A war is brewing right before our very eyes. Abbreviated words and emoticons are thrown carelessly, memory cards flailing about in front of us, touch screens smacking against our apathetic desires to be at the top of the tech curve. Yes, the war being discussed is the battle of the cellular mobile devices. Apple and Samsung brutally target one another in an attempt to rise to the forefront of cell phone technology. RIM and HTC carefully watch from the sidelines, picking up advice for the future of their technology. But who will win? Who deserves the title of phone champion? We all have our favourites depending on which corporation we’ve decided to subscribe to in a cult-like manner, but how often do we look at these new devices with a critical eye and compare what the differences in these devices truly are? Here we take the market’s current top four and most hyped phones and divulge a comprehensive comparison between them. Find which phone is worth your cash money, and discover what the hype is all about.

BlackBerry bold 9900

Size: 115mm (h), 66mm (w), 10.5mm (d); 130g

Display: VGA 640 X 480 pixel resolution, 287 ppi

Average Cost: $630

Camera: 5MP; 720p HD video

Battery (Stand-by time): 12.8 days

Wireless/ Processor: 1.2 GHz (3G)

Operating System: BlackBerry OS 7

Available to: Bell, Rogers Wireless, TELUS, Virgin Mobile, WIND Mobile

Pros: OS 7 features new tools such as the integration of Twitter and Facebook into BBM, Near Field Communication (NFC) which allows devices to connect to nearby devices with the same feature, and a voice-activated searching tool. The best feature of the OS 7 would apply to the ability to separate work and personal contacts and emails to create two separate communities that can be accessed on different days of the week depending on your exact contact needs. In addition, with both a touch screen and an easy to use keypad, you will have easy access to your information regardless of whether the size of your finger tips is conducive to touch screen dynamics or not.

Cons: Ever accidentally tweeted a message that was meant to be a private BBM? If not, now may be your chance to do just that. The BB Bold’s latest addition of integrated apps into BBM may be handy for those with several statuses to update at once, but could also wreak havoc as it could cause textbox confusion and an indecent over share of information. If that doesn’t creep you out just a little, the NFC feature allows friends to follow and track your location. Get excited. And food for thought, the new OS 7 isn’t all that new as it was already featured in the BB Bold 9790. Shucks.

Recommended For: Hardcore office workers and BlackBerry fan girls with clumsy fingers and a desire to separate work and play

...

iPhone 5

Size: 123.8mm (h), 58.6mm (w), 7.6mm (d); 112g

Display: Retina 1136 x 640 pixel resolution, 326 ppi

Average Cost: From $699

Camera: 8MP; 1080p HD video

Battery (Stand-by time): 9.375 days

Wireless/ Processor: 4G LTE

Operating System: iOS 6

Available to: Bell, Rogers Wireless, TELUS, Virgin Mobile

Pros: The latest iPhone design features a larger screen and lighter design and one-of-a-kind Apple originals such as Siri, a robotic best friend and secretary, iCloud, used to sync up all devices founded or inspired by Steve Jobs, and the graphically appealing iSight camera which now offers a panorama capturing option. In addition, this beaut also comes with the latest iPod ear buds featuring an all new design, and a smaller and more compact charging cable. Not to mention, the headphone jack is now at the bottom instead of the top.

Cons: Aside from the miniscule difference in size, most of the “new” apps being featured on the iPhone such as enhanced iCloud service and Siri can be downloaded to older models with a simple upgrade in operating systems that is offered free to any Apple device. Sure the new headphones, jack and charging cable seem like fun, but save your money and hang on to your old phone, the upgrade really isn’t worth the extra seven hundred dollar expense. Plus, word on the street is that the release date for the iPad mini is coming up soon - and that seems way more exciting.

Recommended For: Graphic designers in need of a retina display and HD camera, Apple zombies in need of a new device to satisfy their addiction, or stylish hipsters in need of some self esteem.

...

HTC One X

Size: 134.36mm (h), 69.9mm (w), 8.9mm (d); 130g

Display:  1280 x 720 pixel resolution, Super LCD 2

Average Cost: $549

Camera: 8MP; 1080p HD video

Battery (Stand-by time): 10 days

Wireless/ Processor: 1.5 GHz, dual core LTE (4G)

Operating System: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Available to: Rogers Wireless, TELUS, Virgin Mobile

Pros: With the same tech offerings as the iPhone in regards to camera features and a super LCD screen (to be honest, I’m not sure if that’s as exciting as it sounds), it offers the same multimedia graphic appeals as its Macintosh counterpart. This phone also has the capability of playing back almost every type of audio and video file imaginable, making life a lot easier for those working with various file formats on a day to day basis. Additionally, this HTC model is more affordable if being purchased without a plan and with the latest Android technology offers the same app world punch as other operating systems.

