March 19th, 2011, Late Evening | permalink

Since moving back to the UK I had to get rid of my US iPhone, and it was with much sadness as I’d had use of an iPhone on a daily basis for over 3 years. I could have kept it and tried to unlock it but it was too much hassle, and, to be honest, I needed the money it was worth…

Now, you say, why not just get a iPhone over here? Well, as I was without a regular source of income I decided to forgo a monthly contract and go with a pay as you go phone and a PAYG iPhone is a ridiculous amount, and I had a bad user experience with an iPhone 4 in the US. So I opted for a HTC Wildfire, a low end Android device, so a period of adjustment was required. First thing to get used to was the new “desktop” which HTC call Sense, this is the shiny interface you can add widgets to, coming from the iPhone environment of pages of icons and a static dock, it was quite a change. Soon enough I had filled my 7 pages with useful widgets like a music player, scrollable messages, weather and contacts.

Now the differences, Android handles notifications so much better than the iPhone, instead of an annoying pop up each time you get a text, Facebook message, tweet mention or whatever, you get a little alert icon in the top bar with a brief description, hold that bar and drag it down and you get a list of your notifications, as well as a list of items that may be running (like current song playing for example). Much nicer, less obtrusive. Being a Google phone, apps like Maps are far superior to the iPhone equivalent, with Maps you also get Google Navigation, free turn-by-turn directions. This proved to be most helpful when I drove to Cambridge last month. You can also get a Car Mode, I have it setup so when the phone connects to the car stereo via bluetooth, it jumps over to car mode, which is a simplified interface with large buttons to operate items you’re most likely to need while driving, like navigation, music, phone and contacts.

You can also link contacts with their Facebook, Flickr and Twitter profiles so when you open up their contact info, you can view all their updates without ever opening up another app. Though one slight downside is when you add your Facebook info to sync, it then add all your friends with phone numbers entered into Facebook into your contact list, but a little fiddling can filter these.

There are a few things I miss from the iPhone, like visual voicemail (you can get this via apps but I don’t trust a third-party to handle this), the ability to take screenshots on the device (for Android you have to download a bunch of development tools to do this), and apps like Instagram and Angry Birds (Angry Birds is available for Android but not for my device as the screen is too small). I’ve noticed a few apps that aren’t available for my device for a multitude of reasons, that would be my one real gripe about it, the Android fragmentation. And the upgrade support for Android is surprisingly short, usually you get one software upgrade, rarely do you get two. So my device was upgraded from Android 2.1 (Eclair) to 2.2 (Froyo), it’s unlikely to get 2.3/4 (Gingerbread) despite being less than a year old, Apple on the other hand give you two iOS updates.

Would I go back to an iPhone? Possibly. Would I get another Android? Maybe. Both are good and bad in their own ways, Android is easily personalised but iPhone offers a better user experience (at least in my opinion), that said I’m pretty happy with my Wildfire…

  1. 1 Ted Cikowski

    I ended up with a Iphone 3GS for a while but now have an LG Optimus 2x Android phone and my brother has Iphone 4. So having used all of them I will say the Optimus 2x blows the Iphone out of the water as of right now. Perhaps the Iphone 5 will catch up but it isn’t even close right now. The Optimus 2x has a dual core processor and a 4 inch screen. It is mega fast. It does 1080p video recording, flash video (it works great, I watch live sports on it), widgets, T-Mobile TV, etc. I think the Iphone is great for people who don’t want to mess around too much and just want a very good phone/web experience and Itunes and apps. Android is for people who want to dig deep into their phones and have more multimedia options. Many apps do run better on Iphone than Android though.

  2. 2 Greg

    Like I said, an iPhone just works, you don’t have too many worries about app compatibility unlike Android, classic example is Netflix, only works on a handful of Android apps, works on every iPhone, Skype video calling is iffy too even if your Android has a forward facing camera

    But I do love my little Android, but I’m thinking of replacing it with a bigger brother, maybe the HTC Sensation or EVO 3D

  3. 3 Ted Cikowski

    Well the higher end Android you buy the less you have to worry about compatibility. The Sensation is a top notch phone as is my Optimus 2x. If you go on youtube there are several people who do “phone battles” and both those phones beat the Iphone in almost every video I’ve seen. Cnet, phonescoop and phonedog have all done the battles. But in all reality unless you’re a gadget geek like me then it doesn’t matter. The Iphone is a great piece of hardware that will serve the general populace better than any phone. Androids are for phone geeks much like Linux is for computer geeks. But I am glad to see so many people (at least in America – don’t know about Europe) have embraced Android as it has become the best selling platform here, although the Iphone is still the best single selling phone.

  4. 4 Ted Cikowski

    My brother and I argue about this all the time by the way but in the end it doesn’t really matter because…

    – both android and iphone have top notch internet browsers
    – both have high speed data
    – both record high definition video
    – both take great pictures on the camera
    – both play music, high quality videos and 3d games
    – both have tons of apps
    – both keep you connected to blogs, facebook, twitter, google+ etc

    so arguing over the details is only for gadget geeks with nothing better to do. I’d even argue that you can do most anything you want on a blackberry…it just doesn’t do them as flashy as the iphone or sensation.

  5. 5 Yash Johar

    i own a HTC Desire S. Overall, I’m happy with it. The only thing that has been bugging me is that after every call/text I get a popup showing the amount charged. Nobody seems to know how to disable it. Save this, everything is perfect. Gtalk video support might come anytime soon. I am really psyched about it.