Can These Contenders Knock
Out the iPhone?

By Issa Chan

The iPhone’s 3-year reign atop the smartphone heap may well end in 2010. With a small army of devices amassing to knock the iPhone from its pedestal, Apple will have to work very hard to maintain the championship belt. Here, we give you a quick rundown of the top contenders already available, soon to be available, and a few other beacons of promise on the horizon.

In This Corner the Reigning Champ; Apple iPhone 3GS
Just to recap, the ubiquitous iPhone didn’t get to be so with just smoke and mirrors. Always extremely polished, iPhone OS X is perhaps the most intuitive anyone has ever used, and the browser just blazes through the Internet. With an app market numbering over 180,000, the phone is also extremely adaptable, conquering everything from stunning 3D games to workhorse utilities. The biggest complaints about the iPhone are call-quality, no thanks to the AT&T network, and a few minor quibbles here and there. But, Apple and AT&T are quickly correcting those mistakes with network improvements and the highly anticipated iPhone 4G.
The Rumored Successor to iPhone 3GS; iPhone 4G
Although the recent leak of an iPhone 4G is technically only hearsay at this point, all signs point to a release of a new iPhone based on these specs in June. We expect the "rumored" iPhone 4G to not just be an improvement, but an evolution of, the current handset. The most notable change, perhaps, will be a sleek, new shape - the first since its inception. The "alleged" 4G "might" feature a second camera, presumably for video chat, and an enlarged, flash-assisted back camera. The phone may also run on a new, faster processor allowing for many software and integration improvements even multitasking. Details are scant, but all signs point toward another mind-blowing device and feature-set hitting the market as early as June. It seems, the iPhone has been, and may continue to be, the device to beat.
Blackberry Bold 9700 Means Business
The Blackberry Bold 9700 is the quintessential business smartphone, built for reliability, connectivity, and utility. The iPhone does not offer the same depth and ease of integration in business-use cases. The Bold connects seamlessly with business networks like MS Exchange and IBM Lotus. It allows up to 10 POP3 and SMTP email accounts, Wi-Fi calling, and even native editing of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint docs. Which phone is better is really an apples-to-oranges comparison. The iPhone is a great all-around device, but if your needs live more in the business realm, the Bold 9700 rules.
Coming Soon: The Blackberry Bold 9650, Bolder and Better
The newest Bold, the soon-to-be-available 9650, is a variation on the current 9700 with some tweaks. Although quite similar, it doubles the memory, adds WiFi, an optical trackpad and features OpenGL support for 3D graphics. With touchsrceen-friendly BlackBerry 6 OS due out any day, this could be a Bold worth waiting for. On the downside, we read the battery life may be reduced somewhat from the impressive 21 days standby for the 9700, and gone are M3 or T3 technology for the hearing-impaired. Still, the Bold, in either variant, is a smart choice if you plan to use the phone as a cornerstone for your mobile office.
HTC DROID Incredible; the Name Says It
Dare we say that the HTC DROID Incredible is BETTER than the iPhone? Yes, we dare. We’re sure the "rumored" iPhone 4G will set the record straight when it arrives, but, for now, the DROID Incredible has the edge over the 3GS. The two phones share many similar features, but the iPhone can only match the DROID Incredible’s feature-set after the purchase of apps. Let’s face it, the iPhone 3GS is dated in both looks and feature-set. The iPhone’s OS X is still the most intuitive we’ve used, but the DROID Incredible brings a more varied feature set out-of-the-box, better call quality, true multitasking, and a supercharged 1 GHz processor. That rumpled backside also features a dual flash 8-megapixel camera, and houses a longer-lasting battery. All told, the DROID Incredible is a more customizable, feature-rich, speed demon of a Smartphone - And we think it's a winner.
HTC EVO 4G Could be a Very Strong Contender
Here come the 4G phones, led by HTC and Sprint. The EVO 4G is due out in June and already has smartphone owners drooling. It has a big 800 x 480 pixel 4.3 inch screen, two cameras front and back. It offers the ability to be a hotspot for your other WiFi devices. It connects to an HDTV through HDMI to display the 720p HD video you can shoot with it. The EVO 4G runs on a fast 1Ghz Snapdragon processor and will run Android 2.1 out of the gate. It even comes with a built-in kickstand, hey, the iPad doesn't have one of those.
More Contenders On the Way to Take a Turn in the Ring
Most of the major manufacturers have plans to release new phones later in the year. The Samsung Wave S8500 will use Samsung’s own “Bada” OS. It features a 3.3-inch AMOLED 800 x 480 resolution capacitive touchsrceen display and will be the first phone with Bluetooth 3.0. The Motorola Shadow, successor to the DROID or, as some are calling it, the "Nexus Two," has an even bigger 4.3-inch 850x480 pixel TFT display (sorry, no AMOLED). With displays this big, are we seeing smartphones edging into iPad territory? The Shadow has a slider QWERTY keyboard and will run the brand-new Android 2.2 OS. It comes with an 8MP camera and an HDMI port. The Nokia N8 also has a slider keyboard and will run on Nokia's open-source platform, Symbian 3. Both the Shadow and N8 will act as mobile media centers playing HD video onscreen or straight to your TV. The N8 sports a whopping 12-megapixel camera.
Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Looks Promising
Perhaps, one of the most interesting products coming later this year is Windows Phone 7. When Windows Phone 7 devices land, we will be treated to an entirely new kind of interface, active home screens that display real-time information, integration with XBOX Live, and many more innovative new features.
May the Best Smartphone Win
Whether or not we see our first true iPhone killer, 2010 will be a busy year for mobile phone dealers and consumers alike. While the smartphone manufactures duke it out with Apple to be king of the smartphone hill, it looks like smartphone owners are going to be the biggest winners.
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You are all forgetting Palm

