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HTC HD2 vs. Apple iPhone 3GS


Does the finest Windows Mobile phone ever built outperform the iPhone 3GS? We compare the HTC HD2 vs the Apple iPhone 3GS to find out.

Back in 1981, before computers took over the world of financial number crunching, Hewlett-Packard built the 12c calculator. Even today, it’s considered one of the finest financial calculators ever built – the apex of a dying breed. In 2020, we’ll probably look at the HTC HD2 in much the same way. Windows-Mobile-based smartphones may be headed for the dumpster, but the HD2 is destined to be remembered as one of the finest ever built – and if you want to live out two more years with it, it might be the best way to do it. Here’s how the HD2 stacks up – in tech specs alone – next to its principle rival, Apple’s iPhone 3GS.

Display

Winner: HTC HD2

Both the HD2 and the iPhone 3GS both use LCD screens, rather than the increasingly popular OLED tech. But side-by-side, they’re like comparing apples, and… well, grapefruits. From a size perspective, anyway. The HD2 uses a whopping 4.3-inch display, while the iPhone has a 3.5 incher, and the resolution to match: Only 480 x 320, compared to 800 x 480 on the HD2. That makes this a no-contest win for the HD2.

Portability

Winner: iPhone 3GS

A wise man once said, “With great screen size comes great bulkiness.” Or something along those lines. In any case, the HTC HD2 is both heavier and significantly larger than the iPhone thanks to the oversized mini TV on the front, making it a pocket anchor in the truest sense of the word. At 4.8 inches tall and 2.6 inches wide, the HD2 could completely cover the 4.5-by-2.4-inch iPhone on a table, and tip scales its way, too, at 5.5 ounces to the iPhone’s 4.8. We will concede, though, that it’s technically thinner at just 0.43 inches deep, compared to the 0.48-inch iPhone.

Processor

Winner: HTC HD2

The 833MHz ARM Cortex A8 chip in the iPhone is no slouch. But the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon in the HD2 has it beat, especially considering the iPhone chip is underclocked to 600MHz right out of the box. It’s worth noting, of course, that the iPhone also features a PowerVR SGX dedicated graphics processor, which makes up some of the difference when it comes to 3D rendering – like in games.

Keyboard

Winner: HTC HD2

Apple’s iPhone once ruled the roost with one of the first touch keyboards to make typing on glass acceptable, but in the years since its introduction, many competitors have successfully copied the formula. Including HTC. The HD2 ditches Microsoft’s archaic keyboard intended for styli and instead embraces a revamped version with the Sense user interface. Besides addressing the fat-finger issue with a bigger screen and therefore bigger virtual keys, it includes Swype, which allows users to string together words by dragging across the letters, rather than tapping on them. Not everyone will embrace it, but the option alone – alone with greater size – elevates it to something more than Apple offers.

Storage

Winner: iPhone 3GS

Both the iPhone 3GS and HTC HD2 offer 16GB of storage for $200 with contract, but Apple builds it into the phone, and the HD2 carries it on a microSD card. Either phone can handle 32GB maximum, but they each come with their own caveats: The HD2 can be upgraded to a 32GB microSD card, but right now they run $200, putting your total expense at $400. Apple offers a 32GB iPhone for $300, making it a comparative bargain, but because it’s internal, you’ll have to decide at the time of purchase how much storage you want your phone to have. We love removable storage, but side with Apple on this for the value part of the equation. Until 32GB cards come down in cost, anyone who wants the maximum phone capacity gets a better deal with the iPhone 32GB.

Camera

Winner: HTC HD2

Neither camera will really best even a basic point-and-shoot camera here due to pint-sized optics, but the HD2 manages a closer approximation in part because it offers an LED flash to help brighten up night shots. Its sensor also offers 5-megapixel resolution to the 3.0-megapixel shooter on the iPhone 3GS, and side-by-side tests seem to indicate the same.

Software

Winner: iPhone 3GS

As we noted at the beginning of this comparison, Windows Mobile 6.5 is on its last legs. It has looked dated for years, and the iPhone OS puts it to shame in all categories except multitasking. The number of Windows Mobile apps available also pales in comparison to iPhone apps, and when Windows Phone 7 Series arrives this fall, we expect the last remaining Windows Mobile developers to jump onto that platform. Fare thee well, Windows Mobile.

Battery Life

Winner: HTC HD2

The battery life on the iPhone 3GS has never been particularly impressive, so it should come as little surprise that the HD2 will outrun it on both talk and standby time. According to HTC, the HD2 should deliver 6.3 hours of talk time and 490 hours of standby, while Apple only claims 5 hours of talk and 300 hours of standby for the iPhone 3GS.

