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

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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?