The Dirty Little Secret About Mobile Benchmarks

 

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When I wrote this article over a year ago, most people believed mobile benchmarks were a strong indicator of device performance. Since then a lot has happened: Both Samsung and Intel were caught cheating and some of the most popular benchmarks are no longer used by leading bloggers because they are too easy to game. By now almost every mobile OEM has figured out how to “game” popular benchmarks including 3DMark, AnTuTu, Vellamo 2 and others. Details. The iPhone hasn’t been called out yet, but Apple has been caught cheating on benchmarks before, so there is a high probability they are employing one or more of the techniques described below like driver tricks. Although Samsung and the Galaxy Note 3 have received a bad rap over this, the actual impact on their benchmark results was fairly small, because none of the GPU frequency optimizations that helped the Exynos 5410 scores exist on Snapdragon processors. Even when it comes to the Samsung CPU cheats, this time around the performance deltas were only 0-5%.

11/26/13 Update: 3DMark just delisted mobile devices with suspicious benchmark scores. More info.

2/1/17 Update: XDA just accused Chinese phone manufacturers of cheating on benchmarks. You can read the full article here.

Mobile benchmarks are supposed to make it easier to compare smartphones and tablets. In theory, the higher the score, the better the performance. You might have heard the iPhone 5 beats the Samsung Galaxy S III in some benchmarks. That’s true. It’s also true the Galaxy S III beats the iPhone 5 in other benchmarks, but what does this really mean? And more importantly, can benchmarks really tell us which phone is better than another?

Why Mobile Benchmarks Are Almost Meaningless

    1. Benchmarks can easily be gamed – Manufacturers want the highest possible benchmark scores and are willing to cheat to get them. Sometimes this is done by optimizing code so it favors a certain benchmark. In this case, the optimization results in a higher benchmark score, but has no impact on real-world performance. Other times, manufacturers cheat by tweaking drivers to ignore certain things, lower the quality to improve performance or offload processing to other areas. The bottom line is that almost all benchmarks can be gamed. Computer graphics card makers found this out a long time ago and there are many well-documented accounts of Nvidia, AMD and Intel cheating to improve their scores.Here’s an example of this type of cheating: Samsung created a white list for Exynos 5-based Galaxy S4 phones which allow some of the most popular benchmarking apps to shift into a high-performance mode not available to most applications. These apps run the GPU at 532MHz, while other apps cannot exceed 480MHz. This cheat was confirmed by AnandTech, who is the most respected name in both PC and mobile benchmarking. Samsung claims “the maximum GPU frequency is lowered to 480MHz for certain gaming apps that may cause an overload, when they are used for a prolonged period of time in full-screen mode,” but it doesn’t make sense that S Browser, Gallery, Camera and the Video Player apps can all run with the GPU wide open, but that all games are forced to run at a much lower speed.Samsung isn’t the only manufacturer accused of cheating. Back in June Intel shouted at the top of their lungs about the results of an ABI Research report that claimed their Atom processor outperformed ARM chips by Nvidia, Qualcomm and Samsung. This raised quite a few eyebrows and further research showed the Intel processor was not completely executing all of the instructions. After released an updated version of the benchmark, Intel’s scores dropped overnight by 20% to 50%. Was this really cheating? You can decide for yourself — but it’s hard to believe Intel didn’t know their chip was bypassing large portions of the tests AnTuTu was running. It’s also possible to fake benchmark scores as in this example.Intel has even gone so far as to create their own suite of benchmarks that they admit favor Intel processors. You won’t find the word “Intel” anywhere on the BenchmarkXPRT website, but if you check the small print on some Intel websites you’ll find they admit “Intel is a sponsor and member of the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, and was the major developer of the XPRT family of benchmarks.” Intel also says “Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors.” Bottom line: Intel made these benchmarks to make Intel processors look good and others look bad.
    2. Benchmarks measure performance without considering power consumption – Benchmarks were first created for desktop PCs. These PC were always plugged into the wall, had multiple fans and large heat-sinks to dissipate the massive amounts of power they consumed. The mobile world couldn’t be more different. Your phone is rarely plugged into the wall — even when you are gaming. Your mobile device is also very limited on the amount of heat it can dissipate and battery life drops as heat increases. It doesn’t matter if your mobile device is capable of incredible benchmark scores if your battery dies in only an hour or two. Mobile benchmarks don’t factor in the power needed to achieve a certain level of performance. That’s a huge oversight, because the best chip manufacturers spend incredible amounts of time optimizing power usage. Even though one processor might slightly underperform another in a benchmark, it could be far superior, because it consumed half the power of the other chip. You’d have no way to know this without expensive hardware capable of performing this type of measurements.

 

  • Benchmarks rarely predict real-world performance — Many benchmarks favor graphics performance and have little bearing on the things real consumers do with their phones. For example, no one watches hundreds of polygons draw on their screens, but that’s exactly the types of things benchmarks do. Even mobile gamers are unlikely to see increased performance on devices which score higher, because most popular games don’t stress the CPU and GPU the same way benchmarks do. Benchmarks like GLBenchmark 2.5 focus on things like high-level 3D animations. One reviewer recently said, “Apple’s A6 has an edge in polygon performance and that may be important for ultra-high resolution games, but I have yet to see many of those. Most games that I’ve tried on both platforms run in lower resolution with an up-scaling.” For more on this topic, scroll down to the section titled: “Case Study 2: Is the iPhone 5 Really Twice as Fast?”This video proves shows that the iPhone 5s is only slightly faster than the iPhone 5 when it comes to real-world tests. For example, The iPhone 5s only starts up only 1 second faster than the iPhone 5 (23 seconds vs. 24 seconds). The iPhone 5s only loads the Reddit.com site 0.1 seconds faster than the iPhone 5. These differences are so small it’s unlikely anyone would even notice them. Would you believe the iPhone 4 shuts down five times faster than the iPhone 5s? It’s true (4 seconds vs. 21.6 seconds). Another video shows that even though the iPhone 5s does better on most graphics benchmarks, when it comes to real world things like scrolling a webpage in the Chrome browser, Android devices scroll significantly faster than a iPhone 5s running iOS 7.See for yourself in this video.

 

The iPhone 5s appears to do well on graphics benchmarks until you realize that Android phones have almost 3x the pixels


The iPhone 5s appears to do well on graphics benchmarks until you realize that Android phones have almost 3x the pixels

  • Some benchmarks penalize devices with more pixels — Most graphic benchmarks measure performance in terms of frames per second. GFXBench (formerly GLBenchmark) is the most popular graphics benchmark. Apple has dominated in the scores of this benchmark for one simple reason. Apple’s iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and 5s displays all have a fraction of the pixels flagship Android devices have. For example, in the chart above, the iPhone 5s gets a score of 53 fps, while the LG G2 gets a score of 47 fps. Most people would be impressed by the fact that the iPhone 5s got a score that was 12.7% higher than the LG G2, but when you consider the fact the LG G2 is pushing almost 3x the pixels (2073600 pixels vs. 727040 pixels), it’s clear the Adreno 330 GPU in the LG G2 is actually killing the GPU in the iPhone 5s. The GFXBench scores on the 720p Moto X (shown above) are further proof that what I am saying is true. This bias against devices with more pixels isn’t just true with GFXBench, you can see the same behavior with graphics benchmarks like Basemark X shown below (where the Moto X beats the Nexus 4).
More proof that graphics benchmarks favor devices with lower-res displays

More proof that graphics benchmarks favor devices with lower-res displays

  • Some popular benchmarks are no longer relevantSunSpider is a popular JavaScript benchmark that was designed to compare different browsers. However, according to at least one expert, the data that SunSpider uses is a small enough benchmark that it’s become more of a cache test. That’s one reason why Google came out with their V8 and Octane benchmark suites, both are better JavaScript tests than SunSpider.” According to Google, Octane is based upon a set of well-known web applications and libraries. This means, “a high score in the new benchmark directly translates to better and smoother performance in similar web applications.” Even though it may no longer be relevant as an indicator of Java-script browsing performance, SunSpider is still quoted by many bloggers. SunSpider isn’t the only popular benchmark with issues, this blogger says BrowserMark also has problems.
SunSpider is a good example of a benchmark which may no longer be relevant

SunSpider is a good example of a benchmark which may no longer be relevant — yet people continue to use it

  • Benchmark scores are not always repeatable – In theory, you should be able to run the same benchmark on the same phone and get the same results over and over, but this doesn’t always occur. If you run a benchmark immediately after a reboot and then run the same benchmark during heavy use, you’ll get different results. Even if you reboot every time before you benchmark, you’ll still get different scores due to memory allocation, caching, memory fragmentation, OS house-keeping and other factors like throttling.Another reason you’ll get different scores on devices running exactly the same mobile processors and operating system is because different devices have different apps running in the background. For example, Nexus devices have far less apps running in the background than a non-Nexus carrier-issued devices. Even after you close all running apps, there are still apps running in the background that you can’t see — yet these apps are consuming system resources and can have an affect on benchmark scores. Some apps run automatically to perform housekeeping for a short period and then close. The number and types of apps vary greatly from phone to phone and platform to platform, so this makes objective testing of one phone against another difficult.Benchmark scores sometimes change after you upgrade a device to a new operating system. This makes it difficult to compare two devices running different versions of the same OS. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S III running Android 4.0 gets a Geekbench score of 1560, which the same exact phone running Android 4.1 gets Geekbench score of 1781. That’s a 14% increase. The Android 4.4 OS causes many benchmark scores to increase, but not in all cases. For example, after moving to Android 4.4, Vellamo 2 scores drop significantly on some devices because it can’t make use of some aspects of hardware acceleration due to Google’s changes.

    Perhaps the biggest reason benchmark scores change over time is because they stress the processor increasing its temperature. When the processor temperature reaches a certain level, the device starts to throttle or reduce power. This is one of the reasons scores on benchmarks like AnTuTu change when they are run consecutive times. Other benchmarks have the same problem. In this video, the person testing several phones gets a Quadrant Standard score on the Nexus 4 that is 4569 on the first run and 4826 on a second run (skip to 14:25 to view).

