Feature Articles

Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 4S

Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 4S

Alternatives to the Apple iPhone 4S

Apple iPhone 4S Not Your Cup of Tea? Join the Android Family!

You do know that Apple's new iPhone 4S is launching tomorrow in this region? In case you have been out of touch with the latest tech happenings, here's a quick refresher on the key features of the Apple iPhone 4S:-

Notable Features and Upgrades on Apple iPhone 4S

  • Apple A5 dual-core 1GHz processor 
  • 8-megapixel camera with f/2.4 aperture
  • 1080p HD video recording 
  • Siri (intelligent voice command system) 
  • Supports HSDPA 14.4 Mbps 
  • New antenna design 
  • Bluetooth 4.0 
  • Full article documenting these feature details

But, what if the iPhone 4S and its updated specs aren't your cup of tea? And what if perhaps you've had your fare share of fun with the Apple ecosystem and would like to dabble in another platform? Fortunately, there are alternatives in the market that offer similar features to the new iPhone 4S. Most of these happen to be on the Google Android bandwagon. If you don't mind jumping onto the Android platform, we have prepared a list of the top five recommendations from the Droid Army.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Reasons to Get

The Samsung Galaxy S II is no doubt one of the most powerful Android smartphones in the market. It sports a 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos chipset and 1GB of RAM, and judging from the extremely responsive interface and quick loading apps, the Galaxy S II is amazingly quick on the feet.

Another advantage seen on the Samsung Galaxy S II is its brilliant Super AMOLED Plus display. Though the 4.27-inch has a lower pixel per inch density than the iPhone 4S and its 640 x 960 pixel resolution, its color reproduction, contrast and viewing angle are a step-up above Apple's Retina Display. In addition, our battery test is a testament of the AMOLED screen's high level of power efficiency with the Samsung Galaxy S II edging out the competition with more than 8 hours of battery life. 

The Samsung Galaxy S II is also equipped with an 8-megapixel autofocus camera, which ranks among the best in overall photographic performances on mobile phones today. Colors are well-contrasted and photos exhibit high levels of details and clarity and low level of noise. The camera is also capable of HD video recording at 1080p. 

Running on the Galaxy S II is the Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS that comes with Samsung's own patented TouchWiz 4.0 UI. You have more widgets to toggle with. Some of which are classier, polished and resizable. Similar to iOS 5 and its photo-editing feature, Samsung also throws in some useful productivity apps such as Photo Editor and Video Maker.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is a stunning feat of engineering, with all these high-end features packed in an ultra slim (8.49mm) and extremely lightweight (116g) package.

Here's our review of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Pricing and Availability

Locally, the Samsung Galaxy S II is currently priced at S$998 or at a subsidized rate according to the price plan you take up through SingTel, StarHub and M1. You also can check out the latest retail prices here.

HTC Sensation XE 

Reasons to Get

If speed is your utmost priority, you will be glad to know that the HTC Sensation XE has the highest clock speed among smartphones today with its Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core 1.5GHz processor. The raw horsepower is more than sufficient for running apps, multitasking and satisfying the needs of heavy multimedia capabilities. 

The HTC Sensation XE is the first smartphone collaboration between HTC and Beats by Dr. Dre. It comes bundled with the HTC urBeats in-ear earphones by Dr. Dre and a special Beats Audio sound profile, which will appeal to music junkies, especially the bass heads.

Armed with a massive 4.3-inch S-LCD display of qHD resolution (540 x 960 pixels), the HTC Sensation XE provides plenty of room for viewing multimedia content. Colors are brilliantly reproduced with crisp details, which provides an excellent web browsing experience.

Similar to the Samsung Galaxy S II, the HTC Sensation XE comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS. HTC also pre-loads its Sense 3.0 UI, which introduces a new lock screen that is both customizable and interactive. You can customize four app shortcuts on the lock screen and access them by pulling them into the ring.

Here's our review of the HTC Sensation XE.

Pricing and Availability

The HTC Sensation XE is currently priced at S$868 and will be available by end Q4 2011.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S 

Reasons to Get

The Sony Ericsson Xperia smartphones are known for their powerful multimedia features and appealing designs. Its udpated Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is no different too. As the name suggests, the Arc S is designed with a unique curved profile that makes it stand out from the rest of its counterparts. It also maintains a thin chassis (8.7mm), which is slightly thicker than a pencil and makes it more comfortable to carry around. 

One of the key features of the Sony Ericsson Arc S is its generous 4.2-inch Reality Display with Mobile Bravia Engine. The Arc S holds its own against the likes of Samsung's Super AMOLED screen and iPhone 4's Retina Display, giving you a rich and bright color display with good viewing angles under bright daylight. The 480 x 854-pixel display is also pretty detailed and provides an excellent multimedia viewing experience.

