iPhone 4 vs DROID BIONIC: Which should you get?

Android Central has their full Motorola DROID BIONIC review up and if you're trying to decide on a Verizon smartphone, suddenly you have something new to consider -- iPhone 4 or DROID BIONIC, which should you get? Sure everyone is waiting on iPhone 5 this fall, but until Apple announces it, it doesn't exist, and by the time it ships there'll likely be a couple dozen more Android phones on the market to compete with it. As of right now, today, if you're looking to get a new smartphone on Verizon and you just can't wait, iPhone 4 and DROID BIONIC are the choice you have in front of you. So let's help you decide.

It took roughly 8 month for Verizon to get the iPhone 4 after AT&T got it in June 2010, but it took Verizon just about as long to get the DROID BIONIC launched after announcing it in January 2011. So one is aging but proven and the other is late to market but chock full of all the latest goodies.


iPhone 4 is small, with a 3.5 Retina Display (960x640) screen, stainless steel antenna band, and glass on both sides. It feels as much a work of industrial design art as it does a phone. Solid. Iconic. But did I mention -- small? DROID BIONIC is as big as it's shouty, all caps name implies. It's got 4.3 inches of pentile display (960x540) in the typically Motorola top notch if top heavy design aesthetic.

Neither iPhone nor DROID BIONIC have front facing cameras worth writing home about -- or taking much more than a profile pic or video chat with. On the back iPhone 4 has a 5 megapixel cameras that's garnered rave reviews for it's quality, while DROID BIONIC has 8 mega pixels but seems to be a more middling shooter. However, where iPhone 4 tops out at 720p video, DROID BIONIC keeps going all the way to 1080p.

iPhone 4 Review

iPhone 4 vs DROID BIONIC: Which should you get?

3G vs. 4G

iPhone 4 uses Verizon's CDMA network for voice and EVDO Rev A network for 3G data. DROID BIONIC uses the same CDMA network for voice but bumps it up huge notch with LTE 4G data. If CDMA Rev A is dial up, LTE is broadband. Not as many areas have LTE 4G as have CDMA Rev A, so if you're outside the still-expanding LTE zone that might not mean much to you, but if you're in it -- zoom zoom. Enjoy the speed and the simultaneous voice and 4G data that come with it (alas, if you're on Verizon 3G, you can't talk and use data at the same time.)

Battery life

iPhone 4 gets phenomenal battery life, typically lasting through a day of moderate use on 3G. LTE demands more power, however, so while DROID BIONIC is better than previous 4G phones when it comes to battery life, it can't work miracles. What it can do that iPhone 4 can't is switch batteries out if it has to.

iOS vs. Android

While iOS 5 is just around the corner, we haven't rounded that corner yet so we can only base this on the current version available, iOS 4 -- and Verizon iPhone hasn't even gotten a version of iOS 4.3.x yet (and it likely won't, skipping straight to the free iOS 5 update when it's ready this fall.)

Still, iOS 4 is highly polished, highly functional, and addresses previously lacking features multitasking, folder organization, FaceTime video calls, personal hotspot, and other features. Check out our complete iOS 4 walkthrough for more.

iOS 4 default homescreen

DROID BIONIC is running Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread (and speaking of corners, will likely get the free, next generation Android OS update, Ice Cream Sandwich, when it's ready later this year) topped off with Motorola's custom Blur UI layer. (So no stock Android experience; sorry Nexus lovers.)

Still, Gingerbread is powerful, flexible and begins to address issues of consistency and UI polish. See Android Central for more on Gingerbread

Both iOS and Android handle Google services very well, though Android has more of them, including Google Navigation. However, only iOS gets Apple software and services.

Apps vs. Apps

Apple still technically has more apps in the iPhone app store than Google does in the Android Market, but the truth is most of the types of apps you're likely to want are available for both platforms.

iPhone apps tend to look better and provide a better user experience but Android apps tend to be able to do more and offer more options.


iPhone 4 has been on the market approaching 15 months so there's a ton of accessories available for it (just check out the iMore Store for a taste of what's available). Plus it ties into the massive iTunes and Apple ecosystems. Chances are you can find everything from the perfect case to peripherals that will check your blood or fly your toy helicopter.

