I have been an iPhone user since the 3G came to Canada in 2008. At that time, there were simply no other mobile phones that could hold a candle to the iPhone. Fast forward to 2010. I stood in line for five hours to pick up an iPhone 4. It is the most amazingly piece of technology I’ve ever used. I was still of the opinion that no one could come close to touching Apple’s stranglehold on making amazing mobile devices.
My opinion is slowly changing. After some failed attempts like the Palm Pre, Blackberry Storm, and the Samsung Instinct, other manufacturers are finally making phones that are nearly worthy of the “iPhone killer” moniker. What has changed? Well, the main reason competitors weren’t able to keep up was because of the rock-solid, innovative iOS that Apple built from the ground up (basing it on OSX). The operating systems still being used in most phones were just too dated and needed an overhaul. So that’s what most companies have done.
Google’s Android operating system has been the game changer. Though the OS itself is great, it’s the system software that manufacturer’s are overlaying on top of it that has made the difference. HTC’s Sense is the most impressive, offering a very immersive and eye-catching experience. Motoblur from Motorola and Samsung’s TouchWiz are interesting as well. Though these “overlays,” combined with the smorgasbord of models from several manufacturers, are causing fragmentation of the Android market, without them I don’t think any one company would come close to creating a true iPhone competitor. Google’s operating system is great, but its extensibility is what has made the real difference.
Trying to keep up, BlackBerry recently updated their OS to version 6, and Microsoft has released Windows Phone 7. RIM’s new OS is a welcome update, but the general consensus is that it is barely keeping up with the rest, let alone innovating and offering anything new. Microsoft’s WIndows Mobile has gone through a real makeover, and Windows Phone 7 looks great in the demos. They, too, are heavily integrating social media. They have also completely revamped their UI, and it looks like a great one. These devices are just popping up, so in a few months we should see where all of these operating systems really stand, and how they compare with one another.
Each of these operating systems bring new features, better browsers, and better user experiences. For these to be successful though, the physical design of the phone must be great, and users must also be able to access new applications, a la Apple’s App Store. In my opinion, the company that has done both all of these things most successfully so far is HTC.
HTC has a fantastic history of innovation, but they’ve mostly been creating products for other companies. Over the past few years, however, they have really made a name for themselves as one of the most innovative mobile device manufacturers. Their latest devices are at the forefront of innovation, especially in regards to social media integration.
So, after a few months with my iPhone 4, I finally had a chance to play with the HTC Desire. A friend of mine had been waiting for an iPhone 4 to come in stock for a few weeks. His old phone died, and he got sick of waiting. He picked up a HTC Desire, and he told me it rivalled the iPhone 4. I wasn’t sold just yet, but after using a demo for the past week I can honestly say that if I didn’t have my iPhone, I would have an HTC device.
So, what is it about the HTC Desire that has changed my mind? The social media integration, the customizability, the integration of Google apps, the haptic feedback, certain applications… the list goes on. Does it beat the iPhone in every category? No. Would I drop the iPhone for the Desire if given the chance? Most likely not. But it’s a great phone, and I am really excited about the future of Android and iOS.
In the next three posts, I will outline the differences and similarities between the iPhone 4 and the HTC Desire, starting with the physical devices themselves. Stay tuned!