The Droid X and the iPhone 4 are the heavyweight champions on their respective carriers. Both handsets offer features that are a cut above the rest, so let’s take a look at what happens when these two devices go head to head.
The Droid X is the third in the Droid series on Verizon, and runs Google’s Android OS. The iPhone 4 is (well you probably guessed) the fourth in Apple’s iPhone line. The iPhone 4 runs Apple’s iOS4 operating system, and is exclusive to AT&T.
The major thing many phone buyers look for is processing power. The Droid X boasts a 1GHz processor, which tends to be the standard these days for advanced smartphones. The iPhone offers Apple’s A4 chip, which is also found in the iPad and offers comparable speed. Both the iPhone 4 and the Droid X also have 512 MB of RAM, which is the upper limit on what top-tier smartphones have these days. So on these specs, it’s a tie for both phones, with no obvious winner.
This one’s a bit tough to gauge: It’s a matter of quantity vs. quality. While both capacitive displays offer excellent clarity, with good responsiveness to multitouch inputs, it’s tough to top the iPhone 4′s new Retina Display. It packs more pixels than the “I” can see, to provide crystal-clear images. But the screen measures 3.5 inches, while the Droid X ‘s 480×854 resolution TFT screen offers 4.3 inches. That’s quite a bit larger! Though some users find the Droid X better for watching videos due to its larger size, the picture quality of the iPhone 4, with its IPS screen technology and higher resolution (at 960×640 res), packs the final punch.
Also, the sheer real estate of the display results in making the Droid X taller and wider than the iPhone. The Moto handset measures 5.0 x 2.6 x 0.4 (and weighs 5.47 ounces), while the Apple device is 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches, and weighs 4.8 ounces. Result? The iPhone 4 wins it for both the display and device size/portability.
The iPod Touch may come in a 64GB version, but not the iPhone 4; it’s only available in 16GB and 32GB models (like the previous 3GS generation). Given that the smartphone doesn’t allow for external memory, you’d think Apple would’ve offered a version with more storage to stay ahead of the curve. Meanwhile, the Droid X comes with 8GB built-in, along with a 16GB microSD card included. Not only that, but it also supports microSD cards up to 32GB, upping the storage capacity up to 40GB. In this area, the Droid X clearly comes out on top.
There’s more to a camera than sheer megapixels. If it was just a matter of which device has more, then the Droid X would win, at 8MP. (The iPhone 4 has a 5MP camera.) Thing is, there are also variables like the lens quality and size, as well as the shutter speed. Both phones capture images well, and even though the iPhone 4′s camera offers fewer megapixels, it wasn’t evident from the quality. Details come out crisp, and colors are vibrant. This may be due to the iPhone’s lens size looking physically bigger than the Droid’s, and so it might be able to capture a bit more.
The iPhone 4 (finally) offers an LED flash for snapping pics in dimly lighted conditions, plus an 720p HD video. The Droid X, which also offers 720p video capture, additionally has dual LED flashes. Each handset has some additional perks: The Droid X has an HDMI-out port, while Apple’s device has a second, front-facing camera. The front cam can be utilized for still images, as well as vid chat (a feature that the Droid X lacks). Seems like everyone is jumping on board the vid chat bandwagon lately â€” likely due to the hype created by iPhone 4′s FaceTime video calling.
Although it’s not a built-in feature of the phone, it’s worth noting that Apple makes iMovie for iPhone available in the App Store, meaning users can video edit on the fly and make movies right on their handsets, complete with transitions and music. (For now, it’s widely considered the best mobile video editing software, and it’s exclusive to the iPhone 4.)
This is a tough one, and both smartphones come with some real perks for amateur photogs. But when it comes to cameras, what matters most is in the end is how good the images come out.
These images were taken in the same room and at the same time of day, with an overhead light on. Although the Droid pic was larger (given the 8MP camera), the photo quality is very different. For this, I have to say, I’m giving it to the iPhone 4.
As for connectivity, both handsets have Wifi, GPS, and Bluetooth, and they can also be used as a modem for internet tethering (for an $20 extra per month). But the Droid X can act like a mobile Wifi hotspot for up to five devices, which the iPhone 4 can’t do out of the box. This makes Droid X the clear winner.
iOS vs. Android
Overall, the Droid X specs might look better than the iPhone 4′s (at least on paper). But functionality often hinges on software, so that requires a look at the smartphones’ OS. Now, this isn’t really a comprehensive software comparison of the platforms (that would require much more room, and possibly multiple posts), but briefly, I’ll say this: I’ve got to hand it to Android, in that it’s making big improvements lately. But even so, there’s still room for growth.
Some of the most attractive features of Android are now present in iOS 4, and they’re put together in a very user-friendly way. A big feature is multitasking, which the Apple operating system now offers. Though it got a lot of criticism for not allowing multiple apps to fully operate in the background, this implementation actually saves battery life and performance. Meanwhile, Android offers more functionality through multitasking, but often winds up draining the energy very quickly.
Then there’s app selection: Apple’s App Store continues to reign with more than 225,000 apps. Motorola says Android Market has over 65,000 (with more than 100,000 apps submitted).
Another major area for users is text input. The Droid X has Swype, which allows users to enter text on the onscreen keyboard by swiping around without lifting the fingers off the screen, as with tapping. In addition, the Droid X also offers a regular multitouch software QWERTY. In contrast, the iPhone 4 only offers its stock keyboard.
I know better than to offer a winner here. Both platforms have many more pluses (and minuses), and it really is a matter of individual preference. In general, if you love being able to tweak and customize things, and generally have more control over your phone, Android is a good way to go. If you’d rather have a less buggy, more polished experience, and are willing to sacrifice control over to Apple, then the iPhone is more suitable.
The iPhone 4 has a better camera, smaller form factor, Retina Display and access to the vast number of apps. So for people who care about such things as photo quality, stunning display visuals, easy interface and smaller, more pocketable form factor, the Apple handset edges out the Droid X. But the Android handset is by no means a loser â€” users who want a plethora of features, bigger screen real estate, more control/customization over their device, and ability to view the phone’s videos and snapshots via HDMI-equipped monitors or TVs (and don’t mind carting around a large phone) will favor the Motorola device.
Based on this, which is one is your pick for overall winner? Let me know in the comments below.
EDITED: The article was edited for clarity, as well as to update some areas of the post (including images). Thanks to all who commented and offered feedback.
ADDITION: A friend asked to see the actual devices side by side, for size comparison’s sake. Luckily, one of our contributors still happens to have both phones right now, so a quick snapshot was taken. Here you go, J! We aim to please!!