Samsung Galaxy S2 vs HTC Desire S vs LG Optimus 3D vs iPhone 4

We may be drunk on the Iberian sun, but we're sure 2011 is going to be the best year for smart phones yet. Don't believe us? Check out four of the best.

Flora Graham
3 min read

We're jaded phone junkies with a pocket full of busted-up smart phones, but even we're excited about what's coming out of this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. After getting warmed up with the dual-core wonders of the Motorla Atrix and the LG Optimus 2X, let us assure you this fight is getting real.

We've taken the hottest phones that are burning up Barcelona -- the Samsung Galaxy S 2, the HTC Desire S and the LG Optimus 3D -- and put them mano-a-phono with the phone that remains one of the world's most craveable, the monstrous iPhone 4.

Samsung Galaxy S 2

We love the Samsung Galaxy S 2 so much, so far, that we wrote a little poem to it. It goes like this: Roses are red, violets are blue, you are slim and powerful, we just hope your software is reliable.

Okay, it needs work, but the fact remains that in person, the Galaxy S 2 is insanely cool-looking. Its huge 4.3-inch touchscreen is stunningly sharp, but the phone remains shockingly light. The size may be a tad excessive for people with small pockets though.

It also promises to be lightning fast, if it lives up to the billing of its 1GHz dual-core processor. But much depends on whether Samsung has sorted out its software woes. The original Galaxy S only fulfilled its potential after a couple of software updates. Samsung's syncing software, Kies 2.0, will also have to come crawling to us on its knees before we forgive the unstable first version of Kies.

Good for: Great looking and amazingly light
Bad for: Software must prove itself worthy 

HTC Desire S

The HTC Desire S is too much like its predecessor, the HTC Desire, to inspire love poetry, but we understand it -- after all, why mess with a good thing?

The Desire S fine-tunes its looks with a slick aluminium case. It also sharpens up its user interface with a fresh version of HTC's custom Android skin, known as Sense. It's one of the few successful attempts to improve Android, and it's zippier and better-looking than ever.

Good for: Glossy user interface; sturdy case
Bad for:
Doesn't feel all that fresh

LG Optimus 3D

What is this I don't even. The LG Optimus 3D has dual-core Android power, but whoa -- it also has a glasses-free 3D screen.

It can record 3D video thanks to two 5-megapixel cameras, and as gimmicks go, that's a corker. In our initial hands-on look, the 3D effect looked cool in the right circumstances. A skydiving video seemed to hover off the screen, and an animated 3D pop-up book had layers of depth. There were moments when the animated menus didn't quite do it for us, but you can turn 3D off to play games in two dimensions if you want.

Going by LG's other dual-core phone, the LG Optimus 2X, we expect the Optimus 3D to be lightning fast, too. But the 2X suffered from severe software glitches in our tests. The 3D will have to offer a stable, reliable experience as well as its 3D bells and whistles. The battery life will be another challenge for a phone that's packing so much power.

Good for: It's got 3D, for Pete's sake
Bad for: Look out for battery life and software stability

Apple iPhone 4

Hey there old-timer, welcome to the party. The latest incarnation of the Jesus phone has been around since June 2010, which in phone years makes it eligible for a bus pass. Nevertheless, the iPhone 4 remains near the top of many people's must-have list. 

The iPhone 4 definitely doesn't have the screen real estate of the other phones in this battle, with only a 3.5-inch display. But bless its heart, the resolution is amazing. Packing 960x640 pixels into that space means text is so sharp you can cut yourself on it.

The iPhone App Store is crammed with offerings, with Android's App Market running a distant second in terms of numbers. They both offer most of the big brands and top games, but the App Store remains the shop to beat.

Although the iPhone 4 is a fast and fabulous mobile computer, it's not very good at just being a phone. Antenna-gate rages on, and we can vouch that holding the phone in a certain way can cause the signal to drop, and it has an annoying tendency to miss incoming calls, without ringing, even if you're not holding it.

Good for: Apps and screen sharpness
Bad for: Being a phone