of those who prefer other platforms and devices, in Web forums, comment threads, and on Twitter.

What were most iPhone 4S bashers picking on? The specs and the "stolen" features (as if Android didn't "steal" plenty from the iPhone first).

[The underwhelming iPhone launch may be a good thing. Learn why: Got An iPhone Hangover?]

People picked on the iPhone 4S's small screen, same-old design, lack of WiMax and LTE, and gobs of other specs. Charts, graphs, and tablets sprang across the Web showing how all the specs line up between the iPhone 4S and the myriad other smartphones out there. The Galaxy S II has a bigger screen, the LG Optimus LTE has a bigger HD screen and LTE 4G, the Nokia N8's camera has a better f-stop rating than the iPhone 4S's, and on and on and on.

Gimme a break.

Comparing individual specs between smartphones is like opening up the hood of a Ford Mustang and the hood of a BMW M3 and pointing out why one is better than the other based on its innards. The Mustang's engine displacement alone doesn't make the Mustang better than the M3, any more than the M3's suspension alone doesn't make the M3 better than the Mustang. The point I am driving at is that smartphones are not just a collection of specs. They have to be judged as a whole, not by individual parts. A 1.5-GHz dual-core processor might be fast as hell, but if it is paired with a low-end camera chip, mid-range display, and clunky hardware, what exactly is better about it?

I've tested nearly every smartphone sold by the U.S. wireless network operators over the last 10 years. I can tell you definitively that even phones with the best specs in the world end up lacking something, somewhere.

The tens of millions of people who've bought iPhones didn't buy them for the specs, they bought them because the iPhone does what they need it to, or what they want it to. The same can be said for any platform or device. People buy BlackBerrys because they handle email the way they want it to; people buy Android phones because they like the flexibility and large hardware selection; people buy Windows Phone devices because they're risk-takers (wink, wink; nudge, nudge).

The bottom line here is that we can argue specs all day, but it isn't going to get us anywhere. Sure, plenty of phones have better specs than the iPhone 4S, just as the iPhone 4S outclasses the competition in other ways.

Don't buy a phone--any phone--just because it has decent specs. Buy a phone that does what you need it to, when you need it to, and does it well.

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BC9999
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BC9999,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 11:51:28 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
AreCF, are you serious?? Ford says 2010 Mustang sales were almost 74,000 units. BMW 3-series sold 399,000 units worldwide, almost 101,000 in the US. M3 is a halo car, expensive and not intended to sell to everyone. It's more like a Shelby GT500. I've driven both. I'll take the M3, hands down.
rgustafson223
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rgustafson223,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 10:35:59 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Dude...I have an iPad and a Droid Charge and a Verizon LTE hotspot. I get LTE data service in the vast majority of the DC area. My speed whether through my LTE hotspot on iPad/laptop or the Droid Charge is routinely (80+%) greater than 15 Mbps down/10Mbps up and often (25+%) greater than 20 Mbps down/ 15Mbps up. Have had similar experiences in Boston, San Francisco, Denver, and Honolulu. So I don't know where you are getting your LTE information, but it appears that it isn't from experience.

I would like to see a LTE iPhone. I may yet get the iPhone 4s for the world capability and for better existence in my personal ecosystem (since I have an iPad already and wouldn't have to repurchase the apps). The only reason I would consider it is because I can use my hotspot for large downloads...otherwise after having LTE it would be painful to go back.

The battery life on LTE is hell, but got much better when I got the Android 2.3.4 update for the Charge (rooted upgrade, not OTA). How I solved that is stay in 3G unless I needed the speed and switched to LTE then. After the update, I can at least go all day on LTE (part of the drain was the Verizon bloatware on the Charge).
Nick4114
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Nick4114,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 9:09:04 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Wait, have you not heard that Android's gallery app syncs online with Picasa? Or have you never heard of Google Docs? They have been around for quite a while... Much longer than iCloud... Oh, wait, is iCloud even out yet?
Nick4114
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Nick4114,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 8:56:57 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Google has had a richer ecosystem than Apple for a long long time...

