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iPhone 4s - Amaze - or Galaxy S II???
on January 30, 2012
If you find yourself torn between the GS2; T-Mobile's other flagship, the HTC Amaze; and jumping ship for the iPhone 4s, this review is for you. If you're new to Android, then read on, too.
AMAZE vs GS2
Amaze is the GS2's only real competition on T-Mobile at the moment. Amaze is more stylized, but the GS2 is a lot thinner. The GS2 has a larger screen which, depending on your tastes & size, may or may not be a plus. The GS2 has the most beautiful screen colors, saturation & vividness, but Amaze has a higher pixel density for clearer images & text. Amaze has a fancier user interface, but Launcher Pro Plus or SPB Shell 3D can be downloaded on either. Bottom line - They're both very competitive.
However, if you plan to take advantage of the hd video recording, the sound quality of recorded video on the Amaze is unacceptable. This is the only noteworthy difference. I exchanged my Sensation for this very reason. You can hear an example of the quality by searching YouTube (HTC Amaze 4G 1080p Camera Test| Booredatwork) or (HTC Amaze 4G 1080p HD Video Sample). HTC's recorded video sound is quiet, choppy & staccato. Both devices have their pluses and minuses, but this is where the line in the sand is drawn. The GS2's playback on recorded videos is excellent.
IPHONE 4S vs GS2
The iPhone isn't really in the same league. It's an incredible device, but it's just an app tray - squares on a (small) screen. As a result, iPhones are a little more consistent. The Apple is a bit smoother because it doesn't have to do much more than launch apps. You wouldn't expect a multi-functional Range Rover SUV to be as smooth as a Lexus sedan. You also wouldn't expect a Lexus to do as much as a Range Rover.
iPhones have no widgets, no multiple homescreens, (still) no full flash browser, no customization, no memory card, no removable battery, no keyboard options, no homescreen replacements, smaller screen... You get the idea. With Android, if you don't like the gallery, keyboard, browser, camera functions, messaging, icons, screen transitions... download new ones. iPhone is mostly closed. iPhones don't do much more than host/open apps. They're well-designed, user-friendly & have wonderful cameras, but they're tract phones, can't really customize/alter them.
iPhones don't have true multi-tasking. You can have a number of apps open at once on the iPhone, but the Galaxy SII allows me to continuously download a movie whilst listening to music & surfing the web - all at once. The GSII's dual-core processor does so w/o as much as a hiccup. I've been unable to exhaust the GSII.
Another thing iPhones don't have is bloatware. The GS2 has plenty, unfortunately.
However, if you're a busy career and/or family person, or not too good w/ technology, the iPhone is definitely better for you. No question. iPhones take less time to configure, learn & operate. They are more consistent. Everything works as it should out of the box.
iPhones hold their value much better, if that matters to you. Reason being, Samsung, HTC, Motorola come out with new Android flagships nearly every month. Folks will only pay so much for a smartphone. The iPhone, by contrast, is Apple's standard for the year.
If you're worried about apps, iPhone has many more, hands down, but Android offers most any app that you'd would want. Siri? Android already has Vlingo & Iris. They're no where near as accurate or robust, but I'd sooner call my friends than have a back/forth with a phone. Android Market also offers aDownloader which is a movie torrent. I was able to download 'The Hangover II' in HD in 45 mins & watch in on my HD tv... for free. Due to the closed operating system of Apple, the iPhone is unable to host torrent apps. What's more, many Android apps have free trials so you can test drive before buying them. If you want music on your iPhone, you must purchase it through iTunes. On the GSII, you can either purchase it from Google Play or download it from beemp3 or 4Shared... for free. You can do so much more with the Android operating system.
The GS2 runs on T-Mo's 4G network. The iPhone doesn't have the capacity to reach the same network speeds on any carrier. It's rather dated already.
NEW TO ANDROID?
