Secret Hero device: the HP 910. Can it beat the iPhone?

After all the fanfare, excitement and expectations for Steve Job’s iPhone 3G announcement, many people were left wanting more. From a device perspective, there were no surprises: the iPhone had everything people already knew: 3G, GPS, lower price. Still, the media went crazy about the iPhone, as expected.

One element of the keynote that surprised me is that it was completely devoted to the iPhone. Who would have thought, 18 months ago, that Steve Jobs’ keynote at WWDC would not talk at all about Macs or OS X (except for a small mention of Snow Leopard). Mobility is that important.

That same week, in Germany HP launched the iPAQ 910 Windows Mobile phone. Most people have already discounted HP after the 6925 was so late to market and the 510 failed to impress. Honestly, when I looked at photos and presentations from HP I was not impressed.

Then, a few weeks ago my friends at HP sent us a few 910s for our team to play with and show to customers. Wow. I am not going to say it is an incredibly beautiful phone, but it is not bad looking. In fact, it looks very solid and professional. Imagine a device the size of a Motorola Q9, with a full exposed QWERTY keyboard, Windows Mobile 6.1 professional edition and a touch screen.

Based on my current understanding of the iPhone 3G specs, here is how it would compare with the HP 910. Before getting into it, let me start by saying these are two very different devices because they will beappealing to two different kinds of users. The point I am trying to make is how much hype Apple enjoyed with the iPhone and how the media ignored the HP phone. True, I would have recommended Hp to pick any other week in the year other than the one the new iPhone launches.

  • Coolness  – Obviously there is no contest. The iPhone wins. It is the coolest phone . Still, no one will be embarrassed by carrying an iPAQ 910.

  • Speed – The iPhone is 3G, the HP 910 is 3G HSDPA 7.2 Mbps, so the HP is a quite faster

  • GPS – All indications point to the iPhone having Assisted GPS,  the HP has true GPS.

  • eMail – The iPhone connects to Exchange, iMAP, POP and MobileMe. The HP has a full ActiveSync implementation (including support for things like rights management protected email), POP, Hotmail and many others. Instead of Mobile Me (Exchange for the rest of us) anyone could get a full enterprise-grade Exchange 2007 email account for about the same price from providers like (Funny how Apple was ridiculing middleware (BES servers) to ten launch their own).

  • Input – The iPhone has an OK touch screen. The HP has also a touch screen, a real QWERTY keyboard, plus voice commander so that you can speak your commands to your phone.

  • Camera – Many people are disappointed Apple did not upgrade the iPhone’s 2 megapixel camera. I think it is OK for most people, after all megapixels are like dpi in scanners: people think more is better but have no need for them. 2 megapixels is enough for a 4×6 print. Still, the HP has a 3 megapixel camera, photo and video capture, and PhotoSmart mobile software.

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 2.0 with EDR and A2DP, WiFi with WPA2 security, ability to use the phone as a 3G modem for your laptop. The iPhone has basic Bluetooth and WiFi and does not support any of these advanced features. No MMS either.

  • Applications – Steve showed about a dozen beta applications demoed at WWDC, which looked nice. The HP has well over 18,000 applications available today. So whether you are a real estate agent, student or nurse, there are dozens of powerful applications to help you do your job. The iPhone’s application platform is powerful, much more than the Blackberry outdated J2ME platform, the HP phone has the full .net compact framework and SQL Server compact edition.

  • Security – It took hackers a few days to hack the iPhone to unlock it. The software is unproven. Most analysts (Gartner, J Gold, etc.) warn IT departments about the unknown security in the iPhone. Windows Mobile 6.1 in the HP 910 has been though the security development lifecycle process and has received certification from the US government (FIPS 140-2) as well as international governments (Common Criteria certification). Thousands of enterprise customers trust Windows Mobile for their security.

  • Management– iPhone lacks most corporate management tools, implementing an unknown subset of ActiveSync features. HP phones can be managed using Exchange 2007, SCCM, SC MDM, or any one of a handful of third party applications like Odyssey software or Good technologies.

  • Coverage – The iPhone is available only though AT&T, who offers international roaming ($1+ per minute in most countries). The HP is available unlocked, meaning it should work in about 180 countries. Just pop in a SIM card, and the device will try to auto configure network settings. You will pay $300 more for the iPAQ 910 but there is no contract required and you can use your own SIM. Over time the savings can be significant.

I don’t intend to minimize the coolness or the importance of the iPhone: it is a beautiful device with a revolutionary user interface. However, for business users, the HP iPAQ 910 is a more powerful and functional choice.

Comments (10)

  1. Brian Downer says:

    Biased much?

    The iPhone 3G is also HSDPA – no information has been released on what speeds it is capable of.

    The iPhone touchscreen is OK? Can you name a better touchscreen implementation?

    What you meant to say was: "The iPhone has the best touchscreen available, the iPAQ has a poor touchscreen, but also has a keyboard and voice commander software…"

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between "true GPS" and Assisted GPS, so I won’t try to explain why Apple has made the right choice for a mobile handheld device. Why are HP using Assisted GPS in the 914?

    I could go on, but it’s pointless. Buy the iPAQ. I’m sure it will make you very happy.