  • Not all mobile benchmarks are cross-platform — Many mobile benchmarks are Android-only and can’t help you to compare an Android phone to the iPhone 5. Here are just a few popular mobile benchmarks which are not available for iOS and other mobile platforms (e.g. AnTuTu Benchmark, Octane, Neocore, NenaMark, Quadrant Standard and Vellamo).
  • Some benchmarks are not yet 64-bit — Android 5.0 supports 64-bit apps, but most benchmarks do not run in 64-bit mode yet. There are a few exceptions to this rule. A few Java-based benchmarks (Linpack, Quadrant) run in 64-bit mode and do see performance benefits on systems with 64-bit OS and processors. AnTuTu also supports 64-bit.
  • Mobile benchmarks are not time-tested — Most mobile benchmarks are relatively new and not as mature as the benchmarks which are used to test Macs and PCs. The best computer benchmarks are real world, relevant and produce repeatable scores. There is some encouraging news in this area however — now that 3DMark is available for mobile devices. It would be nice if someone ported other time-tested benchmarks like SPECint to iOS as well.
Existing benchmarks don't accurate measure the impact of memory speed or throughput

Existing benchmarks don’t accurately measure storage performance on things like video playback

  • Inaccurate measurement of memory and storage performance — There is evidence that existing mobile benchmarks do not accurate measure the impact of faster memory speeds or storage performance. Examples above and below. MobileBench is supposed to address this issue, but it would be better if there was a reliable benchmark that was not partially created memory suppliers like Samsung.
Existing benchmarks don't accurately measure storage performance on things like video playback

Existing benchmarks don’t accurate measure the impact of memory speed or throughput

  • Inaccurate measurement of the heterogenous nature of mobile devices — Only 15% of a mobile processor is the CPU. Modern mobile processors also have DSPs, image processing cores, sensor cores, audio and video decoding cores, and more, but not one of today’s mobile benchmarks can measure any of this. This is a big problem.

Case Study 1: Is the New iPad Air Really 2-5x as Fast As Other iPads?

There have been a lot of articles lately about the benchmark performance of the new iPad Air. The writers of these article truly believe that the iPad Air is dramatically faster than any other iPad, but most real world tests don’t show this to be true. This video compares 5 generations of iPads.

Benchmark tests suggest the iPad Air should be much faster than previous iPads

Benchmark tests suggest the iPad Air should be much faster than previous iPads

Results of side-by-side video comparisons between the iPad Air and other iPads:

  • Test 1 – Start Up – iPad Air started up 5.73 seconds faster than the iPad 1. That’s 23% faster, yet the Geekbench 3 benchmark suggests the iPad Air should be over 500% faster than an iPad 2. I would expect the iPad Air would be more than 23% faster than a product that came out 3 years and 6 months ago. Wouldn’t you?
  • Test 2 – Page load times – The narrator claims the iPad Air’s new MIMO antennas are part of the reason the new iPad Air loads webpages so much faster. First off, MIMO antennas are not new in mobile devices; They were in the Kindle HD two generations ago. Second, apparently Apple’s MIMO implementation isn’t effective, because if you freeze frame the video just before 1:00, you’ll see the iPad 4 clearly loads all of the text on the page before the iPad Air. All of the images on the webpage load on the iPad 4 and the iPad Air at exactly the same time – even though browser-based benchmarks suggest the iPad Air should load web pages much faster.
  • Test 3 – Video Playback – On the video playback test, the iPad Air was no more than 15.3% faster than the iPad 4 (3.65s vs. 4.31s)

Reality: Although most benchmarks suggest the iPad Air should be 2-5x faster than older iPads, at best, the iPad Air is only 15-25% faster than the iPad 4 in real world usage, and is some cases it is no faster.

Final Thoughts

You should never make a purchasing decision based on benchmarks alone. Most popular benchmarks are flawed because they don’t predict real world performance and they don’t take into consideration power consumption. They measure your mobile device in a way that you never use it: running all-out while it’s plugged into the wall. It doesn’t matter how fast your mobile device can operate if your battery only lasts an hour. For the reason top benchmarking bloggers like AnandTech have stopped using the AnTuTu, BenchmarkPi, Linpack and Quadrant benchmarks, but they still continue to propagate the myth that benchmarks are an indicator of real world performance. They claim they use them because they aren’t subjective, but then them mislead their readers about their often meaningless nature.

Some benchmarks do have their place however. Even though they are far from perfect they can be useful if you understand their limitations. However you shouldn’t read too much into them. They are just one indicator, along with product specs and side-by-side real world comparisons between different mobile devices.

Bloggers should spend more time measuring things that actually matter like start-up and shutdown times, Wi-Fi and mobile network speeds in controlled reproducible environments, game responsiveness, app launch times, browser page load times, task switching times, actual power consumption on standardized tasks, touch-panel response times, camera response times, audio playback quality (S/N, distortion, etc.), video frame rates and other things that are related to the ways you use your device.

Although most of today’s mobile benchmarks are flawed, there is some hope for the future. Broadcom, Huawei, OPPO, Samsung Electronics and Spreadtrum recently announced the formation of MobileBench, a new industry consortium formed to provide more effective hardware and system-level performance assessment of mobile devices. They have a proposal for a new benchmark that is supposed to address some of the issues I’ve highlighted above. You can read more about this here.

A Mobile Benchmark Primer

      If you are wondering which benchmarks are the best, and which should not be used,

this article

    should be of use.

Benchmarks like this one suggest the iPhone 5 is twice as fast as the iPhone 4S.

Case Study 2: Is the iPhone 5 Really Twice as Fast?

Note: Although this section was written about the iPhone 5, this section applies equally to the iPhone 5s. Like the iPhone 5, experts say the iPhone 5s is twice as fast in some areas — yet most users will notice little if any differences that are related to hardware alone. The biggest differences are related to changes in iOS 7 and the new registers in the A7.

Apple and most tech writers believe the iPhone 5’s A6 processor is twice as fast as the chip in the iPhone 4S. Benchmarks like the one in the above chart support these claims. This video tests these claims.

In tests like this one, the iPhone 4S beats the iPhone 5 when benchmarks suggest it should be twice as slow.

Results of side-by-side comparisons between the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 4S:

  • Opening the Facebook app is faster on the iPhone 4S (skip to 7:49 to see this).
  • The iPhone 4S also recognizes speech much faster, although the iPhone 5 returns the results to a query faster (skip to 8:43 to see this). In a second test, the iPhone 4S once again beats the iPhone 5 in speech recognition and almost ties it in returning the answer to a math problem (skip to 9:01 to see this).
  • App launches times vary, in some cases iPhone 5 wins, in others the iPhone 4S wins.
  • The iPhone 4S beats the iPhone 5 easily when SpeedTest is run (skip to 10:32 to see this).
  • The iPhone 5 does load web pages and games faster than the iPhone 4S, but it’s no where near twice as fast (skip to 12:56 on the video to see this).

I found a few other comparison videos like this one, which show similar results. As the video says, “Even with games like “Wild Blood” (shown in the video at 5:01) which are optimized for the iPhone 5s screen size, looking closely doesn’t really reveal anything significant in terms of improved detail, highlighting, aliasing or smoother frame-rates.” He goes to say, “the real gains seem to be in the system RAM which does contribute to improved day to day performance of the OS and apps.”

So the bottom line is: Although benchmarks predict the iPhone 5 should be twice as fast as the iPhone 4S, in the real-world tests, the difference between the two is not that large and partially due to the fact that the iPhone 5 has twice as much memory. In some cases, the iPhone 4S is actually faster, because it has less pixels to display on the screen. The same is true for tests of the iPad 4 which reviewers say “performs at least twice as fast as the iPad 3.” However when it comes to actual game play, the same reviewer says, “I couldn’t detect any difference at all. Slices, parries and stabs against the monstrous rivals in Infinity Blade II were fast and responsive on both iPads. Blasting pirates in Galaxy on Fire HD 2 was a pixel-perfect exercise on the two tablets, even at maximum resolution. And zombie brains from The Walking Dead spattered just as well on the iPad 3 as the iPad 4.”

– Rick

Copyright 2012-2014 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. This article includes the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of his employer. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

 

What Will Be The Best Smartphone of 2012? (Q3 Update)


Since this article was first written, an updated version has been posted here. Check it out. A lot has changed.

These were some of the top five smartphones back in July. Only one makes the cut this time.


A lot has changed since I last looked at the best smartphones back in July. Back then the top five smartphones were the HTC Evo 4G, HTC One X, LG Nitro HD, Motorola Atrix HD and the Samsung Galaxy S III. Only one of these phones makes the cut this time. What changed? A number of new phones were announced at the IFA show in Berlin and Apple announced the iPhone 5. Is there a clear winner this time? Read on to find out.

The Runners-up

To create the list of the five candidates for the smartphone of the year, I went through all of the best smartphones on all platforms. There are some good phones which didn’t make the cut because they had several flaws. You can see all of the runners-up below.

Click on the chart below to make it readable

Blue text indicates the winner in each area. Red text indicates areas of weakness

I want to stress that all of the above phones are good phones. Some like the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD, Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia T, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Samsung Galaxy Note are great phones, but they are not the best phones of 2012.

The Six Finalists

The six phones which appear below have significant advantages over the phones in the above chart. Not all of these phones are available for purchase at this time, but all have been officially announced and will ship before the end of the year. The five finalists are Apple’s iPhone 5, LG’s Intuition, Samsung’s Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III and the Sony Xperia T.

Here are the top six phones announced so far this year

You can see all of the key specs for the top five finalists below. Items which appear as blue-faced text show the winner in each area. Items which appear in red-faced text indicate an area of weakness compared to the other phones in this chart.

Blue text indicates the winner in each area. Red text indicates areas of weakness

I wanted to include the Sony Xperia T in the above chart, but so far they haven’t announced LTE support for it, although there is a rumor that AT&T could have be getting an Xperia T with LTE support at some point. If that’s confirmed, it would replace the Sony Xperia V in the above chart.

Before we try to pick a winner, let’s go through each component of the phone, starting with the processor.

The Processor

The processor is the engine behind your mobile device and determines its speed. Today, most of the best smartphones have dual-core processors which are 1.5GHz. The Samsung Galaxy Note II wins this spec because it has a quad-core processor which runs at 1.6 GHz. The LG Optimus G also has a quad-core processor, but it runs at 1.5GHz. Having four different cores allows your phone to do more things at once without slowing down. Quad-core processors are also more efficient and have better battery life than some dual-core CPUs. Although the iPhone 5 has a processor clock speed that is 50% slower than the others finalists here, it outperforms the Galaxy S III on some benchmarks. Of course the Galaxy S III outperforms the iPhone 5 on some benchmarks as well. You shouldn’t read too much into mobile benchmarks however, because they rarely translate into real-world performance.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note II

The Samsung Galaxy Note II has a 1.6GHz quad-core processor

Memory and Storage

The Samsung Galaxy phones and LG Optimus G easily win when it comes to RAM. All three have an unheard of 2GB of RAM. Having more RAM can speed things up when multiple apps are running at the same time. This is more important for Android phones because they support true multitasking. Apple lets you switch between apps, but does so by suspending all except the app in the foreground.

