September 10, 2013 17 Comments
Last updated: March 6, 2014
The iPhone 5s is popular, but it’s not the most advanced smartphone. It is missing over fifty important features that are found in other smartphones.
- A Large Screen Experience – The screen on the iPhone 5s is only 4 inches, while the best Android smartphones have screens that are 5.0 to 6.4 inches. Not only are they much bigger, they are also better. They have almost twice as many pixels and up to 44% higher screen resolutions. Large screens are better for everything. It doesn’t matter whether you’re surfing the web, playing a game, watching a video, or using Facebook. Another activity where large screens excel is reading a book, even though the Moto X only has a 4.7″ screen, it can display 27% more words than the iPhone 5s. That means less scrolling and less page turning. As long as you can easily fit these phones in your pocket, you’ll enjoy the benefits of a larger display. The same people who say 5” or 6” screens are too large, have no problem using the 7.9” iPad mini. The iPhone 6 is sure to have a larger screen, so you better get ready for one.
- A Quad-core Processor – The best Android phone have third-generation quad-core processors that allow your smartphone to multitask better. Quad-core chips have been available on Android devices since 2011. Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 sold in some countries now have eight-core processors, yet the iPhone 5s still only has a dual-core CPU.
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi Support – Not all Wi-Fi speeds are the same. The best Android phones support 802.11ac, which is 3 to 10 times faster than the Wi-Fi technology the iPhone 5s uses. This is important because your phone is connected to Wi-Fi most of the time at home and in the office. 802.11ac results in much faster downloads, faster page loads and less buffering when you’re streaming video.
- Wireless Charging – Many Android users don’t have to plug in their phones to charge them. The Samsung Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, HTC Droid DNA, LG Nexus 4, LG Nexus 5, LG Spectrum 2 and many others include wireless charging support.
- An Affordable Unlocked Price Option – The official unsubsidized price for the “low-cost” iPhone 5c is $549 to $649. You can buy an unlocked Nexus 4 for less than half that price, and it has better specs than the iPhone 5c. Even the unlocked state-of-the-art Nexus 5 sells for only $349. Unlocked Android phones with similar specs to the iPhone 5c sell for around $180 in China without a carrier subsidy.
- An Overall Better Display – Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung Galaxy S4 now match the iPhone 5s’ “A” overall display rating, and badly beat the iPhone 5s when it comes to black level, contrast ratio, color saturation and more. In fact, BGR says the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has the best display of any other phone in 2013. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also outperforms the iPhone 5s on the important GMB color checker. The Moto X and LG G2 also beat the iPhone 5s on white and gray-scale accuracy.
- Accident-Resistant – We all drop our phones, so it’s important they can survive drops and exposure to moisture. When it comes to ruggedness, SquareTrade says Android phones like the Moto X beat the iPhone 5s in drop tests. “When it comes to breakability, Apple takes a step back with its latest offerings,” SquareTrade said. “The iPhone 5S fared worse than its predecessor, the iPhone 5, in our slide test and the iPhone 5C suffered from increased smash-ability in our drop test as well as reduced grip-ability.”
- Fast Charging – Many of the best smartphones now include a fast-charging technology from Qualcomm that helps them charge up to 40% faster than regular phones. Phones with fast-charging support include the HTC Droid DNA, HTC One S, HTC One SV, HTC 8X, Google Nexus 4, LG Optimus G, Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx HD/RAZR HD, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820 and the Samsung Galaxy S III. Future Android phones will include support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 feature that charges up to 75% faster than conventional USB charging technology. You can learn more about Quick Charge here.
- Up to 3 Times More High-Speed Memory – Experts say the iPhone 5s still only has 1GB of memory, while the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 comes standard with 3GB of DDR3 memory running at a higher clock speed. This makes a phone boot faster, launch apps faster and multitask better. How much faster? The game “Asphalt 7″ loads in only 18.5 seconds on a phone with 3GB of memory. The same game loads in 45.0 seconds on the same phone with 2GB of the same type of memory.
