The new iPhone for 2014 will likely sell millions of units during the release weekend based on the performance of Apple’s previous launches, but this year the iPhone 6 faces increased competition from Samsung and HTC who are both taking a refine and improve focus to try to tempt iPhone owners to Android.
Every year the best Android phones get closer to matching the iPhone experience across the categories that matter to the average user. During the Galaxy S5 announcement and in the all new HTC One leaks we see new devices that offer larger screens that are not obscene, that deliver great looking images, new camera features that consumers will actually use, design enhancements in areas that matter to the average user and in the aftermarket Android phones and the iPhone are closer than ever in terms of apps and accessories.
Last year Samsung pushed ahead with faster Galaxy S4 sales hitting 10 million in May, 20 million in July and 40 million in October. Apple sold 9 million iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c units in the first weekend. That’s nearly as many as Samsung sold in a month, and it’s not a number we can ignore. There is no doubt that the iPhone 6 release weekend will bring in huge sales numbers, thanks in part to Apple’s ability to attract long lines of consumers who will take off work for the day to be one of the first to get an iPhone 6.
The latest iPhone 6 rumors suggest we will see two iPhone 6 models, both with larger displays and a higher resolution to take advantage of the new screen real estate. We also hear that the iPhone 6 will feature a new Sapphire glass cover to make the display nearly scratch proof. Given the two-year old iPhone 5/5s design we anticipate a new look to match the larger screen. We could see an enhanced camera with a better or bigger sensor.
These are not things Apple must do to make the iPhone 6 a success and we’re not saying the iPhone 6 can’t compete without these features. As reviewers who spend time using the iPhone and the best Android phones on the market day in and day out, with an ear on consumer trends and buying decisions.
With this information in mind, here is what Apple’s new iPhone for 2014 is up against from the Galaxy S5, All new HTC One and even from the very large Galaxy Note family which we expect to see a Galaxy Note 4 from around the time the iPhone 6 release takes place.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 5.1-inch display and we expect a 5-inch display on the all new HTC One. These are small increases from the HTC One (4.7-inch) and Galaxy S4 (5-inch) which lured some consumers away from the 4-inch iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s display. We saw other consumers switch from the iPhone to the Galaxy Note 3, which features a large 5.7-inch display and an S Pen.
In 2013 Apple CES Tim Cook told investors that larger smartphone screens didn’t deliver the quality that Apple desires, but the Galaxy S4 convinced Danny Sullivan of Cnet to switch from an iPhone, Paul Colgan of Business Insider, Noel Green a self proclaimed iPhone man since day one. Even Eric Schmidt of Google shared his guide to switching from iPhone to Android.
A common theme in many of these discussions is the bigger screen on the Galaxy S4. We see the same thing repeated on Twitter and in forums from users that switch, and there are a growing number of iPhone to Galaxy Note 3 switchers as well.
The Galaxy S5 and the new HTC One are likely to be the biggest competitors that tempt consumers away from the iPhone 5s’ small screen this spring and summer. In the fall we could see Apple strike back with a bigger iPhone 6 display that will compete with a Galaxy Note 4 and even a Nexus 6.
It’s clearly a world of bigger smartphone screens, and while there is room for a smaller display it looks increasingly like Apple is ready to offer a larger screen iPhone 6 to prevent a flow of consumers to bigger screen Android phones.
The design of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5 is undeniably one of the best on the market, but in 2013 Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Google + LG stepped up to deliver great looking Android smartphones. 2014 looks to be a year of even bigger competition from Samsung and HTC.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 offered an improvement over the Galaxy S3, which Samsung further improved with a new soft touch Galaxy S5 design for 2014. The Galaxy S5 is also water-resistant, which is something iPhone owners need a case to achieve. The Galaxy Note 3 offers a more solid feel than early Galaxy phones and added a faux leather back.
The HTC One in 2013 delivered build quality and design that is a better match for the MacBook Pro than the iPhone. Leaks show a similar look for the new HTC One for 2014. Motorola stepped up with a customizable Moto X with a nice polycarbonate design and Google and LG partnered to deliver the Nexus 5 in soft touch polycarbonate too. Kevin Purcell of Gotta Be Mobile switched to the HTC One as his primary phone in 2013, and while he still carries an iPhone for reviews he picks the HTC One as his go to device.
In 2013 it became clear that Apple was no longer the only game in town for a great looking, great feeling smartphone. And it’s getting fiercer in 2014 while Samsung and HTC attempt to sway iPhone owners away from waiting for an iPhone 6.