Both LG phones lead in the storage area because it comes standard with 32GB of memory. Both the Samsung phones and the iPhone 5 are available in 16, 32 or 64GB sizes. The Sony Xperia only has 8GB, but can easily and cheaply be expanded to 32GB or more because it has a microSD card slot. Both of the Samsung finalists also have a microSD card slots. The iPhone 5 and LG phones cannot have their memory expanded because they do not have a memory card slot. This is a significant limitation.

If forced to pick a winner in this category, the Samsung phones would win because they have twice the RAM, a wide range of storage options and they can easily have their memory expanded.

Winners: Samsung Galaxy Note II & Galaxy S III

There are now higher resolution displays available on Android phones than the iPhone 5

The Screen

When it comes to screen size, the 5.5 inch Samsung Galaxy Note II is second to none. This phone is so big, it’s only 1.5 inches smaller than some tablets, and almost 30% larger than the screen on the iPhone 5. Although some people feel its screen is too large to easily hold in one hand, the 5.0 inch Samsung Galaxy Note is still very popular and over 20 million of these phones are expected to be sold.

When it comes to screen resolution, the iPhone 5 does better (326 PPI), but doesn’t come close to the 4.3” Sony Xperia V which has 342 pixels per inch. The 5.0” screen on the LG Intuition is impressive, but only has a resolution of 256 PPI. Higher resolution Android phones are just around the corner; A future phone by HTC is rumored to have a 1080p display with a mind-boggling pixel density of 418 PPI. This phone will be added here, as soon as it’s officially announced.

Range of color is another measure of screen quality. According to a study from IHS, the display found on the Samsung Galaxy S III is superior to the display found on the iPhone 5. IHS used display thickness, where the SIII beat out the iPhone 5 by 0.4mm and color gamut. Color gamut is the range of color a display can reproduce. IHS says the iPhone 5′s display only reaches 72% of the NTSC color gamut, while the SIII sits at 100%.

Winner:
Size: Samsung Galaxy Note II
Resolution: Sony Xperia V
Color range: Samsung Galaxy S III

The new Sony Xperia V is one of several phones with a 13MP camera

The Camera

When it comes to megapixels the current leader is the HTC Titan which has 16MP, however that phone has some limitations which make it no longer competitive. The Sony Xperia V and LG Optimus G both have 13-megapixel cameras which look very promising. The Xperia V also has a decent camera with a pulsed LED flash and 16x digital zoom. Runners-up in the best still camera area include the Nokia Lumia 920, iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III — although all three only have 8MP cameras. The camera in the iPhone 5 is better than the one in the iPhone 4, but has several serious issues: Photos taken in low-light are much noisier than images taken with the Galaxy S III in low-light mode. The iPhone 5′s camera also tends to over-sharpen some photos, which adds distortion.

When it comes to the video camera, the Nokia Lumia 920 kills the iPhone 5 and other phones in image stabilization, color saturation and detail. See for yourself.

Still Camera Winner: Sony Xperia V
Video Camera Winner: Nokia Lumia 920 V

You can beam almost anything from phone to phone using NFC

Connectivity

The iPhone 5 and both Samsung Galaxy phones have LTE, 2.5GHz/5.0GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The other phones are lacking 5.0GHz Wi-Fi support. The 5GHz band is not near as susceptible to interference from cordless telephones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices and wireless keyboards. Its also much less crowded band and should be used whenever possible.

What pushes Samsung and the LG Optimus G over the top in this area is its support for Near Field Communications or NFC. NFC allows two devices to communicate when they’re moved close together. This allows you to buy things at over 300,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled terminals as well as beam, music, photos, web pages, contacts, maps, YouTube videos and more, from one phone to another. NFC is a very important feature which will one-day change the way we shop and transfer data from phone to phone.

Winners: Samsung Galaxy Note II & Galaxy S III
Runner-up: LG Optimus G (missing 5GHz Wi-Fi support)
Note: one reason the iPhone 5 was not a winner in this category is due to the many reports of different Wi-Fi and other connectivity issues.

The new iPhone 5 is incredibly thin and light

The Case

When it comes to the case, the iPhone 5 does well. It’s thinner and lighter than all of the other finalists here and constructed entirely out of aluminum and glass.

Winner: iPhone 5

The Battery

When it comes to the battery, the Samsung Galaxy Note II easily wins. It’s battery has over twice as much power as the battery in the iPhone 5 and is sure to have much longer talk times and standby times.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note II

And the Winner is…

Back in July, the Samsung Galaxy S III was the clear winner based on specs, but this time around it’s not so easy to pick a winner. Best is a subjective term. What I’m really talking about here is the smartphone with the best overall hardware specs. Based on that definition, neither the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S III can be considered “phone of the year.” Both are great phones, and both are extremely popular, but there is only one spot at the top of the podium. So who is the gold medal winner? Right now I would probably go with Samsung Galaxy Note II, because it wins on more specs than any of the other phones covered here. But phones this large aren’t for everyone. The Galaxy Note II also isn’t yet available, but should arrive at all five major US carriers mid November. The runner-up is currently the LG Optimus G because of its quad-core, CPU, 2GB RAM, 32GB standard memory and 13MP camera. The new Sony Xperia phones are second to none when it comes to screen resolution and the rear camera. Although the iPhone 5’s CPU doesn’t look that good on paper, it does extremely well in some benchmarks and is the lightest and thinnest of all of the phones here. The Galaxy S III is still a great phone which is an overall great performer.

Three to Watch

Before you rush out to buy one of the above phones you should know there is a good chance, the best three smartphones of 2012 don’t even appear in this chart, because they haven’t been announced yet. It’s likely the 2012 phone of the year will have a 2nd-gen quad-core CPU and a display which no phone can match today — a true 1920x1080p display with a resolution in pixels per inch that is much higher than any phones here have. Only time will tell if the rumors about the LG Optimus G, HTC Droid Incredible X and Oppo Find 5 are true. If so, it’s likely that the best smartphone of 2012, will be one of these three. One thing is sure, mobile phone technology is changing quickly and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

– Rick

Copyright 2012 Rick E. Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

Will the iPhone 5 Put Apple Back on Top?

Last update: September 6, 2013

The iPhone 5 is a longer, thinner 4G iPhone 4S with twice the memory


Until recently the iPhone dominated worldwide smartphone sales, but now Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III are outselling both the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 combined. Does the iPhone 5 have what it takes to hold back the Android onslaught and return the iPhone to its place of former glory?

Let’s start by going over the major changes in the iPhone 5 and compare each of them to the best Android phones. We’ll look at the areas each platform is leading in. It’s important that Apple leads in many areas, because new Android phones are released every month, but the next iPhone won’t be released for another 8-10 months.

Although I wrote this article four days before Apple’s official launch, all of my predictions about the iPhone 5 except one turned out to be true. Read on to find out what I got right, and what I got wrong.

The HTC One X was one of the first smartphones avaiable with a quad-core CPU

CPU

The iPhone 5 was rumored to have a quad-core processor. That would have been impressive, but it didn’t pan out. The new iPhone only has a dual-core CPU with a clock speed which is 50% slower than the best Android smartphones. Although it does well in some benchmarks, in side-by-side tests, it’s not much faster than an iPhone 4S. To make matters worse for Apple, quad-core smartphones from HTC and others became available back in February. This means Apple is more than seven months behind in processor technology. We won’t know exactly how far behind they are until an iPhone with a quad-core CPU ships. That probably won’t happen for a least another year.

Advantage: Android
Lead: Android is 17-19 months ahead, if Apple stays on their current release schedule.

Memory & Storage

The iPhone 5 has 1GB of RAM and is available with 16, 32 or 64GB of storage. Android phones like the Galaxy S II have been available with 1GB of RAM for 18 months. Newer Android phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S III, have 2GB of RAM which is twice as much memory as the new iPhone has. You can never have too much memory because it speeds up the phone and improves multitasking performance.

Android phone owners can increase their storage to 64GB for less than $20


Although Android phones are available with the same amount of storage as the iPhone 5, many Android phones also include a microSD slot which let users convert a 32GB phone to a 64GB phone for less than $20. A 64GB Android phone can be expanded to 128GB — although it’s not cheap to do so. That’s twice as much storage as the iPhone 5 has.

Advantage: Android
Lead: Android phones had 1GB of memory at least 18 months before the iPhone 5 was announced.

Network

Perhaps the biggest change in the new iPhone is 4G LTE support. LTE phones are capable of much higher data speeds than 3G phones. Unfortunately, Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy Indulge had 4G way back in February of 2011. Nineteen long months later, Apple finally got around to adding 4G support to the iPhone 5. Apple has also confirmed the iPhone 5 can’t do simultaneous voice and LTE data on Verizon’s CDMA network like Android phones can do. This is a big limitation.

Advantage: Neither – Both platforms now support LTE
Lead: Android is 19 months ahead in this area

Wi-Fi Connectivity

Mobile devices with dual-band Wi-Fi support can communicate over either 2.4GHz or 5GHz Wi-Fi. This is important because the 5GHz band is capable of faster speeds and is not as susceptible to interference from cordless telephones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices and wireless keyboards as the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band. Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy S II have had dual-band Wi-Fi support for 19 months. The iPhone 5 is the first Apple smartphone to get 5GHz Wi-Fi support.

Advantage: Neither – Both platforms now support Dual-band Wi-Fi
Lead: Android is 19 months ahead in this area

The Droid RAZR MAXX has over twice the power of the new iPhone’s battery

Battery

Battery life is the single biggest complaint about the iPhone 4S. In fact, a recent survey showed that 93% of those interested in the iPhone 5 want longer battery life. The addition of 4G in the iPhone 5 will consume larger amounts of power than before, so it’s important the new iPhone has a more powerful battery. Does it? Although Apple hasn’t given specifics, there are reports the iPhone 5 has a battery which is only slightly more powerful than the battery in the iPhone 4S. If this is true, battery life will continue to be a problem. The Droid RAZR MAXX has the most powerful battery in a smartphone today. At 3300mAh, this phone has a talk time of 21.5 hours, while the iPhone 5 only has a talk time of 8 hours. The iPhone 5 has a battery with less than half as much power and can’t come close to the talk time of the eight month old RAZR MAXX. The Samsung Galaxy S III also easily beats the new iPhone 5 in both talk time and standby time — even though it is only 1mm thicker.

Many Android phones have easily removable batteries which can be cheaply upgraded. This isn’t possible with the new iPhone because the battery is not removable.

Advantage: Android
Lead: Android batteries with twice the power of the new iPhone have been available for eight months.

