I recently decided that my Blackberry just didn’t provide what I needed anymore. Yes, it made phone calls. It also received mail and allowed me to compose outbound mail. The Facebook app worked. So did the Twitter app. Battery life was good. Durability was excelent. The browser? It was terrible. Screen size, too small (for these near 50 eyes .) Video? Forget about it. While my iPhone can take the place of my laptop for much of the time, my Blackberry was basically a better phone and not much more.
I had considered moving strictly to my iPhone. But, AT&T has the worst talk plans in the US. Plus, T-Mobile offers something no other carrier offers: Wifi calling (or UMA for those in the know.) Wifi calling is great when you’re in a basement or in the middle of an office building allowing you to use the Internet (via Wifi) to login to T-Mobile. This feature is also great for use when you’re overseas.
So, I went to T-Mobile almost a month ago and started looking at their two top phones: The Samsung Galazy S II and the HTC Amaze 4G. Both have dual-core 1.5Ghz processors, both support “4G” data speeds (via HSPA+) and both currently run Gingerbread, the latest Android operating system. Both have large screens, lots of memory, MicroSD card slots, 8MP cameras, GPS and more. But, this decision wasn’t just my own. My wife too had the same Blackberry I had and she really wanted either an iPhone or something similar. She too suffered from the lack of a descent Internet experience.
We both went for the HTC. And though Wifi calling wasn’t out yet, we figured it would be soon. Just this week it was released and works (still with some lag and echo though.) I also like many other features of the phone including availability of apps, the speed and ease of use of the browser and the UI provided by HTC (on top of Android.) However, Android isn’t for those uncomfortable with customization. You have to be somewhat tech savvy to get the phone to do all you want. This is the opposite of the iPhone where everything works out of the box. For example, the native HTC email app doesn’t work with SMTP on a Zimbra server. The native HTC calendar app doesn’t support CalDav. Yes, there are work arounds. I use K9 (free) for email on the Zimbra server. I use a $2.88 app that supports CalDav and allows me to use the native calendar app to sync with the same Zimbra server. What a pain though to figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
Other apps don’t work the same on Android as they do on the iPhone. ESPN Scorecenter doesn’t push out alerts on Android. This is bad during football season. However, Angry Birds is FREE on Android. That’s a plus! Pandora (I’m a Pandora One subscriber) and Netflix work well. So does SiriusXM.
Battery life though is a real problem. Of course, the iPhone 4S suffers the same problem. Perhaps these dual-core processor, bright screen, multi-radio (4G, 3G, 2G, Bluetooth, Wifi) features mated with limited multi-tasking and smart app management all combine to accelerate power usage.
If Google and the limited number of manufacturers out there focus on giving users the same seamless experience Apple provides, competition will ensure new features and capabilities will keep coming. I am an iPhone user and fan. I’m also a long time Mac user. But, don’t be an Apple automaton. There are many excellent smartphone choices! I hope soon to have a reason to buy and test Windows Phone 7.5, perhaps even mated to Nokia hardware.