- An Easily Removable Battery – Has there ever been a time when your battery was running low and you wished you could just pop-in a fully charged spare? Most Android phones make this possible because they have batteries that can be easily swapped in seconds. This is important because all rechargeable batteries have a limited life span and need to be replaced after 2-3 years. Apple goes to great lengths to prevent you from opening the iPhone 5s. This includes the use of special glue, and screws that require special tools to remove. Even if you have these tools, you still need a heat gun, suction cup and a special prying tool to open your iPhone 5s and remove its battery.
- Multi Window Support – Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Note 3 make good use of their large screens by letting you split the screen so you can use two apps at the same time. Not only can you view any two windows at once, you can also drag things from one window to the other. This is a really useful feature the iPhone 5s doesn’t have.
- Gesture Support – Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note II and Galaxy Note 3 support a wide range of different hand gestures. For example, you can wave your hand over your phone to accept a phone call, move calendar events, or move between pictures, pages or music tracks.
- NFC-based Digital Payments – The new iPhone comes with a ‘Passport’that can hold digital boarding passes and coupons, but it doesn’t allow you to buy things. NFC wallet support like you’ll find in most Android phones lets you to purchase things at one of 300,000+ PayPass cash registers. Once you try this feature you’ll be hooked.
- True High Definition Video Support – Most high-definition videos are either 720p or 1080p, yet the iPhone 5s only has a 640p screen. This makes no sense whatsoever. All flagship Android devices now have 1080p support.
- A Fully Water-Resistant Case – I have several friends that have ruined their iPhones by dropping them in water. That wouldn’t be a problem with a water-resistant Android phone. Phones like the Cat B15 go further by surviving 6 foot drops, submersion over 3 feet in water, and the ability to run in temperatures as low as -4F to as high as 122F. The enclosure on the new Sony Experia Z1 has an IP code rating of 58, which is even better.
- Simultaneous Voice and Data on All U.S. Carriers – Android phones like the Verizon Galaxy S III or Galaxy S4 allow you to check Google Maps while you talk to someone on your phone.This isn’t possible with the iPhone 5s because it doesn’t support simultaneous voice and high-speed data on Verizon or Sprint. Apple could have easily supported this, but decided not to add the extra antenna required to do so. More info.
- Interapp Data Exchange – Google realizes Android can’t be best at everything, and allows you to choose which apps you want to interact with. That means you can share data via Bluetooth, Google Drive, Dropbox, Email, Facebook, Gmail, Google+, Read It Later, SkyDrive, Text Message, Twitter, Wi-Fi Direct, WordPress Blog and countless other apps. This isn’t possible with most third-party iOS apps.
- A Very High Megapixel Sensor – The best Android smartphones come with 13MP to 20.8MP sensors, while Nokia’s PureView cameras have a 41MP sensor. The iPhone 5s uses an 8MP sensor. Although it’s true that megapixels aren’t the only thing that matters, when you compare your 8MP iPhone photos with a good Canon D-SLR or a Nokia PureView photo, in most cases you’ll see a difference. In photo shoot-outs like this one you can see the Nokia’s 41MP sensor outperforms the iPhone 5s in almost every example. The author of the shoot-out above says “the Lumia 1020 is still the undisputed champion for a smartphone camera in terms of raw image quality. Colors were punchier, white balance was decent, images were sharp and there was plenty of detail. Toss in the ability to “crop to zoom” unlike any other device and the Lumia 1020 has a lot going for it.”
- The Best Cloud-based Services – Third-party cloud services are more reliable, provide more storage, and are much more flexible than iCloud — because they don’t lock you into an Apple-only world. If you shop around, you’ll find up to 50GB of free cloud-based storage, much better photo sharing services that automatically upload every photo and improve their quality, and store an unlimited number of photos at full-resolution (e.g. Google+). Android office apps like Google Drive are also much better than Apple’s offerings. They support more formats, allow you to share more easily and collaborate with others at the same time. They also automatically save every change you make to the cloud, so you can access everything from any mobile device or computer — not just Apple products. Android calendar and contact apps also have advantages and are much more open. Sure, some of these products are available to iPad users as well, but most iPad users stick with Apple’s inferior pre-installed cloud services.