Because DROID DROID is so new and there are so many different Android phones, you can still find the basics but it will take a while for more accessories to show up and they'll fade faster when the next big Android phones splashes down in a few weeks (keep and eye on the Android Central store to see what I mean. Then again, it works with Motorola's laptop-style keyboard and screen terminal, which is very cool.


Here's what TiPb had to say about iPhone 4 when it launched:

An impressive new design, amazing new display, key features like multitasking, and an attempt to mainstream video calls, along with hundreds of other little improvements combine together to make this a substantial upgrade and clearly the best iPhone ever. (Given the success of previous iPhones, that’s no faint praise).

Here's what Android Central had to say about the DROID BIONIC:

There are trade-offs. There are caveats. And there's the fact that, yes, the Droid Bionic was overhyped. But there's also this fact: The Droid Bionic without question is currently the best LTE-enabled smartphone in Verizon's stable. How long will it remain on top? We'll just have to see.

So if you're in the US and on Verizon, and you need a phone now, today, and are trying to decide between iPhone 4 and DROID BIONIC, which should you get?

If you want the elegance of iOS and don't want to fuss around, if you want it to just work, if you want the biggest choice possible of apps and accessories -- as long as Apple approves them, if you want to stay in the iTunes ecosystem, and you want it wrapped up in what's arguably still the most solid, most iconic hardware on the market, get an iPhone 4 and enjoy.

If you want the sheer power of Android and the speed of LTE, if you want the latest, greatest specs on the market -- for the moment -- if you want to be able to customize without having to hack your phone, and if you want a big phone with big functionality, get the DROID BIONIC.

However, if you can wait, if October isn't too far away for you, then hold off a few weeks. Apple just change the equation again with iPhone 5, and Verizon may have an even better Android on the market as well.

If you need more help deciding, read TiPb's complete Verizon iPhone 4 review, compare it to Android Central's full DROID BIONIC review, and if you have any questions, jump into our forums and ask away!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone 4 vs DROID BIONIC: Which should you get?


Why in the "Accessories" section does the article reference DROID CHARGE not BIONIC.
What about Android's Widgets? Think its a feature worth noting in the UI section

I have "both" too an iPhone 4 and a thunderbolt and I hate the Thunderbolt!!!!!! Android is cool but the Thunderbolt sucks!!! Actually Android sucks a bit too..

I have "both" too an iPhone 4 and a thunderbolt and I hate the Iphone 4!!!!!! ios is cool but the iphone 4 sucks!!! Actually ios sucks a bit too..
ignorant fanboy statements can go both ways yo...

Lol, I suspected that there would be some raised heckles about TiPB committing the fanboi heresy of saying that there may possibly be a use case for a phone other than Apple's finest!
Way I see it, this is a comparison of a phone that is out now against a phone that is out now, which would to the vast majority of impartial observers seem to be a pretty reasonable comparison. As opposed to, say, comparing a phone that is available now with one that has no confirmed details of capability, form factor or spec (go on, tell me its about the experience and spec doesn't matter... even though iPhones need a certain spec to provide the experience you crave) yet, let alone a release date.
I think the review did a perfectly adequate job of pointing out that this is the situation now, not the situation in a couple of months. But hey, don't let that get in the way of you bashing an article that is not unreservedly Apple biased.

