Consumer Reports praises new iPhones, but calls latest Droids a better buy

By , Oct 16, 2013

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A lot (some?) of people partially base their purchasing decisions on reviews and comparisons of consumer products by Consumer Reports, an influential U.S. monthly published by Consumers Union since 1936. It also irked Apple fans over milking the iPhone 4 over Antennagate meme for all it was worth.

In turn, Consumer Reports lost some of its credibility and luster, especially after it changed its mind and backtracked on its original ‘can’t recommend the iPhone 4′ stance.

Today, the publication is back at it again, having put Apple’s new iPhones through their paces. Even though it loved the iPhone 5c and came away impressed with the iPhone 5s’s improved camera and Touch ID fingerprint scanning, Consumer Reports still thinks Motorola’s latest Droid handsets are a better buy versus the new iPhones…

And why is that?

Well, although the new iPhones along with the revamped iOS 7 software earned high scores in Consumer Reports’ ratings, “so-so battery life and smallish screens” were apparently no match for Motorola’s new Droids “and other phones” from the likes of Samsung and HTC.

So bigger is better, eh?

Anyway, the sentiment was apparently enough to prompt Consumer Reports’ editors to recommend Motorola’s handsets over the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

The money quote:

Yet, battery life was still notably shorter than on other phones in our tests, including three of the latest Droids from Motorola, which ran for as long as 24 hours. Also, their small screens, while sharp and bright, can’t beat the larger, sharper displays that adorn flagship models from Samsung, LG, and HTC.

Both new iPhones had longer talk times than their predecessors, “a tad less than 7 hours”. The iPhone 5s’s Touch ID fingerprint reader was “surprisingly reliable” in Consumer Reports’ barrage of tests as they “found it worked well and was a heck of lot easier than typing a PIN or password”.

iPhone 5s (gold, iSight camera 001)

The editors loved a faster A7 chip and an improved iSight camera on the iPhone 5s:

The phone’s 8-megapixel camera, one of the few in our tests capable of taking excellent-quality pictures, has a digital image stabilizer that we confirmed will improve your chances of taking hand-held photos under low-light conditions.

As for the iPhone 5c, I stopped reading at “the affordable iPhone 5c is a compelling offering for budget-minded buyers” because most analysts and watchers were disappointed with the iPhone 5c’s steep unsubsidized asking price.

And in spite of the iPhone 5c being a half-ounce heaver and about fifteen percent thicker than its predecessor, Consumer Reports thinks “many people will love that its plastic case comes in a variety of eye-catching colors”.

iOS 7 teaser (iPhone 5c ad 009)

I guess they didn’t get WSJ’s memo.

As for iOS 7, the magazine likes Control Center and Siri enhancements.

Still, because of the larger displays and impressive battery life Consumer Reports recommends that people in the market for a new smartphone pick Motorola’s Droid Maxx, Ultra or Mini over an iPhone 5s/5c.

All three Droids are optimized for Google Now. The phones recognize your voice, so without touching them, you can ask them for directions, call someone even if the screen is off, and more.

The Active Notifications feature lets you set up battery-friendly notifications that fade in and out when the display is off. This Droid is also smart about interpreting simple gestures: give it a nudge to display the time, or, just twist your wrist twice quickly to launch the camera, even when the screen is off.

Do you agree with Consumer Reports’ assessment?

And just out of curiosity: do you trust Consumer Reports at all?

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  • Bradley Wyatt

    I love that IDB trys to bash Consuemr Report because of this new report. w/ antenna-gate they were right! people were pissed! in fact Steve Jobs publicly issued a apology for the first time! as well as they fixed the internal antenna.
    Also, I have heard nothing but complaints about iOS 7 (very laggy as well as eats battery) I have however heard good things about the iPhone 5S!
    but this is very poor reporting.

    • Bradley Wyatt

      also if anyone actually read the report…They did a side by side comparison. The iPhone got poor rating because its poor battery life and small screen. My battery lasts 18hrs usage. when i had an iPhone i had to charge it twice a day (i use mine quite often) “Yet, battery life was still notably shorter than on other phones in our tests, including three of the latest Droids from Motorola, which ran for as long as 24 hours. Also, their small screens, while sharp and bright, can’t beat the larger, sharper displays that adorn flagship models from Samsung, LG, and HTC.”

