So you’re about to upgrade your cellphone? You obviously want the best and newest, but how do you choose from a line-up that showcases such feature-packed superstars such as Apple’s iPhone 5, Blackberry’s Z10, Samsung’s much-hyped Galaxy S4 and Sony’s ruggedly beautiful Xperia Z? We help you commit…
Sony Xperia Z
We like: The needle-sharp 5-inch, 1 920 x1 080-pixel TFT display (at 443 ppi, it actually outperforms the iPhone’s Retina display); attractive styling; excellent performance; Stamina mode for extended battery life; game-changing resistance to
hard knocks (and drops in the loo); seriously good cameras. Ah, the cameras: aside from the amazing pixel count, we love such features as Superior Auto, which switches automatically between modes, and Sweep Panorama, which allows you to capture broad sweeps of landscape in a single pass. Oh, and you can take pictures in the shower. Frankly, the ruggedness factor alone is enough to convert us. This is arguably the best Android phone on the market.
Yes, but: The waterproof connectors can be a little fiddly; some people (not us, we should add) might find the phone too big for comfort. Anyone remember when small was beautiful?
Processor: 1,5 GHz quad-core
Cameras: 13,1 MP, 1080p HD video at the back, 2,2 MP in front
Our rating (1-10): 9
Samsung Galaxy S4
We like: The 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED 1 920 x1 080-pixel display; S Voice Drive (voice control while driving); the Dual Camera, which allows you to take simultaneous photos and videos using both the rear and front cameras, and then blend the pictures together. Then there’s Group Play (enjoy music, photos and compete with nearby friends sans Wi-Fi or cellular signal), Smart Pause (control the screen with your eyes), Air View (hover with your fingers to preview the content of an e-mail, Air Gesture (switch a music track, scroll up and down or accept a call with a wave of your hand). A big plus: Samsung is giving all smart device users 1 GB of free Wi-Fi access per month for 12 months at over 1 200 AlwaysOn hotspots.
Yes, but: Is this really an all-new phone or merely an upgrade? (Our response: Does it matter? It remains an amazing piece of tech.)
Processor: 1,9 GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 600 or proprietary 1,6 GHz 8-core Exynos
Cameras: 13 MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 2 MP (front)
Our rating (1-10): 8 (this could go up when we get our hands on one).
Apple iPhone 5
We like: Undoubtedly the best iPhone so far, still one of the most attractive handsets on the market, and easily deserving of its Top 4 status. The 4-inch IPS LCD display (1 136 x 640 pixels) is excellent, and remains thumb-friendly. There’s a smarter version of Siri, and we like the fact that it’s lighter, and easy to carry around in your pocket. It’s also fast: when you tap an icon, it opens instantly. Despite early misgivings, battery life is pretty good. And here’s something significant (it’s a cellphone, after all): the call quality is very good, even in less than ideal conditions; apparently Apple have worked on the sound processing algorithms.
Yes, but: It doesn’t support NFC, or nearfield communications. Not good, because although NFC-enabled devices are currently like hen’s teeth, this will change. And the front-facing camera really needs an upgrade. Finally (gulp!), is iOS6 as good as it should be?
Processor: Proprietary (that is, closed) iOS6
Cameras: 8 MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 1,2 MP (front)
Our rating (1-10): 8
We like: Its design: although a little chunky, this is by far the best-looking BlackBerry. The Hub is very cool: it gathers notifications from all your accounts (Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, etc) and shows e-mails and updates with essential alerts (your beloved’s birthday, for example); BlackBerry Balance, which separates your business and personal profiles; and NFC, which allows you to wirelessly share contacts, music and so on with other NFC-enabled devices (which, sadly, remain rare).
Yes, but: A lot rests on this phone, and on the new BB10 operating system; some people believe it may be too late for BlackBerry to catch up with its formidably specced rivals, not to mention the wealth of cool apps from iOS and Android. The lack of a Home button is annoying; they really should fix this. And how about a QWERTY keyboard? Our guess is that South Africa’s legions of BlackBerry fans will love it.
Processor: 1,5 GHz, dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus.
Cameras: 8 MP, 1080p HD video (rear); 2 MP (front).
Our rating (1-10): 7