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The smartphone shootout begins

The last five months have thrown up some of the biggest models – now, it’s time for you to pick a winner. Rajiv Makhni writes.

brunch Updated: May 19, 2012 18:44 IST
Rajiv Makhni

The Mobile phone is a unique beast. It came suddenly and out of nowhere and once out, was reviewed as mediocre technology and dismissed as a niche luxury device with a market of a few thousand. Today, the mobile phone is the only piece of technology that always seems to deliver above expectations. Billions in sales, an insatiable appetite to upgrade among customers and an inexhaustible demand for new phones is keeping this category hot and flaming.

New phones are pouring in at the speed of light, breakthrough features are a dime a dozen, lower priced phones can swap punches with some of their big brothers and the technology inside the phone can make most laptops and desktop computers look positively puny in comparison. Yet, within this plethora of phones, each company has a benchmark device. A device that sets a standard, a phone that defines who they are as a company. Usually benchmark phone releases are few and far between. But not this time. The first five months in 2012 have thrown up some of the biggest phones in the history of mobiles. Thus, it’s time to do a shootout. The super smartphone shootout of 2012.

Let’s take a quick look at some critical features that stick out and can swing buying decisions either way.

Screen: The one thing that you interact with all day. The trend is towards big screens and while the S3 has the biggest, it’s not only about size. PPI or Pixels Per Inch matter – and at one time, the iPhone 4S was miles ahead with 330PPI. The Xperia S has pipped it now with a 342PPI screen.

(L-R) The iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S3, XOLO Intel

Weight: In a world where screens are big and phones are small and light, the XOLO is the lightest and the Lumia the heaviest. Still it’s only 30 grams that separate all the phones.

Processors: HTC and Samsung ace it with quad core hearts while Sony and Apple have dual cores. Interestingly the XOLO with Intel inside is a serious contender here.

Optics: The S3, the One X, the iPhone, the Lumia and the XOLO all top out at 8 megapixels. The Sony forges ahead with 12 megapixels.

Powerhouse: The Samsung S3 packs a punch with a 2100mAh battery while the XOLO and the iPhone bring in the bottom.

Out of Pocket: The S3 is expected to be priced at around Rs 36,000, the One X is around the same, while the Xperia S is available for Rs 31,000. The iPhone 4S starts at around Rs 43,000, the Lumia 900 is expected at Rs 32,000 and the XOLO is priced at around Rs 22,000.

There you have it. The big guns of mobile phones. Now, cast a non-prejudiced eye across the chart, analyse the ‘stick out’ features as neutrally as possible and consider things that truly matter in a phone. It’s time for you to declare the winner. You can choose only one. Tweet the name of the top dog phone and why to me and I’ll declare a winner here next week. Let the battle begin.

And The smartphone Contenders are...

Samsung Galaxy S3
The phone that set the cat amongst the pigeons. The humanisation of technology, the device with built-in intelligence inside and the mobile phone that talks about features rather than hardware. But will the S3 humanisation gamble work?

Screen: 4.8''
Pixel Resolution: 1280 X 720 (306PPI)
Weight: 130g
Ram: 1GB
OS: Android 4.0
Processor: 1.4GHz quad-core
Camera: 8MP
Front Camera: 1.9MP
Battery: 2100mAh
Price: Rs 36,000

HTC One X
This uber-designed phone sizzled at MWC in Spain. With a polycarbonate unibody, a sleek feel in the hand that defied its size, a powerhouse of a processor and a Beats Audio sound that makes your very bones thump. But did HTC do enough against what came right after?

Screen: 4.7''
Pixel Resolution: 280 X 720 (312PPI)
Weight: 133g
Ram: 1GB
OS: Android 4.0
Processor: 1.5GHz quad-core
Camera: 8MP
Front Camera: 1.3MP
Battery: 1.3MP
Price: Rs 36,000

Sony Xperia S
It’s the footloose, fancy free and all-on-its-own Sony. And they’ve got a few axes to grind and a lot of points to prove. They’ve had four big releases in a span of two months but the benchmark is still the Xperia S – but can Sony regain lost ground with this new blitz?

Screen: 4.3'
Pixel Resolution: 1280 x 720 (342PPI)
Weight: 144g
Ram: 1GB
OS: Android 2.3
Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core
Camera: 12MP
Front Camera: 1.3MP
Battery: 1750mAh
Price: Rs 31,000

iPhone 4S
First off the block and easily the King of the Hill. Typical Apple: clean lines, a supreme screen, a talk-back assistant and all the goodness of Apple’s ‘just works’ iOS. But now that it’s been out for a while is the 4S showing its age against the younger lot?

Screen: 3.5''
Pixel Resolution: 960 x 640 (330PPI)
Weight: 140g
Ram: 512MB
OS: iOS 5
Processor: A5 dual-core
Camera: 8MP
Front Camera: 0.3MP
Battery: 1432mAh
Price: Rs 43,000 onwards

Nokia Lumia 900
Nokia’s showcase Windows phone, it started the trend of polycarbonate over metal and glass and is the one phone that makes sure that Windows is now a contender in the world of smartphones. But does the Lumia 900 have it to take on the Android and Apple?

Screen: 4.3''
Pixel Resolution: 480 x 800 (217PPI)
Weight: 160g
Ram: 512MB
OS: Windows 7.5
Processor: 1.4GHz
Camera: 8MP
Front Camera: 1MP
Battery: 1830mAh
Price: Rs 32,000

Xolo Intel
When an Indian company stands tall with the iconic Intel – and releases a world first – it’s time to celebrate. With ‘Intel Inside’ blazing on the outside, the Xolo promised performance, speed and ability above all. Does it deliver?

Screen: 4.0
Pixel Resolution: 1024 x 600
Weight: 127g
Ram: 1GB
OS: Android 2.3
Processor: 1.6GHz
Camera: 8MP
Front Camera: 1.3MP
Battery: 1460mAh
Price: Rs 22,000

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni

From HT Brunch, May 20

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