Motorola DROID X vs. Apple iPhone 4

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

In one corner, we have the Apple iPhone 4 which was released not too long ago and was able to muster up some impressive sales figures that make it undeniably one of the hottest handsets for the summer. Not only does it offer one of the most simple and straightforward experiences on any handset out there, its stellar track record in the camera department makes it one irresistible device for media buffs out there. On the other side, we have the Motorola DROID X which is supplanting itself already as the next big thing out of both Motorola's and Verizon's camps. Revamped in many ways from the original Motorola DROID, it has cemented itself as a well rounded premier offering that easily stands tall among the current Android offerings.  Although there are some known points that make the DROID X superior to the iPhone 4 already, such as the excellent backing of Big Red's network over AT&T, we'll look specially at the hardware and performance to see how they manage to stack up against one another.

Design:

When we first feasted our eyes on the iPhone 4, we were impressed at how streamline it looked – which claimed to be the thinnest smartphone in the market. Not only does this average sized handset manage to captivate people with its redesigned look, but its choice of premium feeling materials and solid construction make it one compelling device that will easily capture the gaze of consumers. However, we'd like to also commend Motorola on the fantastic looking original Motorola DROID – which happily laid claim to be the thinnest smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard. Following the same design principles, the Motorola DROID X follows similarly with its extremely thin (0.39”) profile which is equally impressive when you consider the hefty display it's packing on. Again, we're treated to one solid handset which is constructed from quality materials and doesn't skimp out on durability as we feel that the DROID X would handle better in extreme occasions when it's dropped. It's not to say that the iPhone 4's glass like outer shell can't take a beating as we were surprised to find it quite intact with only a single scratch after accidentally dropping it onto the hard pavement at the height of 4 feet. The soft touch coating on the DROID X does wonders when it comes to repelling dirt and smudges from fingers, as it also manages to make it feel comfortable to grip, but the oleophobic coating on the iPhone 4 does an equally good job. Finally, there is something deceptively pleasing with the DROID X (5.47 oz) as it doesn't feel too heavy in the hand versus holding the iPhone 4 (4.83 oz) – strangely enough, the iPhone 4 is lighter, but somehow still manages to actually feel heavier when being held than the DROID X.


Visually both handsets offer something substantial with their displays that will cater to the specific desires of individuals, but one thing can be said about both – they are fantastic and perform exceptional in their own regard. The Motorola DROID X employs a larger sized 4.3” TFT display with a 480x854 pixels resolution to provide ample real estate for just about everything you do with the handset. With the roomy size, typing away is quite comfortable for just about anyone.  Conversely, the iPhone 4's 3.5” IPS LCD display might be quaint in comparison, but surely it's one of the  most detailed displays with its 640x960 resolution that makes everything you view just pop. It's evident when you open up a web page and look at text from an overview display – they are clear and sharp on the iPhone 4 versus garbled looking on the Motorola DROID X. Colors are lush and vibrant on both displays, however, the iPhone 4 has a leg up when it comes to luminance as it looks brighter when set to the maximum setting. When taking it outdoors though, both displays are quite viewable in the glaring presence of direct sunlight with perfect viewing angles considerably present.


As for the rest of the handsets, physical hardware buttons are abundant, well sized, and have a good tactile response to fully make you aware that they've been pressed. However, we adore the DROID X tacking on a two-level shutter key to automatically launch the camera app so you can take photos almost instantly. Furthermore, the DROID X does provide for some traditional features such as a microUSB port for charging/data, micro HDMI port for video out, and a microSD card slot to offer you the flexibility of swapping cards at will. On the contrary, it doesn't mean that the iPhone 4 can't accomplish some of the same functions – you can actually get video out by purchasing their proprietary cable. Plus the iPhone 4 also packs on a front-facing camera which can be used for a host of things – like video chat via FaceTime/Fring or basically use it as a mirror. The speaker on the DROID X can be found on its rear while it's located on the bottom edge of the iPhone 4 – we find the placement for the DROID X to be fitting as it's able to disperse tunes a lot better. Finally, the iPhone 4 features a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash while the DROID X has a higher 8-megapixel shooter with a dual-LED flash.