- Simple mode of operation – All Samsung mobile devices have an “Easy Mode” that provides a much easy experience for first-time smartphone users. The icons are bigger and the layout is much simpler.
- USB 3.0 support – The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 includes USB 3.0 support. This allows you to transfer files between your phone and computer up to 10 times faster than a traditional USB port. But that’s not all, USB 3.0 also includes a higher power mode that allows your device to charge in almost half the time of a USB 2.0 device when connected to a high current charger.
- Reliable data cables – Apple’s Lightning cables get a 1.5 star rating in the Apple Store due to breakage, fraying and corrosion.
- Touch-to-Share – Most newer Android phones can share media by touching one phone to another. This allows you to share photos, videos, contacts and Web pages, as well as information between apps.
- Auto-save all photos to an SD card – When you first insert an SD memory card on popular Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 it asks if you want to automatically store all of your photos on the SD card. This allows you to take thousands of photos and keep them all without taking up any of your internal memory. This is not possible on any iPhone.
- Data Security – There is a myth that the iPhone is more secure than Android devices, but it’s simply not true since 2008 the NSA has been able to access almost everything on an iPhone. They can even turn on your iPhone’s camera and mic without you knowing they are watching and listening. The NSA can also access all of your data, photos, texts, contacts, location data, voice-mails and more. If the NSA has access to all of this today, it’s just a matter of time before sophisticated hackers gain access to some of this. None of this is possible on an Android phone running Android 4.x software. That’s why all of the three new military-grade encrypted phones being sold to address NSA snooping concerns all run Android.
- Storage Up to 128GB – There is no way to expand the memory on the iPhone 5s, yet most Android phones can easily be expanded (up to 128GB) by adding a microSD card. That’s double the amount of storage available in an iPhone 5s. This allows you to store every photo you’ve ever taken and every song you’ve ever purchased on your mobile device.
- Better Multitasking – Apple places restrictions on third-party apps which run in the background. In most cases, they are suspended and not allowed to communicate with other apps. Android supports true-multitasking without any of the above restrictions. This makes it possible to do things which cannot be done on iOS.
- More Customization Options – Android phones like the Moto X provide far more customization options than the three metal cases available on the iPhone 5s. Their MotoMaker website lets you choose from 18 separate front and back colors, pick an accent color, screen wallpapers and color-coordinated cases. You can even have a bamboo back. When you’re done customizing your Moto X, they assemble the customized device here in the USA and ship it for free in 4 days or less. Over 2000 customization options are available.
- Powerful Front-facing Speakers – Android phones like the new HTC One have two front-facing speakers that get much louder than the single speaker in the iPhone 5s. How much louder? The speakers on the HTC One put out 93 decibels, while iPhone 5s’ sound output is only 66dB. That’s a dramatic difference. This isn’t just important for music, it’s also important when you have a conversation on your speaker.
- Ability to Set Default Software – One of the most powerful Android features is the ability to change the default software the OS uses for different tasks. For example, if you want to the Dolphin browser to open any URL (instead of the stock Android browser), just pick the app you want to use. Want to use a different app for turn-by-turn directions or media playback? Pick one, and it will use that app every time. This is an incredibly powerful feature. You can even replace the stock keyboard on your phone with a better third-party keyboard like SwiftKey3. Apple doesn’t allow this.
- Hands-free voice control that is always ready – Android phones like the Moto X (and all devices with Android 4.4 and Google Now running) allow you to perform voice actions from across the room. Demo video. This is possible because they use a low-power core which is always listening for a key phrase. Of course you can disable this feature if you like. Siri only works after you press the home button and in most cases you are limited to voice control of the built-in iOS apps only. Android phones allow you to make a call to a contact or a business, get directions or travel time, send messages, set a reminder, schedule an event, ask questions, play music or movies, set alarms, see when the next meeting is, ask Google what music is playing, open an app on your phone and more.
