Editorial: Android OEMs need more than just specs to beat the iPhone

Posted on Oct 21 2011 - 12:54pm by Mike Wewerka

This morning T-Mobile issued a statement to its customers regarding why they don’t have the iPhone, pointing out that while they don’t have it, they do have alternatives with better specs. Here’s the statement:


STATEMENT: T-Mobile USA 4G Smartphones

T-Mobile thinks the iPhone is a good device and we’ve expressed our interest to Apple to offer it to our customers. Ultimately, it is Apple’s decision. The issue remains that Apple has not developed a version of the iPhone with technology that works on our fast 3G and 4G networks. We believe a capable version of the iPhone for our 3G and 4G networks would offer an additional compelling option for our customers on a fast 4G network. However, the iPhone is not the only option to experience the benefit that smartphones offer.

T-Mobile’s 4G smartphones stack up against competitive smartphones in terms of functionality, speed, features offered and overall experience – including the iPhone 4S. Reports continue of iPhones not operating well on some carrier networks, while our latest 4G smartphones offer many advantages vs. the iPhone 4S:

  • Capable of faster speeds
  • Bigger screens
  • Compelling service pricing
  • More advanced camera on the HTC Amaze 4G
  • More choice

We firmly believe that T-Mobile’s portfolio will give any iPhone a run for its money. We offer the increased processing power and faster 4G speeds achieved by our fastest smartphones, the most advanced camera of any smartphone on the HTC Amaze 4G, and our industry-leading 4.52” super AMOLED display offered on the Samsung Galaxy S II. With our portfolio of Android, Windows, and BlackBerry smartphones, fast 4G network, and competitively priced worry-free unlimited talk, text, and data plans, we believe it’s a great time to be a T-Mobile customer.


All I see there, is our specs are better than your iPhone. We don’t have the iPhone, but our devices have bigger screens. We don’t have the iPhone, but we have faster data speeds. Do you know what’s missing here? The so-called “Magic” that Apple offers with their iPhones and iOS devices. Does screen size really matter, sure to some of us hardware tech geeks, it does. I love my Galaxy S II’s 4.52″ Super AMOLED Plus display, but the iPhone’s 3.5″ display didn’t stop it from selling 4 million units in 3 days. Despite the fact that reports showed that Sprint has slower download speeds than AT&T and Verizon, didn’t stop the company from having the best sales day in their company’s history. I will go on record and say this now, the Galaxy Nexus will NOT sell a million units a day, it will not sell 4 million in three days, despite the fact that it has an HD display, NFC, a new version of Android, zero shutter lag, none of that matters to 90% of consumers.

Sure you Apple haters will call people “iSheep” and stupid because they don’t know what they are missing, but ask yourselves, what are they missing? Honestly? They have an all inclusive device, that works with their computer, iCloud, iTunes, App Store, just about every App is made for iOS first…what are they missing? Better specs?  Do specs really matter? We’ve seen the tests that show the A5 in the iPhone 4S, which is under-clocked from 1GHz to 800MHz, yet performs better than the 1.2GHz Exynos processor in the Galaxy S II. We’ve seen Infinity Blade 2, with real-time lighting and reflections running on the iPhone 4S with 512MB of RAM, so do specs really matter? No, they don’t…what this really all comes down to is the experience.

People buy the iPhone because of the iPhone experience, the fact that a 3-year old, a 73-year old and everyone in between can pick up an iOS device and use it without being shown how is what makes it successful. The fact that you can walk into almost any store and see products with the logo “Works on an iPhone” is what makes the iPhone successful. The fact that the iPhone has over 500,000 apps that all work, on your iPhone, iPad (some with scaling) and iPod Touch is what makes it successful. The fact that the iPhone is made with such premium materials like steal and glass and has such an appealing design and yet costs the same amount (on contract) as an Android device that is made of all plastic is what makes the iPhone a success. Do you see what I’m getting at here, I’m not trying to piss off Android fans here, but specs don’t mean shit. Sorry for the profanity, but I don’t think I can get the emphasis across any other way. We’ve seen Android devices tout how much more power their device is because it has a dual-core, while the iPhone 4 had only a single core and yet, the iPhone 4 still outsold every single individual device for over a year.

If Android OEM’s want to be successful and want to really put a chink in Apple’s iOS armor, then need to match wits, not strength. They need to get affordable accessories in stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy. They need to put out designer cases for their devices, but the problem with that is once a company like HTC for example, puts out a device, say the EVO, they are already in the process of prepping three more phones to come out the following month. Apple supports their main phone for a year or more (I’m not talking about software updates). Companies can’t stop supporting their devices with accessories and other addons once they’ve put it out. They also need to change their ad campaigns, take the newest iPhone 4S ad for example, see what it accomplishes in :30 secs, see below:

That ad shows how the device works and why you should want it and how it works in everyday life. Now watch this ad for the DROID BIONIC:

Certainly cool, but it does nothing to show you why you really need this device, in the full one minute commercial. It almost mocks the device, making it feel like some cheap Hollywood movie toy. Where as the Apple iPhone ad shows you a practical, yet powerful smartphone that can help you everyday.

I think by now you get my point. Android will still sell and have more market share because of the vast variety of devices that are on tons of carriers, from being free to $299. But no one model, on one carrier will out sell the Apple iPhone, not unless these OEM’s change their marketing concepts. I’m not saying don’t pack the phone to the gills with great specs, but show the consumer HOW the phone is better, not WHY the phone is better. Perhaps this is my background in Marketing and Advertising coming out, but I honestly feel this is the reason why Apple devices have such a following, not because people are blind iSheep, but because Apple shows them what is possible in print and commercials and when people hold it in their hands and see that what the saw in a commercial is true, they’re sold.

  • Anonymous

    I really think you hit the nail square on the head here, but I wish more OEMs would sit back and fathom it. I figured out a while back that one of the key things which differentiates Apple from every other phone or tablet manufacturer out there is that they put out *one* model a year. They probably spend two, even three years working on each one.

    With Android, even though I really like their phones, there’s a new “Hottest Android Phone Ever!” coming out every few months, from any number of companies. Starting at random, there was the Evo 4G, the Droid X, the Nexus S, the Evo 3D, the Galaxy II, now we have the Droid Razr and the Galaxy Nexus. It’s just not possible to keep up, nor is it possible for there to be a “flagship” Android device.

  • http://twitter.com/ebirus Eric Beyer

    Great editorial Michael! Having never owned an iPhone I really can’t comment on the iPhone experience but one thing I have always felt Apple did right was sticking to a solid hardware configuration and providing a consistent user experience.

    I like Android because of the openness but as of recently I’m growing tired of the constant releases of new devices and lack of updates by manufactures on fairly recent devices. It’s as if they need to constantly one up each other releasing devices on odd hardware specs and heavily customized Android which the manufacture struggles on trying to update to latest/greatest Android. 

    One thing I really appreciate about Apple is that with fairly recent hardware at least you can apply the update within a few days of the new iOS announcement. Sure not everything works as perfect as being on the latest iPhone but at least the main features are available to those using fairly recent hardware. Do you think an Android phone released at the time a iPhone 3GS could be upgraded to Android 4 (or even 2.3 for that matter)? Based upon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_iOS_devices the 3GS was released in June 2009 and iOS 5 is supported, that’s pretty amazing to me.