Smartphone face-off: iOS 5 vs. Android 4 vs. Windows Phone 7.5 vs. BlackBerry OS 7
Now that every major mobile platform has gained a substantial update, which smartphone is the best for business?Follow @MobileGalen
The Galaxy Nexus's 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen gets the oohs and ahhs -- the same phenomenon you see at a Best Buy as people drool over the 70-inch HDTVs. But the Samsung Focus S's 4.3-inch screen boasts the best size of the bunch -- it makes the iPhone 4S's 3.5-inch screen feel cramped. The Galaxy Nexus's support for 4G cellular networks places it as the winner in connectivity, though 4G penetration is quite low; this capability matters little now, but it will become more relevant as the year progresses.
But the iPhone 4S wins on every other hardware count. It has a very fast processor, wired and wireless video-out capabilities, low-power Bluetooth, a high-density Retina display, the highest-quality rear camera, strong battery life, a worldphone-capable 3G radio, and a high-quality steel and glass bezel. (The BlackBerry 9900's bezel is of equally high quality.)
The lowlights of the hardware for today's flagship smartphones are the puny 8GB of RAM in the BlackBerry Bold, the flimsy, tacky back cover of the Galaxy Nexus, and the BlackBerry Bold's poorly placed camera button.
Deathmatch: Business connectivity
The iPhone has the best, most desktoplike business connectivity of the bunch, with the best support for Microsoft Exchange and IMAP email, the richest message capabilities, and the easiest-to-use calendar. But competitors exceed the iPhone's iOS 5 in some areas. For example, the Galaxy Nexus's Android 4 has a better mechanism for navigating multiple accounts, and the BlackBerry is unchallenged in its support for sophisticated repeating-event patterns.
Lowlights include iOS's inability to work natively with zipped attachments, iOS's inability to create groups of contacts, the BlackBerry's awkward time-stamping of messages received when offline, and iOS's poor integration of social networking.
Deathmatch: Application support
This category is one where the iPhone 4S shines the brightest. Not only does the App Store have a huge array of useful, richly capable apps (in addition to the junk found in all app stores), but the entire Apple ecosystem -- AirPlay, iCloud, and iTunes -- makes it oh-so-easy to bring an iPhone into your whole computing context, especially if you use a Mac. The iPhone also has the best control over location information usage, providing the most user privacy of the bunch. It also offers more useful core apps than the rest, such as with its Notes and Reminders apps, and has one-upped Android's notifications capability with a better approach.
The iPhone 4S takes all these iOS 5 advantages and adds the Siri voice-based personal assistant to the mix. Siri is simply amazing, despite its beta status. You can actually talk to your iPhone and have it understand much of what you are asking and saying. Its voice recognition, both for dictation and interactive queries, is unmatched by the other voice-capable platform, Android, whose once-heralded voice search and dictation features suddenly feel primitive. Windows Phone 7.5's voice search is the least accurate, and it offers (inaccurate) dictation only for sending text messages.