    • Ray Toro

      Agreed on the poor reporting. Its one thing to be a fan of a line of products, but I feel Christian has lost all objectivity. This is and the article on cutting back iPhone 5c production show that. I have an iPhone 5s, have used iPhones since they came out. Tried a Droid Thunderbolt, hated it and came running back. That said, no the iPhone 5s is not perfect. There are plenty of things that need improvement, including battery life and screen size. You’ll see, we’ll all be doing back flips when they finally increase the screen.

    • n0ahcruz3

      Dont forget the inaccurate reading on compass, blue screen of death, horrible battery life.

    • Kenrick Fernandes

      The stuttering/rotation from potrait to landscape, battery issues makes iOS 7 horrible

  • Joshua Catimpo

    off topic but… Clumsy Ninja is out!

    • chumawumba

      About time!

    • chumawumba

      I can’t find it in the AppStore, do u have a link? (US)

      • Timothy

        It launched in the Singapore App Store on October 8. I don’t know when it’s coming to the US store, but if you’re jailbroken, AppAddict has the file available for download.

      • RarestName

        What’s up with this game? I saw my brother an sister playing it in the living room.

      • chumawumba

        Sadly I’m on iOS 7

      • Joshua Catimpo

        here it is, as far as i know its only released on Singapore. i changed the country so i can get it, also its free for download. not a freemium app too. win win

    • Matt

      Only in Singapore. I thought this game was a lost hope

  • chumawumba

    iPhone ftw!

  • Christopher

    HTC One an Motorola X are the only phones besides iPhone I find appealing to try but in the end just got a 5s
    On another note I find Consumer Reports to be kinda a joke, for me buying a iPhone isn’t off reviews of it, Its from experience with Apple

    • Max

      Reviews play a big part if you are a new smartphone buyer that haven’t experienced Apple or Google

      • Cameron Chao

        If you are a new smartphone buyer you should just get an iPhone, period.

      • s0me

        …and after you get bored with the iPhone you can get an Android because the next iPhone will be the same they just update the cpu and camera + gimmicks, the OS is the same ofcourse. Now let the dislikes begin !

      • bigtalk

        but android sucks and is loaded on 300 different phones

      • Cameron Chao

        you are really describing Android, exactly the same + load of gimmicks. Yup thats Android.

      • Dan

        Yeah being able to what with your phone is a gimmick (live wallpaper, themes, torrents, automated actions with Tasker).

      • Cameron Chao

        those arent even features, they are the product of a software being open-sourced. Jailbreak (open-sourcing) does all of those.

      • Dan

        That’s the point of Android. It’s open from the start. and don’t kid yourself, a lot of these ‘features’ aren’t possible on ios even with jailbreak

      • Cameron Chao

        what you mentioned, are. The important features are still far better on iOS than Android.

      • Eddie Leonard

        Gimmicks? Are you telling me that the 3 years it took Apple to introduce Cut/Copy/Paste, 4 for user changeable backgrounds, 6 for easy toggle notification etc are gimmicks? >.< Sure the panoramic feature isnt a feature as such, it just adds depth to the screen… I agree with the CPU and same look every 2 years but Apple dont really introduce gimmicks all that often. Im an Apple user and I do feel cheated a bit with the tick/tock upgrades all the time but when they release something, they get it right.

      • Qiren_94

        Yeah cool. Now tell me the significant difference between the Galaxy S3 and S4, The Note 2 and Note 3, and maybe the Xperia Z and Xperia Z1 besides an updated CPU and camera + gimmicks like Air Gesture and dual camera thingy.

      • Guest

        nevermind

    • bigtalk

      i agree

    • Albert

      G2 and Nexus 5 seems pretty good too…

    • Greenhaze22

      Switched from iphone (after 5 years) to HTC One. I’m still an iphone supporter and may consider switching back if they come out with a larger screen AND there is a corresponding jailbreak. Outside of that, you couldn’t give me an iphone in place of the HTC One.