The Arc S shines in the camera performance with its impressive 8.1-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 aperture, which is similar to the camera module on the iPhone 4S. The Arc S camera is not only snappy, it also produces sharp photos with vivid blacks and colors. The camera is also capable of 3D Sweep Panorama and smile detection.

Running the show on the Arc S is a single-core 1.4 GHz processor which gives you a reasonably fast and snappy user interface. Apps open quickly and switching between apps is effortless. The Arc S ships with Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS and Sony's Timescape UI. Timescape UI enables you to have a bird eye's view of all communications on the Arc S from social network feeds to email and text messages. 

Here's our review of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S.

Pricing and Availability

The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S is currently priced at S$788 and is available at all telcos and authorized retailers. For the latest retail prices, click here.

Motorola Razr

Reasons to Get

Coming to Singapore on 11 November, the Motorola Razr claims the title as the thinnest smartphone at 7.1mm at its thinnest point, and possibly the toughest phone in the world. Motorola has the Razr covered against wear and tear. Its huge 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass while the back of the Razr is fitted with KEVLAR fibre. The entire chassis is protected from everyday spills by a water repellant nanocoating. 

The Motorola Razr is no slouch when it comes to the performance and multimedia aspects. Powering the Motorola Razr is a speedy dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. As a top-of-the-line Android smartphone, the Razr ships with Android 2.3.5, the latest Gingerbread version. It has a 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera that is capable of 1080p video recording. 

Mainstream users will find the 16GB internal storage sufficient. For power users, they have the option to expand the storage capacity via microSD. 

Pricing and Availability

The Motorola Razr will be available in Singapore from 11 November onwards. Pricing is still not known at this moment. 


Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Reasons to Get

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the third Nexus phone from Google. More importantly, it will be the first smartphone to run the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which sees some major overhaul in its interface and features. 

As Google's flagship model, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is well-armed with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. It retains the contour display of the Nexus S that fits perfectly and more comfortably to your face during phone calls. Samsung managed to trim down the Galaxy Nexus to an 8.49mm profile, making it extremely pocket friendly.

The main feature of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is its generous 4.65-inch (1280 x 720) HD Super AMOLED display which is in a class of its own. It promises superior clarity and market-leading screen resolution. The screen also boasts a response time of 0.01ms, which makes the Galaxy Nexus an excellent device for your multimedia needs. 

On board the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a redesigned camera that offers sweep panorama mode, 1080p video recording, zero-shutter lag and fancy effects such as silly faces and background replacement. 

Here's our article on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Pricing and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be available in the U.S, Europe and Asia from early November onwards. Pricing is unknown at the moment. 

To simplify our recommendations, here's a side-by-side comparison of the main highlights of the iPhone 4S and its alternatives. Hold on tight, because the competition for the best smartphone has just intensified to another level with all these new phones.

  Apple iPhone 4S Samsung
Galaxy S II
Sensation XE
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Motorola Razr Samsung Galaxy Nexus 
Processor Apple A5 Cortex Dual-Core 800MHz Cortex A9 Dual-Core Exynos  Processor 1.2 GHz  Qualcomm
Snapdragon Dual-Core 1.5 GHz
Qualcomm Snapdragon Single-Core 1.4 GHz Cortex A9 Dual-Core 1.2 GHz  Cortex A9 Dual-Core 1.2 GHz  
Operating System Apple iOS 5 Google
Android 2.3
Android 2.3
Android 2.3
Android 2.3
Android 4.0
Storage Capacity 16GB / 32GB / 64GB 8GB / 16GB / microSD 
expandable to 32GB
4GB / microSD expandable to 32GB 1GB / microSD 
expandable up to 32GB
16GB / microSD 
expandable up to 32GB
16GB / 32GB
Display Size + Resolution 3.5-inch IPS capacitive  / 960 x 640 pixels 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus capacitive / 800 x 480 pixels 4.3-inch S-LCD capacitive / 540 x 960 pixels 4.2-inch LED-backlit LCD capacitive / 480 x 854 pixels 4.3-inch Super AMOLED capacitive / 540 x 960 pixels 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED capacitive / 720 x 1280 pixels
Camera 8-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash / 1080p video recording 8-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash / 1080p video recording 8-megapixel /
autofocus /
LED flash / 1080p video recording
8.1-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash / Exmor for mobile / 720p video recording 8-megapixel / autofocus / LED flash / 1080p video recording 5-megapixel / autofocus / dual-LED flash / 1080p video recording 
Talk time / Standby time Up to 8 hours / Up to 200 hours Up to 8 hours 40 minutes / Up to 610 hours Up to 6 hours 30 minutes / Up to 360 hours Up to 7 hours 35 minutes / Up to 460 hours TBC TBC