Droid vs iPhone 3GS

I picked up a Droid on Friday. Here is how it compares to the iPhone 3GS (in my opinion).

Droid Wins: Network
The iPhone is on AT&T. In my experience, AT&T drops calls at 2 places in my commute to work. Verizon has those locations covered. [Note: AT&T wins on one count, here. AT&T allows simultaneous data usage and phone calling when in 3G. Verizon halts data usage when you are on the phone.]

Droid Wins: Podcasts
The iPhone’s built-in podcast functionality is painful (many clicks) for downloading new episodes. And if you DON’T use the built-in tools, you can’t listen to those podcasts when you are doing something else. On the Droid, you can use DoggCatcher to download several new podcast episodes at once and listen to them while using other apps on the device.

Droid Wins: Navigation
Though the iPhone has several very nice options for voice navigation, the Android 2.0 solution available on the Droid is very, very good and it is free.

Droid Wins: Customizability
I won’t get into this. The iPhone allows for no customizability where the Droid is awash in this kind of stuff.

Droid Wins: App Switching
Even if you disregard the multitasking advantage of Android, you’ve got to love the shortcut of holding down the home button to see the 6 most recent apps used. (Thanks Josh and Dave!!)

Droid (probably) Wins: Flash
Until all video sharing sites have non-Flash versions, Flash will be important to me. It seems clear that the iPhone will not have it any time soon, but it looks like Android will have it in the next several months.

iPhone Wins: Games
I don’t do a ton of gaming anymore, but I love Dark Harvest and Flight Control on the iPhone. The Droid is WAY behind on selection and quality of games.

iPhone Wins: Twitter
I can name half a dozen iPhone Twitter apps that destroy all of the Android Twitter apps. I do think, though, that this is one area where Android will catch up rapidly.

iPhone Wins: Video
Buying video, downloading video, playing video. The Droid didn’t even try to touch the iPhone on these counts.

iPhone Wins: Photo Library Browsing
The Droid needs a solution here. Maybe some Picasa integration?

iPhone Wins: Interface
Multitouch in the built in apps, particularly the browser and maps, is missing in the Droid. Also, apps are generally cleaner and easier to use on the iPhone.

Tied: Music,Battery,Email,Browser,Keyboard,Camera,Customer Service,Screen
As far as I’m concerned, the iPhone and Droid are tied on music playback, battery life, calendar, email, and browser. I’ll call the camera a tie, too, since they both have drawbacks (Droid has lower color-quality images; iPhone has no flash). I’ll call keyboard a tie since the iPhone’s software keyboard is better, but the Droid has an OK physical keyboard when you’d rather not give up the screen real estate. Customer service is another tie. I’ve had great experiences with Verizon employees and Apple employees alike. Screen: The Droid has a better screen, but the iPhone uses its better.

Not Counted: App Store Freedom, Expandable Storage, Dev Experience
I’m not counting app store freedom. I think Google’s approach is the right one, but Apple’s policies haven’t stopped tons of gems coming through. On storage: though the Droid has expandable storage, apps often use it by default to store data, blocking its usefulness. As for the Developer Experience – Android is easier to get started with and you can do more with the device, but the iPhone provides more UI glitz and its libraries are great for graphics and media.

I’ll keep both a few days longer, but I do have to cancel one before this time next week.

Other opinions:
My favorite: Ihnatko’s
Open Platform Perspective: Winer
Overall: Gartenberg

One response to “Droid vs iPhone 3GS”

  1. Henry says :

    Mostly I agree. Having also gotten a droid on Friday, I do have a couple of thoughts though:

    Network: I actually think I’d hand this one to the iphone, on the strength of AT&T being GSM, not CDMA. For the globe-trotters among us this is a big deal.

    Customization: You are, of course, absolutely right – I just wanted to emphasize this one a little more, as I think it’s important.

    Keyboard: I think that this one is a clear win for the droid. The existence of the hardware keyboard is huge for me, as I’ve always struggled with the on-screen variety. I had been worried at first, since the reviews of the keyboard were not entirely positive, but I’ve found it to be almost perfect. The droid’s software keyboard is easily modified by an app (and there are already several around), where of course the iphone would not expose that functionality (back to the customization issue). So I’d say whatever shortfall the droid has is software-related, and thus temporary – whereas I highly doubt the iphone will ever add a hardware keyboard.

    Screen: I’d also give this one to the droid. Perhaps they haven’t exploited all their advantages yet, but someone will. When the hardware is superior to the software, I just assume the software will come around eventually.

    Battery: I’m not blown away by the battery life. My droid had a tough day yesterday, as people were of course eager to try it out. I think the ~2 hours of video games my friend played on it also didn’t help. However, I think the droid deserves at least a small win for having a replaceable battery. I don’t know how much they cost, but it’s nice to have the option.

    Unmentioned: Micro-USB! I realize that at this point Apple has dominated to the extent that apple cords are almost as ubiquitous as USB, but I have to give them credit for using a standardized jack.

%d bloggers like this: