This time last year, an Android 2.2 device with a 600MHz processor and 5-megapixel camera would have been a real achievement, and we’d have had no qualms about giving it a hearty recommendation. Unfortunately for Alcatel, times have changed somewhat in the past 12 months.
Cheap Android phones are not as rare a commodity as they once were, with the likes of the Orange San Francisco and Huawei Blaze coming in at less than £100. For only slightly more than that figure you can purchase an Orange Monte Carlo, which features a massive 4.3-inch screen, Android 2.3 and a 800MHz CPU.
Against this competition, the OT-990 struggles to shine. It’s a certainly a well-made device, and is sure to survive a few drops and bumps. Sadly, the touchscreen is a unpredictable and Android 2.2 just feels tired and worn out now. With 4.0 around the corner, releasing a Froyo handset just seems like poor judgement, regardless of the low price.
For the undemanding user, however, the OT-990 is going to represent a sound investment. That interchangeable battery cover and tough case design could make the phone ideal for accident-prone youngsters, too.’
There's a high chance you'll make up your mind about whether or not the HTC Titan is for you when you first lay eyes on its enormous frame.
That 4.7-inch screen is likely to sharply divide the mobile-buying public, and we can't see this beast of a blower appealing to purchasers keen on reducing the clutter in their pockets and bags.
Still, HTC is clearly onto something with this device. Rivals such as Samsung and Sony Ericsson are similarly enamoured with big-screen phones, so they obviously hold some appeal. Those of you that love Web browsing and watching videos on your mobile will fall head over heels in love with that expansive display, and we can see tech-heads falling for the Titan's sleek lines and uncluttered look.
Another big selling point is the presence of Windows Phone 7.5, but this isn't the big update that many were hoping for. Although it brings with it much-needed functions that will prove instrumental in the battle against Android and iOS, Mango still feels rather basic. To the untrained eye, there's little here that's massively different from last year's version of the OS, and it's only users of that OS that will truly appreciate all the hard work Microsoft has put in.
If you're one of those users, then you'll probably be as pleased as punch with this device. There's a lot to like about the HTC Titan, but the minor issues combine to make the entire handset feel compromised. Potential customers are advised to try before they buy, or possibly even wait to see what tricks Nokia (which will be launching its own Windows Phone 7.5 handsets in 2012) has its up sleeve.’
Whatever Andy Pad's makers say, the iPad 2 it ain't. But that doesn't mean it's easy to dismiss. Sure, build quality could be better, and we'd have liked a bit more RAM to make applications zip along smoothly. But to our minds, the compromises that have been made to keep this tablet within its £179 budget are the right ones. It won't please those who are after the slick experience of a high-end Android tablet, most especially because it's hampered by the Android 2.3 operating system. But for those eager to see what the tablet world is all about - or as a starter pad for youngsters, the Andy Pad Pro is on to a winner.’
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray isn't suited to media rich activities, and the keyboard is cramped. But it is ideal for small fingered, small pocketed types with less media heavy requirements.’
The iPhone 4S is every bit a smartphone, and an excellent one at that. The range of functionality that it delivers, along with the entire ecosystem that it inhabits, still make it one of the best phones on the market. Apple has done an excellent job pushing things like the App Store and incorporating features that see wider adoption, like AirPlay, its wireless streaming system, for example.
Although we're not huge fans of iTunes as a software package, there is some convenience in having an end-to-end system that will deliver your music and movies in a format you can enjoy simply any easily. The headphones in the box are still poor, but you're spoilt for choice when it comes to buying accessories.
It's easy to criticise the iPhone for the things it doesn't have: the screen could be bigger, the battery life should be longer, iOS still could be improved, there is no NFC, Flash support or options for memory expansion. But you have to decide whether these things are important to you. If they are, you now have many choices elsewhere.
To us, the iPhone 4S feels as though it has responded to the competition, it's adapted a better notifications system, and ushered in new features, but in many ways we can't help feeling it has adopted some of the nice things about Android. For some, the concern might be that it's adapted Android's battery management issue too. The iPhone 4S is likely to be exactly what some people are looking for. For others, the excitement in other smartphone quarters could well draw their eye.’
The HTC Radar is designed for those that want to take advantage of the latest Mango features on a new phone from HTC without having to go for the massive HTC Titan. The Radar is a solid handset that delivers a good Windows Phone experience, but not an amazing one. For us there isn’t enough of advancement on the HTC Trophy, considering it has had the Mango update too.
A faster processor, bigger storage capacity and the addition of Beats Audio would have made this phone really stand out from the rest of the other Windows Phone 7 smartphones already released and many of the Android ones available too.
And with Nokia launching its phones in the coming weeks we would recommend holding off for a little while longer to see if the Finnish company can produce a better phone. If it can, then the Radar will be dead before it even gets going.’
So should you buy an iPhone 4S? For 3GS users, the answer is an emphatic yes. It’s less clear-cut for iPhone 4 owners, especially if you have a contract to buy your way out of. But if you suffered from poor call quality before, the 4S will restore your faith in the iPhone. Even if you didn’t, the upgraded performance and coolness of Siri and the improved camera are pretty compelling.
If you’re wary of buying the 4S in the belief that a radically different iPhone is on the horizon, the fact is, beyond Infinite Loop, nobody knows – and really, don’t believe anyone who claims otherwise. But my money is on the iPhone 4S not being superseded until next July at the earliest, or even a year from now. In which case, why wait?’
The absence of a forward-facing camera aside, I can’t think of anything serious to criticise the Arc S for – it looks stunning, has power and speed to spare, packs a lovely screen and, at around £340, really isn’t that expensive’
‘The Slider’s built in keyboard is indescribably more convenient than carrying a Bluetooth one around with you, even if it adds the same weight. It uses no battery power, and provides the tablet with crucial support too. As a result, for Tweeting in front of the TV, taking notes in a lecture, or trying to work on a crowded train, the Slider is a fantastically well designed device.
But ASUS’ own Transformer is cheaper than the Slider, has more USB hubs and an SD card reader to boot. And although the Slider is lighter overall and the keyboard is more compact, the crucial thing is that if you want the pure tablet experience you can simply undock the Transformer’s screen.
For that reason, the Transformer remains our favourite Android tablet. But the Slider, the Slider is something else.’
‘iPhone 4S – the verdict
Apple’s iPhone 4S isn’t about changing the world. Not yet, anyway. If you’ve got an iPhone 4 in your pocket and your network wants to keep it that way, there are few legitimate reasons to make the instant leap to upgrade. Those reasons – the camera is sharper and faster, the processor more confident, Siri is a marvel – mean the iPhone 4S is an essential update for those with a 3GS, but only something to covet for the iPhone 4 crowd. It’s everything you wanted from an iPhone 5, minus the bigger screen. If that – and your thirst for fresh aesthetics – isn’t enough, an ever-changing Android landscape awaits you.’
The Titan’s nippy speed, huge display, deep Facebook integration and impressive 20-hour battery life make it HTC’s best handset since the Sensation, and certainly the best Windows Phone so far.
With some more apps and a higher resolution display this would be a serious iOS and Android threat. We’re keeping a very close eye on this hardware-software pair up in the near future.
‘It's very easy both to dismiss the iPhone 4S as being a boring souped up iPhone 4 and to rejoice in its improved specs while dismissing the lack of change in the chassis design as a meaningless whinge. However, the reality of the situation is far more nuanced.
While we agree that there's limited appeal in increasing the phone's overall size, there is room for it to be a tad wider and to use up some of the excessive bezel to fit a larger screen, without compromising too much on ergonomics. What's more, while the stark, angular glass design does have some advantages and puts most others to shame for build quality, it's not actually that practical. And, although on the performance front, Apple has given the iPhone 4S all it needs for the time being, new ground hasn't been broken on any front – there's still plenty of room to really go to town on the camera for instance.
There is of course Siri, which is a unique and impressive piece of software, but we simply don't feel it's very useful for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of everyday situations. In a car (dictating messages and setting reminders) or when you're working in an environment where you won't disturb people (or don't mind them hearing you're shopping list) we can see it being useful but until the whole system can be activated without requiring touch at all, it's only of so much benefit.
What's more, although iOS is still the slickest OS going, its limitations can't be denied; the lack of Flash is an issue (no matter how much you make excuses for it), not being able to do proper email attachments is a real bind, and there are plenty more little restrictions that are starting to feel just a little too un-smart. It all adds up to an easy experience but one that for more experienced users will feel too limiting – well, unless you jailbreak it of course.
But, the ultimate point is that it's precisely this tight, slick and sometimes limiting interface combined with competent hardware and a class-leading library of easily accessible apps that makes the iPhone so appealing. Yes, it's expensive and were we spending our own money, we'd probably look elsewhere for more of a bargain, but if you've got the cash and just want an easy life, there really isn't a better choice right now.’
The HTC Titan reminds us of quite how enjoyable Windows Phone is to use. It's quick, intuitive and stylish. However, this phone also makes us realise quite how silly the trend for ever-expanding smartphone screens is. This is undoubtedly a great phone, but for most people it'll be just that bit too big.
Have giant-sized hands? There's very little not to like about this phone. Its screen and processor can't match the specs of top-end rivals like the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy Prime, but when running Windows Phone, these things just don't matter. It looks and feels great throughout.’
Overall, the Torch 9810 is a decent handset. It feels responsive to use, the screen is excellent and the physical keyboard is also good. However, the user interface feels a bit clunky and cobbled together, and isn’t likely to be all that friendly for those new to Blackberry devices. So at the end of the day, this is a good Blackberry, but it's also a long way off troubling the best of the smartphones on the market right now.’
Originally published at OneMobileRing.com