iPhone: Passed by the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4

Summary:The iPhone is still a wonderful phone, but the latest handsets from the competition have passed it in form and function.

My iPhone 4S is still a nice phone, and the iPhone 5 is even better. Apple has nothing to worry about in spite of doomsayers crying the end is near, given the latest financials from Cupertino, California. While the iPhone is still a popular phone, looking at the latest crop of smartphones hitting the scene shows that the iPhone does need to evolve, and fast.

Top 3 phones
HTC One; iPhone 5; Galaxy S4. Images: HTC; Apple; Samsung

Both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 show design and functionality that make the iPhone look dated. The hardware design of the HTC One is simply beautiful, and in my view is the nicest phone ever produced. While I've felt for a while that Samsung's Android is better than the rest of the Android field, the Galaxy S4 takes it to an even higher level.

The BlinkFeed function of the HTC One looks positively wonderful in the way that it presents what's important to the user. Scrolling through the stunningly presented information, each user can marvel at his/her own information of note. It's a case of form meeting function, and that's powerful stuff.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 doesn't equal the hardware design of the HTC One but the software leaves everything else in the dust. Samsung has taken Android and not only made it its own; it has also made it more useful to the individual than any other software.

The S4 takes all the tweaked functionality of older Samsung phones and makes it better. Simple features like the Smart Stay function, which senses if the user is looking at the screen and prevents it from dimming and turning off, is not game changing by itself. But Samsung has added a lot of really useful features like this that together make the user experience truly special.

Samsung has really upped its game on the S4 with the Air View and Air Gesture features. The former lets you place your finger near the screen but without touching it, a hover maneuver if you will, to trigger popup information. Air Gesture works the same way to swipe through different screens without touching the display. A good use for this is swiping through the photo gallery without touching the screen.

While Apple made the iPhone 5 screen bigger to be more useful, the decision to maintain the narrow width of the display was not the best in my opinion. Using a 5-inch Android phone with its wider format is better for seeing more information at a time than on the iPhone 5. To me, that's the only reason to make a screen bigger. The longer display on the iPhone 5 is better than previous iPhones, but falls short compared to the competition.

Don't get me wrong; Apple is not in any trouble, and iPhone owners still love their phones. But if they happen to play with either the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S4, they will see what they are missing. The latest phones in the Android world are really, really good. Apple better be spinning some magic for the next iPhone. Its customers deserve it.

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Topics: Mobility, Android, HTC, iPhone, Samsung

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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