The story isn’t iPhone or BlackBerry. Or iPhone and Android. Or iPhone and Windows Phone.We’re down to two devices now. Not two operating systems or platforms.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line smartphone, it’s either the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III. That’s it. Don’t even try to pretend there’s another viable option out there right now.
Samsung pulled off a damn good phone with the Galaxy S III this summer, one that even made me reconsider holding out for an iPhone 5. Samsung is the only other company that’s building a smartphone ecosystem and brand that can challenge Apple’s dominance.
After a few years of “Me Too!” phones following the original iPhone, it’s pretty clear by now that Samsung’s Galaxy S III has emerged as the only viable competitor. And the sales prove it. More than 20 million Galaxy S IIIs are in users’ hands now, which is insanely good for a single Android phone that’s only been around since the beginning of June. Most premium Android phones don’t sell that well over the course of a year. I bet that number goes way up thanks to Samsung’s aggressive ad campaign against the iPhone.
That’s not to say there aren’t other good alternatives to the Galaxy S III and iPhone 5. HTC makes one called the One X that I really like. But beyond that, I haven’t used any other phone that’s good enough to mention in the same breath as the iPhone 5 or Galaxy S III. And I use a lot of phones.
And yet every other smartphone company tries to piggyback on the Apple/Samsung model, hosting big, splashy events that often fail to impress. I attend dozens of these every year, and only one or two or three actually stick out.
Take a look at Motorola’s Droid Razr announcement from earlier this month. The whole presentation felt forced. Either Motorola’s executives aren’t media trained, or they simply didn’t want to be on stage in front of an audience of tech journalists and analysts. You don’t hear the same excitement in their voice that you hear at Apple events. It’s unconvincing. And it all ended with Motorola’s new CEO Dennis Woodside delivering the line, “Welcome to the new Motorola Mobility” that sounded (and looked) like he was embarrassed, not ushering in a new Google-led era for the company. I think three people clapped.
The wild card is still Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 920 phone that runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software. But I have a feeling that even though the phone is absolutely gorgeous, it won’t be a hit on the same level as the Galaxy S III or iPhone 5. Windows Phones have been embraced by critics, but they still haven’t resonated with the public. When I saw the Lumia 920 a few weeks ago, there was nothing there that made me think it’ll be different this time around. But talking about Nokia and Microsoft right now is pointless. The Lumnia 920 won’t launch until November at the earliest.
When Apple competitors promote their phones, they talk a lot about choice. Bigger screens. Faster chips. More memory. More whatever. But I think that’s the opposite of what consumers want when trying to decide what to buy. Give them one amazing phone, the best phone. Not half a dozen confusing variations.
That’s why I’m going to make it really simple for you. Today, if you want the best smartphone, you only have two choices: The Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5. Both have their advantages and disadvantages (I won’t dig into that now), but I guarantee you’ll be happy with either one. Ignore the rest of the noise.
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