I’ve never been an Apple lover. I loathe the bloated pig that is iTunes for Windows, but right now, it looks like my next phone will be an iPhone 5 (on Verizon).
I was a long time Windows Mobile user but when Microsoft decided to take a year off to start over I wasn’t willing to wait. So I bought the hot Android device at the time, the Motorola Droid. I use my phone for email, as my primary music player, secondary movie player, primary ebook reader and for blog reading, Twitter, Facebook, travel you name it. So I’m picky about my phone.
My wife and I had both had build quality issues with HTC WinMo phones and I wasn’t interested in spending the next two years cycling through replacement phones. I’ve had good luck in the past with Motorola so I went that route.
Overall I was thrilled with the Droid until they pushed out the 2.2 (Froyo) update. While Froyo added the ability to run apps from the SD card and live wallpaper it completely broke the launcher. The phone now regularly times out before returning to the home screen. After much pain and Googling I’ve found that this is essentially a lack of memory problem with no real fix. The only consistent resolution seems to be using ADW Launcher with the Keep in Memory setting. Without that, the phone approaches unusable as apps grab memory throughout the day. I’ve seen it take 5 full minutes to return the launch screen.The hardware is still generally good though the headphone jack seems to be getting loose.
So why am I not looking at another Android phone again?
- The uncontrolled growth in apps bothers me. The Droid is short on memory but it really highlights problems with apps like Google Reader, Twitter and Facebook. These apps store their data in “data” not in cache. Cache clears, data never does. My wife and kids have this same issue on their LG Ally phones. Facebook eats up all available memory and parts of the of phone (like texting) are unusable until you manually clear data.Though it’s fun to see my daughter twitch because she can’t text, this is this a poor design. And it’s a poor design in many Google native apps and official apps. Fail.
- I don’t like being misled. The size of an app on Google marketplace should reflect the size of the app on the phone, not the download size. I’m looking at you Google +. A 2+ mb download should not balloon into an app 4x that size on the phone. Also, move to SD card should not mean that 90% of the app stays on the phone and 10% moves to the SD card. Again, yes this is more of an issue on phones with smaller amounts of memory but the Android ecosystem is in that stage where software is out pacing hardware. More phones will run into this as apps bloat.
- Google Bloat.Speaking of bloat, there are two kinds of Google bloat. Apps that I can’t remove, essentially Google crapware and apps that Google bloats with updates. Both bother me but the updates bother me more. For example, the Google music app doubled in size with the latest update and got less user friendly. Google essentially stole space from me with their update. Sure I could choose to not install it but then the Market just nags me about it regularly. Amazon’s music app does the same thing, cloud and all, it is considerably smaller. The Android Market also ballooned with the last update. 3 of the 4 largest apps on my phone are Google apps, Maps, Music and Market. The fourth item is SlingPlayer which I expect to be large. It brings TV to my phone for heaven’s sake.
- Performance. Why can’t the dialer be given priority over all other functions? I should have an option to kill everything else and answer the phone regardless of what is going on the background. Few things are as frustrating as sliding the little bar over and over again and still missing the call because the phone won’t give me back control. Plus, I still have to pull the battery about as much as I did on my old WinMo 6.5 phone.
- Accessories. Yes it’s trivial but if you want a case for your Android phone you’d better buy it with the phone because next week it won’t be available. Heaven forbid your case breaks while protecting your phone and you need a new one. Even for a hot phone like the Droid it was almost impossible to find a case a few months after release. I can still find 25 different cases for old iPhone 3GP at Wal-Mart today without any effort.
So why not Windows Phone 7?
- I’m not interested in waiting for Mango to make WinPho7 right. Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt with too many promises in the past, and not just from MS. Android was the same way promising that 2.2 would make things all better, not. I’ll look at WinPho7 again in a year or two if it’s more mature.
- Apps. It’s not about having more apps, it’s about having the right apps. There are still apps I can’t get on WinPhone like Square, Audible, Pandora and travel sites from Hilton, Marriott and Gate Guru. I travel, a lot.
- Accessories. Android problem x 20
- Strategy. Microsoft should have thrown in the towel and built a Microsoft branded Phone with WinPho7. They are trying to blend the control of Apple with the variety of Android. From a strategy standpoint, you can have apples or you can have fruit salad, Microsoft is trying push irradiated strawberries.
One more reason I’m looking at the iPhone 5 is still the apps. The iPhone gets them first, Android is optional for developers and Windows Phone is afterthought. Examples include WSJ, Suntrust, Marriott, etc. The last reason is that there is little risk in this decision. If I hate the iPhone, my wife is due for a new phone in Feb. and she definitely wants an iPhone 5. We could just swap then and I could get something new.
There is one reason right now that I may not go to an iPhone 5 and that is LTE. If, as the rumors go, the iPhone 5 won’t have LTE I’ll have to think about whether or not I want to spend two more years in slow town.