Overall Winner: HTC HD2

The HTC HD2 outspecs Apple’s iPhone 3GS in nearly every vital category, making it a winner on technicalities, but we’re still hesitant to declare it the best buy. With an aging, soon-to-be-replaced operating system, it’s tough to recommend the HD2 on the merits of hardware alone. The HD2 proves to be the cream of the crop for Windows Mobile devices, but those aspirations of apps, slick sliding menus and full-featured Web browsers should look elsewhere, like at the still-competent iPhone 3GS, HTC Incredible, or Palm Pre.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | My Gadgets | , , | Leave a comment

HTC Incredible vs. Apple iPhone 3GS


Does the much-hyped HTC Incredible really live up to its name? We compare spec-by-spec versus Apple’s iPhone 3GS to find out.

We have little doubt that HTC’s Incredible is king of the Android mountain for the time being. But even if it stares down at the myTouch puttering around in the foothills and the Droid on a craggy outcropping just below, it still has to measure up against that veritable Everest in the distance: Apple’s iPhone 3GS. How does the HTC Incredible measure up? Break out the altimeter and sextant, we’re going to find out.

Display

Winner: HTC Incredible

Few iPhone owners really complain about the 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone, but the HTC Incredible really has it beat in every regard. Besides measuring up larger at 3.7 inches diagonally, it boasts 480-by-800 resolution. As astute mathematicians will notice, that’s more than twice the resolution in Apple’s 480-by-320 LCD. Because it uses OLED display technology, it should also offer much brighter, more vibrant colors side by side, as the Nexus One does. (Anecdotally, most owners think the Nexus One looks better, but if you delve deep into technical minutiae, you can find an opposing viewpoint.)

Processor

Winner: HTC Incredible

Much as with the Motorola Droid, the beastly Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz chip powering the Incredible puts the 600MHz Arm Cortex A8 in Apple’s iPhone to shame. However, it’s worth noting that the iPhone has a dedicated PowerVR graphics processing unit, which endows it with gaming prowess well above and beyond what the CPU alone would lend.

Camera

Winner: HTC Incredible

Apple must plead no contest in this department. The iPhone 3GS has a 3-megapixel camera with autofocus, but no flash or manual controls. The Incredible offers an 8-megapixel shooter with dual-LED flash, plus on-the-fly adjustments for brightness, contrast, and ISO level. Likewise, the iPhone can only shoot VGA (640 x 480) video, while the Incredible can shoot video at the same resolution as its screen, 800 x 480.

Software

Winner: Apple iPhone 3GS

It’s a matter of taste, to be sure, but the overwhelming public preference still seems to favor Apple’s iPhone OS to Android. And as of iPhone OS 4.0, one of the biggest gripes about it – the inexplicable lack of multitasking – will disappear for good. Put that together with 185,000 apps in Apple’s App Store to about 40,000 in Google’s Android Market, and it’s hard to argue Google holds the upper hand at the moment.

Battery Life

Winner: Apple iPhone 3GS

As with the Droid, we can’t claim to have hammered these out in laboratory tests just yet, but manufacturer estimates usually hold at least some water on cell phones – even if they’re all equally stretched. Apple rates its iPhone 3GS for 300 minutes of standby, to the Incredible’s rather sad 146. That’s less than half. However, the Incredible claims 5.2 hours of 3G usage to the iPhone’s 5. When it’s that close, we would just assume call it a draw if Apple weren’t boasting over twice the standby time. On a hardware level, the batteries are nearly identical in capacity: 1219 mAh on the iPhone, to 1300 mAh on the Incredible.

Portability

Winner: HTC Incredible

Similar as they may be, the Incredible narrowly edges the iPhone out in all but what dimension. It’s a fraction slimmer, a fraction narrower, and a fraction lighter, but measures 4.63 inches tall to Apple’s 4.5-inch-tall iPhone. To any reasonable consumer, it’s a draw, but if you happened to be a lightweight backpacker looking for the ideal phone to drag you back to reality as you’re attempting to get away from it all, the Incredible just narrowly wins its place nestled beside the carbon fiber tent poles.

Memory

Winner: Apple iPhone 3GS

Much as with the Droid, you’ll find a different winner here depending on whether you prefer a phone that gives you the most value for your money, or a phone that can theoretically hold the most. The Incredible comes with 8GB of internal memory and a microSD slot that can handle up to a 32GB card (if you format on a PC first). The iPhone 3GS comes with either 16GB or 32GB built in, and no option to add more. Considering the 16GB iPhone and 8GB Incredible both retail for $200 with contract, we think HTC has the win. Technically, the HTC can offer up 40GB with a 32GB card installed, but given the $200 price tag on these cards at the moment, the iPhone still looks like the more practical decision for buyers seeking storage without complete disregard for their wallets.

Overall Winner: HTC Incredible

On paper, the HTC Incredible aces more categories than the iPhone, but without properly weighting the importance of each one, we don’t suggest you take this particular verdict to mean much. Apple’s dominance in software – especially its commanding lead in apps – probably means much more to potential buyers than a few extra millimeters here and there. That said, HTC’s hardware outmaneuvers Apple in just about every way possible, from an improved screen and microSD slot to an incredibly powerful Snapdragon processor and 8-megapixel camera. Is it really the superior phone? Depending on what’s important to you, absolutely.

April 23, 2010 Posted by | My Gadgets | , , | Leave a comment