There is *a lot* to configure & customize on a high-end Android. Busy, older folks will either be overwhelmed, or proceed w/o a clue as to what this device can actually do, in spite of having paid for it. Secondly, Androids are *very* Googley. When you sync your Google account, be prepared for folks you've emailed once, 8 years ago, to show up on your phone. If you have a Picasa album, all of your photos will be automatically downloaded to your phone. If you erase them, all of the images will be deleted from Picasa online as well. Even storing phone numbers poses you with questions of storing to phone, SIM card... or Google. Just store the damned number. The same with calendar entries. Once you select your default, everything flows, however. On set-up, Android has a lot of options, choices, customization, questions, combinations, permutations. Imagine asking for water & the waiter spends 5 minutes asking you - sparkling or flat?... chilled or room temp?.... w/ or w/o ice?... large or small?... green glass or blue?... with straw or w/o?... doily or coaster? Gimme a break. I don't want that many options, frankly. Once you get everything as you like it, however, it's a very personal phone that does exactly what *you* want it to do. Really quite something. Android won't win any prizes for being user-friendly (at least on set-up), but it will for being thoroughly customizable. You can completely change the look, speed & operation of the system at will & fairly easily once you 'get it'.
As with any device, I have a few peeves w/ the GSII. Fortunately, most of them can be remedied. T-Mobile slaps a bunch of bloatware on the phone. They can only be removed by rooting your phone (YouTube has tutorials). You can always unroot so as not to void your warranty. Although the phone has plenty of space, you'll free up just that much more. I don't like the idea of being forced to have apps I don't want, particularly those that constantly run in the background. Secondly, there is no indicator light or *recurring* SMS alerts. WTF? Download 'Handcent' to alleviate this problem. Thirdly, although the speaker is loud enough, the sound is just okay. Fourthly, photos are saved to so many different folders. You can't simultaneously select/send photos from different folders (downloaded folder, camera folder, etc) You'll have to download QuickPic. It's the best gallery I've seen on any operating system/device. It will even show hidden, cached & (thought to be) deleted images. Finally, the charging cord is ridiculously short. If I want to charge whilst using the phone in bed or on sofa, I need an extension cord.
The native browser is good, but tends to checkerboard when pinch/zoom. I recommend downloading the free Dolphin Browser. It's the most robust browser, bar none. It does everything.
I shouldn't have to download so many third-party apps for things as basic as sms alerts & a decent gallery, but at least you can get the one you want instead of settling for what is given to you. What tipped the scales to 4 stars is that there is no recurring calendar alarm. This coupled with no indicator light and only brief chimes, has caused me to miss appointments simply because I dare step away from my phone for a second. I tried Calendar Even Reminder but, as Android apps must be designed for a handful of overlays (Samsung, HTC, Motorola) across numerous Android versions & with individual customization, it only worked sporadically. In short, this phone doesn't come with a dependable calendar alarm. I thought we had this mastered in the late 90s. (After an app update, Calendar Even Reminder now works flawlessly, but I went months w/o a real calendar alarm & intend to punish Sammie by deducting one star. ;-)
Herein lies reasons I say iPhones are better for non-techies, busy people and older folks. They don't do a whole lot & you must take what you're given, but they're ready on day one. The GSII takes a bit up upgrading to make it behave. It's appeal is that it does *so* much more than an iPhone. It's exceptionally more high tech and customizable. Sometimes, figuring everything out seems like a science project, though. I only need one navigation system, for example, not *three*. When I say, "Navigate to..." don't ask me which system to use, just take me to my damned destination. This pretty much sums up Android. There's such a thing as too many choices. It's the law of diminishing returns.
I won't itemize everything the device does. I'll leave a link below. I love the speed, big screen and vivid colors. It's been very dependable. It's very slim yet sturdy & squeak-free. Tasteful, low-profile design w/a high profile screen. Both T-Mobile's and Sprint's G2S have larger screens than AT&T's. Of all the GS2 variants, T-Mobile's version is the only one to offer an 1850mah battery, the largest of the lot. Battery life is much better on this unit than most (I hear) & the battery stays cool. There are even 2500mah & 3500mah batteries available by Mugen Power. If you want a more exhaustive list of features, or to compare stats alongside any other phone, gsmarena is a thorough, straightforward site.
Network speed is completely variable. This device can reach download speeds up to 42mbps as it runs on T-Mo's 4G (HSPA+). However, the speeds you get vary greatly & depend on location. At home I get only 3-4mbps. A mile from my home, I get 13.44mbps download speeds. I've gotten as much as 20-something. Just depends on where you are. The same applies to other carriers. The Amaze is the same. The iPhone 4S doesn't have the capacity to reach such high speeds on any carrier.
This is an amazing, impressive device. Folks always ask about it when they see the screen, particularly when I set it down next to any other another phone. However, the reason I have a smartphone is to better organize my life. Native calendar alarm issues & lack of an indicator light should be a consideration as the downloadable options may or may not perform consistently.