Pretty well balanced, Rene, but, umm, after reading this spec-filled review, I have to ask: what happened to the tipb theme of "bringing specs to an experience fight?" :)
iOS and Android do different things great, and have different shortcomings. Which one you should get depends on entirely where these strengths intersect with your needs. I am happy with my iPhone 4, while my wife adores her newly-purchased Bionic. People here will shout out any number of iOS-does-this-better strengths, so I will bring up (IMHO as an iPhone owner) Android's one slam-dunk-you-must-get-Android strength:
-- If your primary needs are the Google utilities -- gmail, google maps, and the rest, but especially google voice -- get the Bionic. iOS handles them okay, but they all are vastly better over there.
Fanboys on both sides can list myriad other reasons why their platform is better than the other guy. iOS has more polish, Android more customizability. iOS has more apps, Android has widgets and system-level goodies. (Wife won't take a phone without swype.)
And all those fanboys are right, just from different perspectives -- so figure out what you need to be able to do with your mobile phone, and spend some time mucking around with each one.

Really? I've become dependent on those Google services and hope that they work well on the iPhone 5. That will be a huge factor in my next phone decision. I'd love to not be stuck with Android because the Google services work better there.

the upcoming android version 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" is looking very very promising, so dont count android out yet. and the enhancements to the google services for that system are extensive. i'm not so sure the iphone 5 versions will run nearly as well. and i'm sure google will purposely keep the apple versions neutered to draw users over to android devices.

I'd love you to link me to a malware infected market app story that centers around an app of any relevance. The apps that the malware threats have been identified with were obscure and as obvious as those 'click here for your free ipad' popups on the internet.

~~ Why do you Laugh all the time when you talk.....at best is is irritating when trying to/watchin your phone reports, and blogcast's.....

How about a few statistics? just a few. like maybe a side by side chart of features, or hours of battery life or cost of services.

Conclusion? Since Google bought Motorola, they are going to copy Apple's approach to creating both the software and hardware for their platform, the difference being that Google will have other OEM vendors still selling phones until the warm fuzzies where off and they bail to WebOS or Windows Phone. If I were leaving Sprint and going to Verizon and just had to have an Android phone, I'd go with the Droid 3 because of the Keyboard, but I've already been at a Verizon store playing with an iPhone there and can see where the iPhone would work better for me than the Bionic. I got burned with the Gingerbread update on the EVO. Unreliability, soft reboots, and other annoyances are having me considering other options besides Android.

I have the Droid Bionic and it works wonder. The internet it lightning speed, Amazing voice quality and an amazing app market. I never liked apple for a reason and all there crap looks the same. From my moto droid to my droid bionic the operating system has changed up a lot let alone a cleaner display. I would recommend the droid bionic for anyone. If you have problems with battery life then get the extended battery for it, its only $50 ($25 until the end of September).

I have a Bionic and wife an iPhone 4. I pulled up the same image on both and asked for her preference. Though she loves her iPhone, the answer was clear: the Bionic is better, no doubt. As we say in other contexts, size matters. And neither of us saw any real issue with the Pentile display.

I don't see why people want the iPhone. Way back when before Android was popular, iPhone was the most advanced phone out there. Now that Droid is here, their phones have been showing up the iPhone left and right. 4G speeds, better camera quality (a 5MP camera better than a 8MP camera? UH....NO!) a VGA camera? (they seriously still make VGA cameras? Might as well bring back the VCR and 8 track next...). Can't use the internet while talking on the phone. Can't facechat unless on wifi. $150 a month phone bill FOR ONE LINE if you want unlimited talk and text (internet is not unlimited like other carriers). So you get all that crap and it's just a damn ipod touch with the ability to make phone calls... :-/
I always laugh at people who have the iPhone because all you have to do is ask them why they want an iPhone and NO ONE can EVER make an answer that makes sense! If they say its the camera, there's better camera phones out there. If they say its the network there's better, FASTER networks out there. If they say its the apps, there's the same apps on Android that do the same thing only have better functionality and more often more options. Half the time, people just say "I just like how the buttons look..." >:-/ Seriously? You paid $300 for a phone and $150+ a month for service just because it has "pretty icons"? There's an Android app if you're SOOO inclined to have iPod touch icons on your phone and you don't have to pay half a years salary to afford the service.
I was SO happy to be rid of my iPhone when my 2 year contract was up. I've had Android ever since and have never looked back. No more having to jailbreak a device just to install apps or tether my phone to other devices or customize my phone UI. No more ridiculously high bills for terrible service that always drops calls, especially when it keeps switching from 2G to 3G constantly when driving around. No more worrying about accessories that aren't compatible with my phone. Android gives you SO much freedom and I've even made a few apps of my own using a couple of different app designers that are FREE.
Fanboys of Apple/Mac are sure to have ranging hardons over this phone and the next iPhone, but if you want a real power house of a phone with more options and freedom than a tight-assed iPhone gives you, then Android is where it's at. Just check out the next phone I'm getting, the HTC Amaze and Samsung Galaxy S 2.

