9 Smartphones to Rival Apple’s New iPhones
At its much-hyped media event early last week, Apple unveiled several new products, including multiple versions of the long-rumored Apple Watch, a 4.7-inch iPhone 6, and a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. Apple also announced a new mobile payments system called Apple Pay that will allow the company’s new iPhone models and Apple Watch to be used as digital wallets for customers’ credit cards. Apple users will now be able to make wireless purchases at some retailers and other businesses by using the devices’ Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.
As the company’s first wearable tech device, the Apple Watch may have been the most highly anticipated product due to its novelty. However, the iPhone has been the company’s bread and butter ever since the category defining product was unveiled in 2007. According to Apple’s last quarterly earnings report, the iPhone accounted for 53 percent of the company’s total net sales during the June quarter. As expected, Apple’s latest iPhone models offered larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 has a 1334 x 750 pixel resolution display for 326 ppi (pixels per inch) and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus model has a 1920 x 1080 resolution display for 401 ppi.
Both models also feature the 64-bit A8 processor and M8 motion coprocessor, 8 MP (megapixel) rear-facing camera, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Although Apple declined to reveal either device’s battery size, the company claims that the iPhone 6 can get ten to eleven hours of Internet usage or video playback on one charge, while the iPhone 6 Plus can handle up to twelve hours on the Internet or fourteen hours of video playback. The iPhone 6 starts at $199 with a standard two-year contract, while the iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299.
While the first iPhone set a new gold standard for smartphone technology and design, much has changed in the smartphone market over the past seven years. Multiple smartphone competitors have emerged with devices that sometimes have higher technical specifications than the iPhone at a lower price. The stakes for Apple this quarter might be higher than ever. According to IDC, worldwide smartphone shipments edged past 300 million units for the first time in history in the second-quarter of 2014.
However, despite posting 12.7 percent year-over-year growth rate, Apple’s iOS actually saw its market share decline last quarter. That may soon change as customers flock to preorder the new larger screen iPhone models, which opened for order September 12 ahead of the devices’ release on September 19. However, Apple’s rivals are also stepping up with its own new high-end models that it hopes will lure more customers looking for a premium smartphone. Here are nine devices that Apple’s rivals are hoping will give the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus a run for its money.
1. Sony Xperia Z3 & 2. Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
Like Apple, Sony recently unveiled two sizes of its latest flagship device, the 5.2-inch Xperia Z3 and the 4.6-inch Xperia Z3 Compact. Here’s how Sony’s latest devices measure up against Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
Display: The Xperia Z3 has a 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution display for 424 ppi, while the Xperia Z3 Compact has a 4.6-inch 1280 x 720 resolution display for 319 ppi.
Processor: Both devices come equipped with Qualcomm’s 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor.
Cameras: Both devices also feature impressive 20.7 MP rear-facing cameras and 2.2 MP front-facing cameras.
Battery: Sony claims that the Xperia Z3’s 3,100 mAh battery and the Xperia Z3 Compact’s 2,600 mAh battery can both handle up to ten hours of video playback time.
Price/availability: Both devices are expected to be released in September. According to GSM Arena, Xperia Z3 Compact is already available for preorder in the UK and Germany from Sony for around $700, but much lower prices are available from resellers. It’s unknown what the prices for either device will be in the U.S. market.
Special features: Sony draws special attention to both phones’ impressive IP65/IP68 dust and water resistance rating. According to Sony, “With the waterproof Xperia Z3, you can take pictures with the best smartphone camera while swimming in fresh water for up to 30 minutes. You can even dive down to 1.5 metres with it.”
3. Motorola/Google Nexus X or Nexus 6
Alternately known as the Nexus 6 and the Nexus X, Google’s rumored high-end device is supposedly being made in collaboration with Motorola as a way for the Internet search giant to showcase its unaltered Android operating system. Although Google has remained mum on the project, the next-generation Nexus smartphone is expected to challenge Apple’s phablet-sized iPhone 6 Plus. GSM Arena provided the leaked technical specifications for this device that may compete with Apple’s iPhone 6 models later this year.
Display: The Nexus X is rumored to feature a 5.2-inch 1440 x 2560 resolution display for an impressive 565 ppi, significantly higher than 401 ppi display of the iPhone 6 Plus. However, other rumors have pegged the display size at 5.9 inches.
Processor: The Nexus X may include Qualcomm’s 2.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor.
Cameras: The Nexus X is rumored to be equipped with a 13 MP rear-facing camera and a 2.1 MP front-facing camera.
Battery: The battery capacity is unknown, but is rumored to be non-removable (like Apple’s iPhone).
Price/availability: The price for this flagship Android device is still unknown. The Nexus X is expected to be released in October of 2014.
Special features: The Nexus X is expected to be the first device to run Android L, the upcoming version of Google’s open source operating system.
4. Motorola Moto X (2014)
Apparently, the Nexus X isn’t the only smartphone that Motorola has been working on. The company recently unveiled an updated version of its Moto X smartphone at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.
Display: The Moto X has a 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution display for 423 ppi. The display is protected by Corning’s proprietary Gorilla Glass 3.
Processor: The Moto X comes equipped with Qualcomm’s 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor.
Cameras: The Moto X features a 13 MP rear-facing camera and a 2 MP front-facing camera.
Battery: The Moto X includes a 2,300 mAh capacity battery that Motorola claims will last up to 24 hours with “mixed usage.”
Price/availability: The 16 GB entry-level Moto X starts at $499 off-contract or $99 with a contract. While Motorola has only announced a release time of “coming soon,” the device is expected to hit store shelves before the end of September.