They have had Gmail, Google calendar, Google Voice, search, etc. for years. Right now on Android you can backup and sync to Picasa (photos), gmail, calendar, books, music, market (back up your apps AND their data), and even settings like wifi authentication. And it doesn't require a program like iTunes to do it. iCloud will bring many of these same features... when it comes out. But to imply that Google is trying to play catch-up is backwards.

Just my opinion, of course.
Nick4114
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Nick4114,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 8:14:12 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
I meant generally about the specs mattering when it's convenient, not necessarily you specifically.

And as you yourself say, specs create a better experience (faster processor > runs smoother, bigger screen > easier to see, better resolution > sharper text, etc., etc.). To say that one matters and the other doesn't is senseless.

And I think that your comment;

But those who make their buying decisions based on specifications only will continue to purchase Android phones (and garbage trucks ;-)).

...pretty plainly compares Android phones to garbage trucks. Not sure how you can deny that with your winky smiley face.
Nick4114
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Nick4114,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 8:08:55 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Ok, let's give this a try. It does true multitasking. It does native HDMI output. It does expandable and removable memory via SD card. It does sideloading apps (IE using different app stores). It does mount as a USB drive so you can simply drag and drop files onto it. It does work out of the box without needing a computer to play host. It does offer the option of helpful widgets on the homescreens. And no number of iPad dedicated apps will change that.

When the Zune was first out, apps were not the big thing. It was only after it had already been declining that apps really started to take off with the iPod touch/iPhone.

Edit: Also, Honeycomb tablets don't need 'dedicated' apps because the Android framework allows for a single app to be optimized for both small and large screens. Thus, there is no need to differentiate between 'phone' apps and 'tablet' apps, and no need to tout the number of dedicated 'tablet' apps.
GIGABOB
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GIGABOB,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 7:17:24 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Steve Jobs legacy was making products at the "intersection of liberal arts and technology". In so doing, our evaluation criteria move from objective specifications to the subjectivity of fashion - where a 42Regular is only an approximate gauge to whether a product will fit, form and leverage your ability to take full advantage of its features.

The car analogy is busted for me. As long as we can compare via specs - we remain in the realm of commodities, still scratching our heads on how to assemble the threads, colors, buttons and zippers into a fashion statment with its own soul.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/7/2011 | 6:48:04 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Wow: You all have started a passionate and thoughtful debate that many people are now enjoying. I'm encouraging others to join in, as well: See Smartphone Specs Stupidity: Debate Rages http://www.informationweek.com.... Your knowledge makes our community better--Laurianne McLaughlin, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek.com.
jwc3642
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jwc3642,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 6:43:18 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
Apple used to innovate. All the new features of iOS 5 are from android and BB. Cant wait to see how exited all of you are when you do your first pull down notification bar that apple just invented. By the way it is a very nice feature.

Once you get iOS 5, ask siri to navigate somewhere with turn by turn directions...
jwc3642
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jwc3642,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2011 | 6:39:45 PM
re: iPhone Vs Android: It's The Sum, Not The Specs
So you don't get iOS 5 on the iphone 4? Isnt that just OS upgrades. Wouldnt anyone with an iphone 4 get siri and icloud, etc.

So the iphone 4S is better processor, better camera, better antenna system in the same body. You cant talk about siri and icloud in this conversation about the new iphone 4S. The iphone 4S is a spec boosted iphone 4. In that regard, the only thing to talk about is specs.

They never release the speed of their processors. iOS is able to run on lower speed processors and is optimized for them. They did spend a good amount of time on putting the ipad2 A5 processor into the iphone. They did compare the iphone 4S to the iphone 4. 7 times faster this, dual core that... So yes they did talk about specs.

As for icloud, nothing new. Evernote app does same thing along with google music.

And Siri,

It has been in the app store for over a year...how many people even used it before apple bought it.

Android voice commands are second to none and have been around for years. I tried all the siri demos from the keynote on my evo. They all worked. Except you cant tell siri to "navigate to outback steakhouse" and have it take you there with turn by turn navigation.
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