The Fixya Smartphone by Manufacturer Report
Fixya Head to Head Reliability Score
A higher score is better. Score calculated by taking manufacturer problem impressions divided by sample problem impressions (impression ratio), normalizing market share amongst competitors for comparison (sample market share, combined total is 100%), and dividing sample market share by impression ratio. Market share data courtesy of Statcounter.org.
Recent stock slide notwithstanding, Apple has been the top dog in the smartphone market since the company revolutionized the realm by introducing the world's first touchscreen smartphone in 2007. Following the introduction of the app store, and a sleek design with dead simple user interface that Apple has historically been known (and applauded) for, Apple dominated its competitors until recent investor concerns and lower than expected sales figures raised a few red flags.
It's a company that essentially brought us the modern smartphone we know today, and one that has a dedicated user base of fanatics and casual users alike. And despite the recent angst surrounding Apple and its lack of exciting new products or revolutionary foresight, the Apple iPhone is still the most popular single smartphone model.
- Dead Simple UI — FixYa users enjoy the "sleekness" and "simplicity" of the Apple experience, comparing it favorably with other phone manufacturers. A simple UI that everyone from grandmothers to small children can use is definitely a calling card of all iPhone devices and something that Apple has historically been very cognizant of when designing their products. There were nearly no complaints from FixYa users about the usability or confusing nature of the iPhone device.
- Reliability — FixYa users lauded the reliability of the iPhone, stating that it is almost always working as intended in regards to core features and never hits a constant roadblock with one feature. This isn't to say there were no complaints about the product. Rather, it's an indication that the issues weren't showstoppers and rarely continued to crop up consistently on a weekly basis.
- App Ecosystem — Considering Apple essentially pioneered the app store model, this is a logical pro of the device. While users on Android or Windows Phone ecosystems had complaints about a specific app not being available (although this is becoming less of an issue each day), iPhone users did not. If there's an app you want, it's going to be available on the Apple App Store.
- Lack of customizability — The iPhone's simple UI is a double-edged sword. While the majority of FixYa users praised the company for its ease of use, some consumers wanted a greater ability to customize the device to their liking while retaining the simple design they enjoy. Apple has notoriously been very closed with their devices, with users essentially getting the full range of functionality out of the box. That works for the majority of consumers, but if you're a techie and want to add more layers into your personal smartphone experience, the iPhone may not be the best choice for you.
- Battery life — Anyone familiar with the issues surrounding the iPhone 4S should be familiar with this complaint. It's a common refrain amongst Apple users, as a large number of iPhone owners on FixYa have raised the issue when looking for ways to conserve battery life. If you have access to a wall outlet at some point throughout the day this may not be a problem, but anyone who goes on a day-long trip, is using their smartphone to stream music, or send email all day, will find a problem with how long the device lasts off of a single charge.
- Lack of new features with new models: Everyone wants the hot new gadget when it comes to market, and the fanfare surrounding iPhone releases speaks for itself. However, users who have upgraded their old iPhones to new versions felt that the additions to the device and experience were lackluster in nature. Consumers have higher expectations nowadays which may be an issue for Apple. As the old adage goes, "it's what you've done for me lately" that counts. It should be noted however that users who are on their first iPhone don't have any issues here— it appears to be the multi-device owners that feel the bar needs to be raised at a faster pace.
Motorola's Droid was a big step forward for the smartphone market when it was released in 2009. It entered the market as one of the biggest competitors to the Apple iPhone, somewhat of a novelty considering Motorola's lack of a sterling resume at that point in time. A partnership with Google (who was just beginning to dip its toes into the smartphone sector) and Verizon (who didn't yet have access to the iPhone while it was an AT&T exclusive) finally delivered a product that could attempt to usurp Apple (and Blackberry to some degree) in the smartphone market.
With numerous iterations of the Motorola Droid and RAZR since then however, it bears the question— what has the product line done well over the years, and just what has it struggled with? Let's get to the details.
- Great Battery Life— One area where Motorola has consistently delivered in, is with their battery life. The company has made big strides in this area while other smartphones have struggled to keep pace. With so many new features being built into phones now that drain the battery, whether that be screen quality, processing speed, or media consumption, the fact that Motorola has improved on battery life is welcomed by consumers who are looking to have peace of mind during a long day when they can't take the time to charge their phone. Many users reported not having to charge their phone every day despite normal usage, which definitely gives Motorola an advantage among competitors.
- Design of Phone — This asset won't necessarily make Motorola stand out amongst the pack (the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy both have excellent designs), but it is noteworthy considering the heftier look the company put out earlier in the product cycle. Consumers don't just want a phone that looks good, they want one that feels good in their hands too, and Motorola has caught up to Apple and Samsung in this area.
- Unable to remove preinstalled apps — Also known as bloatware, the Motorola phones (especially those on Verizon) come with a lot of preinstalled apps that users were unable to remove. Along with taking up valuable storage space, these preinstalled apps make users feel as if the phone isn't their own and they reduce the aesthetic appeal of the homescreen. It's a personal call as to how big this issue can be, but it was a constant refrain from consumers who wanted to find out a way to remove these applications from their device.
- Touchscreen Issues — Motorola's smartphones, specifically the Droid, have the tendency to run into some touchscreen issues at certain points. It's not a wide-ranging issue (like the iPhone's battery life) but does effect a number of users who reported homescreens not unlocking, random characters being typed in on the keyboard, and touch commands rendering a different result (tap to open an app and a different, nearby option on the screen will open), especially on models like the Atrix.
- Speaker and Camera Quality — Phones with built in cameras are becoming more and more important with the advent of rich media sharing, and this is one area where Motorola has fallen behind in their product line. Users reported some blurring with their photos, especially detailed shots taken with a flash. Furthermore, the speaker quality of the phone has a "grainy" sound to it— we recommend using headphones with the device as this improves the issue.
