Time to buy a new smartphone

My first smartphone was an Apple iPhone.  I’m rather proud of being a technology laggard – it’s nice to have others at the bleeding edge.  Anyway, just before doing the Govt 2.0 Taskforce I thought I’d better get a bit hip and get a smart-phone and only one appealed – the iPhone – by then the latest version was a “2S” I think. Anyway I managed to leave it in a public place briefly and that was the end of it – for me anyway.  Someone had a second hand Android phone for sale so I bought it and have been very happy with it.  It was an HTC Desire.  I was happy with it until recently when it occasionally takes it upon itself to reboot – including when you’re in the middle of doing something.  At its worst it cycles through boot ups and downs until you take the battery out.  Not good. And HTC have been the soul of uselessness claiming that my phone has a British IMEI or whatever the number is called, so I have to take it up with an international HTC centre.  Which is more than I can be bothered with. So I need a new one.

Should it be an Android or an iPhone?  The Android is not quite as well integrated or designed, but it’s cheaper, more open and the most important features work better. The most basic thing for me is that the default browser in the Android is really excellent with by far the best feature that it reformats carriage returns as you zoom in.  Someone told me that the iPhone’s browser is built on the same open source platform as the Android’s one, but it doesn’t do that.  Neither does the iPad’s browser (nor the third party browser I’ve so far downloaded – Atomic). Completely beats me why they don’t do it, but there you go – Steve Jobs is the billionaire not me, so I’m sure it’s an entirely frivolous feature that I’m after – enabling me to read different lines by just moving my eyes, rather than scrolling left and right twice for each line.

The other thing which is really useful on the Android is the four button ‘global menu’ built into the hardware.  I’m not sure why Apple sticks to its one button solutions long after more buttons are so clearly demonstrated to be superior – but there you go.  The Android also synchs all things in the cloud, which is just much better than having to synch through the iTunes which is bad enough as music synching software and a joke as a synching program for a smart phone.

Anyway, I’m thinking of getting the Samsung Gallaxy II S which has had rave reviews.

Your mission, gentle reader, should you decide to accept it, is to answer the following questions.

  1. Should I buy the phone I’m thinking of, or another one and if so why?
  2. Where is the best place to buy it – presuming as I think I should that buying it outright is the best way to buy it.
  3. Is there anything else I should know?

 

 

HTC

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Neerav Bhatt
10 years ago

What phone network are you on? That has an effect on which Android phone you can choose as some are exclusive/work better on specific carriers

I personally prefer the Android Motorola Atrix due to its high resolution 4″ screen and huge battery capacity 1930 mAH vs 1420 mah on the iPhone 4 and 1400 mAh on my old HTC Desire. This means my Atrix goes flat several hours later in the day than any other smartphone I’ve owned.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is more of a entertainment phone, it looks very slick, is thinner but has an average sized battery and while the 4.3″ screen is physically big it doesnt actually display any more information than a HTC Desire because it uses a medium size screen resolution

The SGS II will be available on all Australian mobile operators, while the Atrix works best on Telstra. The Atrix is also rated for having excellent mobile signal quality in cities or rural areas while the SGS II is rated for cities only

Cathy
Cathy
10 years ago

I will start by saying that I am not a smartphone expert. I do have a Samsung Galaxy S which I am quite happy with at the moment.
If I was to upgrade to a new smartphone I would be tossing up between the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Atrix. I haven’t compared the two phones in detail yet. However, a colleague has an Atrix (which runs on Android 3.0) and she is very happy with its performance. It is a bit smaller and has much better performance than my current Samsung Galaxy S. While I don’t know enough to make a recommendation, it could be worth while comparing the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Atrix.
I look forward to reading about the smartphone that you do purchase.

Neerav Bhatt
10 years ago

PS I’m a technology journalist, so those comments are from my perspective of having tested and reviewed countless mobile phones, including the 2 in question

conrad
conrad
10 years ago

If you’re worried about service, having an N=1 sample from a different country, it appears that the service for the iPhone is excellent. My friend’s phone hung on a movie he was watching, and he emailed the centre about the problem, and they had got back to him and fixed the problem within a day (for France, that’s amazing). Of course, Australia may be nothing like that. Alternatively, if you like to fiddle with you phone a lot, don’t get an iPhone as it’s a basically a closed shop.

Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

By chance, I am just about to pick between the Galaxy S II and the HTC Sensation, so I will be keen to see what you think! I will be upgrading from an old blackberry that does the same rebooting thing you describe, happily I have a rather relaxed approach to life or it would have followed a number of my sister’s phones into the nearest wall…

CNET.com.au gives both an 8.5 (iphone 4 and 8)…

JamesK
JamesK
10 years ago

Gotta say I love my Samsung Omnia 7. Windows Phone 7 is an absolutely beautiful operating system and a joy to use.

Whenever I go back to an iPhone or an android they feel pokey in comparison.

JM
JM
10 years ago

iPhone.

