Monday, November 14, 2011

The top 5 European smartphones for 2011

The European smartphone market during 2011 has seen a number of the established vendors slide rapidly down the charts, while other have further consolidated their positions.
Of particular note is that Apple's iPhone still reigns supreme, albeit that the first cracks might be appearing it what has been impregnable leadership in design and implementation. Regardless of Apple continued domination, the real victors in 2011 have been Samsung and HTC.
Both firms are now posing a serious challenge to Apple, with some industry observers contending that Samsung's latest smartphones have already equalled or surpassed Apple's latest, the iPhone 4S.
Samsung and HTC have reacted with speed and imagination to develop products capable of being worthy rivals to the iPhone--something many people thought would take much longer than Samsung and HTC might have managed.
For Apple, while the iPhone 4S failed to excite the company huge fan base by not being a complete resdeign the iPhone 4 was,  perhaps indicating future troubles for the company in retaining design leadership, the new handset has been a runaway sales success, selling 4 million units in its first weekend of availability alone.
Others vendors, such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, have each experienced their problems - ranging from the cataclysmic through to a lack of marketing imagination.
Nokia's fall from grace has continued throughout 2011, and the launch of its Windows Phone-based Lumina smartphones are critical to the company's fortunes in 2012. Handset vendors around the world will keenly watch whether this former industry giant is able to conjure a turnaround in what over the past few years has been a downward spiral for the company.
What has become more pronounced in 2011 is the unstoppable rise of Google's Android platform, that elephant in the room for Apple and Microsoft. This smartphone OS is rapidly becoming a heavyweight gorilla that seems ever more likely of setting the smartphone agenda as we move into 2012.
For an insight into the top five smartphones in Europe, check out our guide through the hype, featuring commentary from Informa Telecoms & Media principal analysts Andy Castonguay and David McQueen.

Apple iPhone 4S


Overview:
The newest iPhone and final device issued during the Steve Jobs era was greeted with strong sales and reviews in several top markets across the globe. The much-anticipated fourth-quarter release of the iPhone 4S came on the heels of the passing of Steve Jobs and capped another outstanding year of growth for the entire iPhone lineup.

Positives:
The new iPhone 4S continues to offer industry leading user experience with its intuitive interface, high quality Retina display and elegant industrial design. Long-term users of iPhone models have noted decent gains in processor speed from the new dual core A5 chipset, but not of the awe inspiring variety. Picking up on the success of improved image capture from the previous model, the 4S boasts a powerful 8-megapixel camera with better response in low light conditions thanks to its brighter lens. The most important addition to the 4S is the incorporation of dynamic voice recognition and command software called Siri. The software more readily recognizes and understands natural speech patterns and phrasing and then interprets that into phone actions such as search, messaging, calendar and other key functionalities. Even with improved voice recognition coming from the Android and Windows Phone camps, Apple’s execution of Siri places the iPhone at the top of the heap.

Negatives:

With a few exceptions, most notably the Siri functionality, this is the first major release of the iPhone that gives the impression that Apple designers have failed to advance the overall experience of the device in any significant way. In fairness, Apple’s user experience continues to be in the industry vanguard, so expecting any major alterations of the winning formula Battery life issues have also marred this release more so than with previous models, which significantly limits the usability of the device without having to constantly have a charger close by. Apple’s choice to forgo LTE on this model was wise in light of the fact that early LTE devices face significant battery life issues of their own, not to mention heat dissipation issues, depending on the design.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Overview:
Among the top selling smartphones on the planet, the Samsung Galaxy S II offers sleek design, a massive Super AMOLED display and fast processor performance as well. With a number of model variations available, the Galaxy S II is one of the contenders for top overall smartphone and is certainly among the best Android implementations on the planet. With this design, Samsung have managed to carve out a growing following among European and global consumers alike.

Positives:

The Galaxy S II boasts one of the largest displays among top smartphones with its 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display sitting under a protective sheet of Corning Gorilla glass. To help meet the energy needs of that screen and the dual core processor, Samsung has included a 1650mAh battery which turns in one of the best performances among Android smartphones, though battery life for powerful smartphones like this continues to be a sore point among consumers. With its 8-megapixel camera, the Galaxy II offers full HD 1080p recording capabilities and also includes improved media sharing capabilities with its AllShare software. AllShare allows Galaxy S II users to synch up with DLNA-compatible televisions, displays and other home electronics and play media files from the phone. And for those non-DLNA compatible displays, the Galaxy S II also provides and HDMI output through an adapter cable (USB/MHL).

