So we've already thrown down the gauntlet comparing all aspects of the Samsung Galaxy SIII (S3) and the iPhone 5, and again between the HTC One X and iPhone 5. Just last week, Motorola took the wraps off of its latest offerings, with the Droid RAZR Maxx HD being the cream of the crop. Surely its a worthy follow up to the extremely popular RAZR line, but how does it fare when put up against the latest from Cupertino? Read along and find out.
Its hard to argue with the fact that Apple makes some of the best screens in the business. "Retina" gimmicky marketing aside, the iPhone 4 has one of the best screens in the industry. Apple has made a slight tweak from the 4S to the 5 in size, resolution and aspect ratio. Bumping from a downright small 3.5-inch to more acceptable 4-inch, moving to 1136x640 resolution and joining the 16:9 aspect ratio club. Its clear that Apple is feeling the pressure from the phone industry in the screen department.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Motorola hasn't been known for their great displays as of late. The original Droid RAZR was well regarded as having quite the lackluster display. Fortunately, starting with the Atrix HD, Motorola seems to have started stepping up its game. The RAZR Maxx HD follows the Atrix with a 4.7-inch 720P AMOLED display, which by our first-hand account is quite high quality. Size and LCD vs. AMOLED is personal preference, so if the final production model of the Maxx HD turns out as good as our first impression, we say its a tie in the screen category.
CPU and RAM
Apple is in no rush to give us exact specs on their new A6 processor, and they haven't even spilled the beans on the amount of RAM in the device, but we know that Apple will put enough horsepower in the device to make it run as smooth and fast as it has in the past. For the RAZR Maxx HD, its packing the at this point industry standard Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, clocking in at 1.5Ghz, supported by a full 1GB of RAM. This late in the year we wouldn't mind seeing it future proofed with 2GB -- like the Galaxy S3 -- but 1GB is plenty right now as far as we're concerned. Its hard to make a definitive call here considering we're light on specs for the iPhone, but its going to be hard to beat the trusted performance of the components in the RAZR Maxx HD.
As we all know at this point, the iPhone 5 will come in the same three sizes -- 16GB, 32GB and 64GB -- and don't count on them ever adding expandable storage. The RAZR Maxx HD comes out hard with 32GB as the baseline storage option, with MicroSD expansion officially supporting up to 32GB cards (although we wouldn't be surprised if 64GB SDXC cars worked as well). For storage junkies, the Maxx HD wins, but considering that most people don't need more than the included 32GB on the device, it doesn't win by much.
Both devices bring in bluetooth 4.0, aGPS and GLONASS, Wifi b/g/n at both 2.4 and 5GHz. Verizon LTE is also on board both models this time. Things are a little fuzzy at this point when it comes to world roaming with the iPhone 5 and using LTE around the world, but we know for certain that the RAZR Maxx HD has world roaming capabilities.
Coming from the original Droid RAZR, the new RAZR Maxx HD has added NFC support, which opens up some sharing possibilities and mobile payments in the future, although NFC isn't exactly widespread at this point. If it's something that you want, you can only get it in the Maxx HD.
When it comes to connecting the phone to other devices to share and display your content, the RAZR Maxx HD will be your friend if you have a diverse crop of gadgets. With standards like DLNA and HDMI, it's hard to go wrong. If you're stuck in the Apple ecosystem with Mac computers and an Apple TV box hooked up, sharing is pretty seamless with the iPhone 5. Thing is, not everyone has or wants to have an Apple TV just to share content from their device. RAZR Maxx HD has to take this one.
Size and weight
It comes down to personal preference (and biological endowment of hand size) as to what device feels best in your hand. The iPhone added screen real estate without making the device wider, and the RAZR Maxx HD tried to cut down on the bezel coming from the previous model. Which device wins this round comes down to what fits in your hand and your pocket.
As far as the numbers go, we're looking at 8MP shooters for both devices. The combination of hardware and software on the iPhone is a known quantity as being one of the best in the business. Motorola, not so much. Here's to hoping that the RAZR Maxx HD has stepped up its game from previous models, but if our review of the new RAZR M is any indication, the iPhone 5 is going to run away with this one.
For an in-depth analysis of iOS 6, check out iMore's amazing coverage. If you want to know more about the improved Motorola UI experience, check out Anndrew's review of the Droid RAZR M. We've really seen Android grow up and put some big boy pants on the last couple of versions, and luckily Motorola has decided to leave it pretty much unchanged as of late -- save for a few application and UI improvements. Apple iOS continues to follow the "slow and steady" approach to OS updates, and with iOS 6 has added some things that may have been in Android for a long time, but are good additions nonetheless.
Whe comparing the homescreen and UI experience of iOS 6 to older versions, it's hard to find any real changes. Small, subtle refinements are the name of the game for Apple, and it generally works in their favor. Unfortunately, Apple continues to leverage the same UI paradigm with page upon page of icons -- the iPhone 5 simply bringing one more row to the table. Apple made a big step by
copying Android's pulldown notifications adding a pulldown notifications bar, but it's time for Apple to start adding in some customization options -- widgets, launchers and keyboards would be a nice start. It's all just a bit tired at this point when there are so many great options out there in the Android world.
We all know and love Android. With every update it just keeps getting better in terms of usability and aesthetics, and hasn't given up any of its core functionality or customizability. Choosing a mobile platform seems to be more in the realm of religion than devices at this point, but you know that we'll always prefer Android.
Google has been working very hard in the recent months to improve its content offerings. From making deals with music labels for Google Play Music to signing content deals with major publishers and studios, Google is really trying to build an ecosystem with Google Play to challenge Apple head-on. Unfortunately, Apple has been in this game longer and simply has the better deals. Heck, even Amazon has a better offering overall than Google when it comes to multimedia.
As is the case with most Apple products, there is a "double edged sword" so to speak. When you start buying content from Apple, you aren't taking it anywhere else. This is nice if you're all-in with the devices, but not so much if you try to keep a diverse portfolio of gadgetry. For the foreseeable future, you're going to be tethered to the iTunes model of hosting and syncing -- and we think its time to step beyond the old paradigm.
Although Google lacks in multimedia content in Google Play, it has started to greatly expand its app offerings for Android devices. We heard just this week that 500 million Android devices have been activated to date, with another 1.3 million coming every day. Developers are taking note of these staggering numbers, and it shows in the apps available for download. Major game titles and productivity apps now launch simultaneously with iOS, and they often have more functionality because of their hooks into the Android OS. The app approval process on Android is leaps and bounds less restrictive than on iOS as well, another great point for developers.
There is no definitive phone that is better than another when it comes down to putting your hard earned money on a device. All the specifications in the world can only assist in the decision here, and it really comes down to which is best for you. These are deeply personal devices that we spend (way too many) hours on every day.
What we can say is that the iPhone 5 will probably be the best selling iPhone to date. The Droid RAZR Maxx HD will also likely be one of the best sellers on Verizon for months to come. Through the course of reading this comparison you've likely figured out which one we'd prefer, now it's up to you to make that decision as well.