Deathmatch: Motorola Droid versus iPhone

The iPhone has triumphed over all previous 'iPhone killers.' Does the Droid finally knock the iPhone off its pedestal?

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Deathmatch: Web and Internet
The iPhone redefined the mobile Web experience, but the use of the Safari browser's WebKit technology in competing smartphones such as the Palm Pre and the Motorola Droid has largely leveled that playing field. Both devices let you scroll through real Web pages and take advantage of technologies such as JavaScript and QuickTime. Neither support Flash videos outside their YouTube player apps.

But Apple's Safari browser has a better UI. That means you can go forward without invoking a menu, as the Droid requires. You can also easily switch among Web pages without using several steps, as well as select text and graphics on Web pages for copy and paste, another multistep operation in Droid.

The Droid's lack of multitouch capability really shows on the Web; maneuvering through Web pages is difficult, as you have to use zoom buttons, which means you scroll on your page, then jump to the bottom of the screen to click an onscreen zoom button, watch the page zoom and recenter, then scroll again. It's just so much easier on an iPhone (or a Palm Pre).

The winner: The iPhone. Both the iPhone and Droid are real Web devices, giving you the true Web experience -- minus Flash -- but both navigating the Web and copying and pasting Web content are more difficult with the Droid.

Deathmatch: Location support
Both the iPhone and the Droid support GPS location, and both can triangulate location based on Wi-Fi signals. Both devices also come with Google Maps, which can find your current destination, provide directions, and otherwise help you navigate. Both devices let developers integrate location information in their apps, so location is just another native feature.

Where the Droid has an edge is in its bundled turn-by-turn navigation app. It may be beta (like most Google software), but it works darn well. The map and directions update as you travel, and you can have the app speak directions to you. AT&T charges iPhone users $10 a month for a similar service; you can also buy an app such as Navigon's $90 MobileNavigator or the $100 TomTom.

I like the Droid's implementation of Google Maps better when it comes to following directions. The iPhone pages from one junction to the next, so I lose the context of where I am in relation to my whole trip. The Droid -- like the Palm Pre -- moves the map along the path, so you have a better handle of the next junction point.

The winner: The Droid. The built-in navigation app sets it apart in a big way.

Deathmatch: User interface
Many users hate the touch keyboard pioneered in the iPhone, which is one reason the BlackBerry remains more popular. The Droid tries to let you have it both ways, with a slideout physical keyboard and an iPhone-like touch keyboard.

The Droid's touch keyboard is very much like the iPhone's. It lacks the multilingual support of the iPhone, but it lets you choose from suggested words as you type (the iPhone only lets you decide whether to accept its sole suggestion). Both are clear and easy to tap on, once you get the hang of touch-tapping. Call it a draw.

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