Is The Droid An IPhone Killer? For two years, some of the biggest names in consumer technology have been trying to outdo Apple and its wildly popular iPhone. Reviewer Joshua Topolsky says the latest contender — the Droid — does a number of things better than the iPhone. But given a choice between the two, he says, the iPhone still has the edge.
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Is The Droid An IPhone Killer?

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Is The Droid An IPhone Killer?

Is The Droid An IPhone Killer?

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GUY RAZ, host:

Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

For two years, some of the biggest names in consumer technology have been trying to match Apple and its wildly popular iPhone. Apple teamed up with AT&T to market the phone, and ever since, their competitors have been working desperately to try and out-cool what is widely thought to be the coolest smart phone.

The latest contender came out Friday, it's called the Droid. And I've got one in my hands right now.

(Soundbite of Droid)

RAZ: This phone runs the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. It's called Android.

Joshua Topolsky is the editor-in-chief of the technology blog Engadget. He has been playing with the Droid for a while, and he's with us to talk about it.

Hi, Josh.

Mr. JOSHUA TOPOLSKY (Editor-in-Chief, Engadget): Hi there.

RAZ: So, what do you think? Is this the iPhone killer?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: No, it's not really an iPhone killer, and I'm not sure that it has to be. It's a great phone. It offers a lot of things the iPhone doesn't, and I think there's probably room for more than one smart phone.

RAZ: Well, what differentiates it from the iPhone?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: Well, it does a lot of what the iPhone does. You know, it's got, obviously, a 3G data connection, it can do Web browsing and media playing, the sort of standard stuff you'd expect now from a phone. It has, they say, over 10,000 apps. You can download different types of apps and new ones are coming out all the time. It has a five megapixel camera, which is much higher quality than the iPhone.

The Android devices allow for a lot of customization, whereas the iPhone is pretty much closed. Apple has it their way and that's the way it's got to be. The other thing is that it allows you to run multiple applications at once, it multitasks, whereas the iPhone does not do that. So, that's been a big selling point for them.

RAZ: And they cost about the same price?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: The flagship device, the iPhone 3GS, is $199 on contract and the Droid is also 199 on contract.

RAZ: And now, every so often, we hear about how, you know, there's a hot, new phone out there that's going to give the iPhone a run for its money. There was the Blackberry Storm, the Palm Pre, which actually got great reviews, but those haven't been game changers. What's different about the Droid?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: I think that the combination here of Google and Verizon -Verizon's the largest carrier in America and Google really putting its all into this device - it's unique. The Pre is a great phone, but it doesn't have the kind of huge push behind it that Google could give something, and they're a formidable company when it comes to the tech sector.

RAZ: Now, Verizon, the company that's teamed up with Motorola to put together the Droid, their campaign is basically an attack ad on the iPhone. But the iPhone isn't even the number one smart phone in terms of market share. Why is the iPhone such a target?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: Well, I think the iPhone, like you said, it's not the number one smart phone, but it is really the most visible. It's the phone that has really made the general public aware of the existence of these devices and brought them into the spotlight. And really, it's the cool device that everybody wants to have. It's the sort of the device to beat, even though, as you said, it's not the number one in market share.

RAZ: Okay. So, if you had to buy one�


RAZ: �you have to pick one�

Mr. TOPOLSKY: Okay. It's tough.

RAZ: �which one would you pick?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: I think I'd have to go with the iPhone.

RAZ: With the iPhone, okay.

Mr. TOPOLSKY: Yeah. Just, I mean, the apps selection is enormous and there are some elements to the types of apps you can develop - for instance, 3D gaming, things like that - that really hasn't been surfaced that much on Android phones.

RAZ: And now, Josh, both you and I use smart phones. We have to use them for our jobs. But is smart phone use really that widespread in the United States at this point?

Mr. TOPOLSKY: Well, it's not as widespread as the use of what we call a dumb phone or feature phones, which are just standard cell phones. But the use of smart phones is growing and it's growing at quite a pace, whereas the use of dumb phones or feature phones is on the decline.

So, I think this is where we're headed. I mean, in the future, in the very near future, nobody's going to have and very few people will probably just have a cell phone. I think as the technology evolves and the prices come down, this is going to be what everybody has in their pocket. So, it's really important to watch the market right now.

This is why companies like Microsoft who, obviously, have a huge market share when it comes to PCs, they're aggressively trying to get back into this game and trying to make a name for themselves again. Because, as I said, it's wide open and it's where everybody's headed.

RAZ: Joshua Topolsky is the editor-in-chief of the technology blog Engadget, and he spoke with me from NPR New York.

Josh, thanks so much.

Mr. TOPOLSKY: Thank you.

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