Battle of the Smart Phones
Before I switched from my beloved T-Mobile back in 2008 to get the iPhone from AT&T, I waited until the first Android phone was to be released. I saw the FCC sketches and the prototypes of the G1 and I thought i was an ugly phone. I didn’t like the “chin” and the sliding keyboard looked awkward. I had the T-Mobile MDA so I was use to the sliding keyboard action.
I had been lusting after the iPhone since it came out in 2007. I just didn’t have $600 to plunk down on a phone and I was still under contract with T-Mobile. So when the iPhone 3G was released summer of 2008 I was excited, but not ready to part with T-Mobile just yet, I decided to wait to see what the G1 would be like.
Since I was disappointed in the design of the G1, I decided to make the switch to AT&T to get the iPhone. I was sooo in love with the phone when I got it. The day after, I couldn’t hardly get any work done. There was some serious endorphins being kicked off owning the iPhone. I never have felt so content in my life. It was weird feeling. It was like the iPhone made my life complete.
In 2009, when the iPhone 3GS came out, I had new tech envy. The 3GS proved to be a definite improvement over the previous generation in speed and memory. I wouldn’t be eligible for an upgrade until March of 2010. After agonizing over it a bit, I decided to just wait until the new iPhone would be release for 2010.
Forward to 2010
Back in December, the school board switch from Alltel to Verizon. The Motorola Droid was the new hotness and I decided to get it as my work phone. After using it for a couple of weeks, I hated it! The screen was too narrow and the on screen keyboard was not very accurate. Some parts of the UI were just awkward and inconsistent. It just didn’t have that iPhone polish and granted, I was a little biased. I passed it along to a coworker who is completely happy with it. *kanye shrug*
Next I decided to try out the Palm Pre Plus. The packaging of the Pre had the new car smell and inhaled the inside the box quite a bit. It did smell good. *lol* I thought the Pre was a nice compact phone but the keyboard was an issue for me. The keys were just too small and I didn’t like having to slide open the phone every time I wanted to make a text entry. I longed for an onscreen keyboard. Voice recognition input would have been helpful. The UI wasn’t too bad to navigate. I found the notification system a little awkward; better than the iPhone’s but still awkward. Still unsatisfied, I sent it back and opted for the Droid Eris.
I liked the Eris better than the Pre and Droid. Even though the screen is smaller than the iPhone’s, but I got use to it. The Eris, made by HTC, has the Sense UI “stuff” which adds some much needed polish to the Android interface. It was alot better to use than the Droid to me, but it still had some UI issues. The on screen keyboard wasn’t as much as a pain to type on as the Droid, but a pain nonetheless. Adding shapewriter helped. Overall, I think my Eris was a lemon. Battery life was horrible (wouldn’t last a complete day, where as my coworker didn’t have any problems), and it didn’t like to hang on to the 3G signal when I was in Tuskegee. In Auburn, it wasn’t much of a problem. Also, the phone wouldn’t associate itself with a remembered wireless network automatically.
A month or so later, I discovered that Verizon would be releasing another Android phone called the Incredible which boasted some impressive specs. It’s specs are very similar to the Nexus One and the Desire, which are considered to be the “best” Android phones out there. I decided to give it a try. I preordered the phone which arrived a day after the official release date.
So far, I’m really impressed with the phone. It’s light, fast, and I really like the gorgeous OLED display. Battery life is excellent even after heavy use. Reception is pretty good as well. The camera is light years better than the Eris or any mobile phone camera that I’ve seen so far.
Lately, I’ve been debating whether I should stick with AT&T or not. The only thing they really have going for them is the iPhone and their 3G speed. I can consistently get 2MBps download speed in Atlanta and where I now live in Auburn. I have the MyWi Wifi/USB tether app for the iPhone and it works really well as a hotspot for the iPad (drains the battery like crazy though). My phone bill is $80+ a month and that’s with a discount I’m getting with my previous employer. That $80+ is for the 450 anytime minutes, 1500 sms/mms for $15 and the mandatory $30 dataplan. The $30 data plan is a rip off since I’m mostly on wifi when I’m at work or home and I don’t use anywhere near the 5GB cap each month; I use less than 250MB per month on the data connection. Since I have so very little daytime minutes, I use Skype alot during the week before 9pm and I’ve banked alot of daytime minutes in the process. For a similar plan, I won’t get much of a deal with the other carriers. Only Sprint and T-Mobile offer much better deals. One issue with T-Mobile is that their 3G coverage isn’t as good as the others, but it’s no worse than AT&T’s in the area where I work and live. My other issue I have with T-Mobile is the lack of any high end Android phones.
There is the rumor that the iPhone is coming to Verizon this year. I don’t see that happening and this is why: Apple and AT&T proudly shows that with the iPhone you can surf and talk at the same time over the 3G network. Verizon or Sprint’s EV-DO network does not allow that and since that’s one of the marketing points of the iPhone, I doubt we’ll see a iPhone on Verizon’s 3G network. That may be a different story when Verizon starts rolling out their LTE network and I can then see a Verizon branded iPhone perhaps next year. And there’s also the issue of Apple’s supposedly 5 year exclusivity contract with AT&T.
Also, the HTC Incredible impressed me to take a second look at the Android phones. The Nexus One looks bland to me and I don’t like the its stock Android UI. I believe it has been rooted and it wouldn’t be a big issue to get Sense UI on it. The Incredible and Nexus One’s sibling, the HTC Desire, should be coming to AT&T soon so says FCC approval on it’s 3G radio bands.
Sprint is coming out with with a high end Android phone called the HTC EVO 4G this summer. As a carrier, Sprint probably has the best value in their plans. Their 3G network is compatible with Verizon’s; so where ever big Red works, the Now Network should work as well. I’m not currently covered by Sprint’s 4G network yet, but again, I’m mostly at home or at work where I have wifi access. The EVO 4G boast some pretty impressive specs as well. It doesn’t have an AMOLED display, so I’m not sure how well battery life will fair with it.
I’ve been thinking about going the prepaid route since I no longer have an interest in staying with AT&T and to ultimately save a few bucks. I’m not that impressed with the iPhone 4 update coming out later this summer either. There are some useful improvements, but not really enough for me to upgrade to the new iPhone. I may try to cop a 3GS from eBay or Craigslist to get some extra speed. The iPad pretty much satisfies my Apple gadget needs so I don’t feel compelled to stick out out with AT&T again for the new iPhone.