In all this discussion of phones, OS's, apps, speed and performance, I have not heard a word about the Palm Pre and Pre Plus. I too, have looked at them all. I was even about to switch from my Verizon Palm Treo to AT&T for an iPhone. I was tired of the Palm OS and the expensive and vastly under-supported apps. I finally dug a little deeper into the new Palm Pre and the WebOS operating system.

While Palm may have been on its last leg in the past few years, this new OS and Phone style is fabulous. Same screen resolution and size as the iPhone, applications that are slowly put surely catching up, and can anyone say MULTI-TASKING. The Palm Pre Plus does multi-tasking like a champ. I can have any number of open apps and quickly switch between any of them with the swipe of a finger without losing a bit of data or time. The interface is great, the form factor is very comfortable in the hand. It is not overly large or heavy. It finally has a 3.5 mm headphone jack, handles music and video well. You can connect directly to the phone as a separate drive and manage the music yourself. Web browsing on the Pre Plus is astounding.

OH, I might sound like a cheerleader for the Palm, but it has certainly come back from the grave with this new phone. I was ready to dump them and leave them forever. I looked at the Droid, the Blackberry, the Motorola, the iPhone, and based on my needs as well as the reviews of many I know I made the right choice.

The Palm is a true smart phone, with a real OS and great new look and feel. Apple better beware. And Blackberry will certainly be taking lessons from these guys soon, on design and interface.

Nokia N8

The Nokia N8 does not have a slide out keyboard. Also, you've got the N810 pictured in the image, not the N8.

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nokia n8

The Nokia N8 does not have a slide out keyboard. Also, you've got the N810 pictured in the image, not the N8.

Isn't Verizon slated to

Isn't Verizon slated to carry the iPhone in 3rd Qrtr of this year? If so, that adds a bit more coverage to the carrier debate. And the Droid phones, er no. I agree that the Droid OS is slick, but it's still not as intuitive and the phones that operate it are crap. HTC manufactures bricks, not phones. They're heavy and quite ugly. And I can't remember the last time that Motorslowa made a decent phone. The Samsung looks promising, but otherwise, let's forget about the archaic slider or frontal keyboards and move into the future people.

Verizon's iPhone and Motorola

Nope, AT&T has a five year deal. Apple had to admit to it during court proceedings. Basically they were under fire for trapping people at AT&T and their response was that people knew there was a five year exclusive deal because of a popular Newsweek article, so they have no right to claim an expectation to leave. So Apple will continue to be the buoy for AT&T and AT&T will continue to be the stone tied around Apples ankle.

//And the Droid phones, er no. I agree that the Droid OS is slick, but it's still not as intuitive and the phones that operate it are crap....I can't remember the last time that Motorslowa made a decent phone. //
No, and the last good phone from Motorola was the Q9C. Yes I know it's WinMo which is a lemon, but it did what it needed. If you work at a company that has an Exchange server then you want a Q9C or a BlackBerry, but the BB has patently the worst browser EVER. I oversee 100+ phones where I work, so I have LOTS of real world evidence. Motorola and RIM understand one thing that none of the other companies seem to and no one tests for it, THEY PUT IN GOOD ANTENNAS! HTC is loved by the blogs, but every one I get sucks. Before you can even talk about apps, it has to work as a phone. Good antennas translate into more bars, no dropped calls, better data connections, longer battery life, or basically everything. Samsung doesn't get this either, the Saga could have been saved with a good antenna and a prox sensor to lock the screen.