- LTE Advanced Support – Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have Category 4 LTE support, which allows your device to transfer data at faster speeds. The iPhone 5s only supports Cat 3, which is slower. Some Android phones also support advanced LTE features like Carrier Aggregation and LTE Multicast, which Verizon recently demonstrated at the Super Bowl with a Galaxy Note 3.
- HDR Video Capture – Phones like the new HTC One have video cameras that have the same real-time HDR processing that is found in most phones today. This makes it possible to have images with bright light sources and dim backgrounds.
- Flash Video Support – Flash may be a dying format, but there are still millions of Flash videos around and iOS can’t play any of them. This includes almost every TV show and most popular movies. All Android devices running 4.0 (and earlier) can play Flash videos out of the box. If you have an Android device running Android 4.1 (or later) you can enable Flash support by following these easy instructions.
- The Most Scratch-resistant Screen – The Samsung Galaxy S4 was the first smartphone with a Gorilla Glass 3 screen. Other phones like the LG Nexus 5 and Galaxy Note 3 have it as well. This screen is much more durable than the older Corning Glass used on the iPhone 5s and impossible to scratch with car keys — or even a knife. Watch this video to see just how durable it is.
- Standard Cable Support – All Android smartphones have standard micro-USB jacks, so you can connect to any Android charger, USB keyboard or a television without purchasing an expensive cable. Apple uses proprietary connectors — so they can sell you cables for $20 to $50. If you want an extra charging cable for your iPhone 5s, it will cost you $19 and is hard to find. You can buy an Android power cord almost anywhere for as little as $2.
- Important Sensors (Temperature, Humidity, Pressure) – Like all Android phones, the iPhone 5S has a gyroscope, accelerometer and a compass/magnetometer. However the iPhone 5S is missing important sensors found in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 which measure temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. The later is important, because it can improve GPS accuracy and tell your phone whether you are inside or outside. The Nexus 5 also has a “Hall Effect” sensor that you won’t find in the iPhone 5s.
- Screen Sharing – Most Android devices are capable of sharing the information on their screens wirelessly. This is done several different ways. Some devices support Miracast which is a peer-to-peer standard that uses Wi-Fi Direct to transmit video and surround sound audio. In addition, many Samsung Galaxy devices support Group Play which lets you share your screen with a group of friends on the same Wi-Fi network at the same time. You can also use Group Play to listen to the same music.
- The most usable screen space – Not only is the iPhone 5s screen a fraction of the size of many Android phones, it has much less usable screen real estate in relation to the overall size the device. For example, the LG G2 and Galaxy Note 3 both have over 74% usable screen space, while only 60% of the iPhone 5’s screen area is usable.
- Damage Resistance – Apple mobiles devices are more breakable than than other mobile devices according to SquareTrade. Android phones like the Moto X are more damage resistant.
- High-resolution Audio Support – High-resolution audio is going to be pushed heavily at the 2014 CES show. CEA research suggests nearly 40% of consumers are willing to pay more for high-quality CE devices. That’s why Android phones like the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 support high-definition 24-bit/192kHz audio.
- An AV Adapter with 1080p Support – Another big downside to the iPhone 5s’ use of a proprietary “Lightning” cable is that its Digital AV adapter (which connects to the HDMI jack on your TV) doesn’t support 1080p today. It’s capable of supporting 1080p, but Apple has chosen to hold back support for this feature.
- Ultra HD 4K Encode/Decode – The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Acer Liquid S2 can both record and playback Ultra HD video with four times the resolution of standard 1080p HD video. This may not seem like an essential feature today, but it is useful because you can easily tell a difference between a standard 1808p HD video and an Ultra HD 4k video — even when both are played on a 1080p display. The differences will be even more apparent as consumers get 4k TVs in their homes. Phones with a Snapdragon 800 processor like the Galaxy Note 3 can also decode DTS or Dolby Digital 7.1 channel audio.
- A 16:9 Display – Apple said the iPhone 5 was closer to 16:9, but the movies still need to be letterboxed.
