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Motorola Droid, powered by Google's Android 2.0 OS

A Droid phone in the wild  (Source: AP)

The iPhone has more apps than the Droid phone and is a bit thinner, but it lacks a physical keyboard, arguably an inferior screen, a worse camera, no support for Flash, and a lack of true multitasking, forcing app backgrounding. Apple is reportedly planning a price cut on a reduced memory iPhone 3GS (8 GB) to try to stay competitive.
Apple once again is challenged in the smartphone arena

While the Blackberry is currently the bestselling smartphone, thanks largely to a strong core of business users, sales numbers indicate the iPhone dominates the multimedia entertainment phone market.  Verizon's Droid phone, which launched on Friday, may change that as it looks to be solid competitor to the iPhone in many ways.

Droid ships with a 16 GB microSD card, but is expandable up to 32 GB, allowing it to match the highest-capacity iPhone 3GS (which does not have expandable memory).  The phone is ever-so-slightly thicker than the iPhone, at 13.7 mm (vs. 12 mm for the iPhone 3GS).  It also packs a slide-out physical keyboard, which some customers prefer.

Droid also has a better camera (5.0 megapixels vs. 3.0 megapixels on the iPhone), a dual LED flash (the iPhone has no camera flash), and a nicer screen.  The Droid's screen bests the iPhone's both in pixel density and size (3.7" and 265 ppi for Droid, 3.5" and 185 ppi for the iPhone).  It also bests the iPhone in battery capacity (1400 mAh v. 1219 mAh), though the actually operating battery life has not been extensively benchmarked versus the iPhone.  Like the iPhone, Droid features multi-touch technology, something Apple claims to hold a copyright on and reportedly strong-armed Google out of with the original Android operating system.  And like the Palm Pre, true multitasking is supported.

Other advantages include its support of Adobe Flash (allowing full-fledged internet browsing), a technology that Apple has rejected.  It also compares favorably with the iPhone on price, coming in at $200 after $100 mail-in rebate with a new contract, versus $199 (with plan) for a 16 GB iPhone 3GS, or $299 for a 32 GB iPhone 3GS.

Along with the launch of the new phone on Friday came official details on its tethering plan.  Like the Blackberry Storm 2 and several other Verizon handsets, Droid phones indeed have an option to serve as a mobile internet connection for your PC and laptop at home or on the go.

One of the long standing complaints about the iPhone is that AT&T still doesn't offer tethering services with it in the U.S.  While tethering may soon be in sight, as it is supported by the current version of OS X software on the iPhone, many wonder how much longer they will have to wait.  Some of these users are now eying Droid, as tethering is now officially available for it.

The phone's tethering costs are similar to Verizon's other 3G phone tethering offers, reportedly.  For any user with a qualifying handset, they pay a maximum of $50 per month for 5GB of data transfer.  Most users have access to a $30 per month rate, if they have the Unlimited Wireless Email, Email and Web for Smartphone Feature or Plan, Nationwide Premium Plan and others -- which nearly all Verizon's smart phone customers opt for. 

Customers with Verizon's $79.99 per month PDA/Smartphone Nationwide Email plan get a nice perk -- the ability to pick up tethering for only $15 per month.  Customers jumping on tethering should be careful, though, overages (after the first 5120 MB) run at 5 cents per MB, or $51.20 per GB.

The tethering option at $30 per month, while not overly cheap (it doubles Droid's $30 data fee), does stack up nicely compared to Verizon's wireless broadband cards, which also use the telecom's 3G network.  These cards, available in USB and PC Card forms (typically free or at minimal cost after rebate) are offered with plans of 250MB of data for $40 a month (10 cents per MB overages) or 5 GB for $60 per month (5 cents per MB overages).  The only other apparent downside of choosing tethering on Droid or Verizon's other phones is that it may prove a significant drain your phone battery when in use.