Camera

The iPhone 5 has a camera with an 8-megapixel sensor and specs which are almost identical to the iPhone 4S, but it’s thinner and has a few enhancements. Apple says it has a dynamic low light mode which evaluates nearby pixels to give up to 2 f-stops greater low-light performance. A new image processor in the A6 is also supposed to reduce noise and includes a so-called “smart filter” to do better color-matching. However Apple’s claims appear to be over-stated. Some side-by-side comparisons between the cameras in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S have show little difference between the two, while others show improvement. The iPhone 5 gets killed by other top cameras when it comes to low-light performance. As you can see in photo below, which was taken by a Samsung Galaxy S III, the image is sharper and less noisy than photo taken by the iPhone 5. The S III’s photo also has more accurate colors — capturing the true purple of the flower, while the iPhone’s photo looks pink and yellow. The 41MP Nokia PureView camera does even better in low-light situations. Another problem the iPhone 5’s camera is its tendency to over-sharpen photos, which adds distortion.

The Galaxy S III performs better in low-light than the iPhone 5


How does the camera in the iPhone 5 compare to other smartphones? Nokia’s PureView cameras are miles ahead the camera in the new iPhone. The PureView camera has a 41MP sensor, while the iPhone 5 still uses an 8MP sensor. Other smartphones come with 13-16MP sensors. The Nokia Lumia 920 which includes PureView technology, also includes a sensor which is larger than the one on the iPhone. Generally larger sensors result in better image quality.

Apple made a big deal about the new panorama mode and ability to take quick photos with the new iPhone 5s camera, but both of those features appeared in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus camera nine months ago and are included with Android 4.0. Other new iPhone 5 features like ‘Shared Photo Streams’ have been available to Galaxy S III users since May of 2012.

The screen on the new Samsung Galaxy Note II dwarfs the one on the new iPhone 5

Screen Size

Some people say Anroid phone have screens that are too big, but a recent survey found that 90 percent of people want their next phone to have a large screen. The new iPhone’s 4.0″ screen is impressive when compared to the iPhone 4S, but it is 16% smaller than the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S III, and 27% smaller than the upcoming Galaxy Note II.

Advantage: Android
Lead: >18 months. Android phones with screens larger than the new iPhone have been available for at least 18 months.

Screen Resolution

The 1136×640 pixel screen on the new iPhone is impressive, but has 29% less pixels than the Samsung Galaxy Note which was announced back in September of 2011. Although the new Retina display has better color saturation with full sRGB rendering, it has only has a resolution of 326 pixels per inch (PPI); That’s considerably less than the 342 PPI display on the HTC Rezound. That phone came out way back in November of 2011. To make matters worse, better Android phones are just around the corner. In fact there are a total of seven different smartphones with higher resolution (PPI) screens than the iPhone 5. For example, the Sony Xperia V has a PPI of 342; But the best is yet to come, the HTC Droid Incredible X is rumored to have a 1920×1080 display with a mind-boggling pixel density of 480 PPI. The display on the iPhone 5 doesn’t even come close to the display on this phone.

Advantage: Android
Lead: 19 months. Android phones with higher pixel densities than the new iPhone 5 have been available for over 19 months.

Screen Shape

Since the new iPhone doesn’t have a 1280×720 screen, it can’t play HD video content without scaling it. Often, devices that don’t have a 16:9 ratio display black bars when playing HD video. A device like that the Samsung Galaxy S III which sports this ratio will have smaller black bars (or no black bars).

There is some controversy over the new iPhone’s strange shape. iPhone user Henry Blodget says “Who cares about having a taller screen? I certainly don’t want to have to turn the phone to landscape view every time I want to look at something. But the screen thing is really annoying. I’m not a watch-movies-or-play-video-games-on-my-phone guy. I’m a do-email-and-tweet-and-read-the-Internet-on-my-phone guy. So the idea of having to turn the phone to landscape to take advantage of the screen being slightly taller sounds more annoying than anything.”

But the biggest problem with the strange shape of the iPhone 5 is that none of the current apps will occupy the entire screen of the new iPhone until after they are updated. In the meantime, Apple will place two black strips along the top and bottom in portrait mode, or the left and right in landscape mode, just like a letterboxed film.

Advantage: Android
Lead: Android phones with true 1280×720 HD screens like the HTC Rezound have been available for at least 10 months.

Screen Accuracy

When it comes to display accuracy, the iPhone 5 is second to none in most areas. The iPhone 5 has excellent brightness, contrast rating, readability in bright light, reflectiveness, color gamut and color shift. The Samsung Galaxy S III gets a B+ rating vs. Apples A, and beats the iPhone 5 in black level and contrast ratio.

Advantage: iOS
Lead: The iPhone had had better screen accuracy since the beginning.

Case Thickness & Overall Weight

The iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thin and said to be “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” unfortunately like so much Apple hyperbole, it’s not even close to being true. At least five other smartphones are thinner than the iPhone 5. You’d think that Apple would have Google’d this claim before making such a big deal about it.

Phones which are thinner than the iPhone 5
1. Oppo Finder is only 6.65 milimeters thick
2. Huawei Ascend P1 6.8 millimeters
3. Motorola RAZR XT909 7.1 millimeters
4. Motorola RAZR XT910 7.1 millimeters
5. Motorola DROID RAZR 7.1 millimeters

Advantage: Android

The fact that the iPhone 5’s screen is much smaller than some Android phones helps it when it comes to weight. The iPhone 5 is lighter than most other popular Android phones! It weighs only 112 grams, while the HTC One S weighs 119 grams and the Samsung Galaxy S III weighs 133 grams.

Advantage: Apple

Extras

The new iPhone comes with a digital wallet called ‘Passport’ which can hold digital boarding passes and coupons, but it doesn’t support NFC which is required to buy things at any of the 300,000+ PayPass cash registers. A digital wallet which can’t buy things? Only from Apple.

Wireless charging is another feature expected on the iPhone 5. Even if this rumor was correct (it wasn’t) the iPhone 5 would have still been four months behind the Samsung Galaxy S III which first launched back on May and includes support for wireless charging. Other smartphones that include wireless charging support today include the HTC Droid DNA, HTC Windows Phone 8X, LG Nexus 4, LG Spectrum 2, Nokia Lumia 822, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 925 and the Samsung Galaxy S 4.

Advantage: Android
Lead: NFC support has been available for 21 months on Android devices like the Samsung Nexus S. Wireless charging has been available on the Android platform for at least 4 months. That feature won’t appear for at least another 14 more months on the iPhone.

I expected the new iPhone to have an edge-to-edge display like new Motorola Droid RAZR M

What is the New iPhone Missing?

Nokia’s Lumia phones are available in seven different colors


No Digital Payments (NFC) – Early on there was talk about the iPhone having NFC support or using Bluetooth 4.0 for near-field communications. Somehow this was cut from the list of supported features. This is a really big deal because NFC support is required to purchase things at one of 300,000+ NFC-enabled PayPass cash registers. The new iPhone comes with ‘Passport’ which is a multi-function “wallet” that can hold digital boarding pass and coupons but it doesn’t allow you to buy things

No State of the Art Camera (e.g. 13-16MP) – Nokia’s Pureview cameras are miles ahead the iPhone 5’s camera. They include a 41MP sensor while the iPhone 5 still uses an 8MP sensor. Other smartphones come with 13-16MP sensors. Side-by-side comparisons between the cameras in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S have show very little difference between the two.

No True HD Screen – Since all high-definition video content is either 720p or 1080p, it’s surprising that Apple didn’t choose one of those resolutions. 720P HD displays became the standard for high-end smartphones starting back in 2011. The new iPhone only has a 640p screen.

No 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.

No 60fps Video Recording – Phones like the new HTC One and Asus Padfone 2 have video cameras are capable of recording 720p video at 60fps. This is essential for smooth motion with action sports. Here’s a good simulation of the differences between various frame rates.

No Touch-to-Share – Most newer Android phones, like the Galaxy S III, can share media by touching one phone to another with NFC support. This allows you to share photos, videos, contacts and Web pages, as well as information between apps.

No International LTE Roaming – In the past one of the best things about having an iPhone on a carrier like AT&T was that you could take it to Europe and still enjoy fast data speeds. None of the U.S. carriers is offering LTE roaming outside the United States.

Very Limited Carrier Interoperability – Apple is doing away with the dual-mode GSM/CDMA support that the iPhone 4S had. Instead, it’s selling three different types of iPhone 5s: one CDMA-based model and two GSM-based models with different LTE bands. Having separate versions will make carrier interoperability difficult.

No Simultaneous Voice and Data on Some Carriers – The iPhone 5 doesn’t support simultaneous voice and LTE data on carriers like Verizon and Sprint. More info. Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S III do support simultaneous voice and LTE data on carriers like Verizon. Apple could have easily supported this, but decided to not add a third antenna — which would have allowed its CDMA iPhones to support simultaneous voice and data.

No microSD Card Slot – Most Android phones let you easily and cheaply expand your memory by adding a microSD card. Sadly Apple still refuses to add this important feature. The new iPhone also has a proprietary USB connector so you have to buy a special Apple cable instead of a standard and much cheaper microUSB cable. Thanks Apple!

Limited Color Choices – Black and white are not really color choices. The new Nokia lumia phones are available in seven eye-popping color choices including purple, turquoise and yellow. Samsung’s popular Galaxy S III phones are now available in six great-looking — although more subdued colors. It blows my mind that Apple still offers only two colors.

No Affordable Unlocked Price Option – The official unsubsidized price for a iPhone 5 is $649. You can buy an unlocked Nexus 4 for less than a third that price, and it has better specs than the iPhone in most areas. Sure you could sell your soul to a carrier and get an iPhone for less, but two years is a long time to use a phone with specs like that.

No Fingerprint Reader – Fingerprint readers have been available on Android devices starting with the Motorola Atrix 4G, which was released back in February of 2011. Newer Android phones like the HTC One Max have fingerprint readers as well.

No Wireless Charging – In the future you will no longer have to plug in your phone to charge it. The Samsung Galaxy S III, Nokia Lumia 920, HTC Droid DNA, LG Nexus 4, Nokia Lumia 822, HTC Windows Phone 8X and the LG Spectrum 2 all include wireless charging support today.

Wireless changing is another feature missing from the new iPhone


No Edge-to-edge Display – The Motorola Droid RAZR M was one of the first phones with an edge-to-edge screen with almost no bezel. The new Samsung Galaxy Note III has even a smaller side bezel. I expected the iPhone 5 to have an edge to edge screen, but it does not.

Screen doesn’t work with gloves – If you live in a region where winters are cold and long, you’ll appreciate phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and Huawei Ascend Mate that work well even when you are wearing gloves. This requires special touchscreen technology that Apple doesn’t use in any of its products.

Limited Stylus Support – Although you can use a stylus on an iPhone 5 you don’t get the same level of expression that you get on Android Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note II which has 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. A stylus gives you much more expression and exposes some very interesting new features.

No 16:9 Display – Apple says the iPhone 5 is closer to 16:9 but the movies still need to be letterboxed and all apps will need to be resized or they will also appear letterboxed.