Have the Bionic, love it. Friends have the iphone, I like it also. In reality its not so much Apple vs Android but more Android/Apple vs the rest (RIM,Nokia,etc.).
If you have vested time and energy go with the iOS. If you have vested time and energy with Google, than go with Android.
I bought the G1 ages ago, because I like writing in Java and messing with Linux. I have stayed with Android because I am personally comfortable with the os and I have vested much in Google. I have no bad things to say about iOS or the iphone they both work great (I don't care much for itunes and am glad they are cutting the cord with iOS5.
Get what you like, and like what you get.

I do understand why he stated it a couple of times. Most reviews were "iphone 5 vs the Bionic" They claimed the iphone 5 would blow away any Android phone, but there was and is no iphone5.
Most reviewers were comparing a rumor to a real product and in my book that is irresponsible.

Actually, both markets could get infected apps. Apple's way of checking security is mostly automated.
But here is the reality. Any app on either market that gets stupid can quickly and easily get yanked. Both Apple and Google have "kill switches" to automatically uninstall any malware app.
Using scare tactics to make a point is a silly and immature way to make that point. As of currently the Android market has had 1 (yes that is one) bad app that was killed within 12 hours of it being found out with no damage.

typical no answer article. no one has the courage to give an answer anymore. buy this if you want this, buy that if you want that. blah! cowardly review, totally worthless. i'll give you an answer, droid bionic. i've owned apple phones and android phones, and i have to say the bionic is by far the best phone i've ever owned. 4g is amazing, offering blistering speeds when web browsing and downloading data. android 2.3 Gingerbread is a very usable operating system, so stop hating. yes apple's OS is more polished and less prone to glitches and failures, but i'm fine with the occasional android hiccups. why you ask? becuase it's not tied to itunes! i hate the fact that apple feels compelled to try and influence how i use my data (songs, movies, etc.). the beauty of android is it's totally open, just plug the phone into the computer and transfer what you want, when you want, where you want. that freedom outweighs apple's more user friendly OS, in my opinion. my wife has the iphone 4s (got it yesterday) and i spent about 5 hours playing with it. it's a nice phone. the OS is slick, the phone responsive. my main problem with the hardware you ask? no 4g. once you've used a 4g enabled phone it's hard to go back to 3g. imagine using dail up again? and there is the itunes issue as well. so if you're a verizon customer and arent blindly brand loyal (yeah i'm talking about you iphone fanatics out there), and are in the market for a new phone, get the droid bionic, you wont be dissappointed. and for you iphone fanboys, stop bashing android! you have a good phone, you like it, be happy. i love my android phones now but i'll admit apple makes a great phone. i just dont like itunes and how it limits my usage. see, i can be objective

Finally!!! Someone who isnt afraid to just answer a simple question I have been asking this same question which is better iphone or bionic and everyone just says idk!!! I feel exactly how you feel about the android!!! Thanks so much you were so much help :-)

there are malware threats on all systems, including apple. dont make it sound like android is the only system that has had malware issues. that's just a lame scare tactic by an apple fanboy.

i've had the droid bionic since it was available at market and i love it! it's amazing how fast 4g is compared to 3g! the dial up vs broadband comment in the article is very appropriate. to me that's the only real reason to get the bionic over the iphone 4s. both phones are powerful devices, and will please thier owners immensely i think. but bionic owners get 4g, and for me that alone is good enough reason to get the bionic. if the iphone 5 comes out soon with 4g then the decision should really just come down to what you're most familiar with, android or apple. it's a great time to be in the market for a new phone, so many amazing phones out and coming soon!