It runs IOS which is the only thing that is going to last, Android will survive but limp along in second place. The problem with Android is that because every phone is different, your developers have to test on every one. Upgrading is also a nightmare.

Compare with IOS. The iPhone and iPad families are devices that have been shipped now with 4 different CPU’s with different architectures from different suppliers.

Yet iPhone 1.0 software runs on all of them in binary format. Unaltered. This achievement, which is the result of fine software architecture and some technology that is a little too complicated to go into detail over …. is nothing short of a modern miracle.

It has never been achieved before, yet Apple have done it. (And the PC dominance of Intel is not the same at all – that’s one basic architecture with a lot of different flavours and mostly one supplier.)

That consideration – the ease of development for the platform, the dominance of the platform, and the very strong likelihood that the platform will continue unchanged for the foreseeable future or longer – will utterly destroy the competitors. Developers will really only bother with IOS and Android is struggling.

And that’s before you get to the “ecosystem” of iTunes and iCloud which provides a whole distribution network for sale of Apps and content.

You can see it already. IOS (iPhone and iPad) have vastly more applications than anything else and their market penetration is extraordinary — far higher than the 1% that Apple aimed for at the launch of the iPhone and as close to 100% as doesn’t matter in the case of the iPad.

As for the “open” argument – how is IOS closed? It’s applications and development environment are just as open as anything ever was on MS Windows, and down there at the base is Darwin out of BSD. ie. Unix.

Take a look at your iPhone, that’s a NeXT machine in your hand there.

PS – your carriage return thing is a matter of taste. “Reformatting” the page on resize is something that WAP used to do and you know what they used to say about that. The Safari/IOS approach of zooming I find much more useful.

wizofaus
wizofaus
10 years ago

If you’re at all prone to dropping things, steer away from iPhones. I thought it was just me (having destroyed 3 in the space of 18 months), but numerous times while on the train I’ve observed other people using iPhones with shattered screens. I’ve dropped my Galaxy a ton of times in the 7 or 8 months I’ve had it now and there’s not so much as a scratch or dint on it.

Otherwise I’d say the pros and cons largely balance each other other. The built-in Android email app definitely causes issues for me (freezes up a lot), but there are reasonable alternatives. Notifications don’t appear as consistently or clearly as I remember them doing on iPhone. OTOH, I use Swype all the time and the idea of going back to iPhone’s auto-correct gives me the shivers. Starting to have fun with the speech-to-text too, though still not nearly reliable enough for serious use.

JamesK
JamesK
10 years ago

It really is true, you gotta pick the phone that does the things that are important to you.

The same things some see as strengths others see as weaknesses.

Brendan Scott
10 years ago

You’re interested in openness and yet you’re considering a ‘solution’ which is a monopoly from one end of the supply chain to the other? What price your credibility?

Looking forward, Apple is going to do with the iPhone what it did for the Apple Mac – ie use its desire for control to annihilate its own market. It has already lost its prime position with Android outselling iOS in the smartphone category and will steadily alienate developers with its App store terms. Watch over the next 10 years as Android vs iOS replicates PC vs Mac from the 80s.

I have a HTC Desire. It has some quirks but is overall pretty great. My review of it is here:
http://brendanscott.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/desire-android/

JamesK
JamesK
10 years ago

Brendan is right in respect of Apples historical inability to hold a market position. The same ethos that allows them to combine already existing concepts and technologies into paradigm changing products often sees them ending up losing their market relevancy.

A number of respected analysts are predicting Apple will behind both Android and Windows Phone within the next few years.

Nicholas Gruen
10 years ago

Apple’s ‘historical inability to hold a market position’ relates to one experience with Windows doesn’t it? When Steve had been ousted. Not that I’m saying Steve can defy gravity, but the situation with the iPhone is fairly different – though I’m hoping Android continues to pick up. Still the early good signs are slacking off a bit it seems.

JamesK
JamesK
10 years ago

Apple’s issues with Windows are the same as their issues with Android and Windows Phone.

They can rush out of the gate but in the long run they will not be able to paddle fast enough to keep up with the rest of the world. There are too many competitors, spending too much money.

Next year Nokia are said to be releasing a phone with a 20 megapixel camera and a 1280×768 display. There just one of a flood of manufacturers pushing the boundaries as hard as they can.

The Zombies will just keep on coming, they will be cheaper, have more features, styles and form factors and in some cases be nicer to use.

Brendan Scott
10 years ago

Hi Nick,
If you are interested, this short article articulates the basic policy reasons to prefer an open system like Android over a closed one like iOS ;)
http://clubtroppo.lateraleconomics.com.au/2005/07/19/open-source-another-lesson-in-applied-miracles/

Nicholas Gruen
10 years ago

Thanks Brendan,

It’s a compelling article isn’t it? Still it doesn’t say that people should favour open source products when they’re worse.

JamesK
JamesK
10 years ago

Ford – Holden – Ford – Holden – Ford – Holden – Ford – Holden.

Pick the one that does the stuff you like and enjoy.