People around the nation are scurrying from store to store to find that perfect gift. For some, that’s a new video game; for others, a bicycle. In the technology age, more people are starting to add smart phones to their list.
The two biggest competitors right now are the iPhone 4S and the Droid RAZR. The Flyer takes an in-depth look at the specs of these phones.
The iPhone is easily the most popular phone on the market, and with the new iPhone 4S, Apple continues to grow. The late Steve Jobs accepted nothing less than perfection. The 4S emphasizes this with the addition of Siri, a new voice-command system, all the way to adding an extra lens to the camera. They’ve now even added Sprint to their list of carriers. The iPhones are running at $199.99, $299.99, and $399.99 for the 8Gb, 32Gb, and the 64Gb respectively.
The challenger is the Droid – in particular, the Droid RAZR. Droids are Verizon-exclusive, but the Android operating system is on the phones of many carriers, such as AT&T’s HTC Inspire or Motorola Atrix, or Sprint’s Samsung Conquer or LG Optimus S. The Droid RAZR is running at $299.99 for a 16Gb hard drive and an additional 16Gb SD card.
The biggest improvement the new iPhone has is the new operating system. The iOS 5 is the backbone of everything Apple. It has more than 200 new features. Now all alerts from all apps appear in the notification center. In addition, iMessage allows you to have unlimited text, photo, video and more. You can pick up your conversation on different devices. The Newsstand app offers all of your newspaper subscriptions in one place. You can also sign in to Twitter once without ever having to sign in again when posting from any app. Safari now shows articles without ads and other clutter. The all-new reminders app sets reminders for anything at anytime.
Droid phones use the Android operating system. The Android system is known not just for its fancy names like the new Ice Cream Sandwich, the newest operating system, but it also is a very reputable system. One cool new feature of Ice Cream Sandwich is the face recognition unlock. Using the front camera, the phone will automatically unlock when the camera sees the registered face. The new system also makes use of the Android Beam. The Android Beam allows Android users to share music, apps, contacts and videos between phones. The spell-checking system has also been improved; it’s more accurate and you can now add words to the dictionary.
Siri is the new Apple voice-command system, often addressed as a female due to the default voice. Unlike most systems, Siri is much more casual. If you ask her, “Where’s the closest grocery store?” she’ll respond with, “I found a Kroger on Stroop Road. Here are directions.” She’ll also use websites such as Wolfram Alpha if you want to know answers to random questions. If you’re driving and you need to text, simply tell Siri to text your friend, “Hey, what’s up?”
Fairmont senior Alex Herzog loves using Siri. “It knows exactly what I’m saying. She also will do reminders. Just tell her, “Remind to close the garage door when I get home,” and using her GPS tracker, she’ll make sure to tell you to close the garage when you get home. In a nutshell, Siri is a personal assistant that you can take anywhere.
The Droid does not yet have a voice-command system up to par with Siri, but it does have a minimal one. It works for texting, though it does not put in punctuation. It will also call people for you or look up things on Google.
Apple totally revamped the 8-megapixel camera in the iPhone. They added a lens to make a sharper image, and the camera also lets in more light to make photos brighter. The new infrared filter will also keep out IR light, allowing the colors to be more accurate and uniform. People can edit their pictures right on the phone without additional software. You can crop, rotate, enhance, and even remove red-eye. Now the camera has eight megapixels. Paired with more light, this creates some of the clearest pictures a phone has ever offered. The camera compares to a typical point-and-shoot.
The RAZR’s 8-megapixel camera is very similar to the iPhone’s. With the new operating system, Droids now have continuous focus, making all pictures as clear as possible. The RAZR can access the camera straight from the lock screen for moments that require quick reactions. It also has a panoramic mode and a multi-shot mode. The multi-shot mode takes six shots in an instant.
The Droid was the first smart phone to have the Cloud. The Droid phones use Google Cloud, which any Google-powered device can use. You can close your documents on your Droid and pull them up on Microsoft Word on your computer. Also, Google Cloud allows for multiple people to edit the same document at the same time. This allows for a more streamlined editing process with more communication among co-writers and editors.
The new iPhone also makes use of Apple’s new iCloud. The iCloud is a connection among all iOS devices. It allows you to transfer music, videos, documents, spreadsheets, and more between any of your iCloud enabled devices. If you start a document on your iPad, you can go back and finish it on your iPhone. It constantly updates every time you make a change. New songs bought on the iPhone will immediately appear on your Mac without having to sync.
Multitasking is made easy with a couple of technology feats. The Droid uses Verizon’s 4G LTE network, currently the fastest network on the market. The Droid also uses a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, which means the processor runs 1 billion cycles per second. Cycles are like computer instructions, so this is considered an extremely fast processor for a phone.
While the iPhone excels as a personal assistant, it falls short of the mark in its actual functionality as a phone. Right now, the iPhone is not compatible with 4G or 4G LTE. It is still only a 3G phone. This means that it’s not as fast as some other phones. 4G systems operate at much faster speeds than 3G systems. “It’d be best if it had 4G,” said Herzog. “I mostly use WiFi.”
The Droid RAZR is the thinnest smart phone yet, but its thinness doesn’t diminish its durability. The Droid RAZR is made out of Kevlar, the same material used in bullet-proof vests. It uses Corning Gorilla Glass to protect the screen from scratches and scrapes, and nanoparticles to keep out water, but it would still be unwise to drop it in a pool.
The iPhone 4S is made almost entirely of glass, meaning it is more fragile. A case is a must-have. One popular choice is the Otterbox. Otterboxes are very tough cases designed to fit not just phones, but even iPads, Kindles or iPod touches. They fit on and are very hard to take off. They will not slip off if the phone is dropped.
Smart phones in general do not get tremendously long battery life. The battery life is based on how much it’s used and what it’s used for. Sometimes they can last up to a day, but they can also last as little as a couple of hours. The iPhone 4S did make some improvements to get a longer battery life, but it still will not last more than a day or two. Being a 4G phone, the Droids will lose their battery life faster than 3G phones, but the new Droid RAZR uses the Smart Actions app that controls your phone to maximize battery life.
One of the biggest advantages of the Droid is its customization options. With the iPhone, the amount of memory you buy is the amount of memory you will have; there is no way to change it. The Droids are different. They use Secure Digital (SD) cards in addition to their default 16 GB memory. Right now, the new RAZRs come with an additional 16 GB SD card, so it will get a total of 32 GB. The Droid also has an app that will convert files on iTunes into the proper format for the Droid. You don’t have to start your music library over if you already use iTunes for other products.
The bottom line
In the end, neither of these phones are a bad buy. The RAZR is a great choice for those who want some flexibility or the faster 4G speed. iPhone users get Siri to help them plus just having the Apple name. It all boils down to what user is looking for.
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