Special features: Like the original Moto X, the new model also offers plenty of customization options with “25 back finishes, ranging from colorful hues to deep wood grains and genuine leathers.” In contrast, Apple’s latest iPhone models are only available in three standard colors of gold, silver, and space gray. Motorola also promises a Turbo Charger accessory that will supposedly give the Moto X up to eight hours more battery life in just fifteen minutes. This could be a crucial selling point for this device since consumers regularly rank longer battery life as one of the more desirable smartphone features.
5. Samsung Galaxy Alpha
With Apple making its first entry into the Samsung-dominated phablet segment of the smartphone market, Samsung is returning the favor by outfitting one of its new devices with an iPhone-like metal-framed chassis.
Display: The Galaxy Alpha has a 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 resolution display for 312 ppi, a little lower than the 326 ppi density offered by Apple’s similarly sized iPhone 6.
Processor: The Galaxy Alpha relies on an octa-core Exynos processor that includes two quad-core processors: the 1.8 GHz Cortex A15 and the 1.3 GHz Cortex A7.
Cameras: The Galaxy Alpha features a 12 MP rear-facing camera and a 2.1 MP front-facing camera.
Battery: The Galaxy Alpha includes a 1,860 mAh capacity battery that provides up to nine or eleven hours of Internet usage with a cellular or Wi-Fi connection, respectively, according to Samsung.
Price/availability: According to the company’s UK website, the Galaxy Alpha is now available to order from Samsung for 549 pounds, or about $890. However, it’s unclear what the price of the device will be when it is released in the U.S. market later in September.
Special features: While the Galaxy Alpha borrows the iPhone’s premium metal-framed design, it is actually positioned as a mid-range device. However, it does include a fingerprint scanner and a heart rate sensor like the flagship Galaxy S5.
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 & 7. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
Just as the 4.7-inch Galaxy Alpha can be seen as a direct competitor to the similarly sized iPhone 6, Samsung’s two latest Galaxy Note devices can be viewed as possible threats to Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
Display: The Galaxy Note 4 features a 5.7-inch 2560 x 1440 resolution display for an impressive 515 ppi. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note Edge has a 5.6-inch 2560 x 1440 resolution display with an additional 160 pixels that curve over the right edge of the screen. This curved edge screen space can be used for quick links to various apps or as a dynamic ticker board of information.
Processor: The Galaxy Note 4 includes a 2.7 GHz quad-core processor or 1.9 GHz octa-core (1.9GHz quad and 1.3GHz quad-core) processor, according to Samsung. The Galaxy Note Edge relies on a 2.7 GHz quad-core processor.
Cameras: Both devices come equipped with 16 MP rear-facing cameras and 3.7 MP front-facing cameras.
Battery: The Galaxy Note 4 includes a 3,220 mAh capacity battery, while the Galaxy Note Edge relies on a slightly smaller 3,000 mAh battery.
Price/availability: According to Samsung, both devices will be available “later this year.” Prices for either device have not yet been revealed.
Special features: Like the previous iterations of Samsung’s flagship phablet, both the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge include an S Pen stylus for interface navigation and note taking. While the iPhone 6 Plus does not include a stylus, it does offer a unique Reachability mode that allows users to easily access content on the device’s larger screen with only one hand.
8. HTC One (M8) for Windows
While HTC’s second-generation flagship smartphone was unveiled earlier this year, a version of the device running Windows Phone 8.1 was only recently unveiled. With its all-aluminum chassis and impressive technical specifications, the newest HTC One (M8) model may be a premium smartphone alternative for customers that don’t care for either the iOS or Android platforms.
Display: Like its Android-based predecessor, the HTC One (M8) for Windows features a 5-inch 1080 x 1920 resolution display for 441 ppi.
Processor: The HTC One (M8) for Windows is powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor.
Cameras: The HTC One (M8) for Windows uses an unusual dual configuration for its rear-facing camera that includes two 4 MP cameras. The HTC One (M8) for Windows also uses a robust 5 MP camera for its front-facing camera.
Battery: The HTC One (M8) for Windows comes equipped with a 2,600 mAh capacity battery.
Price/availability: The 32GB HTC One (M8) for Windows is currently available from Verizon for $150 with a two-year contract, or $600 without a contract.
Special features: As a Windows Phone-based device, the HTC One (M8) comes installed with several unique features that aren’t found on the Android version, such as Cortana — Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant — and a tiled app layout instead of traditional icons.
9. BlackBerry Passport
BlackBerry has been struggling to regain its footing in the smartphone market since nearly selling itself last year. The Canadian company is hoping that the unique square-shaped Passport smartphone will help bring customers back to its depleted platform this fall. Technical specifications for the device were provided by GSM Arena. While the BlackBerry may be an underdog in the smartphone market competition against Apple, the Passport’s inclusion of a physical QWERTY keyboard may appeal to customers who prefer that interface over touchscreen keyboards.
Display: The BlackBerry Passport features a 4.5-inch 1440 x 1440 resolution display for 453 ppi. As previously noted, the Passport bucks the current smartphone trend by including a physical QWERTY keyboard below the square-shaped touchscreen.
Processor: According to GSM Arena, the Passport is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor.
Cameras: The BlackBerry Passport features a 13 MP rear-facing camera and 2 MP front-facing camera.
Battery: The Passport comes equipped with a 3,450 mAh capacity battery.
Price/availability: According to BlackBerryOS, the BlackBerry Passport will be unveiled at a media event on September 24. It is rumored to be scheduled for release in the U.S. by mid-October, following an initial release in Canada and several other markets on October 1. The device is expected to cost around $800.
Special features: To call the BlackBerry Passport “unique” would be an understatement. The device’s unusual square shape and its physical keyboard make the Passport stick out like a sore thumb in the overall smartphone market. However, it remains to be seen if these special features will help or hinder the device’s popularity.
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