iPhone: Passed by the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4

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.

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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

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291 comments
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  • These phones just widen the gap

    The iPhone5 didn't even catch up to the Galaxy S3, let alone the Note2. Hardware or software.

    Even the Lumia 920 is a better device.


    The iPhone is nice and all, but it hasn't exactly been leading in terms of features for other phones to pass it by.
    Emacho
    • Nor has it needed to, in refernce to sales

      In the end, it's all about sales.

      If the majority of your buyers are looking for different things then the tech crowd, why throw in extra tech they won't use? If most iPhones users are looking for is 1) a phone, 2) read email, 3) surf the web, 4) run lots of games and apps, 5) the "coolness factor", then all the extra tech does is make it more expensive, or cuts into the company's profit margin.

      My wife likes her iPhone, I like my Nokia, but in the end we have two totally different needs.

      Now, with the slowdown in sales, and other app stores catching up, Apple promising "new and exciting things coming next year", may indicate they pushed that thought process too far, and need some time to catch up to other very capable and very nice iPhone replacements.
      William Farrel
      • I've seen this movie before

        This isn't the first time Apple was in this situation.

        In the early 90's they found themselves stuck in neutral and needed Steve Jobs to bring them back to life. That ain't happening this time and their making the same mistakes.... Again.

        What mistakes? "In the end, it's all about sales". Sure Macs were the hot in the 80's. Every school back then had one. They had the "sales". Why did those Mac sales turn to PC sales? Because of Apple's arrogance. The same arrogance they're showing now. "Macs are better for graphics than PCs!" Then PCs caught up and passed them. So why pay a premium for the same or less?

        "iPhones are better than Android". And they were - back in the Android 1.0 days. Again, Apple has done almost nothing with iPhone since 2008. BlinkFeed, Air View, Air Gesture - not one was "innovated by Apple. Argue for Siri but Android had voice commands back in the 1.x days.

        I want Apple to do well. When any one company reins supreme with no one breathing down their neck, it's bad for all of us. The mobile industry is what it is now because in the beginning, Android was breathing down iPhone's neck. But someone has to do that with Android now. And this coming from a dedicated Android user.
        tallbruva
        • Off the mark

          First PCs never caught up to Macs in the area of graphics from the professional standpoint, not as far as print design or non game related uses. CAD may one area that PCs held but Macs did not really have a strong foothold there. Video was long held by AVID through very expensive hardware and not PC nor Mac, and only with FinalCut did Apple enter that space.

          PCs overtook the Mac because they were good enough and had more software for business uses along with more games for casual use. Business software is used by far more people than graphics.

          As far as the SIRI comment, its very understandable to assume that SIRI is just about simple voice commands, and as an Android user it's easy to see why you'd compare it to that. However, SIRI is really the future of computer interfaces and the AI while still in its infancy will eventually be the preferred method for interacting with technology. Voice commands without strong AI are not really similar to SIRI on any level past the highly superficial.
          twilightmoon
          • And you do not see the same happening with phones?

            "PCs overtook the Mac because they were good enough..."

            Android is offered on phones ranging from no / low cost to high end. It's the former which are a threat to Apple. One can argue the merits of iOS and Android until the cows come home. The reality is Android is good enough for many people who cannot afford an iPhone.

            As more people adopt these lower cost phones Android will continue to grow its market share. This will cause developers to focus more of their attention to Android. That could lead to first releases on Android and then iOS. At some point developers might not even bother with iOS. Yes, this seems unrealistic at the moment. But then the same could be said of Apple in the early days of computers.

            Apple needs to develop a strategy of capturing the low end of the market. When it comes to iPhone market share is important.
            ye
          • rubbish

            Apple has never been about capturing the low end of the market. They arent going to change because some yahoo says so.
            Non-Euclidean
          • So why do they

            keep the 4 and 4s still in production and offering it at Free to $50? One could come to the conclusion that is to capture the "low end" market.
            jonandkelly
          • But,

            You can order a slightly older iPhone for no cost other than the contract. At the local Verizon store I can get an iPhone 4 for free with a new contract; I also saw an iPhone 4s for pretty cheap with a new contract. It's only the iPhone 5 that's expensive.

            So even though people can get slightly older model iPhones for prices that are competitive with Android phones, they are still choosing Android the majority of the time.
            benched42
          • They are choosing out of ignorance, not knowledge!

