Choosing a mobile computing device (aka, a smart phone) isn’t like buying a house. It’s not even as big a deal as buying a laptop or home computer. It’s not as big a deal as getting a job or choosing a major in college.
Some decisions affect the course of your life. Whether you like android or iPhone (as an end-user) doesn’t merit this caliber of consideration.
I like android. I bought the Nexus One when it launched and it was the phone that got me away from my blackberry. The Nexus One was the mobile computer that did the things that I both needed and wanted. It wirelessly synced my calendar and contacts. It did email well. It didn’t come with too much crap-ware* (although it had some) and I was pretty happy for almost two years with that. Eventually I heard the calling of newer, faster, bigger, better, phones and upgraded.
What a disastrous piece of c-a-r-p the HTC Sensation turned out to be. At first I was allured to the giant screen, well-thought out hardware design, fast camera, and slick-looking software. The only problem is that the HTC software just doesn’t work. The email client, the music client, the twitter client, the Facebook client, the camera, all needed to be replaced from the app store to work.
But hey, I was using Android and that meant I could do anything right? It’s open source and I believe in it. Well …
I found myself talking to my coworkers, friends, and other tech enthusiasts about smartphones and I always had a work around. There was always a fix. I finally asked the question, “Why doesn’t it just work?” I paid hard-earned greenbacks to not be able to uninstall dozens of crap-ware and have to spend a lot of time just making the phone work. At first it was fun because I’m a technologist and I love that stuff. Soon it was tedious. Yes, Amazon MP3 is awesome. Yes, google music is awesome. Yes, I downloaded double twist because that’s a good, solid, and responsive player. Yes, google navigation is fantastic. This was only the start. Gaming was pretty good and the Amazon free app-a-day kept me current with new titles. The Sensation was a terrible phone to use as a phone – bringing up the phone part, finding contacts, it was just one big kludgy mess. It worked; there was a lot of “getting used to it” adjustment time.** I took the sensation back and got a full refund.
I used that money and bought an iPhone 4S. Siri was part of it. Wirelessly synching with iCloud made the iPhone a real option for me – that is the most important feature for a portable computer to me. The iPhone 4S isn’t perfect. The screen feels cramped to me even though the resolution looks great. The device feels heavier than the larger Sensation. The screen is radically precise though. The camera takes pictures so well that people I know have started switching to iPhone 4S because they saw me take a picture next to them and their pic sucked. Even better than there point-and-shoot from a couple of years ago. The iPhone has never stuttered once in the month (or so) of constant daily use. Not one lock up or crash. I’m sure it will happen eventually. The music app (just called Music) is fantastic. The battery life makes other people jealous. The gaming is awesome. I can go on.
You have read endlessly about how good the iPhone is everywhere on the web. Let me tell what real world features get used and make the apple integration that bit extra…
I have an apple tv. When friends visit they want to share pictures and video of their kids. They do that on my television in the living. They sign in to the wireless and use AirPlay or AirShare to put the content up. It never ceases to amaze normal, non-tech people. My uncle prides himself on his collection of 60’s music and carries it all with him on his iPhone. When he was visiting he just played his iTunes to my home stereo system. He was floored by this technology.
Oh, the iPhone works pretty well as a phone too. Go figure.
What does all this have to do with choice? Everything. Use the dollars that you spend to choose the things that you want and enjoy. The Android experience on the Sensation was not worth my money. I voted with my dollars. I chose a different phone. It’s not like Apple or Google are entitled to your smart phone business. Windows phone could actually come on strong right?
Remember before the iPhone launched? We all had our blackberries or other proprietary devices on our belts along with our Palm Pilot’s talking about what the mobile future was going to be. We had no idea that the landscape would radically change over a couple of years. It can happen anytime. If another company comes out with the best phone, tablet, mobile computer, laptop, desktop, laser watch, etc. get one. Spend your money and help build that company. In four years we could all be discussing how amazing it is that so-and-so is no longer on the market. That was palm. It might be RIM.
Choose your experience. Choose your priorities. Choose your adventure.
Thanks for reading.
Notes * The Nexus One was a stock Google phone and came with the Google Apps but also included Twitter and Facebook. I wanted to use other apps for twitter and Facebook and it drove me nuts to have those installed. Eventually I put CM7 on the N1. ** The Nexus One worked pretty well as a phone. The phone app was navigable. The Sensations phone app was a disaster. To “dial up” a contact you had to start typing there name in with the T9 keys .. I had given up dialing with letters-to-numbers pre-blackberry.