No OpenGL 3.0 ES support – Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note III included support for OpenGL 3.0 ES which makes possible much better looking graphics.

No 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.

No Fast-charging Chip – Many of the best Android phones now include a fast-charging technology from Qualcomm that helps them charge up to 40% faster than older phones. Supported phones include the following and many more: 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. The Samsung Galaxy Note III supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 2.0 feature that charges up to 75% faster than conventional USB charging technology.

No Front-facing Stereo Speakers – Android phones like the new HTC One have two front-facing speakers. The iPhone 5 only has one mono speaker that points down so it’s sometimes covered by your hand.

Its AV adapter doesn’t support 1080p – 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.

No Face Unlock – All Android phones running the 4.0 or 4.1 OS use facial recognition to allow user to access to their phone by looking at it. Other cool options like swipe are also available. iPhone users are still swiping their screens with their fingers to unlock their phones.

No Replaceable Battery – Many Android phones have batteries which are removable and easily replaceable. This is important because all rechargeable batteries have a limited life span and need to be replaced.

No Dual MIMO Smart Antennas – Smartphones like the Moto X have 2 antennas dedicated to 4G LTE, which should deliver faster data speeds and better reception. Other phones use the same antenna for 2G/3G and 4G. The iPhone 5 only has a 1×1 MIMO antenna.

Not Water-resistant – Android phones like the Motorola Defy, Defy+, Defy XT, Defy Pro, Sony Xperia Z, Sony Xperia Acro S, Samsung Galaxy Xcover, Samsung Rugby Smart, Sony Ericsson Xperia Active, Casio G’zOne Commando and others are all highly water-resistant. The iPhone is not water resistant. I have several friends that have ruined their iPhones by dropping them in water. Android 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.

No USB 3.0 support – Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note III include USB 3.0 support. This allows you to transfer files between your phone and PC up to 10 times faster than a traditional USB port.

No high-resoution 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 audio electronics devices. That’s why it’s important Android phones like the LG G2 and Samsung Galaxy Note III support 24bit/192kHz music.

Doesn’t use the most scratch-resistant screen – The Samsung Galaxy S4 is the first smartphone with a Gorilla Glass 3 screen. This screen is much more durable than the Corning screen used on the iPhone 5 and almost impossible to scratch. Watch this video to see just how durable it is.

No Infrared Transmitter – Phones like new HTC One 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.

No LTE Advanced Support – Phones like new Samsung Galaxy Note III have Category 4 LTE support which will allow your device to download data at much faster speeds in the future.

Why Consumer Reports recently said the iPhone 5 is the worst of the top smartphones

Even if the iPhone wasn’t missing all of the above features which are found in other phones, it still wouldn’t be a contender, because it just can’t compete with phones like the Droid DNA, or even the Samsung Galaxy S III, which is much older. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Consumer Reports recently said the iPhone 5 is the worst of the top smartphones. They ranked it below the LG Optimus G and Samsung Galaxy Note II, as well as older phones like the Droid RAZR MAXX, Droid RAZR HD, Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One S. You can read more about this when their February issue hits the newstands and Internet.

Will People Still Buy It?

Of course they will buy it! Most iPhone fans upgrade every time Apple releases a new iPhone. If Apple fans were to compare the new iPhone to other smartphones, they would see that it’s not competitive in all areas except weight, but Apple fans don’t question Apple. The iPhone 5 is sure to be the best selling smartphone in history. Analysts are projecting sales of 10 million in the first month. Over time it is sure to outsell the iPhone 4S, which was very similar to the iPhone 4, yet it sold an amazing 50 million units.

Post Launch Update:
– Apple missed some analysts sales estimates for the opening weekend.
– Samsung’s Galaxy S III had four of its five best-selling weeks in the U.S. after the iPhone 5 was unveiled. That’s very surprising, given the fact that the GS3 has been on the market since July.
– Samsung shipped 57M smartphones in Q3 after the iPhone 5 was released. That’s twice as many phones as many as Apple shipped.
– Apple is continuing to see sales decline in both Europe and Asia-Pacific.
– In Q3, Android manufacturers shipped over 5 times more smartphones than Apple did.

In just three years, Android has crushed the smartphone competition

How Google Reversed Apple’s World Domination

In the first four years after the iPhone was released, Apple not only outsold individual smartphone from companies like Samsung and Motorola, it sold more phones than entire platforms did. Unfortunately for Apple, those days are gone.

  1. First Android started outselling the iPhone worldwide. Then, back in May of 2010 IDC reported Android began outselling Apple in the U.S.
  2. Next, Samsung over took Apple on worldwide sales of smartphones.
  3. Then, individual Android phones started outselling the iPhone worldwide.
  4. And now, for the first time ever the Samsung Galaxy S III is outselling the iPhone 4S in the United States. Four easy steps to Samsung’s worldwide mobile domination. More about Samsung’s rise to number one.

In the past quarter, the Samsung Galaxy S III outsold the iPhone in the U.S. and abroad


Now Google is widening it’s lead. In the second quarter of 2012, IDC reported that 68% of all smartphones shipped were Android. That’s four times the 17% market share currently held by Apple. When the iPhone 5 was launched, there were over half a billion devices running Android in the world. Most of those are smartphones. That’s over 100 million more devices than Apple has running iOS today. More than 1.3 million new Android devices are activated every day now, but next year over 1 billion Android smartphones are forecasted to ship. To make make matters worse, consumers are now more excited about the iPad than the iPhone, so Apple’s marketing people have their work cut out for them — especially now that Samsung is now generating more buzz than Apple with both “early tech adopters” and the broader group of consumers aged 18 to 34.

Update (11/15) – Even after the launch of the iPhone 5, Android now has 72% of the market, while Apple only has 16%.

Android is Raising the Bar High

Consumers used to be able to buy the newest iPhone and know they were getting the best phone on the planet. Those days are over. Apple is playing catch-up with Android when it comes to both specs and features. If the iPhone 5 were announced as an Android phone, it would probably be classified as a upper mid-range device. Apple is now two years behind Android in some areas and this gap is likely to increase because new Android phones are coming out every month. Apple fans have to wait an entire year to get higher performing hardware. This is a big problem that Apple is going to have to change if they are going to remain competitive. It’s not just hardware that is a problem. As others have pointed out, Apple hasn’t touched a single significant element of their UI since they added multitasking back in iOS4. The look and design of the iPhone hasn’t fundamentally changed since the first iPhone five years ago.

Is it Fair to Compare a Single Phone to an Entire Platform?

Some of you are probably thinking: Hey wait! You can’t compare the iPhone 5 with an entire platform of phones. That’s fair, but here I compare the iPhone 5 directly with other top Android and Windows phones and it’s very clear the iPhone 5 is still behind the competition in most areas. My point is that Apple doesn’t build any of their own phones (or computers for that matter) they use Foxconn, who has access to every technology listed on this page. Apple choose to ignore great technologies like NFC. Apple has a long history of holding back technologies, because it forces their users to buy their next product. It’s amazing to me that Apple fans never catch on to this game. That’s one reason Apple has over $120 billion dollars in cash.

Will the Apple Empire Strike Back?

The new iPhone will help Apple to stage a comeback


Yes! The new iPhone will initially outsell every other smartphone in the U.S. and abroad. One analyst says over 10 million new iPhones will be sold in the first week. Another analyst expects Apple to sell 50 million new iPhones in the U.S. alone. Will this explosion of sales be enough to turn the Android tide? Experts say Android will continue to widen it’s lead in the second half of 2012 – even after the new iPhone ships. A year from now, it’s highly likely that another Samsung phone will overtake the new iPhone again in sales. Experts say even Windows Phone is on pace to pass up Apple’s iOS in 2015. But you never know what Apple has up their sleeve. That’s what makes it so much fun to watch this battle of two great tech titans.

– Rick

Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.


Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1
 

Some Interesting Connected Home Stats

Click here to see the entire info-graphic.

– Rick

Getting the Most Out of Your Samsung Galaxy S III – Part Two

Last update: January 26, 2012

30 Great Tips & Tricks for the Samsung Galaxy S III

In part one of this article, we talked about what you need to get started with your new phone. This week were going to go much deeper and discuss more than twenty more tips that every Samsung Galaxy S III user should know.

    1. Learn how to access Google Now – There is some confusion how to access Google Now on a Samsung Galaxy S III. You don’t swipe up like you do on other Android smartphones. To access Google Now, long press the Home button and touch ‘Google.’ Now you’ll need to set things up by clicking ‘Next’ until you see ‘Yes, I’m in.’ Then choose which email account you want to use. Now you should start receiving cards with useful information on them. Say ‘Google’ to ask you phone questions without touching the screen.

    2. Try the new live camera filters – Android 4.1 has some cool new Instagram-style live filters that work on photos or video. To enable these, go to the Camera app and touch the magic wand icon. You’ll be able to choose from presets including warm vintage, cold vintage, black and white, sepia, solarize and many more.

    3. Edit video on-the-fly without editing software – Android 4.1 also lets you make your own movie by simply pressing the pause button in the Camera app and then starting to record again. When you’re finished press the stop button and you can watch your edited shots in sequence. This is simple, but really useful addition.

    4. See how widgets automatically resize – As you drop widgets onto the Android 4.1 home screens, everything else automatically moves to make room. When a widget is too big it, it resizes itself.

    5. Quickly speed up bogged down apps – I love the Zite app, but after you use it for a while it gets slower and slower until you can hardly scroll the page. This problem is easy to fix however. First, long press the Home button and touch ‘Remove all.’ Then, touch ‘Task manager’ and ‘Clear memory.’ Finally, hit the Back button and go back to the problem app. You’ll find the problem is gone.

    6. Capturing a screen – To capture anything on the screen press the home button and the power button together for 2 seconds OR use your palm to swipe from right to left. If you’ve done it correctly, you should hear a copy machine sound and see the screen flash white. Video instructions.

    7. Turn off 4G to increase your battery life – If you’re in an area without 4G LTE reception there is no reason to have your phone continually scanning for a 4G signal. This can take a toll of your battery life. Unfortunately carriers like Verizon do not let you disable 4G from the Settings pages. Fortunately there is a solution to this problem although it’s not as easy as it should be.

    1. Download the ‘Phone info‘ app from Google Play.
    2. Click on ‘Device info’
    3. Scroll down till you see ‘LTE/CDMA/EvDo’
    4. Touch ‘LTE/CDMA/EvDo’ and choose ‘GSM/CDMA auto (PRL)’

    You should be now be connected to Verizon's 3G network. Because the phone is no longer constantly searching for a 4G signal, this will conserve battery life.

    Here are some more great tips to preserve battery life on the Samsung Galaxy S III.


