Motorola Droid Bionic vs. Samsung Galaxy S II – Verizon Big Screen Uberphone Stand Off!

June 16, 2011
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Introduction & Performance

We’ve already written numerous articles about the highly anticipated, “new-and-improved” Motorola Droid Bionic that is soon heading to Verizon. Regular readers may recall the Bionic was postponed for ‘enhancements’ and, most recently, gave you a sneak peak at its upcoming specs. Of course, many of you smartphone savvy types are likely asking yourselves two questions: when is it coming, and will it be enough to for you to refocus your techno-lust away from what is looking to be the best smartphone ever made – the Samsung Galaxy S II? Well, I’ve been hard at work putting together a comparison of these two excellent superphones – the Motorola Droid Bionic and the Samsung Galaxy S II. Additionally, we’ve finally uncovered some legitimate leaks that reveal a potential release date for the Motorola Droid Bionic – early July! Looks like things are going to heat up soon, folks. So sit back, relax, and grab some snacks – this is going to be a long one.

4.3 Inches of 4G goodness!

Earlier on, there were questions about whether the Droid Bionic would be released with a Tegra 2 dual-core processor, clocked at 1Ghz to 1.2Ghz, or an OMAP processor from Texas Instruments. The leaks we have uncovered reveal a PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, which matches TI’s OMAP 4330 and 4440 dual-core processors, the latter of course being faster and technically superior. Check out the benchmarks below of the Droid Bionic. You will find it hit an average of around 35.9 frames per second, which is decent, but pales in comparison to the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S II, which hit an average of 59.52 frames per second. To be fair, the SGS II has a lower resolution, and as such, has to work less hard to output. Either way, TI’s OMAP SoC”s are considered powerful, and are great for data processing. However, if you’re a 3D game fanatic, then you’ll likely get more mileage out of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

If you really want to get impressed, look at what some people have been able to clock their SGS II's to. 1.7Ghz? Yes please.

With 4G LTE connectivity, a large, high resolution 4.3 inch qHD SLCD display, a powerful dual core SoC, 1080p HD video capture via an 8MP camera, as well as the latest version of Android – 2.3.4 Gingerbread, the Droid Bionic is sure to be a compelling device. The Samsung Galaxy S II / S2 has its own merits, and is indeed equally, if not moreso compelling. So far, the benchmarks have demonstrated that it is currently the most powerful smartphone in the world. Additionally, it features 16GB/32GB of on-board memory, and has a display that is likely to make your eyeballs unable to turn away, with amazing viewing angles. With an 8MP camera, a 2MP front facer’, its incredible Super AMOLED Plus 4.3 inch display, and excellent battery life, we have to say we just love the SGS II for so many reasons. It’s going to be a difficult call for consumers this year, but we have a feeling that Samsung has created something here that is likely to sell past 10 million units in the U.S. alone – without so much as lifting a finger.

Displays Compared

Motorola Droid Bionic's 4.3 Inch Super LCD with qHD resolution vs the Samsung Galaxy S II's incredibly vibrant Super AMOLED Plus Display at a lower 800x480 resolution

Motorola Droid Bionic’s 4.3 Inch qHD  display at 960 x 540 resolution

The Droid Bionic caught quite a few people off guard at this year’s CES. Firstly, it had a massive 4.3 inch screen, at a very respectable 960×540 qHD resolution – the largest and highest resolution of any Android phone at that time. Of course, the qHD space has become a bit more competitive recently, with newcomers like the HTC Sensation and HTC EVO 3D coming to the qHD party. Still, these displays are basically higher resolution LCD panels, and do a marvelous job of displaying text, and arguably, don’t have the same issues with regards to aliasing in the browser, so things like text and high resolution images will always look great and display in spectacular fashion. The high resolution is the real advantage here for the upcoming Droid Bionic, and as we know, is getting really close to the ‘Retina’ display territory of the iPhone 4.

This is the design and look of the old Motorola Droid Bionic revealed at CES 2011

The likely drawback to these qHD LCDs are that they still rely on LCD technology, but with an increased resolution. The black levels, while good in most situations, have a difficult time coming through when the backlight on the LCD is pumped up to compensate for bright environments, like being outside, or in a brightly lit room. This is when people typically start to notice that blacks start to take on a blue-ish hue. Viewing angles on standard LCD;s vary from pretty good  to noticeably bad. Still, looking at the Motorola Atrix, we have to say we are impressed with the viewing angles, and it’s likely that Motorola sourced the same display manufacturer for the newly revamped 4.3 inch screen of the Motorola Droid Bionic. Motorola has developed a good reputation for choosing great panels that offer excellent off ff-axis viewing, so there’s less of a concern here.

