HTC Hero vs Samsung Galaxy

I've been wowing over these two devices approximately for the last couple of months, and decided that it's finally time to make a decision.

Both the Samsung Galaxy and the HTC Hero use the same SoC (who isn't?) - the Qualcomm MSM7200A, a 528 MHz ARM1136EJ-S core, using the ARMv6 ISA. The MSM7200 includes a 3D acceleration unit and a Qualcomm DSP, making it very suitable for any multimedia application. I do believe that the 3D acceleration unit still lacks full support under Linux/Android (much like the OMAP3530/PowerVR). Both handsets have a 5MP camera, although no secondary camera for video calling. They both have 802.11b/g, bluetooth, etc. The display on both devices is 320x480 pixels. Major differences are that the Galaxy has several more buttons (e.g. volume control), much more internal storage space, and a very power efficient AMOLED display, while the Hero sports the new Sense(R) UI, integrated Adobe Flash, more RAM, and multi-touch support.

I thought I would summarize. For those who would like to see a detailed comparison of the two devices, check out this link from pdadb.net .

HTC HeroSamsung Galaxy
RAM (MB)288128
Flash (MB)5127630
(mini-USB compatible)
Battery (mAh)13501500
Display Depth16-bit
(65-thousand colours)
(16-million colours)
Display TypeTransflective TFT
(very low power)
Price (€)485,97 (Amazon.de)476,98 (Amazon.de)

So far, I have not had a chance to examine either of these devices in any detail, but from what I have read, the Hero does support multi-touch. Until now, most sources have stated that the Galaxy does not support multi-touch. However, that might only be due to the fact that Android did not support multi-touch in software until the Hero came out. Perhaps the Galaxy has hardware support for multi-touch. Who knows with any certainty? I've read that the Galaxy actually has a capacitive touchscreen, so multi-touch does not seem that far off. The Galaxy also lacks Google-branding, which (aside from lacking some cover-art) means that software updates are not transferred over the air. Rather, updates must be performed manually with a USB cable, which some users might actually prefer.

Let's start with the Hero. I like that it has a large amount of RAM a great UI that supports multi-touch. The RAM will come in handy for streaming media (i.e. video) and fast context switching (Android's OOM process killer will not be called as frequently). As for multi-touch, I think you would probably agree, that there really is no alternative for pinch-zooming in the browser, or easy photo rotations. Now, the Galaxy - the fact that it's missing some RAM has been somewhat accounted for with the built-in 8GB of storage. As far as the screen goes, AMOLED spells very low-power (I love it) and still supports a true-colour (16million level) display. That will make it excellent for viewing any type of video or looking at photos. However, if the Samsung hardware truly does not support multi-touch, then I would be quite disappointed.

I have to admit, that I'm still sitting on the fence about this until I know with any certainty that the Samsung does not support multi-touch. Originally, I was thinking that the Samsung would be the best choice, without a doubt, but now I'm really considering how the extra RAM in the Hero might be beneficial. In terms of permanent storage, the Hero has more than enough, and is expandable with a micro-SD card anyway. On the other hand, the Galaxy could easily host a few operating systems on-board, or perhaps my entire collection of (decent) mp3s. This decision would definitely be easier if I knew for a fact that the Galaxy hardware did or did not support multi-touch.


Suggestions for Future OpenMoko Device

I love my FreeRunner as much as the next guy. The truth is, though, that there are some serious improvements that could be made to the OpenMoko hardware - some purely for usability, and some to fix a couple of plaguing, nasty bugs. The suggestions below would really turn something like the FreeRunner into a truly portable computing device - not just another iPhone clone.

I've collected a few of my own suggestions below
  • use capacitive instead of resistive touch-screen (for multi-touch gestures)
  • switch to a newer generation SoC, such as the Qualcomm MSM7200A
    • newer ARM ISA (e.g. enhanced, jazelle, dsp, etc)
    • integrated video codec (ditch the Glamo)
    • integrated 3D graphics (again, ditch the Glamo)
    • integrated GPS receiver - just needs internal antenna
  • get rid of external GPS antenna connector (use internal instead)
  • add dedicated power connector (e.g. Nokia 6620)
    • built-in circuitry for 'software-free' battery charging (see discharged battery bug)
    • support charging from 1st USB if dedicated power supply is absent (1st port should be USB OTG)
  • add 2nd USB for use as dedicated host port
  • add a mini-dvi video output
  • add an ambient light sensor (auto backlight control in software)
  • a 5MP photo / video camera and 1.3MP camera for video chat.
A couple of incidentals 1) switch to using 100% recycled materials for the casing, if it already isn't, 2) use AMOLED display technology to prolong battery life.