- Voice-over-LTE Support – Phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III support VoLTE today. Once the carriers roll-this out next year voice will be sent over the fast 4G network and voice-quality will dramatically improve. VoLTE has twice the frequency-range of 3G and HD-level audio. More info.
- A Powerful Battery – The iPhone 5s only has 1560 mAh battery. Phones like the Acer Liquid S2, LG Optimus G Pro, Motorola DROID MAXX and Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have batteries that are at least twice as powerful as the battery in the iPhone 5s. The Samsung Galaxy S4 retained its title as winner of highly-regarded UK consumer association battery tests. These tests didn’t include the Droid MAXX which has even better battery life. The battery in the Droid MAXX lasts two full days, while the battery in the iPhone 5s only lasts one day at best. This is one of several reasons Consumer Reports recommends the Droid series over the iPhone 5s.
- A True Full-screen Mode – Android 4.4 supports a new ‘Immersive mode’ that allows apps to take over the entire screen if needed. That means you won’t see any controls on the top of the bottom of the screen. On the iPhone, this isn’t possible.
- Eye control – Phones like the Samsung Galaxy 4, Galaxy Note 3 and LG Optimus G Pro let users control video playback (and others things) with their eyes. This feature uses the front facing camera to recognize when the device owner is looking at the phone’s display during video playback.
- An Infrared Transmitter – Phones like new HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Experia product line and LG Optimus VU II have built-in IR-transmitters so you can use your tablet to control devices in your home like your TV without using Wi-Fi and special apps. This is a very useful feature.
- DLNA Support – Most Android phones include DLNA support. That means they can stream media to over 10,000 devices. Chance are you have several DLNA-certified devices in your home and you don’t even know it. Most TVs, game consoles, media streamers and Blu-ray players are DLNA-certified.
- Dual-SIM Support – Most popular Android phones are available in dual-SIM configurations. This includes the Samsung Galaxy phones including the Note 3, HTC phones like the HTC One and Sony Expedia phones. This is essential in many parts of the world and not something that the iPhone 5s supports today.
- Full Stylus Support – Although you can use a stylus on an iPhone, you don’t get the same level of expression you get on a Samsung Galaxy Note II or Galaxy Note 3. Both of those phones have 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity, and comes with useful apps that work with the bundled stylus.
- No high-speed wireless data transfer between mobile devices and computers – AirDrop does not support data transfers between iOS 7 devices and Macs. You can share data between Macs, or devices, but not between the two. There are many different ways to transfer data wirelessly between Android devices and computers.
- Easy repairs – The iPhone 5s is harder to repair than most other Android smartphones. For example, the iPhone 5s gets a repairibility score of 6, while the Nexus 4, Nexus S, Moto X, Galaxy Note, Note II, Note 3, Galaxy SII, S3, S4 all get higher scores — meaning they are easier to repair. More info.
- A 2MP Front Camera – All of the best Android smartphones have 2MP or higher front-facing cameras. Apple still uses a 1.2MP front-facing camera for “selfies.”
- 1080p Video Conferencing – Apple’s front-facing “FaceTime” camera is only capable of 720p video recording. Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 4 (and others) shoot 1080p HD Video @ 30fps.
- The Thinnest Case – Apple makes a big deal about the thinness of their mobile products, but the iPhone 5s is not the thinnest smartphone. The Motorola Droid Ultra and others phones are thinner.
- Dual Wi-Fi Antennas – Smartphones like the Moto X have two antennas dedicated to LTE, which is supposed to deliver faster data speeds and better reception. The Droid MAXX and other Android phones also have MIMO Wi-Fi antennas. The iPhone 5 only has a 1×1 MIMO antenna.
Ten iPhone 5s Features Apple Borrowed from Android
Apple also has a long history of borrowing technology from others and claiming it as their own. Many of the new features in the iPhone 5s are already available in Android phones. Some of these feature have been around for a long time. Here are a few examples:
- Control Center – The most popular feature in iOS 7 is the Control Center which experts say was clearly copied from Android.