I know this is a old artical but a comparision between the iphone 4S and droid raser( or razer) the iphone once again wiped android away. Why did it? Less virises more apps, a major one siri and even its 3G is faster I tried it out they both have good cameras but the iphone can edit pictures if they're not perfect. If your looking for a phone choose the iphone

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I've got a Droid X and am very disappointed with the camera/camcorder. It feels like my friends w/ iPhones have faster notification with regard to social apps (they live hours away, so I can't easily do a side by side comparison). I like the DROIDs navigation feature ALOT. The bigger screen is easier to read and might be better for fat fingers :-). Dumping all apps in one folder stinks, but not earth shattering. I wonder what I may be missing out on with th latest iPhone.... reading the "ties" to itunes & my perception that this may be a bad thing (admittedly I could be wrong here)... it would be great to be able to test drive one of these phones for a week or so, but that will never happen... hopefully Motorola can GREATLY IMPROVE their camera & camcorder.

Just a couple of my own opinions. I'm in camp iphone.
iTunes is the worst piece of crap software since aol (equally evil) I use copy trans to do any phone/song management beside update and restore. I'm a bit of a gadget junky. I like the consistent form factor of iPhone that allows it to have the greatest chance of integration with other gadgets. I always tell people it's a ford vs. Chevy argument. It's what's best for YOU. as for android vs. iPhone vs whatever... It's gonna be a while before there's something to make a legitimate difference. There's nothing new to do! Not since a usable camera was added. Virtual laser keyboard? Dumb. Built in projector? Not a viable feature for another decade. I just want my phone to WORK, and work all day without a charge.

Spend over 60 minutes on hold waiting for customer service to answer. Have a two year old Dell laptop, paid for the extended warranty that covers any accidents (dropped it and broke LCD screen)...finally hung up because no one was going to answer. Do not buy a Dell. I'm an IT guy (AAS, BS Comp sci, MCSE, MCP, A+). I used to recommend Dell with a smile, now I tell everyone just stay away.

Thank you Rene for pointing out the differences. I am on a tighter budget than what the "latest" of phones are asking at this point and it has come down to the Iphone 4 vs. the Droid Bionic. I am leaning towards the Iphone since I already have an Ipod, docking station, Itunes and all that. The droid seems great, more storage and other nice features but it was quickly trumped by more than one, "improved" Motorola Droid phone. I fear the bionic might go "out" much quicker than the iphone. thanks again.

iPhone is great! Oh, and Apple says the iPhone 4S has about the same theoretical cellular network speed as some popular 4G phones, even though it doesn't actually support 4G.

I have the droid bionic since the beginning of october. If it has short comings I sure have not found them yet. However, I may go iphone next time. Even though the screen is smaller their form factor, design and look even with the smaller screen just works. When I play with others iphones it is not like I am straining or even notice the screen size much. The main reason I may consider the iphone on my next purchase are these:
icloud - I already use a macbook pro for my personal and business stuff and it would be nice to be able to sync everything up along with itunes.
Industrial design- The thing is a piece of tech art.
By then they should have a 4G iphone for verizon.
Other than those reasons I love my driod bionic. No issues with this phone. I already was familiar with android because I had the original motarola droid before the Bionic. The pictures and video it takes are really good as well.

Believe it or not I am on my third Droid bionic. The first two phones would call numbers at random and at night when the phone was completely off, would cut itself back on. Yes the phone was completely powered off. I am now considering the iphone 4 and tring to get some idea of comparison of the phones pros/cons, etc. I also run and listen to music everyday and thinking the iphone.

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