Android is an Equal
Changes to the Android experience in late 2012 and throughout 2013 brought an evolution to the operating system that delivers an equal to iOS. Android is still trying to overcome the stigma of early versions, fragmentation and the damage cheap Android phones did to its reputation, but in 2014 iOS and Android are equals.
The iPhone does some things better than Android, but the same is true for Android features that are better than the iPhone. A recent Reddit thread from ant5do, a former Android user, recounts where iOS is better and where Android is better. Below are some quotes from his testimonial on Android and iOS in 2014.
Where iPhone and iOS are better;
“The app design aesthetic is better (dedicated iOS app designers tend to care a lot about this). This is almost always what people mean when they talk about the App quality in iOS being better. The UX design and aesthetic is generally more beautiful. The audio app selection is much better // game selection is slightly better.
The integration across the iOS and OS X environment exists (it’s not particularly awesome, but it exists)
iOS OS updates are better (unless you are on a Nexus device, then it doesn’t really matter)”
Where Android is better;
“You cannot use torrent clients, bitcoin apps, and tasker like apps in iOS (I suppose you could argue for jailbreak apps, but I’m comparing stock experiences here, and even then jailbreaking is a much more difficult activity as Apple is actively hostile towards it and iOS 7 jailbreaks have broken with every .1 update)
the screen sizes make the typing experience much, much better on a Nexus 5 than an iPhone 5s (People who are used to iOS will think they type fine because of autocorrect, but if you actually compare typing without autocorrect, like when you are entering in addresses in the address bar or passwords, you’ll find that you type far worse on the 4 inch screen than on a Nexus 5. The autocorrect is also worse in iOS than it is in android (my iOS devices refuse to acknowledge that ‘well’ is not we’ll))
Android allows the user to set defaults, which means you don’t have to use crappy apple services, like apple maps. Don’t try and argue for Apple Maps being good enough; it’s just not. I am consistently misled with Apple maps. I would say that about 30% of the time the app is wrong. This is unacceptable because I do not know that the app is wrong until I have actually driven to the wrong location. THIS rarely ever happens with Google maps prompting me to have to double check Google maps after using Apple maps, which means that I should have just used Google maps to begins with. Without being able to set defaults, you are stuck using Apple maps first.
The integration with Google Now blows away the Siri alternative. I will give you some examples: when I ask siri to search for ‘al pastor tacos’ siri returns ‘Al Pastore tacos’ or ‘I’ll past tacos’ which leads to useless results. Google, on the other hand, returns restaurants closest to me that serve al pastor tacos. . . When you search on siri for “core data sync” she looks up “core data sink,” let me remind you that core data sync is an Apple technology. . . Google, on the other hand, gets it right and looks up “core data sync.” Google is a lot, a lot better than Apple at cloud services and software. What this means is that Siri’s mix of data is not allowing her to search for words with context. If I say core data (the next word is probably sync, not sink)”
The lists of things each does better than the other goes on, and for anyone that wants closer look at switching and what each device and OS does better the full thread is worth reading.
Android updates are getting better in 2013 and 2014. There is still a wait for the updates, but Google is shifting a lot of features to the apps and services instead of the OS, so that it can push them to users faster.
Apple faces a reliability problem with iOS 7 thanks to crashes which are frequent enough to warrant a promise that the company is working on a fix. iOS 7.1 should fix iPhone crashes in the next week or so, but there is still a little tarnish on the stability of an iPhone.
Apps and Accessories Are Close to iPhone
The final piece of this weaving web of factors driving consumer purchases are things that come after the initial purchase — apps and accessories. While the iPhone is still the first stop for many top apps the Google Play store is catching up in quality of games and apps and in timely releases of these great games.
When it comes to accessories there are still hundreds of more iPhone cases available from a wider range of companies. But, in 2013 we saw larger representation of cases for the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and other devices from first-party and third-party companies. We are already hearing about new Galaxy S5 cases from top companies like OtterBox and expect to see a wide-range arrive in April.
Other accessories that connect by Bluetooth are increasingly available for both devices like speakers and fitness bands. The Galaxy Gear fit is even exciting enough that iPhone fans are impressed.
The iPhone 5s faces a tougher battle in 2014 that it did during the first several months on the market thanks to new devices from Samsung and HTV. These new devices that will hit store shelves ahead of a new iPhone for 2014 will also put pressure on Apple. If consumers can buy a large display smartphone with a nice operating system, water-resistant design complete with apps and accessories the shopper may not feel like waiting for an iPhone 6 release. This may be especially true for users on older iPhones looking at their first upgrade in years.