Who has the best smart phone Apple with their 3G iPhone or HTC with their new Touch Diamond model based on the Windows Mobile Platform? During the past two weeks I have been using a 3G iPhone, I have never owned an Apple phone let alone an Apple computer despite spending many years writing about Apple software and hardware.
On the other hand I have owned 4 Windows based mobile phones from iMate models to a Samsung Blackjack phone to the Motorola Q. All have been fine phones. The iMate was the worst of the bunch with their touch screen technology being far too slow and hardware very clunky.
So when it came to comparing the HTC Diamond and the new 3G iPhone I applied some basic ground rules such as readability of a screen, finger touch mobility and icons Vs scroll menu. I then compared the amount of information displayed to a screen Vs access to additional information in the folder being accessed.
And at the end of the day I let my emotion dictate which phone would I would prefer to own based on the features before me and the ease with which they could be accessed.
While the HTC Diamond is overall smaller than the iPhone the screen is significantly smaller resulting in all of the content being harder to read than on the iPhone. Looks wise the Diamond is up there with the iPhone. It is black slick and fits in the palm of one hand. But is that enough?
A big difference is the opening interface. The iPhone has big clear icons which can easily be scrolled back and forth whereas the Diamond gives you the choice between a Start menu and a Telstra menu. Most other icons are shaded out and one has to scroll along to access them.
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Both phones were running on the Telstra NextG Network however on the iPhone there were no Telstra icons or links to the likes of BigPond or Foxtel, whereas the HTC Diamond opening interface has been designed to favour Telstra services over other readily available services.
Another big difference is that the menu access and the turning on of the device is via one button on the bottom of the iPhone Vs a power on button on the top of the Diamond iPhone and then one has to scroll through to a menu item.
In the first big acid test we tested the ease with which one could access a Wifi network other than Telstra. On the iPhone the independent Wi Fi network was easily accessed in seconds by going to settings, Wi Fi and then accessing the network.
With the HTC Diamond we had to turn on LAN WiFi access and the interface for inserting the security code was not clear. Furthermore the keyboard was not as easy to use as the iPhone and on two occasions the keyboard froze as we tried to enter data via a QWERTY keyboard vs. a normal keypad on the iPhone.
The big killer difference between the Diamond and the iPod is applications. On the iPhone all one has to do is access a Wi Fi network go to the application store icon and instantly one has access to hundreds of applications and free software. What Apple is doing is allowing developers to create software such as flashlights, games or business applications that work on an iPhone. Apple takes 30% of the revenue and the developer gets 70%.
All of the applications have a review page and user rankings. Applications available range from, hot Sega games such as Crash Bandicoot and Super Monkey Ball, to $1.20 conversion software, for measurement and weight. There is also access to enterprise software as well as Google applications.
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Unfortunately with the Diamond iPhone one has no application store and to access software one has to open Internet Explorer, find a list of free software and download it. Then one has to search for paid applications that work on the Windows mobile platform.
Another big benefit is that the Apple iPhone has iTunes and unless you want to use BigPond Music the HTC Diamond is extremely limited when it comes to accessing external music stores. Microsoft promised a music store 18 months ago but to date have not delivered one.
One of the reasons that I have in the past gravitated to Windows based mobile phones is that I have always operated my mail access via Outlook and an Exchange server environment. At first I thought that the iPhone would struggle with accessing an Exchange host.
Instead it was extremely easy. All I had to do was set up my account details on the mail settings and I was instantly able to access my account.
Users can also easily configure Mobile Me, G Mail, Yahoo Mail, AOL and several other mail services.
Overall the Diamond is a big improvement from other HTC phones. Instead of the usual 400 MHz processor, you get a Qualcomm MSM 7201A 528MHz processor plus you get a 192MB RAM. However the HTC Touch Diamond’s interface is still sluggish compared with the iPhone.
What the Diamond has over the iPhone is a significantly better 3.2 mega pixel camera with auto focus and zoom. It also has an excellent web browser which allows one to zoom in similar to the iPhone.
At the end of the day this comparison comes down to some simple conclusions. From a design prospective I would rank both phones as being equal though I do like the larger screen of the iPhone which at first I thought would be a problem from a size prospective.
Both phones have GPS with map access which on the iPhone becomes a lot easier to read because of the screen size.
Both phones access a variety of mail services though I do find the presence of Telstra software annoying on the Touch Diamond. While I want some of the Telstra services I don’t want it rammed down my throat every time I boot my phone.
And while the new HTC phone is called Touch Diamond the Apple 3G iPhone has it all over the Diamond when it comes to ease of use scrolling and access to application and services on the iPhone.
Which proves one thing Apple is king when it comes to software and delivering intuitive, easy to use interfaces, whether it be on a Mac or an iPod or the new iPhone?
While HTC has done an excellent job designing a very smart phone they have been nobbled by poor software development by Microsoft and during the coming months I think they will struggle to get traction as they are a Company who fails to understand that brand and brand perception is important with consumers.
While Apple is a brand juggernaught HTC is unknown so when a consumer is lured by a sexy siren in the form of the iPhone my guess is that they will succumb and buy the siren.
Apple iPhone 4.5 out of 5 4/5
HTC Touch Diamond 3 out of 5 3/5