While there are many upsides to Verizon customers when it comes to the Droid phone, one downside is its app marketplace.  There reportedly are a bit over 10,000 apps in the Droid marketplace, while Apple's marketplace just surpassed 100,000.  As mentioned, the iPhone also manages a close win in thickness and additionally the iPhone 3GS processor, an 800 MHz Arm processor underclocked to 600 MHz, slightly bests Droid's processor, which is a 550 MHz Arm processor.  However, with Droid trumping the iPhone 3GS in many other areas, Apple is reportedly a bit spooked.  According to Boy Genius Report, the Cupertino giant is considering a $99 8 GB iPhone 3GS in time for the holiday season.

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The iPhone will win.
By reader1 on 11/9/2009 9:13:29 AM , Rating: -1
The iPhone will have far more developer support because developers will make more money on it than on the Android platform. Android developers will have to compete with free Flash products and other free web content. That forces Android apps to be very cheap or free. Also, since iPhone apps will make more money, they'll be higher in quality. Piracy will also be common on Android devices, driving more developers away.

Apple needs to get rid of the web browser on the iPhone, and force all web content to be distributed through web apps. That will draw even more developer support because they won't have to compete with free content through the browser. Web browsers on smartphones are too cramped to be useful anyway.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Etsp on 11/9/2009 9:20:59 AM , Rating: 3
They already prevent competition with free apps a la the whole "no flash support" thing... I'd say that's enough.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By FITCamaro on 11/9/2009 9:26:47 AM , Rating: 4
Browsing on the Droid is extremely easy. It fits a page like Anandtech just fine and you can read it even without zooming in.

And its no wonder you love socialism. Your love of complete and utter control of an environment extends not only throughout the real world, but the technological one as well.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By corduroygt on 11/9/2009 10:50:13 AM , Rating: 2
I actually like the iphone because I jailbroke it and can tether with it without paying an unjustified extra fee, since data is data whether it's displayed on your phone or your laptop. I view telecom companies as more of a threat than apple, since there are always alternatives for its products, but this is not the case for telecom companies sometimes.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By mcnabney on 11/9/2009 12:08:36 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it makes a ton of sense.

The wireless companies charge $60 for internet access on a laptop, but provide a big discount, only $30, for smartphones. They do this because smartphones aren't going to use as much data as an aircard.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By corduroygt on 11/9/2009 3:33:16 PM , Rating: 2
what's the difference if both are capped?

RE: The iPhone will win.
By mcnabney on 11/9/2009 3:57:53 PM , Rating: 2
The cap is there to discourage Bittorrent and watching a bunch of movies online.
My old Smartphone, a WM6.1 device, usually had about 100MB of data usage each month. One time it was over 200MB. My aircard chews through 2GB every month - probably because Outlook is the biggest resource hog, ever. Two very different usage types, so two very different bills. I don't think one of the older smartphones could even hit 5GB in a month without some specialized app that just downloaded continously. Droid might be able to. I'll know when I get my next bill.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By corduroygt on 11/10/2009 10:27:04 AM , Rating: 2
So what? You're paying to be able to download data up to your cap. Doesn't matter if you're only using 200MB or 4.9GB with a 5GB cap. You can download 5GB each month if you choose to, since THAT'S IN YOUR CONTRACT. Your usage going up from 200MB to 2 GB just because you're tethering doesn't matter as long as it's below your cap.

What you're saying is if you have a 500 minute plan, and you usually only use 100 minutes a month, and suddenly you start using 450, the phone company can charge you extra. NO!

RE: The iPhone will win.
By FITCamaro on 11/9/2009 12:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
You can tether the Droid or any other Android phone for free to with an app. ;)

I haven't done it just read online about it. Really have no need to since the phone can do almost anything my laptop can, albeit maybe a little slower.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Motoman on 11/9/2009 12:55:59 PM , Rating: 2
Shurely you wouldn't suggest tethering to such a device without paying the carrier's extra fees?

You had probably better tell me the name of that app so I can investigate it and sternly shake my finger at it.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Eagle17 on 11/10/2009 2:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
you can tether the droid without having to hack it. as mentioned there is an app for that you also need to download the dun drivers from motorola

also if you do pay for tehtering you get an extra 5gb data so it is acually better than paying $60/mth for 5gb on an air card.

except you can't use your phone while it is tethered... (where is LTE?)

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Fenixgoon on 11/9/2009 9:27:18 AM , Rating: 3
have you considered the fact that safari just plain sucks?