Motorola DROID X 360 Degrees View:



Apple iPhone 4 360 Degrees View:





Interface:

We've gone extensively over the swift experience we get out of iOS 4 on the iPhone 4 on previous comparisons as it's being powered by Apple's A4 processor which is presumably clocked in at 1GHz. The learning curve on the iPhone 4 is very low as the platform is straightforward and simplistic – which definitely adds to its mass appeal over the competition. Applications load quickly with barely any evidence of lag being witnessed – even when there are multi-tasking enabled apps running simultaneously. However, the same could be said with the Motorola DROID X's performance while currently running Android 2.1. It's powered by 1GHz OMAP 3630 processor which makes everything fly in a heart beat – making it one of the peppiest Android handsets out there for the US market. Although there might be a steep learning curve for new users, the level of personalization on the DROID X is far more significant than what can be accomplished on the iPhone 4. The customized look and feel on the DROID X will undoubtedly attract users who prefer to visually see a variety of information, like weather and social networking statuses, which is non-existent on the iPhone 4 – unless you launch individual apps. If there's one common ground that both handsets fall under, it has to be the fact that they both run extremely fast with rare instances of slowdown.




If you like to be kept up with all the latest happenings without having to lose focus on what you're doing on the handset, you'll probably like the DROID X better as Android's notification system is superior to what iOS 4 provides. On the iPhone 4, you'll know that something is being received, like an email for example, by specific notification tones.

The Motorola DROID X's interface is more fitting for social networking aficionados as it's able to aggregate a myriad of information discretely surrounding your social networking accounts. From Twitter to Facebook, everything is presented to you in a singular hub on the DROID X, while on the iPhone 4 you'll have to run each app separately. However, we find the Facebook app on the iPhone 4 to be well  integrated to some of the native apps on the phone – which makes the experience feel a bit more fine tuned around the edges versus the Android app.

People love watching YouTube, and that's the reason why the Motorola DROID X shines in this regard seeing that it offers users an app that follows closely to what you experience on a desktop. There are a wealth of sub-menus and options to get you down to all the various aspects we love about YouTube. Additionally you can turn on high quality video streams on the Motorola DROID X through any kind of data connection as opposed to the iPhone 4's requirement of connecting to Wi-Fi to experience higher quality videos. Plus, the larger display found on the DROID X makes watching videos such a joy over the iPhone 4, but both are still fitting in this category for just about any user.



The iPhone 4's included front facing camera does offer some people the option of doing video chat via FaceTime which can be seen as a novelty thing right now. Unfortunately, you can only do one-way video chat on the Motorola DROID X through Fring. The quality we experienced with FaceTime was far superior to Fring on the DROID X as voices were more clear and in-sync.

There's no arguing that Android's Google Maps experience is far more in-depth to anything else out there – even on the iPhone 4. Not only can you use turn-by-turn directions to specific locations, but it aptly integrates some of Google's popular services – like Buzz and Latitude. Unfortunately the iPhone 4 still offers the same exact experience that we have witnessed on the previous versions.



Thanks to the swift performance of the platforms on both smartphones, typing messages is a breeze due to the responsive on-screen keyboards they offer. The iPhone 4 still stands as having one of the best predictable text options as it just knows what you're trying to type out, but the roomy space on the DROID X makes for less typos. When using the landscape option, we found ourselves easily typing away on the DROID X with few to almost no mistakes being made. Still, we found the iPhone 4 to also excel in this area despite its smaller size – which should only pose to be a problem to individuals with larger sized fingers.


Last, but not least, we should not overlook the overwhelming number of applications that's present in the Apple App Store. And not just their number, but quality too, as it is obvious that iPhone users currently have a lot more entertainment at their fingertips than Android ones.