Cons: It’s a little bit on the massive size depending on what you’re looking for, and in terms of that Super LCD screen, I recently looked it up, and it’s not as exciting as it sounds. The primary downfalls of this device are its lack of style in the design department and inability to be stored in the average pant pocket. Also, HTC isn’t known to be the most reliable of phone and it’s possible that this phone, although inexpensive at first, may have you shelling out cash for upgrades and battery replacements in the future.

Recommended For: Multimedia students who aren’t already Apple zombies, slightly less stylish hipsters who already have reasonably high levels of self esteem, and students on a reasonably flexible budget.

...

Samsung Galaxy S3

Size: 136.6mm (h), 70.6mm (w), 8.6mm (d); 133g

Display: 1280 x 720 pixel resolution, HD Super AMOLED

Average Cost: $649

Camera: 8MP; 1080p HD video

Battery (Stand-by time): 30 days

Wireless/ Processor: 4G LTE

Operating System: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Available to: Bell, Rogers Wireless, Virgin Mobile, WIND Mobile

Pros: It’s almost a tablet. Save yourself some money and get the best of both worlds with this innovative phone/ screen of fun. Android 4.0 is in all its glory with this phone featuring connects to Google and a true high definition display. With capabilities of storing up to 64G, you will have the opportunity to save all your needed files, folders and apps on this relatively compact device. Its combination of high resolution graphics, a large memory, fast network capabilities and an adorably sleek design contrary to its larger than normal size makes it today’s number one phone on the market. Available to most service providers, it is easy to access and easy to understand.

Cons: It’s almost a tablet. It is huge. Definitely not conducive to your average pocket it comes in weighing more than any of the other featured devices. Aside from that, you really can’t go wrong with this device.

Recommended For: Techies with substantial upper body strength, app-addicts, ambitious students determined to stay above the curve and people on the fence about the usability of a giant interactive screen.

...

Let’s get real here for a second, if the primary use of your phone is casually texting friends and occasionally calling your mom, then any one of these phones will do the job for you. Four out of allow access to Twitter, Facebook and any other social networking site young people of the world are revolving around. Three out of four have 8MP cameras and allow you to Instagram your latest meal. And they all feature graphic and high tech appeal considering the extensive design research that is put into each to appeal to a large audience. If you’re looking into buying a new phone, consider any other features that may be potentially useful to your future. Require a structured email server? Try going with a beloved BlackBerry. Already have several other Apple devices? Go with an iPhone to sync up with iCloud. Need an all around crowd pleasing phone that features the latest growing technology, easy and comprehensive internet access, and high memory capabilities? Consider Samsung. Prefer a more cost effective phone with appealing graphics and a multimedia features waging against the realms of Apple? HTC is the way to go. The cell phone war gets a lot of hype and deserves it given the amount of money these companies are asking us to shell out for such a small device. Choose your phone based on your needs and feel the satisfaction of consumerism filling the emotional void in your soul it was created to occupy.

Blackberry culture is powerful, but can it survive the company's uncertain future?

Matt Martorana & Andrew Terefenko

MacDebate & the Silhouette

Q: Will Research in Motion be able to survive the year in light of its recent struggles?

Matt: With Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepping down as Research In Motion’s co-CEOs, RIM hopes to send a message to its investors that it is ready to make the necessary changes that will turn the course of the company around. Despite this change in leadership, I argue it is unlikely that RIM will actually have renewed success. The main problem that RIM faces is their failure to innovate against their competitors. RIM’s Blackberry and Playbook offer nothing to consumers that other smart phones and tablets – from Apple, for example – do not already offer. This poses a serious problem.

If RIM cannot increase its customer base, it will not be able to survive in the competitive market. In the case of Apple products, users have access to millions of “apps” that can perform almost any action. RIM’s competitors are making further innovations to their products while RIM is not. In the case of the Blackberry, one may argue that BBM is unique to RIM, but BBM alone is not enough. (iPhones now have a feature called iChat that does many of the same things as BBM.)

Others may argue that RIM has now created a number of apps for the Blackberry, but the selection of apps for the iPhone is much wider. It is difficult to see how RIM can innovate its products to make them more attractive to the consumer, and hence why I feel that they will not be able to turn the fortunes of their company around.