  2. Adi Saric says:

    There are few issues with iPhone 2.0 that make it extremely unattractive. First of all is that the phone is locked and cannot be purchased unlocked. That makes it useless overseas as I am not going to pay $1/min. There is no front camera for video conferencing. It used proprietary OS that you cannot download free apps to – my most important being Skype so I can make international calls via 3G. And I have to agree that when it comes to actually typing an email or SMS iPhone on-screen keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. Thanks for the tip on 910.

  3. David Browne says:

    @ Adi Saric

    Free apps will be available on iPhone 2.0 – to suggest otherwise is FUD.

    "no front camera for video conferencing" and "thanks for the tip on 910". I must have missed the "front camera" on the 910.

    As for the on-screen keyboard, I had a loan iPhone for a week and I got used to it pretty fast (as good as any other "physical" mini-keyboard). I’m not sure you’d get that from looking (in envy) over someone else’s shoulder…

    I’m not trying to advocate the iPhone – I didn’t buy one. I’m not sure that I’ll buy the 3G version. But this article is a transparent attempt to knock a competitor. Apple have done something pretty amazing with two generations of their phone. I can understand why Microsoft employees and devotees are getting worried.

  4. Drehood says:

    I ordered my 910 early this morning and am beyond excited about it.  The reviews so far have been pretty glowing about it.  My twin brother is picking up a 3G iPhone so I’ll be able to compare/contrast the 2 devices personally but for me, it wasn’t even close; iPAQ 910 is my choice.

  5. SumDumMofo says:

    Firstly my repertoire. 1x iPhone (non 3g), IPAQ 6900,6515, TyTn II, Some old and N95 Nokia crap as well.

    The iPhone is awesome in its own right! So are the others.

    I carry the TyTN and iPhone everywhere because the iPhone is still an awesome IPOD with 16gb as opposed to the others which take slow 4gb cards (used for storing my work files and playing music in my car). The screen on the iPhone is awesome for viewing movies etc because of its size but quality wise they all use the same chips and are the same (Except the IPAQ 6 series at square 240×240) resolutions. BUT thats where it stops. Using the iPhone becomes an issue as pointed out in the previous posts. Even the TyTn’s onscreen keyboard is faster and easier to use (sometimes quicker than opening it and going landscape. The iPaq’s absolutely rule on this with one handed typing 100% possible).

    The OS’s cannot be compared because the IPAQ’s/TyTn’s do everything network wise that your PC can. The iPhone looses horribly at this point but its an OS thing. Running Debian on the iPhone erradicates most of those issues but brings others (Become Linus Torvalds bitch and its easier).

    For example I can play DIVx (Same high quality file thats used on my PC at 700mb per movie) on the other devices the VLC port thats in beta still can’t do it properly so copying a movie or anyother media to the WinMob devices is a pleasure compared to the iPhone but they lack the capacity the iPhone has.

    All in all the iPhone is an awesome multimedia tool if you’re Steve Job’s bitch and an ok CellPhone. The Windows Mobile phones only lack the two finger touch and capacity of the iPhone and don’t even start on the iPhone superior CPU which is locked to speeds lower than that of the 3 year old IPAQ 6900 to get a semi decent battery life. But everywhere else any smartphone with touchscreen is far more friendly towards business and serious users. At least my 6 year old 6515 can put its audio out to my stereo bluetooth headset so yes although I use an ancient device for GPS and Music only and at that the music selection is limited its still far more practical.

    My order is in for the 914, any takers for a seriously hacked iPhone(9 screens of apps and an OS that works)?

  6. Jay says:

    I have the first gen iPhone and it is a great phone but I am excited about the 910. The only thing I am worried about is the smaller lower resolution QVGA screen. It might be hard to go back. Otherwise a touch screen/stylus, full qwerty, and a scroll wheel sound pretty nice to me. I would’ve gotten a parlm treo 700wx if it wasn’t so bulk. This thing seems perfect for me.

    Seriously Applefanboys don’t be so touchy. The iPhone is great and is successful but there are people who need something more business oriented. I would never take my iPhone running that is why I have a ipod nano. Sometimes you just need a full qwerty.

  7. Arfan says:

    I have many gsm phones and many pda smartphones have both the iphone versions too. I usually get a brand new phone every week and my friends have joked I should open a phone museum in Seattle. I bought the hp 6925 when it first came out for cingular like 4 to 5 years ago I think. Thought it look cool at the time but it sucked!!!!!!!!!  I promised myself never to buy hp again. then my phone source in chicago which I buy all my phones told me get this phone its nice. I did ehat I siad i wouldnt and got it the next day. The day i got it i opened the box and thought its was very sexy and solid. When I used it must say best device that can handle 6.1 to date that I have tested and own. Got the htc diamond, and all htc products because Im a die hard htc fan for life, o2 lineup, and nokia symbians. Get this phone different from iphone but for business people a must have. big ass battery too i think 1900mah might be wrong too. thanks

  8. zonder says:

    HP 910 CANNOT play video even in native resolution 320×240 ….

  9. hpblows says:

    so, looking back now, the hp 910 was about the biggest hunk of crap ever, and well, we all know about the iphone..  great article :/

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