Data and Connectivity:

For many years, Apple has set the bar in terms of the web browsing experience on a mobile handset – which is still evident in mobile Safari to this day. On top of still boasting one of the slickest and smoothest scrolling performances on any web browser, it's supplemented more with its Retina Display as the faintest of text can still be visually detailed. The Motorola DROID X is also quite capable in this category as pages loaded swiftly and accompanied with a great scrolling rate when moving around a page – although the iPhone 4 is still noticeably more smooth. With the large real estate, you'll be able to see an entire page almost in its entirety, but we found text to be garbled looking at the furthest zoom level – even with a WVGA resolution. In the end, the handsets are pretty close in this category, but with Android 2.2 Froyo in the works for the DROID X later this summer, it may have the upper hand at that time with its near perfect desktop experience.



World users will gravitate towards the iPhone 4 just because it's a global enabled phone, whereas the Motorola DROID X runs on Verizon's CDMA network and will only work domestically. Even though if you do plan on traveling, both handset are equipped with Wi-Fi to enable you data usage – plus you can use VoIP based apps like Skype to make phone calls when you're abroad. Even though they both offer Wi-Fi connectivity, the Motorola DROID X is enabled for the Mobile HotSpot functionality which allows it to share its 3G connections to other devices via Wi-Fi.

When it comes to storage availability out of the box, the DROID X has the upper hand as it includes a 16GB microSD card with an additional 8GB of internal memory that's not user accessible for things like storing apps and contacts. For the iPhone 4, it's sold in either 16GB and 32GB capacities, but it's worth noting that the 16GB is priced at $199.99 on-contract; just like the DROID X.

Camera:

We're getting to a point where most people are relying on their mobile phones to replace their traditional point and shoots. With that in mind, the iPhone 4 has managed to cement itself as a premier offering in this area as we've seen it time after time excel over the competition. Despite being equipped with an above average 8-megapixel auto-focus camera, images produced by the DROID X still couldn't eclipse the ones taken with the iPhone 4. In just about every scenery, we noticed that the iPhone 4 still developed images with more realistic looking colors with a sharpness attached to them that has yet to be rivaled. When taking some macro shots, you can visually see all of the detail that the iPhone 4 is able to capture over the DROID X. In low lighting conditions,  photos looked a little washed out with the DROID X while using the flash thankfully made colors look more natural looking than the iPhone 4; although it looked more fuzzy. When using the flash with the iPhone 4, it made things look over-exposed, but still was slightly sharper looking than the DROID X. We especially like how the iPhone 4 has touch to focus functionality which comes in handy in certain conditions, although, the DROID X has a lot of emphasis on options which allow you to cater to specific shooting conditions.






Since we've pitted the iPhone 4 with many handsets of late, we have to applaud its prowess in taking high definition videos which has yet to yield its power in this area. Since both smartphones have the ability to shoot video in 720p, there is no denying that they look exquisitely detailed, but the iPhone 4's better capture rate of 30fps over the DROID X's 24fps rate is noticeable. There is a slight jerkiness to the recordings we took on the DROID X, but it's nothing game breaking – so it should be more than adequate for anyone. The iPhone 4 had a tendency to constantly change white balances throughout the course of a continuous recording depending on the light situation you're shooting in. That is something not evident on the DROID X recording as colors were consistent throughout the shooting. Video buffs will surely like the DROID X with its host of options that allow you to fine tune the video capturing experience to its optimal. When it came down to audio, the Motorola DROID X manages to eclipse the iPhone 4 thanks to its directional microphone that manages to capture sounds dead on.

Apple iPhone 4 sample video at 1280x720 pixels
Motorola DROID X sample video at 1280x720 pixels


Multimedia:


Looking down into its  music playback capabilities, even after all these years, the iPhone's visually stunning music interface is still regarded as the premier offering. Cover flow continues to be the standard that's always going to be compared to the competition as it makes moving between your albums such a breeze to not only your finger, but your eyes as well. While not as spectacular and intuitive, the Motorola DROID X continues to utilize the stock Android music player – which forgoes presentation over functionality. However, we can clearly say that the audio produced by the DROID X's speaker was far better than the iPhone 4 – it's even made better with some equalizer options. The placement of the speaker on the DROID X allows for audio to flow more freely – which ultimately makes it sound stronger when the handset is laid on a flat surface.


