Mobile phone screens are getting bigger. Once we were happy with 2-inch screens, before touchscreens came along and changed everything. The Samsung Galaxy S and HTC HD7 both break the 4-inch barrier, but screen size aside, what else separates them?
Screens Samsung Galaxy S — 4-inch Super AMOLED, WVGA HTC HD7 — 4.3-inch S-LCD, WVGA The main attraction of these bads boys is their screens — if you can’t hack a bigger-sized phone, you should probably stay away from both of these beauties. The HD7 offers an extra 0.3 inches of screen space over its Sammy rival, but this victory goes to the older Samsung Galaxy S.
The reason is the type of screen used. The Samsung Galaxy S uses a Super AMOLED display, which uses self-lighting pixels instead of a traditional backlight. HTC used to be a big fan of AMOLED tech, but has recently cut using the display type altogether in favour of S-LCDs. These more traditional backlit screens are still fab, but can’t compete with the supereme deep black levels of an AMOLED display. By contrast, S-LCD screens will look slightly grey, even in pitch black bits.
CPU Samsung Galaxy S — 1GHz Hummingbird CPU HTC HD7 — 1GHz Snapdragon CPU One 1GHz processor must be around the same speed as another, right? Not true, as we found out this year. The two most common top-end processors seen in smartphones this year have been the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon and the 1GHz Samsung-produced Hummingbird. All of HTC’s top phones use the Snapdragon, while the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S use the Hummingbird.
Tests have proved that the Hummingbird chip is significantly more efficient than the Snapdragon. More efficiency at the same clock speed means more power. And who doesn’t like power, inevitable corruption aside?
OS Samsung Galaxy S — Android 2.1 (Android 2.2 incoming) HTC HD7 — Windows Phone 7 The HTC HD7 is among the first wave of Windows Phone 7 handsets. Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s brand new smartphone operating system, and although it follows-on from the creaky Windows Mobile 6.5 platform, this is a completely different proposition. It might just be the slickest and quickest smartphone OS out there. It’s a closed platform like iPhone iOS, but if you don’t mind being constrained within Windows Phone 7’s walls, there’s plenty of lush decoration to gawp over.
The Samsung Galaxy S uses trusty old Android 2.1, and unfortunately we’re still waiting for the promised Android 2.2 update, which — as Android updates often are — has been subjected to a handful of delays. Samsung says it’ll hit the Samsung Galaxy S in November, but we’ve been hurt in the past before, so we’re preparing for another possible delay too. Andrid 2.1 isn’t ageing too badly, but lacks the speed boost, Flash 10.1 support and Wi-Fi hotspot creation feature of Android 2.2.
Storage Samsung Galaxy S — 8GB, microSD HTC HD7 — 16GBHighlighting the core difference between Android phones and Windows Phone 7 handsets, the Samsung Galaxy S’s memory is expandable, where the HTC HD7’s isn’t. No microSD slot means you’ll always have to make do with the HTC HD7’s 16GB of internal memory. But do you need more than 16GB?
The Samsung Galaxy S can cope with microSD cards up to 32GB in size. These don’t come cheap, but mean you can pump your Samsung Galaxy S up into a 40GB monster. Remember that you still only have the 2GB ROM memory to install apps on — at least until the Android 2.2 update enables SD card app installations.
Cameras Samsung Galaxy S — 5MP, autofocus, no flash HTC HD7 — 5MP, autofocus, dual-LEDMegapixels alone never tell the full story, but while the Samsung Galaxy S offers very good optical quality from its humble 5-megapixel sensor, its lack of flash is disappointing, making it all-but useless during night time. HTC isn’t famed for the ultra-high quality of its camera sensors, but at least the dual-LED flash means you’ll be able to snap some decent pics when it’s not the height of summer.
Video playback Samsung Galaxy S — MP4/DivX/WMV/H.264/H.263, Wi-Fi streaming via AllShare HTC HD7 — MP4/WMV/H.264/H.263 The Samsung Galaxy S knows how to make full use of its super 4-inch screen, with video playback skills that put almost all smartphone rivals to shame. It’ll play virtually anything you throw at it, including 720p DivX and XviD files. They look great on the Galaxy S’s screen too.
The HTC HD7’s video skills are much more pedestrian, with no DivX support out of the box leaving you with the limp standards of H.264, WMV and H.263. Yawn. Hopefully, third-party video player software will be released on the Windows Marketplace before too long, but with a 4.3-inch screen in tow, it’s a pity it won’t be able to handle your existing video collection.