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Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

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The mobile industry has been struggling with merging cell phones and mp3 players for years. Carriers and manufactures alike have gone as far as to launch music stores, but nobody has ever gotten the player right. Along comes the iPhone, and not only do you have a revolutionary phone but also arguably the best music player ever, phone or not. To be quite blunt, no manufacturer has come close to replicating the multimedia experience of the iPhone, and this section will pretty much be a comparison between the other three phones. Video codec support is weak, but otherwise the iPhone’s media playback is perfect in every way.

Music player - Apple iPhone - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Cover Flow - Apple iPhone - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Video Player - Apple iPhone - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Music player

Cover Flow

Video Player

Apple iPhone


The Instinct and Dare both run carrier media players, whereas the Vu runs a native LG player. All three have their shortcomings, most notably in file recognition. We loaded the same six albums on each device. All six were in .mp3 format, properly tagged with artist, album, track title and number information, and each had embedded album art. The iPhone read everything flawlessly.

The Sprint Music Store player performed the best of the three despite its overall sub-par performance. It recognized tags on three of the six albums, and album art for 1.5 albums. Art was not displayed properly however, the image was way larger than the allotted space and it appears that the file must be a certain resolution. It did recognize track numbers, so when you chose to play an album it plays in the proper track order.

Music player - Samsung Instinct - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Video - Samsung Instinct - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Samsung Instinct - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Music player

Video

 

Samsung Instinct


The Vu was the next best, slightly ahead of the Dare. It only recognized two albums, and only one had album art. When the album is recognized it does play the tracks in the proper order, otherwise it plays the unrecognized tracks in alphabetic order. We did have an issue with one of the albums skipping, making it unlistenable, but the other five performed fine. Unfortunately the battery has to be removed to access the microSD card, and even then you’ll need a long nail or a paperclip to pop the card out.

Music player - LG Vu - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Visualization - LG Vu - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Video - LG Vu - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Music player

Visualization

Video

LG Vu


Bringing up the rear is the Dare and its VCast Music player. It actually recognized four of the six albums, but no album art. Even though it read the album and artist info, it didn’t read the track number info though and plays in alphabetical order. Further adding to the frustration, the Dare does not recognize folders, which meals all the music has to be sideloaded loose. Unless your files are all named with the artist, album and track number it gets very messy. The player does make use of the accelerometer, and when rotated the orientation will follow suit in all four directions. While in landscape mode the album art of the previous and next track are displayed semi-transparent and in the background, like we first saw on the Venus. However, you cannot swipe between them like on the iPhone and it didn’t actually recognize any album art, so all we got were some grey music notes.

Music player - LG Dare - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Cover art - LG Dare - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Video - LG Dare - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Music player

Cover art

Video

LG Dare


Music - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Music

The iPhone ships with 8 or 16GB of internal memory, whereas the other three units all use microSD expansion. All three can handle up to 8GB cards, and should handle 16GB cards when they are released later this year, and any future microSDHC card above that. The Instinct comes with a 2GB card, but the Dare and Vu require a separate purchase.

Despite being multimedia oriented phones, none of the four feature stereo speakers. The iPhone appears to have a pair at the bottom, but in reality the right hole is the mic and only the left hole is a speaker. Despite this it is pretty loud, and without external speakers will get the job done. The Instinct’s single speaker emanates from the earpiece and is pretty good, though at the highest setting has some slight distortion. The Dare has a decent speaker, but it sits on the back which means it gets muffled when you set it down. The Vu is a bit quieter than and not as full as the others.

The iPhone, Instinct and Dare all feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. The Instinct, Dare and Vu have stereo Bluetooth. Sound quality was fine on all four, though the iPhone may have been slightly better. We’re sure an audiophile would have issues with that statement, but to our commoner ears all four devices sounded good enough.

Rating: iPhone 5, Instinct 2.5, Vu 2, Dare 1.5

Video:

Video - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Video

Of the four devices the iPhone has the nicest video interface. Videos take up the entire screen, and with 16m colors in the display they look much clearer, richer and crisper due to the iPhone’s higher resolution. The Instinct has a similar interface, but not as clean as the iPhone. The Vu was very clean, though videos didn’t look nearly as good as on the Instinct. Videos looked worst on the Dare, which also has the worst interface.

We found some interesting results here. We tested several different MP4 videos in combinations of resolution, frame rate and codecs (either H.263 or the higher quality H.264). The Dare could handle 320x240 video with H.263 codec at 30fps. The Instinct and Vu were able to handle 320x240 in H.264 up to 60fps, the highest we test for. The iPhone was unable to handle any of them. It should be noted, however, that we use Videora to convert videos to iPod/iPhone compatible formats and they look flawless, though the process takes slightly longer than the video’s runtime.

The Vu and Instinct both have the ability to play live TV, but the Vu is much better at it. Supporting MediaFLO, the Vu has a dedicated network for high-quality TV whereas SprintTV runs over Sprint’s data connection at only 15fps. The Instinct can also get on-demand clips, as can the Dare via VCast Video. Both were of equally mediocre quality. The iPhone has no video services beyond side-loading.

Rating: Instinct 5, Vu 4.5, iPhone 3, Dare 1

Camera - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Camera

Camera:

The Dare leads the pack with a 3.2-megapixel, autofocus camera with Schneider-Kreuznach optics and an LED flash. The Vu has a 2MP sensor, also with autofocus, and the Instinct and iPhone have 2MP sensors without auto-focus. In a surprisingly close battle the Dare edged out the iPhone for overall image quality, though the iPhone outperformed it at times. Both produced crisp, clear images and the iPhone may have slightly better color saturation and representation. The Vu lagged behind the pack, with harsher images and the Instinct was the worst of the four.

The Dare wins points for its plethora of options and its very cool image editing mode. The Vu also has plenty of options, though no on-board editing software. The Instinct and iPhone both are option-less. The iPhone loses more points due to its inability to record video. The Dare bests the other two with its ability to record slow-motion video at 120fps.

Rating: Dare 5, iPhone 3.75, Vu 3.5, Instinct 2.5



Apple iPhone - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Apple iPhone - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers




LG Dare - Camera interface - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
LG Vu - Camera interface - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Samsung Instinct - Camera interface - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

LG Dare

LG Vu

Samsung Instinct

Camera interface



Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Outdoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Outdoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Outdoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Outdoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Outdoor images

Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Apple iPhone - Indoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
Samsung Instinct - Indoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
LG Vu - Indoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers
LG Dare - Indoor images - Camera samples - Touchscreen phone comparison Q3 - U.S. carriers

Apple iPhone

Samsung Instinct

LG Vu

LG Dare

Indoor images



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