Ultimately, the display is one of the most important components that goes into any mobile device, and we have no doubt that the display of the soon to come Motorola Droid Bionic will be awesome. At the same time, I have yet to discover a person that isn’t amazed by a SUPER AMOLED Plus display. More on that below.

Samsung Galaxy S II’s 4.3 Inch Super AMOLED Plus at 800×480 resolution

Super AMOLED Plus is the latest iteration of AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) and really, brings all the best things about its predecessor, and tackles its most significant problem. The new display we’ve already witnessed on the Samsung Galaxy S II is nothing short of absolutely stunning; Jaw dropping, in fact. Soon, come the beginning of July, you’ll get a chance to see for yourself.

Super AMOLED Plus panels offer best-in-industry black levels, contrast, vibrant colors, and some amazingly sharp images thanks to the new sub pixel elements. Sunlight readability, while excellent, still isn’t quite where we’d like it to be, but represents a marked improvement. Additionally, Super AMOLED Plus displays are capable of putting out a much fuller color gamut, which is sure to delight anyone with that can see. The newer manufacturing processes employed by Samsung also make the screen 14% thinner, enabling the Samsung Galaxy S II to be one of the thinnest phones in the world. Slimmer devices are always good, and potentially result in bigger batteries. Everyone – including myself– that has seen it for themselves can’t stop talking about how impressed they are with the latest Super AMOLED Plus from Samsung.

Display Conclusion

No matter what phone you have your heart set on in the next few months, it will probably have a great display. It’s exciting to see Motorola taking the next step and bumping up the resolution for Android phones. We really like AMOLED technology, and Samsung’s improvements in their Super AMOLED Plus panels  are intriguing as well. If you like Motorola’s build quality, don’t feel left out with SLCD. These are certainly capable screens, and are a proven technology now. What kind of screen has you most interested?

Unlocked bootloader, anyone?

We’ve got to say that Motorola’s UI is definitely improving in terms of looks. That being said, it’s difficult to say if people will be willing to make the mistake of buying a phone with a locked bootloader again. Additionally, it matters not what we say, because the truth of the matter is quite simple: most people don’t care, and don’t know about such things. ‘Unlockability’ is not the first thing on the mind of the average consumer, and the carriers know this. I already wrote extensively about why rooting scares Google, and now, we have Virgin Mobile going on the public record, saying that people who use their (borrowed) network aren’t allowed to root the devices they own.

So where does this bring us to today, with regard to the upcoming Motorola Droid Bionic and the Samsung Galaxy S II? Well, we know first off that Motorola has promised unlocked bootloaders in the future, and has given us a time frame of “late 2011”. That being said, the latest phone debuted from the big M, the Motorola Photon, comes locked down like Fort Knox. On the other hand, we know that Samsung sent a whole batch of Galaxy S II’s to the Cyanogenmod team so they could start developing ROMs immediately, which represents a bold move for a company as public as Samsung, and bodes well for all us, most certainly.

Who would have thought?

Ultimately, it’s all about dollars and cents folks. In all likelihood, the Motorola Droid Bionic will feature a locked bootloader, and it will be very interesting to see what Samsung does with their device. If their actions are any indicator, then the Samsung Galaxy S II will come unlocked. Unfortunately it’s too early to say. Remember, the carriers are the biggest purchasers of phones in the world, and as such, get to dictate the terms. Motorola Mobility, as it stands, is not in a position to negotiate financially, if you’ve paid attention to their financials, and as such, will likely acquiesce to the desires of their biggest customers. Samsung, on the other hand is in a much stronger position, and holds the crown of ‘most popular Android smartphone of 2010 – the original Samsung Galaxy S. It knows that it has made an amazing piece of technology, and it knows that people want it bad. Even from reading the comments on our site and the comments on other prominent technology sites, it seems that people are even willing to change carriers to get their hands on the Samsung Galaxy S II, so it makes for an interesting scenario, and hopefully one that will pan out with us – the users and consumers – being the beneficiaries.

Camera Comparison

 

Sample shot taken by the Samsung Galaxy S II

The Samsung Galaxy S II has an excellent camera, and the Motorola Droid Bionic does too. So close are they in fact that we think they could potentially be sourced from the same component manufacturer. Considering that both are 1080p capable, and have LED flashes, there’s no reason to recommend one over the other. Still, time will tell which one captures the shots that really matter – night time shots.

