Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Which smart phone to choose?

So these days every 22 months or so I start to get excited about phone again.  I wish I had written down somewhere all of the mobile phones I've owned over the years.  My first mobile phone was actually a bag phone and I remember making a call from some beach down in Florida back to my office.  It wasn't even really a necessary call, it was a bragging call.  "Hey Boss, how's it going?  Guess where I am".  Anyway, I'm sure it costs me at least a few dollars to make that call and I'm even more sure I looked like a total geek dragging that black bag around with me everywhere as if I HAD to be always connected.  We've come a long ways since then for sure.  I've had my share of flip phones that were the ancestors to today's smart phones.  They included calculators and calendars and contact lists but didn't have the ability to side-load apps from anywhere easy.

I've been on the Verizon network now for probably at least 10 years.  My current hand set is the HTC Incredible.  I've had my share of problems with it but my most recent factory refresh seems to have made most of those go away.  I purchased the Incredible almost sight unseen on a recommendation from a friend.  Being a tech geek this was a bit odd for me as I usually do my own due diligence for the tech I buy.  Most certainly for something I'll carry with me everywhere I go for two years.  So this time, it had to be different.  I should mention that I've also dabbled in the Apple world but never with the iPhone.  I own both a 1st generation iPod Touch and an iPad 2.  I have enjoyed both devices although the iPod Touch is now mostly a paperweight.  The iPad 2 however, is the jewel of the family gadgets.  Between myself and the 6 year old it's gotten quite a bit of usage and I'm heavily invested in applications.  This alone is enough to make me consider an iPhone for this contract cycle.

So what's making me not want to pull the trigger?  With Android, I know I will have flexibility.  With Android, I know I will be able to make my home screens look and feel the way I want to.  I am a big widget fan, Of my 7 screens in HTC Sense only 2 of them don't contain widgets.  I have widgets for google search, for volume control, for YouTube, for Slacker Radio,  for device control and my Twitter feed.  They are all useful and make my phone that much better and easy to use without having to launch into apps all the time just to figure out what is going on.  With the iPhone, I haven't seen widgets, about the closest thing I can find is shortcuts but these really only take you the settings area where you still perform the action.  One of my favorite widgets on Android is the Instant Camera, with it on my home screen one press and I hold the camera up, it shoots up to the 3 shots then uploads them to Dropbox, pretty cool huh?

So where does that leave me the iPhone.  Siri and the retina display?  Ok, let me back up a second, I haven't even really said what phones I am looking at.  I have narrowed my choices down to the iPhone 4S 32GB and the Motorola Droid Razor Maxx.  The Samsung Nexus was in the running but the reports on battery left left a bad taste in my mouth.  I had already purchased a larger battery for my incredible just a month or so after buying it and the battery life is still not great on it.  With the Maxx's battery I can do everything longer than either the iPhone 4S or the Nexus according to this propaganda sheet .  Seriously, FOURTEEN hours of web surfing, I don't even think I could do 4 on my Incredible, and that's only 3G.  Anyway, if battery power is my number one concern then that may seal the deal.  Let's look at the list of features in order of want

1.  Battery Life
2.  Camera Shutter Speed/Quality
3.  Apps Selection
4.  Screen Visibility Outdoors
5.  Screen Size

Battery life, the Maxx wins hands down in this category.  With regard to camera, most sites give it to the 4S over the Maxx, but, the Maxx has a flash.  I use this feature constantly and one of the really cool features of my current Incredible is being able to use the flash as an effective flash light, I have done this many, many times and even have an on/off widget on my home screen for the flash light.  With apps selection comes a tough decision.  I haven't spent nearly as much money on apps for the android platform as I have with the IOS.  With all of these apps, the moment I bring the 4S into the house I can sync all these apps over to it that are compatible.  This would be a tremendous cost saver BUT I already have all the apps I need on my Incredible, they will also port to the new Maxx if I choose that phone.  I think this one is a wash really.  People seem torn on screen visibility in direct sunlight and to be honest, I work in a cube so this one could be argued as a moot point.  Finally, screen size, as I get older I find myself holding the phone farther away to read it and additional real estate would be welcome.  The Maxx wins in this category.

So, I think what it boils down to here is I just want the Maxx.  I honestly feel like i'm just settling if I go with the iPhone 4S.  I will be purchasing the iPhone for my wife though as she needs the ease of use.  Me, I think I just want to continue with the Android platform.  I did consider the Windows Phone but I am just afraid for lack of support there.  The newest Nokia handsets are looking good on that platform and people really seem to like them but I am too used to Android to go that route just now.

Maybe next time Microsoft.  Now, to figure out where I'll get the best deal.  Seems Best Buy had a $50 gift card thing going on a few months back that I signed up for which will bring the price down to an easier to digest $250.  I will be sure to post more insights into the phone once I pick it up hopefully this weekend or next.  Thanks for reading.

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