    • tskwierc

      Agreed

  • Singed

    Wait, people still take Consumer Reports seriously? I thought it was established as a bad joke.

  • VATekMan

    I do love this site, how when Consumer Reports says something it doe snot like, it is a joke. But that is not what this site was saying when Consumer Reports gave positive reviews for the iPhone. Like here:
    Consumer Reports gives iPhone 5 a thumbs-up (9/24/2012)
    Consumer Reports again rates Apple best in tech support (5/1/2013)
    iPad 3 tops Consumer Reports tablet ratings, Retina display “ (4/2/2012)…

    So is consumer reports a joke or not?

    I think that the report is a joke because as it has been said many times, it is not just a device decision it is an entire ecosystem decision when choosing a phone…

  • Cameron Chao

    Pick Droid Maxx over the iPhone? thats a first.

  • Hwang Lee

    IMO the new Droids are pretty ugly, but Motorola did a fantastic job with the Moto X

    • bigtalk

      i saw hat phone it is pretty slick too bad it runs android

      • Hwang Lee

        Well thanks to Android it has Active Notifications.

  • Ignacio Irigoyen

    I would not buy a Droid because at the end of the day it does not matter how big the screen and battery are, you have to use an Android phone, and for me that is to high a cost.

    • bigtalk

      exactly.. and android just sucks

    • grumpyfuzz

      What the hell is wrong with android? Have you ever used an android device? All you people act like android is the worst OS that ever existed, and everything is shit. I’d take android over iOS any day of the week and would not say iOS is trash like how you talk about android.

      • Ignacio Irigoyen

        Sorry, but I’m not trash taking, I’m simply expressing my opinion based on my experience. I had a Nexus 4, and I did not like it (the OS).
        But this for my is a personal opinion if you read carefully my post (or at least simply read it) you would see I’m no trashing, I’m simply saying it is not of my liking, but thx for denouncing close mindedness being judgmental nothing proves better a point.

      • grumpyfuzz

        I said what is wrong with android, didn’t I? You don’t express that all, you just say it sucks. Simple as that.

  • RarestName

    If someone was completely new to smartphones, I would also recommend an Android phone.

    First, to prevent them from whining about how small the screen is and secondly, so that I can lie about not knowing how to use Android since they probably know that I’ve been using the iPhone 3GS/4S and the iPad 3 but they don’t know that I’ve played around with Android devices at home.

    On a second note, I was surprised about how fast the iPhone 5s sold out. I was thinking that if people didn’t want it, I can just walk into the store to renew my mobile contract and upgrade from my 4S, but they’re all sold out in less than two weeks.

    • Dan

      IOS is best for people who don’t want to tinker with their phone. Android is good for techies imo (like myself) who want 100% control over their device.

      • RarestName

        I can’t really judge much about iOS really, because I’ve always used a jailbroken version of it.

  • Tobias9413

    I hate how screen size is a feature according to them that makes the phone better. I think it’s preference. I will keep my iphone 5 if apple goes bigger than 5″. The 4inch is perfect in my opinion.

  • Rowan09

    This is a first to hear someone recommend a Motorola phone besides the Moto X over the iPhone. Screen size is not a reason to give a unfavorable review unless the screen size affects the mobile experience. Some people like smaller screens and some bigger screens but as a company I would not write get the bigger screen because it’s bigger. Consumer reports is a joke to me, I’ve never listened to them for anything electronic in my life and I won’t start now.

  • Luke Johnston

    I love my iPhone but I don’t blame them for this verdict. Apple needs to get their crap together and work on the iPhone’s battery life to keep up with the competition. I shouldn’t have to charge my iPhone 2 to 3 times a day

  • Silvelix

    i’m both ios7 and android user but I like 4-5 inches screen other than that it’s a no! unless you have man purse to fit that big phone.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Sweet! I think moto X is a better buy. More innovative than the droid line up imo.

  • n0ahcruz3

    Iphones battery life is so horrible it’s not even funny.

  • Shamin Aggarwal

    not after i read that the iPhone 5c is a cheap alternative.
    its neither cheap nor its an alternative.
    its a first choice.