            Go to a Cell phone store like the AT&T store, and listen to the conversations that take customers to the point of buying an Android phone. Either they come in wanting one because their friends have something that they like, or the sales person is biased and tells them they don't need an iPhone to do "such and such".

            In the end, the majority of the market is operating on "out of thin-air based decisions"
            greggwon
          • oh really?

            when I read your subject heading, I thought you were referring to iPhone purchases.
            warboat
          • How true...

            The average customer knows almost nothing about any of the smart phones. This is probably actually a good thing for sales. If you actaully sit down, write out what you need, compute price points, you know due dilligence prior to purchase, most peole would not ever get a "smart phone". Over $1k a year for a phone? really? Opportuniity cost over 40yrs of about $100k (assume law of 72 at 5%). For a phone??? Absolutely insane.
            maszsam
          • 5%

            You may be making 5% if you have a CD older than 5 yrs, but new CDs are closer to .05%. Yes, the cost to own a smartphone is a bit much. I am thinking about the T-Mobile plan which is $600 per yr + tax -- that's only $24K for 40 years. Of course by then, I may be dead. I consider the cable cost of TV as too high, with absolutely 95% of programming being garbage quality. I consider paying $4 a day for a little pill some doctor prescribes as too high as well. What will ya do - what will ya do. I guess a couple bucks a day for a smartphone is not too bad. Just get the T-Mobile 500MB plan. As for phones, they will start with the Lumia 521 and go up to iPhones & Sammy for high end.

            The cheapest thing to do? Nexus 7 and use free WiFi where available, along with a feature phone and T-Mobile Prepaid, which is dirt cheap. $100 for 1,000 minutes, then after you pay that, next year they give you 15% more at no cost and you can roll the unused minutes -- the best for light use customers. For heavy use, or business, yes-yes, we know it is Verizon, in all its costly glory -- the Mercedes of all carriers .
            mytake4this
          • Re: Choosing out of ignorance ...

            It is not correct for you to say that majority of those who prefer Androids are choosing out of ignorance. That is preposterous and dangerously arrogant statement.
            iPhones are very great devices period. Any person who think otherwise can think what they want what difference does it make.
            For me I preferred Androids right from day 1. I use Galaxy S3 and 10" and right now I am waiting for Note 3. Period. It's just a matter of preference.
            coatech
          • There are those who understand the difference between...

            "Good" and "Good Enough". Some people--as you pointed out yourself, benched, still prefer Good over Good Enough.
            Vulpinemac
          • The iPhone 4 and 4s

            were outdated even when they came out. You can get phones that surpass the ip5 (not so hard) free on contract
            jpal12
          • Top

            Many- many users consider the iPhone as the top cell phone, therefor the rest is simply the rest. On paper, the phone does this or that, but in real use one may argue the iPhone has yet to be equaled. It just works. Is it an only choice, of course not.
            mytake4this
          • Nokia 620

            The Nokia 600s are very nice and sell for under $250. I agree that less expensive phones that function well are a problem for Apple
            mswift1
          • Lumia 620s

            are just as good as an iPhone 5. They are $250 unlocked instead of $1000.
            jpal12
          • really - just as good

            Would doubt a Lumia is just as good as an iPhone, and the resale will be just awful. No one is buying these phones here in the States. If bang for buck is the thing, what is wrong with iPhone at T-Mobile which is lower priced? Any Windows phone, I would consider not worth much in two to four years, so would only get the $150 Lumia 521 or no Windows at all. I am leaning toward the iPhone.... maybe an Android. People seem to be more loyal or return to iPhones over Androids however.
            mytake4this
          • Well...

            Apple is already offering phones at the lower and middle ends of the market -- the 4 and 4S are out there and they are very inexpensive. Furthermore, there's not a whole lot of difference for most people between a 4 and a 5. You get a screen that's a bit larger on an iPhone 5 and that dreadful Siri interface, but so what?

            Apple's primary problem is that the company is facing stiff competition on the upper end of the market and is responding by cranking out underwhelming products like the iPhone 5. I'll put it this way -- I've had a 4S since February 2012 and will be getting a new phone soon because the 4S is simply rotten (Apple's already replaced one of mine and my current one has developed its own set of annoying problems). What compelling reason is there to upgrade to an iPhone 5?
            Ethan Nobles