2 weeks ago I wrote about switching camps from iPhone to Android, and with the news today that Android is now outselling iPhone I figured I could either take credit for the shift or do something far more useful and write a short post about my experiences so far.
To recap, I dumped iPhone/AT&T for an HTC Evo/Sprint, leaving the iPhone for a couple of reasons but mostly because I am resenting Apple’s obsession with controlling the hardware and what software I run on it, and AT&T’s unwillingness to do anything interesting, like tethering. I pretty much knew I would end up with an Android because as much as I like the utility of a Blackberry I wasn’t going to invest in that platform with the paltry 3rd party app support they have and that crappy web browser they have kicked the can down the road on for years.
After looking at a range of Android devices I thought the Incredible would appeal to me but Verizon’s actual pricing when you add everything up and their only-slightly-better-than-AT&Ts approach to the market turned me off. That left Sprint… the company that has to try even harder than #2, which in itself was a cause for concern but after talking with some friends who use Sprint in my area I was satisfied that I would get good coverage and Sprint has the Evo, which is a really impressive piece of hardware.
The first couple of weeks with any new gadget are going to be good but I’m at the point now where I know what I like and what I don’t like about Android, and on balance there is far more I like than dislike. If I could roll back the clock I would make the exact same purchase decision.
Despite it’s physical size the Evo is surprisingly easy to hold and carry, with the contours on the case fitting my hand just right and even when it’s in my pocket I don’t really feel it. i was concerned that this thing would just be too big but so far this has not been an issue… and even if it were the size of the screen would more than compensate for it. Speaking of the screen, this is a gorgeous piece of display hardware, even with the brightness turned down to conserve power it puts out a really impressively high quality image.
Let’s talk about power as this is the one area that the Evo could be criticized on, simply put the battery life does suck. One adjustment I have had to make is actively managing the power consumption of the device by turning on/off features throughout the day based on my needs. The GPS, bluetooth, and wifi will suck the battery dry in hours if left on all the time so I have a couple of handy shortcut widgets on my screen that with a simple click will turn them on/off. That, along with turning down the screen brightness, really helps extend the battery life and when I need location capabilities I turn it back on and I’m good to go. Actively managing power consumption is a lot different than the iPhone but it’s not a major inconvenience.
On the plus side, I did buy a couple of extra batteries for $20 because they are replaceable… unlike the iPhone. This isn’t ideal tho because Android takes a really long time to boot up, I haven’t timed it but I’d bet it is 4 minutes if not more.
All of my favorite iPhone apps are available as Android apps but not all of them are as good, for example the Facebook Android app is quite a bit less polished than it’s iPhone sibling. The Android marketplace that Sprint provides access to is well filled out and I can install apps from other marketplaces or websites, but the thing that concerns me with some of the apps is the reputability of the publishers so rather than Apple policing their developers I have to take more responsibility for that myself.
Speaking of apps, why is their no Google Reader app for Android? I’ve looked at a bunch of the Google Reader apps from 3rd parties and find them lacking, plus I’m not willing to plug in my Google credentials to a 3rd party application… Google really needs to fill this gap in their mobile strategy.
The Android user experience is appealing to me because I am a geek at heart and love all the UI artifacts that I can sprinkle around. I appreciate the streamlined iPhone UI but like the configurability of the Andriod UI and the shortcuts and widgets can be both useful and real timesavers. I don’t much like the keyboard and at times really struggle with it but a lot of that is just getting used to it and training the autocorrect function.
I appreciate the Google apps (gmail, contacts, and calendar) integration but also find that it is cumbersome at times, in particular on the address book. I also don’t like the way that the address book is integrated with the phone function, but insofar as being a phone the Evo really excels with no dropped calls and very good sound quality as well as a mic that doesn’t pick up a lot of background noise.
I still have some adjusting to do but all-in-all I am really pleased with the Evo and Android, and can hardly wait until an Android powered tablet hits the market.