Video playback is of little concern to either handsets as test videos ran smoothly with no evidence of any lag. At the same time, there was plenty of lush colors and detail to complete the overall experience, however, one has to agree that bigger is better in this category. It's not to say that the iPhone 4's Retina Display doesn't look fantastic, but we'd imagine it would be better on the eyes with the DROID X. Moreover, you can view videos in just about any orientation, portrait or landscape, on the iPhone 4 where it's only positioned in landscape for the DROID X.


Performance:

We commended the original DROID for performing valiantly in calling quality, but thankfully, the performance on the DROID X doesn't disappoint either. Voices were crystal clear and extremely audible thanks to its versatile and powerful speaker that enables even the lowest toned voices to become exquisitely noticeable. We can't say the same with the iPhone 4 due mostly to some background and static noise which can become somewhat of a nuisance for some. Nevertheless, it's not to the point where you can't make out conversations, but there's no arguing that the Motorola DROID X just made the calling experience such a joy. At the same time, the same can be said about the speaker phone performance on the DROID X as it was stronger than the iPhone 4.

During our time testing out both handsets, we consistently found the DROID X to have a solid connection to the network over the iPhone 4. At certain times, we would see bars on the iPhone 4 fluctuate while surfing the web – which is somewhat disheartening when you're trying to do something.

Naturally one can always get the most optimal battery usage by fine tuning their handsets – like setting the brightness of the display to its lowest or having the handset check for email every few hours. As we set both handsets to the middle brightness setting, we used them normally and didn't modify anything else. The iPhone 4 ever so slightly edged out the Motorola DROID X during our simultaneous testing, but we were still nonetheless impressed with the DROID X as it was able to last a solid day before requiring a recharge. Again, it could have gotten more out of it by constantly monitoring certain features like GPS, running applications in the background, and push email.

Conclusion:

Presently, there are plenty of devices out there that attempt to challenge the iPhone 4 in the smartphone market. Yet, we continue to see a common theme with each comparison we do with Apple's venerable handset – it proves to be a well rounded device that doesn't skimp out on performance. To the iPhone 4's credit, it continually rises to the occasion and beats out handsets in the camera department – even though others employ higher megapixel cameras. It's by far the easiest phone to learn at a first glance which is embedded deeply in the foundations that were present from its humble beginnings. Despite lacking a depth of personalization, iOS 4 slowly compliments the handset's user interface experience as it continuously showcases its overall responsiveness and intuitiveness. Plus, it's one of the few existing handsets out there that offer a decent video calling experience with FaceTime which will hopefully one day break free from Wi-Fi only usage. All in all, there is an aura that radiates outward from every nook and cranny that still manages to enthrall consumers out there.

Just like the original Motorola DROID, the DROID X is presented as one of the smartphones to challenge the might of Apple's iPhone by attacking some key areas where the iPhone has been unable to capture. From a design standpoint, we have to give credit to Motorola for being able to craft a sleek looking handset that doesn't necessarily feel like a juggernaut when it comes down to sheer size. Naturally it relies on its sheer display to attract consumers seeing that it's the sole differentiator from a first glance. However, we're content with its performance under the hood as it includes a myriad of respectable hardware that enables it to stand toe-to-toe with other contemporary offerings. Being powered by Android has its clear advantages and the DROID X tastefully manages to pretty it up with its own customized experience. However, this isn't the first encounter we've had with a monster sized Android handset. By no means should this be overlooked by Verizon customers, or any Android users as a matter of fact, but the Motorola DROID X is yet another healthy offering that substantiates Android's growing popularity among people.

As most of the cases (but particularly in this one), which handset will better suit you depends entirely on your specific needs and preferences.

Motorola DROID X vs Apple iPhone 4 Video Comparison:





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