    8. Mute your phone by turning it over – Go to Motion and ‘Turn over to mute/pause’ to on. Now turning your phone over so it’s screen is down automatically mutes incoming call ringtones and alerts sounds. This feature also works with music and videos when you use the stock Samsung players.

    9. Make your graphics smoother – Normally your CPU handles rendering of 2D graphics. By going to Settings > Developer options and making sure ‘Force GPU rendering’ is checked, you can free up CPU clock cycles so your graphics are rendered faster and smoother. In the unlikely event that you encounter an app which doesn’t support this, you’ll want to disable this setting before running that app.

    10. Pick your favorite contacts – To do this launch the Phone app and touch ‘Contacts,’ then mark your best friends and family members with a star to identify them as Favorites. You’ll find the star in the upper right-hand corner of the screen after you select a contact. Favorites are displayed first in the Phone app so you can quickly call or message them.

    11. Toggle screen rotation – By now you’ve probably figured out you can enable and disable screen rotation from the Notification bar which is displayed when you swipe down from the top of the screen. I recommend that you disable this when you’re not viewing photos or video.

    12. Enable Driving mode – Another useful Notifications bar option is Driving mode. When this is enabled, all incoming caller ID and text messages will be read to you.

    Driving mode and Sync disable are useful settings


    13. Disable sync when you’re not working – You can save battery life by disabling account synchronization when you don’t need it. This is done by scrolling to the right and touching ‘Sync’ in the Notification bar.

    14. Display a world clock for notifications – Touch the time in the Notification area to display a world clock. Touch ‘Add city’ to display different zones around the world.

    15. Access your phone, mail, texts or camera from the lock screen – You can simply quickly swipe up from any of the four icons on the Lock screen to immediately launch the associated app. This is a real time saver.

    Notice Instagram has been added to the Lock screen


    16. Access any app from the Lock screen – You can replace any of the four icons on the lock screen. To do this, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Security’ > ‘Lock screen options’ and make sure Shortcuts is on. Then touch the word ‘Shortcuts’ and four icons will appear. Touch the icon you wish to replace and choose a new app. The access the new app when your phone is locked, quickly swipe up to launch it.

    17. Quickly switch between all running apps – Press and hold the Home button to see all of the running apps. Touch the screenshot for any app to switch to it.

    It’s easy to free up lots of memory


    18. Free up memory to improve performance – To free up memory and make your phone run faster, press and hold the Home button and touch ‘Task manager.’ Then touch ‘RAM’ near the top of the screen and ‘Clear memory.’

    19. Close all running apps – To close all apps that are running in the background, press and hold the Home button and touch ‘Remove all.’

    20. Zoom in or out using hardware buttons– You can use the volume and volume down buttons on the left to zoom in or out which in the Camera app.

    21. Connect to your corporate mail – To access your work email click on the ‘Email’ app on the home screen shown to the right. Then click on the ‘Corporate’ icon and enter your name and password. If it doesn’t connect with you exchange server the first time, check your user name and try again. To save battery life, change from ‘Push’ to a time interval like 30 minutes or Manual for Off-Peak.

    22. Access all of your email from a single app– To add all of your different e-mail accounts (e.g. Gmail, Yahoo mail, Outlook mail, etc.) touch the icon for the red Email app and go to Settings. Then touch the ‘+’ sign and choose which account to setup.

    You can use any song as your ringtone


    23. Getting the pan image trick to work – The trick to getting the pan to browse feature to work (after you’ve enabled it under Motion settings) is to hold one of your fingers on the screen when you are zoomed in on an image. Then when you move the phone in wide sweeping motions from left to right and back you should see different parts of the photo.

    24. Use your favorite song as a ringtone – You can use any song as a ringtone for all calls, calls from an individual person, or as an alarm. Launch the stock ‘Music Player’ app and touch and hold on the song you wish to use. Then touch ‘Set as’ and choose from the available options.

    25. Upgrade your browser – The stock Browser is fine, but you should download and install Chrome and use it instead. It’s much faster and links with your computer and tablet.

    26. Buy a wireless charging doc – Most people don’t know it, but the Galaxy S III supports wireless charging. To take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to purchase a special doc from Samsung. These docs should go on sale any day now.

    27. Prevent your phone from switching to Wi-Fi – You may want to consider turning off Wi-Fi when you’re in an area with great 4G data speeds, because it will make your phone faster. The reason for this is because your phone will always use Wi-Fi when it’s available — even if it’s much slower than 4G. Since the Galaxy S III automatically turns Wi-Fi back on when you do certain things, you’ll have to go to Settings/Wi-Fi and uncheck the first option which says “Notify Me – When launching high data usage applications…” Important: You should only do this is you have a 4GB data plan, or are sure you’re under your monthly allowance.

    28. Download some great new apps – If this is your first Android phone, you should download some of the best Android apps. Here is a good list of the fifty best.

    29. Fix your auto-brightness – Your phone has an auto-brightness setting, but it doesn’t work that well. You should download Lux Auto Brightness to fix this problem. Lux automatically adjusts the brightness of your display based on your environment. When you go into a dark room and unlock your screen, Lux will automatically lower the brightness of your display to make reading more enjoyable.

    To setup Lux you need to go through their setup wizard. I suggest you leave the factory default settings as is. After you do that, you’ll need to go back and launch the app again and touch ‘Press to enable Lux.’ Lux will adjust every time you unlock your screen. If you sometimes use your tablet in a totally dark room, I suggest you go to the settings page and set ‘Night Mode’ alpha to 10.

    30. Share your screen with other devices – It’s possible to share the screen on your Samsung Galaxy S III with Samsung phones, tablets or TVs. Learn how to do this here.

    Connect your phone to any Apple speaker dock

    Connect your phone to any Apple speaker dock

    31. Connect your phone to a speaker dock – Now you can buy a cable which connects your Samsung Galaxy S III to any Apple-compatible speaker dock.

    In addition to the above tips, here are five little-known features for Your Samsung Galaxy S III that you’ll be able to appreciate after you upgrade to Android 4.1. If you’re wondering why I left out S Beam, I’ve devoted a whole post to that feature alone. Check it out.

More Android 4.1 tips from Samsung.
– Rick

Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

 

Getting the Most Out of Your Samsung Galaxy S III – Part One

Last update: December 15, 2012

This article has had over 10,000 views. Thanks for reading it.

Things To Do First

You’ll need to increase the brightness to make the S III’s screen look its best


This is the first in a three part series which will help you to get the most out of your new Samsung Galaxy S III. Let’s start with some simple things to make an already good phone — even better:

  1. Increase the screen’s brightness – Some reviewers have complained that the Galaxy S III is not as bright as other top smartphones. This is easy to fix. Go to Settings > Display > Brightness and turn ‘Automatic brightness’ off. Then, move the brightness slider to the right and press OK. The screen should now be much easier to read. I run my brightness at about 70% and battery life is still fine.
  2. Change the screen timeout – Another easy to fix annoyance is the time before the screen goes to sleep. Go to Settings > Display and change the ‘Screen timeout’ to 2 minutes. This will keep your screen awake much longer, without having much of an affect on battery life.
  3. Here is an example of a customized home screen

  4. Clean up your home screens – Every one uses their phone differently, that’s why important that you customize your home screens to meet your needs. Here are some suggestions for new Samsung users:

    a. Make shortcuts on your home screens for all of your favorite apps. To do this touch ‘Apps’ and then touch and hold an app and then drag it until it appears on the desired home screen.

    b. Create folders for different categories of apps (e.g. Games, Utilities, etc.) and move all of the related apps into those folders. If you’re not sure how to create folders, there are details below in the section called ‘Cleaning Up Your Homescreens.’

    c. Uninstall any unnecessary apps and widgets. To do this, simply touch and drag them into the trash can in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

    d. Remove any extra home screen panels after you’ve created shortcut for all of your most-used apps. The SIII comes with seven home screen panels, but you can speed up the time it takes to get to your apps if you delete all blank home screen panels. To do this pinch the home screen with two of your fingers. Then drag any blank panels into the trash can. You can add them back later if you want to.

  5. Clean up your app locker
    a. Start by hiding all of the carrier-installed apps you don’t plan to use. To do this touch Apps and press the Settings button. Then touch ‘Hide applications.’ Touch the black box next to any app you want to hide. When you’re finished, press ‘Done’ in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
    b. Next, uninstall all of the apps you don’t plan to use. Details below.
  6. Improve your on-screen typing – If you have any problems typing on the Samsung keyboard you may need to do one of these three things:

    a. Go to ‘Language and input’ and enter words into your ‘Personal dictionary.’
    b. Customize your predictive text settings (details at the bottom on this post)
    c. If you’re still not satisfied after the above two steps, download SwiftKey 3 keyboard and use it instead of the stock Samsung keyboard.

  7. Download the drivers for your phone – If your phone doesn’t mount after you plug it into the USB port on your computer, you may need to download drivers. You can find the USB drivers for the Verizon version of the Galaxy S III here. Check the Samsung website to find the drivers for other carrier’s phones.
  8. Expand your memory – If you don’t have an extra 16 or 32GB microSD card laying around, you should purchase one, and copy all of your media to it. You can double the storage in your Galaxy S III for less than $10. This will free up valuable space on your internal memory.
  9. Replace some of your Samsung apps with stock ones – Samsung replaces many of the stock Android apps. In some cases, the replacements are better than the originals. In other cases, they are not. Here are 20 stock apps which you may want to consider.
  10. Read the manual – There is some valuable information in the Samsung Galaxy S III User’s Guide. You can view it here.
  11. Learn how to use the special features which are exclusive to this phone – The “Guided Tours” app has videos which will teach you how to use special features like one touch sharing, pop up play and more. Most of these appear in the “Additional videos” section. Even more videos can be found by searching for “Galaxy SIII” on YouTube. These tips and tricks videos are also worth watching.

Where to Find More Great Tips?

You can find 30 more great tips and tricks for the Samsung Galaxy S III here. If case you’re wondering why I left out S Beam, I’ve devoted a whole post to that feature.

Cleaning Up Your Home Screens

How to create folders

You can no longer drag and drop and app on another to create a folder.

  1. To create a folder, click on the Menu button in the lower-left hand corner.
  2. Then touch ‘Create Folder’
  3. You should see a white folder appear on your homescreen.

Note: Make sure you only try to do this on a homescreen that has room for the folder to appear. Otherwise it won’t work.

How to uninstall unused apps like ‘Media Hub’

  1. Touch the Apps icon.
  2. Press the Menu button in the lower-left hand corner and touch ‘Uninstall’.
  3. Click on the red minus sign to delete an app.
  4. Confirm and press the Back button when you’re done uninstalling apps.

Note: You can only delete certain apps. If there is no minus sign, you cannot delete them.