As for the future, I can look down to the little microphone button on my on-screen keyboard on my Droid. Android 2.1 added full speech-to-text. Apple just bought Siri, as it even knows that touch isn't the future, voice is the future.

In the end Apple is just repeating the battle it had with IBM/PCs in the 80s. They will come out with really slick hardware, and have it out first. Apple 2e and today the iPhone. Then a looser system will produce massive waves of better and cheaper hardware. IBM 8086/8 and today Android. Apple will respond periodically with a new amazing product, but mass markets will create high volume discounts on even better hardware. I'm sure the 4G will be amazing, but that will be it for YEARS. So it BETTER be amazing, because I can get an upgrade every 13 months at Verizon. New-every-2 gives an extra $100 off, but at 13 months I can pay standard rates, i.e.$200 for the latest and greatest. So before the 4G successor is released, I'll be carrying a phone with something like 1080P resolution, seeing the whole web including the Flash bits, a 2 GHz processor running open office powered by batteries with twice the power density of the one in the iPhone and connecting by LTE. Oh, and I'll carry a spare battery which I will be able to replace myself.

Apple is good, but they aren't better than everybody else. Apple maybe could beat Google or HP or HTC or Dell or Nokia separately, but not all at once. Apple will find a niche, probably as the high security phone/terminal, but they aren't the future.

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Nope, still want the new

Nope, still want the new iPhone.

Myopic review

Do you know who makes the number one smart phone?
World wide it's Nokia, in US it's RIM. Apple is a distant second.
But even if we let that slide, why no mention of screen resolution? Have you seen these phones? How about carrier quality?
I have a Droid and it blows the 3GS out of the water, period.
Apple has better games, but then so does Nintendo.
I want to read/send email, surf the web and get work done.
The best feature of Apple is Cisco VPN connectivity.
My Droid and the two Android phones mentioned have two or four times the resolution (2x vert, 2x horiz) of the 3GS. Flash is every where on the web and Android already has Flash light and soon to have more. Does it kill batteries, probably, but I'll carry a spare, to get the rest of the web.
AT&T is a joke. It's only saving grace is global connectivity. I'm sure the iPad sold a LOT of Verizon MiFis.
Android 2.2, if adopted by carriers, which is possible, but not likely, will make each phone a mobile hot spot. The iPhone is tied to AT&T which can't handle the traffic it has and will NEVER let you tether or leave to find greener connectivity pastures. If not people will just root their phones and get the extra features, so they can help out their friends with iPhones.
More than that, Apple is now pissing on all it's developers, still thinking it has the only game in town, but times are a changing and they will be leaving. HP will start pouring money into WebOS and they will defect.
I'm sure the iPhone 4G will be fantastic and will set a new high bar, but people like keyboards (i.e. RIM, NOKIA) and even the most enthusiastic Apple polisher is disgusted at AT&T and judging that you will then have to wait three more years for the 4GS or 5G, expect some sad Apple polishers trapped at a bad carrier. The only other hope is that the 4G software will support Bluetooth keyboards like the iPad, so business people can turn them into clamshell phones with matching Bluetooth keyboards.

iPhone - competition and successors.

It seems that half the comments concerning iPhone models versus any or all the rest about to be released, for American users, is not about the hardware but the plans available (or not), for those phones. Sadly you are restricted. We in Australia have four big carriers, maybe other smaller ones, with reasonable service albeit at a more expensive rate. We don't seem to have the problems as outlined above, at least I haven't noticed any.

As an iPhone 3GS user, I am awaiting the eminent release of the 4GS, not particularly for myself - I'm on a two year plan - but for a daughter who has an iPod touch, having learned the fine points of that, and can appreciate the essential benefits of having integrated phone capability and cameras, so she is also very interested. Whether Apple releases all of the goodies available on other phones or reputed to be in future models, is wishful thinking, but there will have to be inclusions to match what the wider industry perceives as desirable.

Whatever though, there will be the usual Apple practice of well integrated and supported features. Most of really only get the chance to decide which phone we will buy, because of various factors that a well-heeled user who just has to have the very latest, money no object, and soon replaces that with the even newest best thing. Unfortunately he lauds its features when new but then rubbishes it a couple of months later. My personal span of attention is two to three years at least, and if it still viable will either stretch that, or pass it on to another to appreciate.