If you’re in the market for the latest super-smart phone you’ve more than likely come across the most recent offerings from Apple, HTC and Samsung. The highly acclaimed iPhone 4S, the best selling Samsung Galaxy S 2 and the musically inspired HTC Sensation XE are all ground-breaking in their own right. But which one should you buy?
Price – “Siri, which way to the bank?”
The iPhone 4S is the most expensive handset on offer by any of the major UK networks. Around 15%-20% more expensive than than similar contract deals on the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and HTC Sensation XE, you’d be either stupid or very wealthy not to at least consider the alternatives. When you compare iPhone 4S contracts, be sure to take in account the handset cost. With the 4S you can either stump up the cash up front (around £200 on a £30 per month, 2 year contract) or choose to spread it over the course of your contract by paying a higher monthly cost.
However, even if you go for the ‘cheaper’ 16GB version, you’ll still fork out more than £250 extra per compared to the Sensation XE or Galaxy S 2 on the same tariff. Galaxy S 2 and HTC Sensation XE contracts are very similarly priced – around £25 per month for contracts with 500 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB of data (oh, and you won’t need to pay for your handset either!). If a £250 saving sounds more attractive than asking Siri the directions to the nearest bank, the Galaxy S 2 and Sensation XE are certainly worth considering.
Cool? – “The Sensation of owning something special”
The Galaxy S 2 is more common than the clap amongst today’s youth and the 4S is flying off the shelves faster than (insert joke). The rules of cool mean that if everyone has it, it’s no longer cool. The Sensation XE on the other hand is quite rare compared to its ‘common as muck’ counterparts, but don’t think that’s because it’s inferior. The XE is one of the most powerful phones on the market today, let alone it’s Beats by Dre party piece. Go for the 4S and in a month no-one will care. Choose the Galaxy S 2 and you’ll blend in like (insert joke). The XE is the only mobile of the three that offers even a hint of cool (just make sure to keep those expensive Beats by Dre headphones safe to avoid passing your coolness off free of charge to stylish muggers!).
It’s not long before the Samsung Galaxy S 2 and HTC Sensation XE will start being shipped with the very latest version of the Android OS, dubbed’ Ice Cream Sandwich’. Android 4.0 brings some significant improvements and new features from ‘Gingerbread’ including an all new notification center, camera interface and endless all round tweaks that serve to make this latest incarnation of Google’s prized OS the best yet. Ice Cream Sandwich also features voice to text functionality similar to Siri, although it’s not quite as intuitive.
The updates this OS has brought mean the Galaxy S 2 and Sensation XE can certainly compete with the likes of the 4S and iOS5 (in fact a lot of the cloud based functionality seen on iOS5 was already present on Android ‘Gingerbread’ and peripheral services from HTC and Samsung such as cloud contacts and ‘find my phone’). However, for us, iOS5 still pips Android to the post and takes the cake (or ice cream in this case), but there’s not a lot in it.
Which is better, the iPhone 4S, Galaxy S 2 or HTC Sensation XE?
When it launched, the original iPhone 4 offered significant improvements over it’s predecessor, the 3GS but was soon challenged by cheaper and in some cases better performing phones from HTC and Samsung. With the 4S , Apple has once again created a phone that extends the capabilities of hardware and software beyond the current competition, but only just. Android 4.0 offers a far more polished experience that’s far closer to being on par with Apple’s iOS than it ever has been before. Once the Galaxy S 2 and Sensation XE are armed with Ice Cream Sandwich, only Siri, a slightly better camera and Apple’s brand appeal set it apart from these much cheaper alternatives.
Here’s our advice. If you want the best of what a mobile phone can do, regardless of price, then buy the iPhone 4S. If you want a phone that’s oh so nearly as good but don’t fancy breaking the bank to get it, go for the Galaxy S 2 or HTC Sensation XE. Whether you choose to buy the XE or the S2 should depend largely on how much you value those Beats by Dre headphones, because apart from that there’s very little between them.
You can compare conracts on any one of these phones here at The Phone Shop .co.uk.
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When I fist saw the solid casing 15" Macbook Pro half a decade ago, my heart beat faster. It cost a bit more, but it was so beautifully designed and worth the extra price.
When the HTC Sensation XE first appeared on the market last year I had not hesitation buying it few days after it became available in Europe. It was so much more attractive than the plastic Samsung competitor, and also liked it more than the absurdly expensive (60% more) Apple Iphone 4 which it in any case outperformed with its HD video camera, much faster chip, ect.
The Iphone 4S improved Apple's competitiveness, but given the very big price difference, it would have been foolish to wait for it. And now that the HTC Sensation XE has been upgraded to Android 4 it performs as well as the Iphone, is much more attractive and costs very much less.
It is not, as you would have it, that the Iphone would break the bank. I could easily afford it. But why be exploited by paying so much more when the HTC Sensation XE gives me more?
In reviews two complaints are raised against the HTC Sensation XE: its smaller internal memory -- which although I use a vast array of apps have never been a limiting factor, and its battery life, which was a factor with Gingerbread (but I knew I could usually recharge easily from my laptop if need be). But any thoughts of buying a spare battery for those long hiking trips have been shelved now that it runs Ice Cream Sandwich, which extended the HTCs battery life, and has assured that it as smooth as the Iphone OS.
If money is an issue and one does not want one's contemporaries to know it, by all means spend 60% on what everyone knows is a a very expensive and quite a solid phone? But if one has nothing to prove and is buying a phone for good value for money and for the pleasure it provides, go for a phone that turns one on.
I came to the conclusion that there isn't much between these phones. They are all very fast, capable devices. The cruncher could be aftermarket support. I can get loads of things for a iPhone such as docking stations that just aren't available for the Android phones. It is irritating!
Thanks for your input Martin!