This list view allows you to quickly find apps alphabetically


How to fill in the spaces after hiding apps

After you hide a lot of apps you’re going to see spaces where the old apps used to be. The easiest way to fix this is to follow these instructions:

  1. Touch the Settings button in the lower-left hand corner and touch ‘View Type’.
  2. Touch ‘Alphabetical grid’ or ‘Alphabetical list’ shown to the right.

How to customize predictive text
If you’re having problems with the keyboard inserting wrong words, you may want to disable or customize predictive text. To do this, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to Settings > Language and input > and click on the gears to the right of Samsung keyboard.
  2. Then touch the words ‘Predictive text’. next, scroll down and touch ‘My word list’ and press “+” to add non-standard words that you type often.
  3. Next, touch the trash can icon and delete any words from the list that appear to be gibberish.
  4. I found that changing the ‘Word completion point’ from 2 to 3 letters seemed to help as well.
  5. If you find ‘Word completion’ to be distracting, turn it off. If you leave it on, don’t fight it. Keep on typing even though it has picked a wrong word. Most of the time it will correct itself later.

Tips for those upgrading from a Samsung Galaxy Nexus

If you’re moving from an Android 4.0 phone like the Galaxy Nexus, there are some things you need to know to get the most out of your incredible new phone. Although the Galaxy SIII runs Android 4.0, there are some differences between Touchwiz and the stock Android 4.0 GUI. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list. I’m focusing on the features that I find to be the most useful.

Dedicated Buttons are Back

The first thing you’ll probably notice is that there are now three buttons below the massive 4.8” screen on the Galaxy S III.

  1. The left button is a menu button which lights up when you touch anywhere below the bottom of the screen. Instead of clicking on the three dots like you can see on the galaxy Nexus screenshot below, you’ll click on the S III’s dedicated menu button.
  2. The center button is a real physical home key which does three different things: Pressing it normally takes you to your Home screen. Pressing and holding it, displays a list of recent apps. Quickly pressing it twice launches Samsung’s S Voice, which is similar to Apple’s SIRI.
  3. The right button is the back button. This works the same as it did on stock Android 4.0 phones.

Where to Find MyApps

Instead of viewing your apps by touching the menu button in the upper right hand corner of the Google Play app, you’ll now touch the menu in the lower left-hand corner.

There are other differences between the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Checkout my next article to learn how to turn off 4G or capture your screen. You’ll find answers to those questions, along with twenty five more tips. If case you’re wondering why I left out S Beam, I’ve devoted an entire article to that alone. You won’t want to miss that one.

– Rick

Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.


Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1
 

What is the Best Smartphone You Can Buy Today?

One of these is the best smartphone available today. Which one is it? [Phone sizes adjusted so they appear uniform]


Since this article was first written, an updated version has been posted here. Check it out. A lot has changed.

Evaluating the Hardware

Who makes the world’s best smartphone? Most people would probably say the iPhone 4S, since it seems like everyone has one. But is it really the best? Let’s find out. I started by making a chart of the specs for all currently available smartphones from U.S. carriers.

The Top Five Finalists

Next, I narrowed down the list of candidates to the best five phones based on hardware specs. I was surprised that some of the most popular phones did not not make this list. I’ll discuss this more below, but first, the top five finalists based on hardware specs are:

HTC Evo 4G LTE

HTC One X

LG Nitro HD

Motorola ATRIX HD

Samsung Galaxy S III (U.S.)

Processor

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

RAM

1GB

1GB

1GB

1GB

2GB

Storage

16GB

16GB

20GB

16GB

16 or 32GB

Screen size

4.7”

4.7”

4.5”

4.5”

4.8”

Resolution

1280×720

1280×720

1280×720

1280×720

1280×720

Pixel density

312ppi

312 ppi

329 ppi

326 ppi

306 ppi

Rear cam

8MP

8MP

8MP

8MP

8MP

Front cam

1.3MP

1.3MP

1.3MP

1.3MP

1.9MP

Network

LTE

LTE

LTE

LTE

LTE

5GHz WiFi

No

No

No

No

Yes

Bluetooth

4.0

4.0

3.0

4.0

4.0

NFC

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Thickness

8.9mm

8.9mm

10.4mm

8.4mm

7.6mm

Weight

134g

129g

127g

140g

133g

Battery

2000 mAh

1800 mAh

1830 mAh

1780 mAh

2100 mAh

OS

Android 4.0.3

Android 4.0.3

Android 2.3.5

Android 4.0.4

Android 4.0.4

Carrier

Sprint

AT&T

AT&T

AT&T

All

There are big differences between the above phones in terms of screen size and thickness [Chart: Phone Arena]

Creating the above list was not easy because there are phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note, HTC Rezound, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC One S and Motorola Droid Razr Maxx which excel in some areas, but lag in others. However, in the end all of those were dropped because the above phones were better overall.

And the Winner is…

As you can see from the chart above, when it comes to specs, the Samsung Galaxy SIII beats or ties the best smartphones in all areas except pixel density and weight. Even in those areas, it’s no slouch. Most reviewers would probably give second place to the HTC One X, but the LG Nitro HD wins in both lightness and pixel density. The HTC Evo 4G LTE and Motorola ATRIX HD are also very good phones.

Based on specs alone, the Samsung Galaxy SIII is the best smartphone available today

Smartphones That Didn’t Make the Cut

There is a fairly long list of smartphones which are good, but don’t deserve to be on the “best” list because they are flawed in one or more areas. You can view these in the chart below.

Click on the chart below to make it larger and more readable.

Red-faced text shows areas where these phones under-performed. Blue-faced text indicates areas where some phones did well.

Although iPhone 4S sales continue to be strong, it no longer competes when it comes to most specs.

 

Why the iPhone 4S is No Longer One of the Best

Some of you are probably wondering why the iPhone 4S is no longer listed in the chart of best smartphones. The answer is easy; The iPhone 4S hasn’t been competitive for a long time when it comes to hardware specs. In fact the iPhone 4S no longer beats the best Android phones in any of the benchmarks or specifications listed in this article. If you’re a hard-core Apple fan, you’ll probably buy an iPhone 4S anyway — just don’t say you weren’t warned. Two years is a long time to own an under-performing 3G phone that doesn’t support 4G LTE. I’m not saying the iPhone is a bad phone — it’s not, but I was surprised to find that Android phones now outperform it in almost every way. For example:

  • The best Android phones are capable of data speeds which are up to 30x faster than iPhone 4S
  • The best Android phone has 4 times the memory than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy S3 2048MB vs. 512MB)
  • The best Android phones have processors which run almost twice the speed of the iPhone 4S (iPhone runs at 800MHz, all of the best Android phones run at 1.5GHz)
  • Several Android phones have quad-core processors, while the iPhone 4S only has a dual-core processor. I didn’t include those in the above chart, because they’re not available in the U.S. yet.
  • The best Android phones have browser performance that is 96% faster than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy S III Intl. BrowserMark benchmark scores)
  • The best Android phone has a screen which is over 50% larger than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy Note 5.3” vs. 3.5”)
  • The best Android phone has a screen which has 66% more pixels than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy Note 1,024,000 vs. 614,000)
  • The best Android phones have 41% faster GPU performance than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy S III GLBenchmark 2.1 – Egypt Offscreen 720)
  • At least 3 Android phones have greater pixel densities than the iPhone 4S (HTC Rezound 342 ppi vs. 326 ppi)
  • The best Windows phone has a rear camera with twice the resolution of the iPhone 4S (HTC Titan II has 16MP vs. 8MP on iPhone 4S)
  • Almost every Android phone has a better front camera than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy Note has 2.0MP vs. 0.3MP on iPhone 4S)
  • The best Android phone is 24% thinner than the iPhone 4S (Droid RAZR 7.1mm vs 9.3mm). At least 8 other Android phones are thinner than iPhone 4S.
  • The best Android phone is 15% lighter than the iPhone 4S. This is surprising because the best Android phones are much larger than iPhone. (HTC One S 119g vs. 140g)
  • Many Android phones have microSD slots, so consumers can easily and cheaply exceed the 64GB internal memory of most expensive iPhone 4S.
  • The best Android phones support NFC for easy purchasing and LTE for lightning-fast data speeds up to 30x faster than iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S has none of this.
  • The best Android phone has a battery with more than twice the power of the iPhone 4S (Droid RAZR Maxx 3300mAh vs. 1420 mAh). This translates to over 21 hours talk time versus 14 hours talk time).
  • The best Android phones have Javascript performance that is 37% better than the iPhone 4S (Galaxy S III SunSpider Javascript benchmark scores)
  •  
    There is hope for Apple however. An iPhone 5 is rumored to be coming this fall. After it is released, I’ll update this chart and see how it compares to the other smartphones available at that time.

    The One Benchmark the iPhone 4S Excels At

    It is surprising that the world’s most popular phone gets beat in every single spec listed above. This didn’t used to be the case. It used to be the other way around with iPhone dominating smartphone specs. There is still one thing that the iPhone 4S can beat Android phones at: cellphone radiation. The iPhone 4S has over 300% more radiation than the Samsung Galaxy SIII. That’s very surprising because the Samsung Galaxy SIII has more radios and is capable of much higher data speeds than the iPhone 4S. If you own an iPhone 4S, you might want to get a Bluetooth earpiece if you don’t have one already.

    The iPhone 4S has over 300% more radiation than the Samsung Galaxy SIII

    If you think I missed a phone that should be considered here, please let me know.

    – Rick

    P.S. Some of you are probably thinking this article relates to only hardware — not software. You’re right. Read this to see how Android compares to the newest version of iOS.

    Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    Ten Reasons You Should Dump AT&T Broadband

    Last update: April 22, 2014

    This article has had over 100,000 views! Thanks for reading it.

    Over ninety percent of AT&T’s 11.3 million U-verse TV subscribers also pay for AT&T’s high-speed Internet services. While the U-Verse TV service is very good, their DSL service is bad. Read on to find out why.

    Ten Reasons You Should Dump Your AT&T Broadband Service

    1. You’ll Save Money for at Least a Year

    Broadband speeds vary, but there is a good chance you’ll save money for a least a year when you switch broadband providers. That’s because you can take advantage of special introductory offers. By switching from AT&T’s Elite DSL to Time Warner’s Standard Internet, we are saving $10 a month. But that’s just the first of many reasons to switch.

    Netflix ranks AT&T DSL speeds next to last place

    Netflix ranks AT&T DSL speeds next to last place

    2. DSL Speeds Are Slower than Cable

    We paid AT&T extra for 6Mbps, but rarely saw speeds that high.


