Mobile Phones Guide

Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 4

Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 4


Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 4

Looking Beyond the Apple iPhone 4 Choice

iPhone 4. From what we've heard at WWDC 2010, the new Apple smartphone does have a very strong proposition. If you're still not familiar with what the iPhone 4 brings to the table, here's a quick recap of the notable features and upgrades for Apple's new mobile device.

Notable Features and Upgrades on Apple iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 is definitely a smartphone to be reckoned with. Besides its claim as the thinnest smartphone to-date, the iPhone 4's hardware gets a major makeover. This includes a 5-megapixel camera capable of 720p video recording, LED flash and finally, a front-facing camera for video calls using Apple's Facetime feature (currently usable via Wi-Fi only for now). While it retains the same screen size at 3.5-inches, there's a significant bump in its resolution, displaying at 960 x 640 pixels. On the inside, the iPhone 4 is now powered by a 1GHz processor, and with it, Apple's updated iOS 4 that now includes multi-tasking and folders to organize your apps.

But if you aren't that keen on the iPhone 4, what are your alternatives? For sure, you should consider devices with similar processing capability, usability, battery mileage, display size and resolution. In the first half of 2010, we've seen quite a number of Google Android devices making its way into the market, and it doesn't seem to be slowing down in the near future. Should you find yourself in need of an iPhone 4 alternative, here's our recommendations from the Android bandwagon.

Samsung Galaxy S

Reasons to Get

Looking purely at the hardware, the Samsung Galaxy S is able to match the iPhone 4 chip to chip with its own Hummingbird 1GHz processor, a 1500mAh battery that lasted up to 7 hours in our tests, and even includes a few bonuses. The most obvious advantage here is the display, which uses Samsung's Super AMOLED for better power efficiency, not to mention a brighter screen with richer colors. Though its larger 4-inch display is capped at 800 x 480 pixels resolution, the Galaxy S does have a similar 720p video recording feature, and images do turn out decent with its 5-megapixel camera.

On the software front, the Galaxy S bundles Samsung's own TouchWiz user interface, and adds more bells and whistles by supporting DivX video playback. More importantly, even with its Android 2.1 firmware, the Galaxy S is capable of setting up a wireless hotspot to share its HSDPA network with nearby PCs via Wi-Fi, a feature that's found on the upcoming Android 2.2 update.

Here's our review of the Samsung Galaxy S.

Pricing and Availability

Locally, the Samsung Galaxy S is currently priced at S$1098 or at a subsidized rate according to the price plan you take up through its exclusive availability with SingTel.

HTC Desire

Reasons to Get

Amongst its portfolio, the HTC Desire comes closest as a match to the iPhone 4's features. From its 3.7-inch AMOLED screen displaying 800 x 480 pixels to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor, the Desire's overall experience is filled with smoothness and speed. You'll also get a decent mileage out of the Desire.

Like its predecessors, the Desire comes with a few feature unique to HTC. One such feature is the intuitive HTC Sense UI. It's safe to say that of all the Android devices out there, the HTC Desire and its Sense UI is able to match Apple's iOS 4 in terms of usability and aesthetics. And if you'd rather have your data synchronized on your PC, the Desire bundles HTC Sync that hooks up and synchronizes your Outlook contacts and calendar entries between your mobile and PC. The Desire also supports internet tethering with its Android 2.1 firmware.

Here's our review of the HTC Desire.

Pricing and Availability

The HTC Desire is currently priced at S$898 and is available at all telcos and authorized resellers.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

Reasons to Get

Sony Ericsson's move into the Android scene started off with a big bang in the form of its Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. Housing a generous 4-inch screen, the Xperia X10 is also powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor. Imaging-wise, the Xperia X10 gives the iPhone 4 some stiff competition with its impressive 8-megapixel camera, and in an upcoming update, the device will also support 720p video recording.

