In 2008, Android started out with a very small bang with the G1, with hardware specs that couldn’t really stand up to the iPhone that year. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my G1, but when I’d flip out that screen not many people lost their breath. Things didn’t change too much when the 2nd Android offering reached the market either. When the Mytouch 3G was released, it did make more of a difference and sales were quite strong. Still, the screen size was too small for any real competition to take place and the iPhone continued to outsell our favorite little green robot. However, things were set to change. Once the Motorola Droid was released, the public began to see that Android was a viable option that really could beat the iPhone in specs. The Droid handset easily became the best selling Android device to date. At that time, the 3.7″ screen was the first of that size in the US Smartphone market. This screen size really set the bar for all future flagship Android handsets. It wasn’t until June 2010 that any Android phone really was able to beat the highly sought after iPhone to market with a hardware spec KO punch.
Where Apple had previously been the first to market with most of the new technologies available, the Sprint Evo 4G beat the iPhone to market by a full month with its front facing 1.3MP video camera, while the iPhone featured a 0.3MP. The Evo also featured 4G access since June which allowed for video chat over cellular radio, where the iPhone4 has a mandatory WIFI only video chat. The Evo was also the first Android phone to market with the 4.3″ screen, which almost made it a bridge device between the average Smartphone and Tablet. Having had an Evo for months now, I have no interest in using my 10.1″ Archos 101 Internet Tablet. The 4.3″ screen is the perfect size, and is a good example that the Evos screen isnt too big for everyday use. Also the Evo beats the iPhone 4 in its still camera which is a 8.0MP vs the iPhone 4’s 5.0MP shooter. This spec list became the new benchmark for what a Smartphone could be, and since then, there have been numerous other offerings that are right on the heels of the Evo – but not quite beating it.
Don’t jump all over me saying the iPhone4 has a “Retina Display”, or its all Aluminum and Glass body, or Facetimes reliability. I understand the iPhone4 has its benefits but it was easily out spec’d by the Evo overall, which still holds the King of best Hardware throne until the new LTE offerings from Verizon hit the market.
So where are we headed?
All while this barrage of constant evolution, innovation, and Android competition has been occurring, Apple has sat there quietly working on its iPhone 5 and the CDMA version of its iPhone 4. With it being a single hardware manufacturer with a rigid one phone per year release schedule, it hasn’t been able to offer up a phone that would best the multitude of Android manufacturers and counter the Evos’ move. In the recent weeks we’ve seen a few hardware spec leaks coming from the Apple camp. It looks like Androids push past the 4.0″ barrier has finally put too much pressure on the company from Cupertino. If rumors and leaks are right, Apple looks like they finally have stepped up to a 4.0″ screen. I assume the pressure was just too high that they couldn’t mandate a 3.5″ screen any longer. Could you imagine the iPhone 5 sitting there in the Verizon store next to the HTC Thunderbolt, Droid Bionic, LG Revolution, Samsung Inspiration, Droid X2, and Sony Ericsson Xperia Play all with 4.0″+ screens? If the iPhone 5 also had a 3.5″ display it would be totally out classed by SIX Android phones sitting next to it, even if it had a “Retina Display”.
Most recently, news has come out that the the iPhone 5 is likely not to have a 4G radio in it. I almost laughed out loud when I heard it, thinking it would be another year of the iPhone being out spec’d. However, now comes news that Apple is scrambling to get a 4G radio into its golden child. I’ll be impressed if they can outfit this years offering with a 4G LTE radio. Changing the specs around aren’t a quick and easy task. I know your average iPhone owner will tell you its not about hardware specs, its about the simplistic UI, Apple’s groomed ecosystem, hardware build quality, and overall ease of use. But to someone like me who loves having the best of the best hardware, Android really is the place to be.
What do you guys think? Will Apple finally keep up in the hardware specification race? If they scaled the screen size up, the 640×960 resolution of the “Retina Display” would no longer be smaller than what the human eye can see at 12″. So would they need to raise the resolution again to have another “Retina Display” and risk further complicating their groomed simplistic ecosystem? Does this mean that Apple will go to a bi-yearly release schedule? And will it be enough for them to take back the lead in the US Smartphone OS Marketshare competition? Maybe just another reason for Apple to be scared of Android?