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When Apple launched the very first iPhone back in 2007, they rocked the world by showing us what a smartphone should be. Nearly four years have since passed and every iteration of Apple's iPhone has been considered the "best phone" to date by reviewers and users around the world. But over the last twelve months, smartphone production and innovation have both been severely ramped up, and Apple is beginning to lose its grip on its title.

The most current version of the Apple's handsets is the iPhone 4. It initially launched just under a year ago in June of 2010. At the time, Android phones had been storming the market for a total of eight months. Apple still dominated, but manufacturers like Motorola, HTC, and Samsung were already launching devices that could do everything the iPhone could, if not more, and they were finally starting to gain a lot of attention.

Besides the ground made up on the software side, flagship Android handsets were taunting Apple on the hardware front, too. Albeit the build quality of Android phones of that time weren't exactly on par, the components that made them up were easily surpassing those of the iPhone: larger displays, faster processors, 4G (WiMAX) radios, etc. Almost one year ago, Android manufacturers were nipping at the heels of the industry's standard for the "best smartphone."

This year, Android smartphones are arguably leaving the iPhone in the dust with smooth performance and exquisite hardware – not to sound fanboyish at all. Take, for instance, the Samsung Galaxy S II. It is an Android phone with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, with an 8-megapixel shooter around back. Despite being made primarily of plastic, the build quality feels absolutely great. And TouchWiz 4.0, Samsung's latest version of their custom skin, is a UI that does an excellent job at polishing up the rough-cut Android. It is an all-around awesome phone that has caught the eye of every techie around the world – even those who don't particularly have a knack for Samsung.

But I digress, this is about Apple and the iPhone. The rumors of the next generation iPhone have travelled the web for months now and have claimed everything from a larger display to a dual-core A5 processor. These are specs that Android phones have been sporting for several months now. For the first time ever, Apple is playing catch up to the rest of the smartphone manufacturers.

The one rumor in particular that has sparked a bit of interest is one that claims the iPhone 4S will come missing a LTE radio. This is the year of 4G. The reigning champion to come to market without 4G capabilities is a sure shot way for Apple's bread and butter to lose its spot atop the list of top smartphones.

However, LTE issues should be the least of Apple's worries. For Android and even Windows Phone 7, there are several manufacturers who set the pace of innovation and advancement in technology within smartphones. Being the sole manufacturer for their smartphone, Apple faces insurmountable odds and will struggle to stay in front of the innovation being made by the number of manufacturers of other platforms.

Does the mean the iPhone will fall off the charts or Apple will begin producing phones that don't stack up to the competition? Hardly. Apple has always been known to only build products of quality and they will continue to do so. And they have a huge following that will always stick to what they know which will continue the iPhone's popularity. But Apple pushing the industry can only go on for so long with Android's Law going on.

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple is putting themselves behind the curve on purpose. Maybe they're skipping out on LTE until 2012 because it's such a stress on battery life. The same could be said for dual-core processors, which are theoretically supposed to help battery life but have not proven very helpful thus far. And we all know what larger displays can do to a battery.

Apple has made it known that they only want to release quality products. They also have a knack for focusing intently on battery life. So it could definitely make sense that they would sit back and wait on the technology to come around instead of cramming their devices with all sorts battery-eating tech. What do you think, readers? Is Apple falling behind the curve on the smartphone front? Are they doing it on purpose?


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