- OpenGL 3.0 ES Support – Android was the first platform to support OpenGL ES 3.0, which makes possible a new level of photo-realistic 3D graphics. It uses new texture compression techniques that makes possible amorphic-style lens flares and more realistic looking faces. Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (and Nexus 7 tablet) include support for OpenGL 3.0 ES.
- 60fps Video Recording – Phones like the HTC One, Motorola X, Galaxy S4, and Asus Padfone 2 have video cameras all been capable of 60fps recording and slo-mo video. It’s nice to see Apple finally add this important feature.
- A Sensor Core – Every Android phone with the Snapdragon 800 processor has a sensor core that does everything that Apple’s M7 processor does.
- Color Choices – Phones from Samsung and Nokia have been available in a wide range of eye-popping color for years.
- A Fingerprint Reader – Fingerprint readers have been available on Android devices starting with the Motorola Atrix 4G, which was released back in February of 2011. Pantech and LG have phones with them as well.
- Better Carrier Interoperability – The iPhone 5 did away with the dual-mode GSM/CDMA support that the iPhone 4S had. As a result, Apple had to sell three different types of iPhone 5s to support all regions. The new iPhone 5s is supposed to address this issue.
- A Larger Sensor with Bigger Pixels – Like HTC, Sony and Nokia, Apple increased the size of their sensor. The new larger sensor has been proven to improve the quality of photos in low-light conditions.
- Quick Settings – Quick Settings is another feature Apple copied from Android.
- A Gold Color Option – The new gold Samsung Galaxy S4, was in stores a week before the iPhone 5s even went on sale and Samsung has been making gold phones since 2004.
You Can’t Compare the iPhone 5s to All Android Phones!
Several people have contacted me to say it’s not fair to compare the iPhone 5s to the entire Android platform. My point is each and every one of these technologies could have been included in the iPhone 5s. Apple chose to ignore all 50+ of these technologies — even though some of these wouldn’t have added any cost to the iPhone.
But let me get back to their complaint. How does the iPhone 5s stack up to a single Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3? It doesn’t come close. Most of the advantages shown here are found in the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Samsung Galaxy S4 and other flagship Android devices.
The Bottom Line
Apple has a long history of holding back technology from their customers. They do this to ensure you will buy a new iPhone every year (or two) and this strategy has worked like a charm. This year is no different. Could Apple has easily have added some of these things to the iPhone 5s without increasing it’s price? Absolutely. Would these things have made the iPhone 5s a dramatically better phone? Of course. Who wouldn’t want a faster phone, with a better display, better media streaming, more customization choices and so on. Apple choose to maintain their already industry-leading profit margins. That’s why Apple has almost $150 billion dollars in the bank.
The Android landscape is very different with Asus, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony and others all fighting to increase their sales. Competition is good because it ensures consumers get more for their money. Android is a great example of this. Android device makers release more mobile devices in a single month, than Apple does in an entire year. This has allowed Android phones to jump ahead of the iPhone in many areas.
I’m not the only person who thinks things like a bigger screen is important. There is strong data that many iPhone users feel the same way. For example, CNET does a poll before every iPhone release where they ask what iPhone users want to see. Here are the results from this year’s poll: iPhone users want more powerful batteries, NFC and a bigger screen.
I’m not saying the iPhone 5s is a bad phone. It clearly is not. Its camera is better, its build-quality remains great and iOS 7 and the new cases give it a fresh new look. The purpose of this article is to make you think. I know most of you aren’t going to change your minds after reading this, but you should be aware of the things you’ll be missing when you choose an iPhone 5s over a flagship Android phone. Many of you will convince yourself that none of these things matter to you and will still buy an iPhone 5s — but don’t say you weren’t warned when some of these features appear in the iPhone 6 a year from now.
What People Are Saying About the New iPhone 5s
Of course not all of the news about the iPhone 5s is bad. Most of the stories are very positive. For over ten years I was a die hard Apple fan, I bought two iPhones and two different iPads. Back then, they were the clear choice for someone who wanted the best mobile devices. That was then, this is now. I’ve had a hard time seeing much innovation over the past two years. That could change in the future, but I will not be buying an iPhone 5s.
Copyright 2013-2014 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.
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