Negatives:
The big display certainly has its advantages, but the sheer size of it translates into a very wide phone, which can be a bit too wide for many consumers, though the model’s thin profile and light weight help offset this.


 

Research In Motion BlackBerry Bold 9900

Overview:
As the flagship model for Research In Motion’s latest 2011 device line-up, the Bold (aka 9900) is an admirable update of its iconic first Bold design from 2009. Back are the broad face, outstanding keyboard and a brushed steel band that frames the device.

Positives:
The new Bold achieves much improved application performance and speed thanks to the inclusion of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset and the updated OS7 operating system. While the format and core functionality of the new OS do not differ dramatically from previous efforts, the quick performance of the device definitely enhance the daily use of applications and browser. The new version includes a touch screen that is well integrated with the keyboard and optical trackpad inputs to provide a satisfying array of options and more precise cursor placement--a real boon to those who need to edit text and other documents on the go. Battery life and voice call capability are both excellent and for those BlackBerry faithful, the new OS doesn’t change too much of the experience they’ve grown to depend on.

Negatives:
The limitations of the Bold are more reflective of the status of the RIM’s transformation as a company. RIM is in the process of shifting to a unified OS, dubbed BBX, that will eliminate the constant deployment of new OS versions that has led to significant fragmentation of the base. The result of this fragmentation and the primarily Java-based programming environment is that application developers face greater challenges in writing for the BlackBerry platform. The BlackBerry App World catalog, though much improved, still pales in comparison to the application stores of Apple and Android. And even though the Bold stands out in many ways, the user experience remains significantly less dynamic than those offered by the other top devices discussed here.

HTC Sensation

Overview:
The HTC Sensation is among the top Android devices for 2011, adding to an impressive array of Android successes from the Taiwan-based manufacturer in the last few years. Building on the success of the Desire, HTC has delivered a competitive mix of a dynamic user interface overlay to Android 2.3.3 with a strong mix of technical specifications to provide fast performance.

Positives:
One of the areas where HTC stands out is the proprietary user interface overlay, Sense, that the company has developed for its Android products. The Sensation comes with Sense 3.0 which offers crisp touch screen response, an intuitive format and a smart approach to shifting among top applications. The Qualcomm Snapdragon processor provides great performance and is optimized to the Sensation’s specifications to provide faster browser and application performance. The device also provides excellent video capture and media sharing capabilities, utilizing its DLNA compatible Connected Media software or HDMI output through an adapter cable.

Negatives:
From a form factor perspective, the Sensation comes in a bit thicker (11.3mm) and heavier (150 grams) than its top Android rivals, which combined with its large 4.3-inch display makes for a large device. The display offers a less dynamic viewing experience and tends to wash out more in direct light than the Retina display from Apple and the Super AMOLED screen of the Galaxy S II. Battery life is also a concern for the Sensation, with usable life rarely extending through an entire day. While Android devices on the whole do not have outstanding battery performance, some devices such as the Galaxy S II and Motorola Atrix have started to change that story and HTC will need to make improvements in this area to stay at the top of the class.


 

HTC Desire S

Overview:
The Desire S is HTC’s first Android 2.3 device and builds on the success of the Desire. Similar in design to its predecessor it has a 3.7-inch screen, 5MP camera, Android overlaid with HTC's Sense UI and a 1 GHz processor. The wireless technology has been boosted with support for 14.4Mbps HSDPA 3G broadband and Wi-Fi 802.11n. As is the trend with touch-screen smartphones, the display now appears noticeably closer to the glass, which is an improvement on the original Desire.

Positives:

The original Desire was incredibly well built, but the Desire S takes that up a notch with a premium aluminum unibody shell. The RAM is increased for the upgraded Android 2.3 and it now has 1 GB of built-in memory. The Desire S also brings improvements in video recording, with 720p HD capture now supported. As with other models in HTC’s stable, mobile web browsing on the HTC Desire S is pretty strong.

Negatives:
From a technical point of view only having a single-core 1 GHz processor means it has not kept pace with the competition as they slowly move to dual-core for the higher-end phones. Plus, whilst a thickness of 11.6mm is not overly chunky, it still lags behind some competitor models. It also appears that the Desire S suffers from the placement of the Wi-Fi antenna placement, similar to the iPhone 4's much-publicised cellular antenna problem. On the Desire S the Wi-Fi signal is known to drop if it is held in a certain way or it is placed face up.


 

2 comments:

  1. You really know your stuff... Keep up the good work!
    top phones

    ReplyDelete
  2. thank you, much obliged

    ReplyDelete