This was taken by the Motorola Droid X2, but according to our sources, has the same image sensor as the upcoming Motorola Droid Bionic

Breakdown: What Matters

  • Both superphones will feature 8MP cameras, capable of 1080P video capture
  • Both superphones have a dual core 1Ghz+ SoC
  • Both superphones have 1GB of RAM (but, unfortunately, the Bionic might come with 512MB, but unlikely)
  • Both have Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but the Droid Bionic is alleged to have the latest, most cutting edge revision – Android 2.3.4
  • Both have excellent batteries, with the Bionic’s being about 10% larger, but this difference is likely to be offset by the fact that the display on the Galaxy S II consumes less power

The Motorola Droid Bionic will have the same Webtop functionality of the Motorola Atrix

Unique Differentiators

  • The Samsung Galaxy S II’s display, although smaller and of a lower resolution, will likely take the display performance crown. Trust us.
  • The Motorola Droid Bionic is almost guaranteed to be a 4G LTE device, while it’s still up in the air as to whether the Samsung Galaxy S II will be 4G capable
  • The Droid Bionic will work with Atrix’s line of Webtop appliances like the laptop dock, and the other goodies to turn it into a truly revolutionary, mobile device (computer?)
  • Samsung Galaxy S II is likely to come unlocked, and is one of the thinnest, if not the thinnest smartphones on the market at 8.49 mm thin
  • The Motorola Droid Bionic will likely not have MHL (new industry standard for HDMI that charges the device when plugged into next-gen displays), whereas the SGS II does

Motorola Droid Bionic Specs

  • 4.3″ monster screen at qHD 960×540 resolution
  • 8MP camera with LED Flash
  • 4G LTE Connectivity
  • 1Ghz-1.2Ghz TI OMAP 4430/4440 SoC with PowerVR SGX 540 GPU (unconfirmed)
  • full 1080P HD video camera
  • an external dock and laptop system like the Atrix
  • most likely a 1.2Ghz TI OMAP 4430 SoC
  • 1GB of RAM
  • DLNA, Bluetooth, A-GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Wi-Fi b/g/n, HDMI-out
  • 16GB Internal memory plus MicroSD Memory card expandability
  • 1750mAh Battery

Galaxy S II Specs

  • 4.3 Inch Super AMOLED Plus display at 800×480
  • 8MP Camera with LED Flash
  • full 1080P HD video camera
  • 1.2Ghz Exynos Soc with Mali 400MP GPU
  • Connectivity options still unknown
  • DLNA Wireless streaming
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB Internal memory plus MicroSD Memory card expandability
  • A-GPS, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Wi-Fi b/g/n (5 GHz Band, instead of the usual 2.4 GHz), Bluetooth 3.0+HS and a NFC chip.
  • 1650mAh Battery

Looks pretty close right? Poor consumers, blessed with such incredible technology.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt about it – the Bionic has to be one of the most highly anticipated Verizon phones to date. Unfortunately, we can almost guarantee that will have a locked bootloader, Moto-(whatever-they-want-to-call-it), and an inferior, PenTile Matrix based, Super LCD display, albeit with a higher resolution. Still, it’s almost a sure thing it will receive LTE connectivity, and will offer blazing fast mobile data speeds as such. On the other hand, the Galaxy S II will feature a slightly smaller, but better, more vibrant Super AMOLED Plus display. Additionally, it will most likely come with an unlocked bootloader, but strangely, may not come with a 4G LTE radio. Considering that Verizon hasn’t ironed out all the kinks in their 4G LTE network quite yet, perhaps it could be a blessing in disguise.

Either way, you’re the boss of you, and so at this stage, it’s a toss up between these two uber-phones. Both are amazing devices – make no mistake. At this stage, we’re just nit-picking, but that’s something we like to think we do well. Is the lack of 4G LTE a deal-breaker for you? Or, are the culmination of an unlocked bootloader, an amazing display, and an incredibly powerful processor too much to pass up? Let us know guys! As I always say, you would be surprised at how much influence your comments can actually have. I know for a fact that all the major manufacturers do a ton of market research before, during, and after phones are released to better plan their future devices. So let them and us know! What’s it going to be? The Samsung Galaxy S II or the newly revamped Motorola Droid Bionic? Thanks for checking out Android Authority!

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Via: NenaMark (Benchmarks) & Droid-Life

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