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iPhone vs. Galaxy: Which smartphone is best?
[May 05, 2013]

iPhone vs. Galaxy: Which smartphone is best?

BLOOMINGTON, May 05, 2013 (The Pantagraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When his older phone's battery finally lost its last charge, Patrick Boylan got a chance to try out both Apple and Samsung's top-of-the-line smartphones before deciding which he wanted to carry around all day.

He's not exactly mourning his old phone, and he's not shy about showing off his new one. The 23-year-old Illinois State University student settled on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus that he now occasionally uses as a juke box while working at the Coffee House in Normal. Boylan, who has a Mac laptop and has never been disappointed in it, said he was drawn to the Galaxy and its Android operating system after having a chance to play with both it and Apple's latest iPhone.

"I already knew Apple, already had a Mac, and I knew the system would be easy to get around, and it was, but ... then I found this and it's just so simple," Boylan said. "I am starting to move away from the whole Apple draw." Samsung now holds the title of world's top smartphone producer, with Apple a close second, according to technology research firm Gartner Inc. With Samsung poised to release its new Galaxy S4 phone this month -- which includes a thinner body, larger screen and cameras designed to track the user's gaze, among a host of other new features -- the South Korean company seems to be firing a salvo aimed squarely at knocking California-based Apple off the smartphone throne it has exclusively held since it first introduced the iPhone in 2007.

Larry Walker of Normal acknowledged he was a part of that first wave of excited buyers who clamored for an iPhone. He said he's since gone for a less expensive alternative in his HTC smartphone. The iPhone, he said, is a stellar product, but it comes with strings attached.

"My problem with the iPhone is more Apple-related," Walker said. "When Apple comes out with a product, it's a good product, and it costs a little more, but you buy it. But when they come out with a new product line, they drop support for the old one." That premium price-tag is one area where Samsung is positioning itself to compete directly with Apple. Verizon Wireless customers can preorder the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4 for $199 with a two-year contract, the same price as an iPhone 5. Some sellers said, though, that Samsung is already at an advantage because of its less expensive phones on the market.

Don Kim, a partner at Advance Telecom in Normal, said while many of his customers express an interest in Apple products, he has noticed more of his customers choosing phones from other brands that run the Android operating system, which he said seems to be a growing advantage for Samsung. Google, the company that produces Android, last October trumpeted the operating system's 700,000 apps, a number that at the time brought it in line with the Apple Store's available programs. Kim said a good app selection and the fact the Android operating system is used by more brands of smartphone -- including Samsung's -- is putting some peer pressure on potential buyers to go with what friends and family are using.

"We sell tons of Android, but not a lot of the iPhones," Kim said. "The price point is too high, and most people use Androids now. If (customers) have family and friends who use Android, they're probably going to lean toward an Android." For Jon Enerson, 33, of Bloomington, who uses his Samsung Galaxy as a diagnostic tool for the computer maintenance and repair work he performs for clients, his phone's top-of-the-line specs and the openness of its Android operating system let him do things he could never do on an iPhone.

He was quick to note, however, that he is not a "Fandroid." "I like the fact that I'm not necessarily locked out in terms of what I can install," Enerson said. "I'm not slamming Apple, but I find (the Galaxy) has more use for me as a small business owner." Apple's loyal customers counter that Apple products, because their hardware and software are all made by the same company, continue to be easy to use for the average person. Bryce Bowlin, 27, of Normal, said his iPhone 4 has served him well, and it would take a pretty persuasive argument to get him to adapt to something different.

"I love the intuitiveness," Bowlin said. "It's just so easy to use. I don't want to learn a new system. It seems to me Apple products are designed with the user in mind." He acknowledged, wryly, that carrying an Apple phone is also easy because, "it's the hipster thing to do." And with the iPhone 5s on the way and a recent announcement from Apple promising a new product category after it ramped up its research and development budget this year, the company isn't ceding any dominance.

Phone users generally seemed far more interested in the sharpness of their screens and number of their apps than they did in the ongoing court battles between Apple and Samsung. When asked if it affected their perception of either phone, most responded with a shrug, though Boylan expressed wide-eyed surprise the suits were even occurring.

The two companies have, in fact, been suing one another faster than the average layperson can keep each case straight, in countries all over the world, sometimes over alleged patent infringements that have raised eyebrows. Apple once successfully sued Samsung for allegedly copying the rectangular shape and rounded corners of the iPhone with Samsung's Galaxy line. Apple won $1 billion in that case.

The irony of the ongoing grudge match is that the two litigious combatants depend on one another in the most basic ways. Apple's iPods, iPads, and iPhones all use microprocessors, flat screens, and memory chips produced by Samsung, meaning Samsung actually counts Apple as a major client. In a move that seems to portend even stormier relations between the two, Apple has reportedly reduced its orders from Samsung.

Yet, for all the public ire between the two tech giants, even a user with as much invested in his phone as Enerson said he doesn't want either side to "beat" the other. Competition means innovation, he said, and with it, ever shinier and more powerful new technology.

"I don't want Apple to go away," Enerson said. "You don't want an environment where only one force is dominant. You need a number of different competitors." ------ Comparison Apple and Samsung's fight for smartphone dominance has produced cutting-edge phones. Here are how their two latest models compare. The Galaxy S4 will be released this month but no details have been made public on the next generation iPhone 5s.

Apple iPhone 5 -- From $199 with two-year contract -- 4-inch touchscreen -- 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of internal storage and 1 gigabyte of RAM -- WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G Internet capable -- USB v2.0 capable.

-- 8 MP camera -- Siri, the voice command program -- 775,000 apps Samsung Galaxy S4 -- From $199 with two-year contract -- 5-inch touchscreen -- 16, 32, or 64 gigabytes of internal storage and 2 gigabytes of RAM -- WiFi, Bluetooth, and 4G Internet capable -- USB v2.0 and microUSB capable.

-- 13 MP camera with flash -- Google Now, a Siri-like voice command program -- Over 700,000 apps ___ (c)2013 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) Visit The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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