Samsung has been a big player in the smartphone market since its inception and remains to this day a powerhouse player alongside Apple. With a large product line and impressive sales figures, the ongoing battle with the iPhone for smartphone supremacy is really just heating up (even if it's been going on for five years).
The Samsung Galaxy SIII, which was released with big fanfare and welcomed by consumers, is Samsung's most prominent smartphone product and one that was billed as the Android markets answer to the Apple iPhone. Taking sales figures, media buzz, and consumer reaction into account, it's safe to say that it delivered. Android wasn't formerly known for it's aesthetic appeal, but that has changed with Samsung and its Galaxy product line.
- Great Screen Quality — Samsung's products stand out in many different aspects, but one that really caught FixYa users'attention was the quality of the screen. There were no complaints about dead pixels, grainy images, or anything else concerning the screen quality of Samsung's recent smartphone iterations, and watching media on the device is an absolute treat. What Apple did for the tablet market with their retina screen, Samsung has done for the smartphone market with their HD display.
- Enjoyable UI — If there has been one complaint about smartphones running Android over the years it has been the counter-intuitiveness of the UI. Many users (especially those of the non-technical kind) would run into issues with how they interacted with the device, whether that be trying to change settings or flip seamlessly through the phone to find the program or app they want to use. Samsung has made some big strides in this area, putting it on par with the iPhone, the definitive crown jewel of dead simple UI.
- Battery Life (Galaxy SIII) — While not on par with the Motorola product line, Samsung's products have gotten better and better in regards to battery life and are beginning to find that perfect balance between processing speed, gorgeous displays, and significant battery life. It should be noted that there were select users who found issues with their battery life, but compared to the complaints FixYa users reported with the iPhone, the relative success of Samsung's devices deserve note.
- Battery Life (Nexus)— We mentioned above that battery life for the Galaxy SIII was good, if not ideal. However, for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, battery life remains a huge issue for users. Apps like Juice Defender will help users navigate these treacherous waters, but considering the pretty significant juxtaposition between two of Samsung's products, pointing out the dichotomy between the Galaxy SIII and Galaxy Nexus is imperative.
- Microphone & Speaker Issues— This problem is persistent throughout multiple Samsung products, and while it has received updates over time, the issue still persists for some users and indicates a trend by the manufacturer. When taking or placing calls, users have reported multiple instances of the microphone either failing to transmit your voice to the person on the other end (i.e. they can't hear you) or the speaker cutting out at random intervals as well (i.e. you can't hear them). Considering that smartphones, for all their bells and whistles, are still meant to be used to place phone calls, this should be something consumers keep an eye on as more products from Samsung are released.
Nokia's history as a phone company has seen more peaks and valleys than a life-long hiking enthusiast. From being the top-dog in the phone market during the 1990's and better part of the 2000's (in 2003 the Nokia 1100 shipped 200 million units and was the best-selling mobile phone of all-time) to dropping below a 30% market share in 2010 for the first time since 1999, Nokia has experienced meteoric rises and dramatic drops in its two decades in the space.
Historically the company has let competitors like Apple, Samsung, and Motorola go after the high-end market while they focus on simpler mobile phones that appeal to emerging markets and developing countries. It had been a while since Nokia has had that "it" factor, but their recent smartphone product line, the Lumia, has been met with a warm welcome from consumers and press alike. When the Nokia Lumia 900 was released last year, Apple's Siri called it the "best smartphone ever". Some may chalk that up to just good press, and while consumers tend to agree that it may not live up to that billing, it's clear from the response to their products that Nokia has gotten a lot right and is on their way to bringing even more competition to the smartphone market.
- Screen Durability and Touchscreen — Everyone remembers the "Nokia Lumia Screen 900 Hammer Test" going viral when the phone's extremely durable screen was able to withstand a nail being hammered into it (and, eventually, the phone being used as a hammer on that same nail). It makes sense that consumers appreciate the Gorilla Glass that makes carrying your phone in your pocket with keys and change a non-issue. Furthermore, this durability doesn't seem to cause a drop in performance— the touchscreen had nearly no reported issues with consumers and is very responsive.
- Homescreen UI — A novel approach to the homescreen for Windows Phone, consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other and the Lumia series in particular, is the "Live Tiles" which display the number of unread messages or updates from a variety of programs and apps. Furthermore, the tiles can be repositioned and resized according to user preference— if you use your email more than anything else on your phone, the tile can easily be placed in a primary position and bumped up in size accordingly. Different color schemes can also be used. In other words, the homescreen isn't static and provides a lot of customizability, which is great for those who use their phone for specific tasks and want their homescreen to reflect that.
- Laggy Responses — Whether it is with apps or programs already installed on consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other the device, loading times are much slower on the Nokia smartphones when compared to their competitors. This issue may not be a deal breaker for some consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other smartphones on the market, an annoyance like this can cause issues for those who want to access things as quickly as possible.
- Lack of Apps — This is going to be a problem with any Windows Phone right consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other now (i.e. the issue isn't specifically with Nokia) as the operating system is still consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other relatively new and not as established. The lack of apps compared to Android consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other and (especially) Apple is something that can be frustrating for users who want to consumers, but compared to the relatively snappy response times from other get the most out of their device and utilize it to its full potential.
- Battery Life and Heat— The Nokia smartphones, much like their non-smartphone mobile phone counterparts, have never paid too much attention to being the thinnest kid on the block and the Lumia series is no exception. It's a bigger smartphone compared to the competitors and, coupled with the nice display screen, this causes the device to get fairly warm in the hand when it's being used extensively. Furthermore, and related to these issues, the device has some battery life problems that cause it to drain quicker than many smartphones.