The cornerstone of the Xperia X10 would be its Timescape and Mediascape user interface. The former is a consolidated timeline of all your activities on the device, such as calls, messages, social networks, multimedia playback and many more. The latter focuses purely on Sony Ericsson's main selling point - mobile entertainment - with a series of links to your multimedia content within the Xperia X10. Both user interfaces are armed with an infinity icon; clicking on it will bring you to more related content upon activation.

Here's our review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is currently priced at S$1198 and is available at all telcos and authorized retailers.

Google Nexus One

Reasons to Get

To say the Google Nexus One is a close relative to the HTC Desire isn't far from the truth. Manufactured by HTC, the Nexus One shares similar traits with the Desire, including the same 3.7-inch AMOLED display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the same 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. The Nexus One does have a slight upper-hand with its noise-cancelling dual microphone that does a wonderful job in the area of call quality.

Its software aspect has a few ups and downs. While it is utilizing Google's stock Android user interface, the Nexus One is still Google's top priority when it comes to firmware updates. Case in point - most Nexus One users have already moved onto the Android 2.2 platform, and with it, a slew of updates such as mobile wireless hotspot and Flash 10.1 support that's unavailable on Apple's iOS 4.

Here's our review of the Google Nexus One.

Pricing and Availability

The Google Nexus One is currently priced at US$529 (exclusive of shipping costs) and can be purchased online.

Motorola Milestone

Reasons to Get

Much like the Apple iPhone 4 is to the company, the Motorola Milestone is the poster boy for Motorola for many reasons. Making its entry into the Android scene, the Milestone was one of the first few devices loaded with Android 2.0 (later Android 2.1) from the beginning, much like the Google Nexus One was. Though it doesn't have the raw processing power of the iPhone 4's 1GHz processor, it's still a smooth sailing ride on the Milestone's interface, as ascertained in our tests.

More importantly, the Milestone provides a feature that some smartphone users place a strong emphasis on - a physical QWERTY keyboard. And if you need that extra help for your imaging use, the Milestone's 5-megapixel camera returned images that we agreed with, and comes with a dual-LED flash to handle low-light shots.

Here's our review of the Motorola Milestone.

Pricing and Availability

The Motorola Milestone is currently priced at S$888 or at a subsidized rate according to the price plan you take up through its exclusive availability with StarHub.

To simplify our recommendations, here's a side-by-side comparison of the main highlights of the iPhone 4 and its alternative. Hold on tight, because we should be expecting the iPhone 4 anytime soon in the weeks to come on the shores of Singapore.

  Apple iPhone 4 Samsung
Galaxy S
HTC
Desire
Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Google
Nexus One
Motorola
Milestone
Processor Apple A4 Cortex 1GHz Samsung-Intrinsity Hummingbird S5PC110 1GHz Qualcomm
Snapdragon 1GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 550 MHz
Operating System Apple iOS 4 Google
Android 2.1
Google
Android 2.1
Google
Android 1.6
Google
Android 2.2
Google
Android 2.1
Storage Capacity 16GB / 32GB 8GB / 16GB / microSD 
expandable to 32GB
microSD 
expandable
up to 32GB
1GB / microSD 
expandable up to 32GB
microSD 
expandable up to 32GB
microSD 
expandable up to 32GB
Display Size + Resolution 3.5-inch capacitive  / 960 x 640 pixels 4.0-inch Super AMOLED capacitive / 800 x 480 pixels 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive / 800 x 480 pixels 4.0-inch TFT capacitive / 800 x 480 pixels 3.7-inch AMOLED capacitive / 800 x 480 pixels 3.7-inch TFT capacitive / 854 x 480 pixels
Camera 5-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash / 720p video recording 5-megapixel / autofocus / 720p video recording 5-megapixel /
autofocus /
LED flash
8-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash 5-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash 5-megapixel / autofocus / dual-LED flash
Talk time / Standby time Up to 7 hours / Up to 300 hours Up to 6 hours 30 minutes / Up to 576 hours Up to 6 hours 30 minutes / Up to 360 hours Up to 8 hours / Up to 425 hours Up to 7 hours / Up to 250 hours Up to 6 hours 30 minutes / Up to 350 hours