 

Andrew: As a company, RIM has had a lot of trouble dealing with the innovations of their competitors, but I feel that their chief executive board was aware of this in their most recent choice of CEO. By promoting industry-veteran Thorsten Heins, they know full well their need to draw upon his extensive R&D experience to come forth with a new flagship product. Having risen from his starting position to CEO in only five years, coming from his highly relevant previous position as Chief Technology Officer at Siemens AG, he will be a great asset for a company that desperately needs to reinvent both their public image and their core product. In a recent video he posted to the web, he outlined a few key concrete plans he has for the company, which bodes well for a CEO who has to take the reigns of a fairly tumultuous corporate entity.

 

Matt: The appointing of the Thorsten Heins to be the new CEO may be a great short-term solution, but I am skeptical about how this will impact RIM in the long run. Besides luring customers away from Apple and other competitors, RIM also needs to ensure that its own clientele will not switch from using RIM products to Apple products (or products of any other competitor). This has proven to be a difficult task, especially in the last year, in which RIM experienced two network failures. These network failures have created great disdain and mistrust between consumers and RIM. The Blackberry was supposed to be a dependable phone that the businessperson could rely on, but these failures have tarnished that image. This trust with the consumer is especially difficult to gain back when RIM’s competitors do not have a track record of network failures. Although appointing a new CEO may seem like a step in the right direction, I question whether this CEO will be able to do anything different than what Balsillie has already done.

 

Andrew: The recent three-day service outage was certainly inexcusable for a device that many rely on for day-to-day activities. On that note, RIM sincerely realized the failure on their part to ensure a reliable product and, to that end, offered $100 worth of free apps to affected customers as a gesture of goodwill. Additionally, it can be speculated that the CEO change was a response to that same outage and poor fiscal year. If their Board is willing to go as far as replacing the two co-founders of the company, they can be counted on to make drastic changes for the better future of the company.

 

Matt: RIM has always been a leader and innovator in targeting the business community. I would agree with anyone who claims that there is no better phone for business than the Blackberry (although I am sure some may disagree). But in the last year and a half, RIM has tried to expand their products from the business community to the consumer market. So far they have failed to reach the consumer in the way that many of their investors had envisioned.

I see no reason why in 2012 RIM should be any more successful in reaching these consumer markets. Many of RIM’s competitors have bigger budgets and more human capital so that they can put out a better product. Thorsten Heins may be aware of the problems that currently plague RIM, but this does not mean that he is equipped to solve these problems.

 

Andrew: It was not premature for RIM to try to enter the highly congested consumer market, but it was clear that their marketing model did not succeed. That being said, it is clear through Heins’ initial ascension statements that he has big plans for the company, as far as a decade away. He wants RIM to go back to what it became famous for, and also its namesake, that being of research. Under his leadership, the company will put a far greater focus on R&D and quality assurance if his plans come to fruition.

Despite that, 2012 will still be a difficult year for RIM, as they come to terms with bad press and unknown leadership, but it is because of their renewed drive to innovate that I believe their future may not be so grim. They conquered the business world with their aesthetically professional, compact and surprisingly durable device, and with many consumers’ aversion to using touch-screen devices, the Blackberry will still see many years of use in light of their competitors’ extreme focus on removing buttons altogether.

They may have fallen behind in the communications race, but clearly have the right set of ideals needed to get back to their former glory.

Sonya Khanna

Business Editor

 

Cue the violins and sit back and watch as angry BlackBerry users flood social media outlets with bitter rants of hatred for Research In Motion.

It seems BlackBerry users just can’t catch a break given the recent outage, ousting millions of users from BBM, email and texting services and hindering their basic means of digital communication.

Wednesday marked the third day of the smartphone outage, leaving BlackBerry users in a dismal rut – yet again.

“Times like this make me reconsider whether I should toss my phone in for something better and more reliable,” says McMaster grad and BlackBerry user Alia Durbarry. “I keep thinking things like this won’t happen again. It’s just really frustrating when you can’t even do something so simple as text.”

A media release by RIM conveys “sincere apologies” to users affected by the current BlackBerry service issues.

Service issues initially surfaced in Europe, Middle East and African regions, impacting customers and prompting swift action by the company. According to a statement released by Research In Motion, the technical difficulties were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure.

“Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”

Frustration amid BlackBerry users has resurrected the never-ending “beef” between iPhone and Blackberry users, prompting one BlackBerry user to half jokingly state the desire to “join the dark side” and purchase an iPhone.

“BlackBerry subscribers in the Americas may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience. We will provide a further update as soon as more information is available,” the company said.

“We know that many of you are still experiencing service problems. The resolution of this service issue is our Number One priority right now and we are working night and day to restore all BlackBerry services to normal levels. We will continue to keep this page updated.”

RIM has taken hit after disheartening hit it seems. The recent service issues follow a continuing shaky outlook for RIM due to plummeting shares spawning from low sales of its PlayBook tablet as well as plummeting shares.

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