Let's face it; the Droid versus iPhone debate is one of the greatest battles of our time. Sure, we have rivalries like the Steelers versus the Patriots, Microsoft versus Apple, BP versus all aquatic life...but at the end of the day, Motorola versus Apple reigns supreme. Fortunately, I was recently able to spend some hands-on time with both of their new phones, the Droid 2 and iPhone 4. Unfortunately, I was unable to take either phone for a true test run in the real world (mainly because of those electronic tethers they have attached to the phones to keep journalists from stealing them, bummer). So, without further ado, here is my somewhat limited comparison of the iPhone 4 and the Droid 2.
First off, the displays, I graded both phones on not only the resolution of the screen, but how everything was presented on the screen. The iPhone 4 has a 3.5 inch 960x640 display using Apple's latest Retinal display. The biggest selling point about the Retinal display is that it crams in 326 pixels per square inch (PPI). While normally this is unnoticed by the human eye, it definitely comes into play when you zoom in on something (especially pictures). More importantly, the iPhone's icons are larger than most Smartphone's, which is a must-have for a touch screen, (to avoid accidental clicking of the wrong icon). The Droid, on the other hand, has a 485 x 854 3.7 in. display, which is also very nice. However, the Droid's icon sizes are smaller than the iPhone's, which caused me to hit the wrong icon several times during testing. Edge: iPhone 4.
Next, I took a look at the power behind each phone. I tested this by opening an app, quickly closing it before it had fully loaded, and then immediately opening another one. Theoretically, the phones should have been very similar in speed capabilities since both sport a 1 Gigahertz CPU. However, I found that the iPhone was definitely more responsive not only during my stress test, but every time I switched screens or "flipped" the phone from a vertical to a horizontal position. It may have been the settings on the Droid, but there was a definite lag whenever I made any sort of labor-intensive action on it. The advantage again goes to the iPhone.
After checking the power of each phone, I took a look at the storage space for each one. The iPhone is pretty simple; there is a 16GB and a 32GB version, neither of which support upgradable storage space. The Droid, however, comes with 8GB internal and an 8GB SD card, the latter of which can be upgraded to a 32 GB card giving the Droid 2 a whopping total of 40 GB of storage space. Even better, the SD can be replaced at any time giving the Droid the distinct lead in storage space.
To fill up all that storage space you need applications. When the Apple commercials say "There's an app for that" ™ they aren't kidding. Apple supports over 200,000 apps1 for their iPhone 4, many of which were created during the days of previous iPhones. But, while the Droid 2 has a scant offering of apps right now, they have an 'open market' philosophy regarding their app store. Where Apple allows only select apps to be on its store (all aspiring apps have to go through a review process by Apple), Droid allows almost any app to be downloaded onto its store. While this opens up the potential for users to create and upload malicious apps to the store, it also allows for a much wider range of unique apps to be created and shared. The win still goes to Apple's impressive offering, but the Droid could very easily turn the tables.
Finally, the costs, Both phones are $199 with a new 2-year plan, 900 minutes cost $59.99 per month, and both have an activation fee around $35 (iPhone's is $36). Verizon (Droid's network) offers 5,000 texts per month for $19.99, unlimited web for $29.99/month, and the 3G hotspot feature (read below) for $19.99/month. AT&T (iPhone's network) offers unlimited texting for $20/month and 2GB of data transfer plus the tethering option (also read below) for $45/month. Total price of the Droid after two years is $3320, while the iPhone is $3236: a difference of only $84. Tie game on this one.
So, which one should you get? The answer is going to surprise you; neither. Get the iPad instead. In all seriousness though, both phones have their strengths and weaknesses. The iPhone has a great app store, crisp display, can do video chat, allows talking and web browsing at the same time, and is very responsive and easy to use: however, it is sorely missing Adobe Flash (a widely used multimedia plug-in), has a fixed storage size, and is on AT&T, which is an (arguably) smaller network that doesn't offer unlimited web. The Droid also has a nice display, its app store is wide-open, and it allows the device to become a 3G WIFI hotspot for other devices to attach to (with applicable monthly fees). However, it felt a bit sluggish when changing programs (which could very well have been the demonstration settings), and I find its lack of apps disturbing. If I were to buy on today, I'd have to go with the reigning champion, the iPhone. I felt that all of its problems are miniscule in comparison to its quality. The Droid 2 should not be dismissed, though. From what I've seen, it will only be a matter of time before it topples the king.