    Cable modem download speeds are typically two times faster than DSL.That’s because DSL providers like AT&T cap speeds at 3Mbps. To get faster data rates, we decided to pay extra for AT&T’s 6Mbps Elite plan, but Speedtest tells us AT&T’s is slower than 75% U.S. broadband providers. They give AT&T a “D” grade during peak usage hours. Our data speeds weren’t always that low, they sometimes peaked around 5-6Mbps, but the data rate jumped around so much, the average was often lower. A recent government study found that AT&T only delivers 87% of the speed they advertise, while Cablevision, Comcast, Mediacom, Verizon and ViaSat all deliver speeds that are greater than advertised. Netflix also rates ISPs and unsurprisingly, AT&T DSL ranks near the bottom of their ratings shown above. U-verse also underperformed cable-based broadband from Time Warner and others..

    A recent government study found that AT&T only delivers 87% of the speed they advertise

    A recent government study found that AT&T only delivers 87% of the speed they advertise

    3. AT&T Seems Unable to Provide Consistent Data Speeds

    DSL speeds should be more constant than cable speeds, but we found the opposite to be true. In the beginning, AT&T delivered speeds close to 6Mbps most of the time, but over the past four years we’ve seen our average speed drop dramatically. As you can see from the chart on the right, we’re not getting near the amount of data we’re paying for. Worse yet, AT&T’s data speeds frequently drop to almost zero.

    Notice how our download speeds used to vary from zero to 3 Mbps

    We wanted to believe the problems we were seeing were caused by a defective piece of equipment, but we’ve had techs from AT&T in our house three different times. The AT&T techs replaced our home gateway, DVR, set top boxes, connectors, splitters and other hardware, but none of the changes fixed our problems.

    The Wall Street Journal recently confirmed my assertion that AT&T delivers Internet speeds that are worse than advertised. In fact, they along with Verizon, are the worst offenders in this area.

    4. AT&T’s Customer Support is Horrendous

    AT&T has the worst phone support I’ve ever experienced. They hide the customer support phone number on their site and then make you jump through hoops to get it. The site asks: Which of these four customer types are you? What is your Zip code? What type of support do you need? Then you finally see a ‘Call Us’ button. Now you enter AT&T phone tree hell. “I see you’re calling from 858-731-5252,” says the computer voice. “Is this the phone number where the problem is occurring?” “No,” I say. “Please say the 10 digital account number on your bill?” I say “I don’t know it.” “What type of service do you have? says the computer voice.” I answer.

    Be prepared to jump through hoops on their website before you’re given a customer support phone number

    I spare you the rest of the poorly written script. Often you’re presented with options that don’t apply with the problems you’re having and there is no way to go back — without hanging up and calling back again. I’ve had AT&T’s customer support line hang up on me before as well. The bottom line is that it can easily take 15 to 20 minutes before you’re able to talk to someone. Some of the AT&T Tier 1 techs are clueless. Be prepared to be asked to power cycle your hardware — even though you tell them you already did this before you called. Several times their network has been so bad they weren’t able to even analyze my hardware. In the end they always end up rolling a truck anyway because there is rarely anything they can fix over the phone.

    5. AT&T Has One of the Lowest Data Caps & Throttles Those Who Exceed It

    If you stream a lot of video, you are very likely to have your data speeds limited by AT&T. Most cable companies have limits of around 250GB, which isn’t that easy to reach. AT&T throttles users after 150GB a month. Although that seems like a lot of data, it’s not. If you stream movies or TV shows, or have kids who love YouTube, your family could consume more than this amount of data. Verizon doesn’t impose any type of cap on its FiOS and DSL lines. Time Warner has no specific limits, but can respond to excessive usage.

    6. AT&T’s Network Has More Latency Than Others

    We live in a new home that is hundreds of feet from the central office, so the quality of our broadband connection should be great, but we see horrible latency often. Occasionally these delays make it seem like we have to wait 15 to 30 seconds before web pages update. I used a site called Pingtest.net to prove the quality of the AT&T network in my area is poor.

    Pingtest gives AT&T a “D” grade for line quality

    The ping measurement tells you how long it takes a “packet” of data to travel from your computer to a server on the Internet and back. Whenever you experience delayed responses in Internet applications this is due to a higher than desired ping. A ping below 100 ms is expected from any decent broadband connection. You’ll notice I sometimes see delays as high as 150ms. That’s why AT&T gets a “D” grade here as well. Again, these results vary. Sometimes I see faster ping times, but this result shows how serious AT&T’s problems can be.

    7. AT&T Doesn’t Allow You to Purchase Your Own Equipment

    AT&T provides their subscribers with a home gateway or cable modem. As far as I can tell they do not allow consumers to select their own hardware from a list and use it with AT&T services like Time Warner and other service providers do.

    We decided to purchase our own cable modem

    This policy limits your options. Time Warner supports cable modems from Arris, Motorola, Netgear, SA, SMC, Thomson, Ubee and ZyXel. We decided to purchase our own DOCSIS 3.0-ready cable modem from Motorola after reading a large number of reviews on Amazon. This prevented us from paying a monthly rental charge, and will give us access to much faster speeds if we decide to upgrade our service plan in the future.

    8. You Don’t Need DSL to Keep U-Verse TV

    For the past two years we’ve wanted to cancel our AT&T DSL, but were told by their phone support reps that we needed to keep our DSL in order to get AT&T U-Verse. It turns out this is completely untrue. I wish we would have figured this out earlier. It would have saved us much frustration.

    9. AT&T Hardware Doesn’t Support Advanced Wireless Technologies

    If you’re a U-verse customer, you must use AT&T’s home gateway. The 2-Wire gateway that we were provided with has a built-in wireless router that doesn’t reach some of the rooms in our house. It also doesn’t support provide 5GHz 802.11 wireless support which is supported by our iPads and Samsung smartphones. This allows us to use a network that is much less congested than the normal 2.4GHz network all of our neighbors use. More info. The AT&T home gateway also doesn’t support advanced wireless features like 802.11n or wireless bonding (which increases data speeds).

    After switching we saw our speeds go up dramatically

    After switching we saw our speeds go up dramatically

    10. The AT&T U-Verse Home Gateway Limits the Quality of Third-party VOIP-based Phone Systems

    In order to get the best quality with VOIP-based phone systems like Ooma or Vonage, you must connect directly to a broadband modem or to a router that can prioritize voice over data. The home gateway which AT&T provides only allows this when you pay extra for AT&T’s VOIP service. Even without changing the settings on our router, our Ooma phone system already sounds better because it’s not starved for data all of the time.

    Was It Worth Switching?

    It’s been well over a year since we cut the AT&T DSL cord. Was it worth it? YES! Switching was fast and easy and saved us $120 in the first year.

    After switching to cable modem, we saw our speeds go way up and all of our problems go away. Here are some more details:

  • Our download speeds increased more than 800% to over 16Mbps over Wi-Fi. Our download speeds over Ethernet are up to 27Mbps — even though we only pay for a Standard plan that is supposed to cap out at 15Mbps.
  • Our upload speeds now range from 1 to 3 Mbps.
  • Our latency decreased 80% from 150ms to 21ms.
  • Our data speeds are much more consistent and rarely jump around the way they used to.
  • We’ve seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of our OOMA VOIP telephone service.
  • Our cable service has been very reliable. We’ve experienced only a few hours of downtime over the past 18 months.
  • It’s Time For You to Switch

    You owe it to yourself to investigate the alternatives to AT&T in your area. There’s a good chance you’ll save money and end up with faster data speeds. In less than a week you can switch. Installation is often free, and only takes about an hour. There is no configuration you have to do on your end. Just connect the cable from the new modem to your wireless router, and you’ll be enjoying faster speeds in minutes. Of course your mileage may vary, you might want to check with others in your area to see what their speeds are before making a change. In our case, switching was a smart thing to do.

    – Rick

    Note: This article isn’t intended to be a plug for Time Warner Cable. They are used for comparison purposes, because they are the only cable provider in our area. Make sure you look into all options in your area – including fibre-based broadband solutions like Google Fiber and Verizon’s FiOS.

    Copyright 2013 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.


    Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

    How United Airlines makes flying a miserable experience

    United Airlines works extra hard to make flying a miserable experience. That’s why I stopped flying them about ten years ago. To use up some previously acquired miles I recently used United to fly my family to Europe. Every step of the way United and their employees did everything possible to make our experience a negative one.

    How United made our recent International flights a miserable experience:

    Everything listed below happened on a recent flight from Los Angeles to Europe and back.

    Notice there are no restrooms in the rear of this United 767.

    1. Oversell the flight and then offer passengers $300 (on a $1750 ticket) to take a later flight. Make sure there are no flights until the next day.
    2. Change planes so that some passengers who upgraded to Economy Plus no longer have seats. Try to sell an upgraded seat to the same person who already paid for an upgrade and then tell them no upgrades are available.
    3. Make sure there’s only one gate agent available when there are 20-30 people in line with seat problems.
    4. Do not help the passenger you screwed over and fail to refund the $340 they paid for their seat upgrades. We were told they couldn’t do this at the airport and we needed to fill out a form on their website.
    5. Remove all of the rear restrooms so you can sell more seats. This isn’t the case on all United flights, but we encountered this on our 767 flight from Paris to Houston. I checked SeatGuru and found the seat configuration for our plane. Apparently United got those planes from Continental. They might be O.K. for short flights, but should NEVER be used on a sold-out 11 hour international flight.
    6. Remove any standing area around the restrooms in the center of the plane so people have to either block the aisle or stand in the bulkhead aisle seating area.
    7. Make sure all of your flight attendants working in coach are old and grumpy.
    8. Allow the coach seats to recline so far that passengers can hardly view a movie when the asshole in the front of you reclines.
    9. Have people at the gate who have no idea how to board an airplane.
    10. Board passengers from the front of the plane to the rear to ensure a massive traffic jam in the aisle.
    11. Make sure families are not allowed to sit together. We were scattered all over the plane. Two of our three passengers were forced to sit in middle seats, even though we paid extra for aisle seats.
    12. Turn up the pre-flight announcements so loud that deaf passengers can hear them.
    13. Pride yourself in creating the worst meals in the air. Our meal on this flight was unbelievably bad.
    14. Move the headphone jack to the headrest in front of you so the cable dangles in your food (This is a Boeing 767 flaw)
    15. Use a touchscreen to save money so passengers have to bang the headrest to change channels (Other airlines including British Air and Virgin allow you to change channels from the armrest. (Another Boeing 767 flaw)
    16. Do not serve free alcoholic beverages with meals on International flights (British Air and Virgin continue to do this along with most other airlines).
    17. Don’t offer Wi-Fi on 10-12 hour flights (in regions where it is available)

    United was bad before they merged with Continental, but they seem even worse now. I will never fly them again and I recommend that you think twice before doing so.

    Note: A week before publishing this article United was contacted and given a chance to try to address some of these issues, so far, no response.

    – Rick

    Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

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