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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.]
- Should I be thinking of some other phone?