Time to put those heads together again: Should I buy an iPhone or something else?

On a recent visit to Washington, or ‘D.C.’ as our aficionados (and efficionados) call it, I had my iPhone stolen. So I need a new smart phone. Here are my impressions of the market and I’d be happy to be corrected and/or have my knowledge extended with a view to deciding what I want to replace the phone with.  I’m leaning in the direction of some Android based phone – perhaps the HTC Desire perhaps partly as an ideological and practical punt on openness.  A guy with that phone yesterday showed me that the browser zooms and re-formats text for reading within the window, which is surely a pretty important feature which the iPhone does pretty inconsistently.  Anyway the alternative theory is that a bit of closedness and vertical integration can look after user experience better and the apps all work better, even if one is occasionally blocked from certain features – like Flash and use of Skype on 3G networks (I’m not sure if a Desire will enable me to use Skype on my Optus account – which was for an iPhone and for which the iPhone blocked Skype on the Optus Network.  Perhaps I’ll find out. Anyway here are a few more propsitions for you to challenge, reinforce or add to.

  1. The iPhone is likely to continue to provide the best overall experience for a while yet, perhaps forever and likely for the life of the phone (I seem to be consuming gadgets quite a lot faster than I did, so maybe I’ll replace this in a couple of years.
  2. If I buy an iPhone I should probably wait till the next model, which will be released globally in the next couple of months someone’s told me.  Any firmer news on that, and/or knowledge on when it will make it’s way to Australia.
  3. Android apps seem cheaper – there seem to be more free ones. I know there are fewer of them, but I expect all the important ones are there.
  4. The Android will be better integrated with a net experience – I use a lot of Google net features to live my life – particularly gmail, reader and calendar and they should integrate rather better (iPhone’s iTunes and ‘synching’ is a ridiculously antideluvian way to interact with a smart phone – and even more ridiculous when running Windows.)  Do other smart phones have decent software for PCs where one is not held at quite such a distance from the phone itself?
  5. The Android is supposed to not have a very user friendly mp3 player.  That’s important I guess, but presumably someone will come along and offer something better.  Meanwhile, iPhone provides problems in downloading single podcasts and listening to them unless one ‘subscribes’ to a bunch of them and the website supports the facilities to do so. You can do it, but the only way I’ve been able to do it, they appear in ‘music’ and then need further arrangement into playlists to be able to get at easily – a pain in the neck.
  6. What the hell is Google’s Nexus One up to?  It seems these critters are difficult to buy in Australia. Here’s a site that sells them unlocked from T-mobile (a US carrier). But they seem to have some issues.  Thus the site I’ve just linked to says this: “One other note: multitouch has not been included here, so while the functionality is supported in Android 2.0 and up, we’re still dealing with a one-finger-at-a-time experience… which leaves something to be desired when you’ve got a beautiful touchscreen like this to play around on.” [I presume this means two finger zooming is out – which is bad news indeed.] “While most UI details look and feel the same, from just a bit of typing the keyboard does seem more responsive and accurate, and we’re guessing the Snapdragon helps there as well. Throughout the phone there are also new animations and flourishes which make Android 2.1 feel way more polished than previous iterations (including the Droid’s 2.0.1), though it’s still got a ways to go to matching something like the iPhone or even Pre in terms of fit and finish. Regardless, it’s clear Google has started thinking about not just function but form as well, and that’s very good news for Android aficionados.” [Will I just be able to install Android 2.2 over the top of Android 2.1 to solve these things – which it’s supposed to do.]
  7. Should I be thinking of some other phone?
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Gavin
11 years ago

Good question – I’m asking the same thing. Though I still have my iphone, and I will wait until the next iphone comes out before deciding? Can you borrow a phone for a month or two?

I’m yet to play with an Android phone – but I will make sure I do before deciding. But I suspect that my next phone will be the next iphone. I feel their track record for usability is strong. Current Android phones seem better than the current iphones – but I think the next iphone will pull ahead of the pack with Android closing the gap over a year or so.

The openness of Android is attractive. But I wonder if the vendor variations will make it hard for a mainstream app market to emerge. There are benefits to being among the mainstream eg consider all the accessories that are on the market for the iphone..

See my blog post here for some similar musings re Iphone OS vs Android

mazman
mazman
11 years ago

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference will run June 7 to 11. Rumor New iphone end of june start of july

Felix
11 years ago

Nick,

I can highly reccomend the nexus one – and yes you get automatic os updates over the air (im running 2.2 froyo).

The native gmail app is great, and I use free replacements for calendar and reader (there is no native reader app, but plenty of options on android market)

Never owned an iPhone, so can’t provide a comparison …

The should be available in Australia soon – or get someone you know in the us to send you one.

You’re right that themusic player isn’t as fancy on the iPhone – but it does work fine, and there’s plenty of alternatives in the android marketplace.

I wont mention multi tasking or being able to provide wireless tethering or flash otherwise some of the iPhone owners out there might get mad!

(Posted from my nexus one)

Jac
Jac
11 years ago

iPhones can do multitasking (define multitasking) :) The next one will be announced next week, rumors are they are changing the look a little, and OS 4 is out now. iTunes of course is retarded.

I don’t know if the nexus one is available in australia, but there are definitely some very nice free music players available in the app store if you got one. Off the top of my head I think some of the other android phones are nicer than the Nexus one (like the Droid), it does have multitouch but the touch sensor hardware is apparently not that great. A Desire should allow you to use Skype with Optus but that is a completely uninformed guess. (jailbreaking your iphone should also allow it).

HeathG
11 years ago

Hi Nicholas,

I’m pretty happy with my HTC Desire. Whlst there isn’t the same absolute number of apps as the iPhone (and the quality is more variable), there has, so far, been an Android app to do pretty much all the things I want me phone to do.

The Sense UI on the HTC Desire is also pretty good. My wife actually prefers it over the ‘pure’ Google experience. (she had a pure Google HTC Magic and has recently switched to an HTC Magic modded to have Sense UI)

I also like being able to customize my Desire.
Anyway, my full review is here

If you have specific questions about the Desire I’m happy to answer them. Note – I’m using the Desire on Telstra though, not Optus.

htc pure
11 years ago

i’ve had my pure for per week now and i nonetheless dont know what to do… like changing the message alert tone to whatever i would like it not just the essential ones on the phone… everything about this cellphone is complicating.. i also wished to change to that android software as a result of windows is simply too gradual and somebody please assist me how to do that

Waylon Schroeppel
11 years ago

You would really need a powerful hardcore processor in that laptop. I would say get no less than Core i7. The main advantage is that it will not get outdated within a year, or maybe twice….