RE: The iPhone will win.
By rudy on 11/9/2009 9:33:45 AM , Rating: 2
Some things like advanced fart apps are not worth paying for second developing a flash based game or feature that is compatible with all flash enabled smart phones will get you a wider audience then a app only for iPhones.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By reader1 on 11/9/09, Rating: -1
RE: The iPhone will win.
By mcnabney on 11/9/2009 10:19:02 AM , Rating: 2
You know it is an entirely unfair comparision to weigh ALL PCs against consoles. At least distinguish between an email/Office PC and gaming PCs. I would imagine that PC game sales per device are very good when you only count PCs with a real gaming video card inside.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By troysavary on 11/9/2009 10:27:10 AM , Rating: 2
You should probably qualify that to limit it to PC gaming, not overall sales of PC software. Windows sales alone make far more money than the entire console market.

As an aside, I am not even sure the console market really is bigger than the PC game market either. Sure, consoles win in retail sales. But the majority on PC game sales are online now. You can't just count the shooters and RTS games that dominate the console market. All those casual Java and Flash games from Oberon, Big Fish, Wildgames, etc are a huge market. Every HP home PC sold ships with Wildgames, and I believe Gateway does as well.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By weskurtz0081 on 11/9/2009 11:54:40 AM , Rating: 1
Why do you think console developers are making so much more money than PC developers?

Since I know you don't own the answer to that, I will answer it for you, it's because console software sales are MUCH higher than PC game software sales.

Just because there are a bunch of computers out there doesn't mean everyone with a PC plays games. However, the main focus of a game console is to play games, and every game console will at least have one game with it.

Nice thought but no where near accurate. It's funny how you are onto comparing everything to consoles now, to bad your comparison here holds not one ounce of validity.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Alexstarfire on 11/9/2009 7:55:33 PM , Rating: 1
Except for Blizzard, and I'm sure they probably make more off of WoW than many other game companies do off their entire lineup of games.

Ohh, and what games does Valve have for consoles? I know of Half-life, but I can't think of any others. I don't even see how Valve could do anything on consoles considering how dependent they are on the Steam platform.

I guess you just like to ignore some facts though.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By djc208 on 11/9/2009 9:37:12 AM , Rating: 1
That's typical Apple concepts: compeition will just reduce profits and exclusivity. That would be horrible for the who?

If the installed base is large enough (and the number of Android devices is growing quickly), then the scale will be too large to ignore, and the economies will work out anyway. You can charge half as much and still make more money if there are more than twice as many potential customers.

Why would you want to remove a feature that even the simplest of free cell phones has? Stripping the web browser would be the biggest mistake Apple could make, it would be like limiting an iPod to only playing music purchased through iTunes.

Apple doesn't own the web (if anything Google does), limiting people to app content only would be putting blinders on the phone, and giving it's compeition a huge leg up.

Apple users may be used to the company telling them what they can and can't look at but the rest of us like the freedom to choose.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By ExarKun333 on 11/9/2009 9:39:31 AM , Rating: 1
You must not have a lot of experience with Smartphones. The web browsing is actually very useful on the iPhone, and it would be rediculous to remove this feature.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By reader1 on 11/9/09, Rating: -1
RE: The iPhone will win.
By Alexstarfire on 11/9/2009 7:58:26 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, I can see how logical taking a step back can be the future. I guess we should all go back to walking because it's far easier than using a car.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By weskurtz0081 on 11/9/2009 9:52:38 AM , Rating: 1
Steve, is that you!?

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Bateluer on 11/9/2009 10:23:33 AM , Rating: 3
Guys, don't feed the troll. He's an idiot.

RE: The iPhone will win.
By FITCamaro on 11/9/2009 12:17:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm wondering.....

Do trolls go nom nom nom while they eat? :)

RE: The iPhone will win.
By Motoman on 11/9/2009 12:36:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think he's a bot of some kind, therefore he doesn't need to eat.

It's strange'd think that the point of such a bot would be to explore artificial intelligence. I don't get the reasoning behind this bot - which is clearly an exercise in artificial stupidity.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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