After giving my iPhone 3G as a gift and being with a Nokia 1661 for a month, in an unprecedented and unexpected way I’m now an HTC Desire owner.
Before venturing in my “review” of the HTC Desire, it’s worth mentioning that I’ve used my iPhone 3G extensively. I was/am very savvy in jailbreaking/unlocking the iPhone and testing/using all kinds of Cydia tweaks (after a month or so, using a jailbroken iPhone was the only reason I was using an iPhone). Jailbreaking for me represents beeing free from the walled garden that Apple has instated in the iOS.
I was (sometimes still) following all the cydia devs, the iPhone Dev Team etc. for any news on tips, tricks, new exploits, which basically should qualify me for an Apple fanboy (but still I’ve owned just an iPhone…).
History aside, let me tell you about my impression of the HTC Desire and the Android OS. My HTC Desire came with Froyo and it’s not rooted.
The first thing I noticed is that the OS is really fast (we don’t even have to use the comparison cliche “fast as an iPhone” here). Maybe it’s Froyo, maybe the processor but this thing simply works, touch here, open camera, open app. Everything works normally (whatever your definition of normal may be).
The AMOLED display is really clear, easy on the eyes and the resolution makes it to render text so that it’s very readable. It has a slight learning curve for someone who’s used to one button only, especially using the “back” and the “MENU” button but with time you get used to it. The camera along with the 720p video recording capability makes the HTC Desire a very good alternative to record or phtograph your most interestin moments in life.
One thing that I was also impressed was the overall design and look of the phone; it’s beautiful, it just feels good on your hand and check this: you can hold it however you want to.
The battery! You can quote me on this: “The smartphone Industry needs to make a fund of 30 billion $ to invent a fucking battery that can power all those chips inside their phone and hold for more than a day!”
Now onto the OS experience, and the keywords here(for me) are notifications and Google.
The first thing I noticed on Android was the ultra-superior notification system. It just hit me you know, so simple, so intuitive and so cool (common’, I hear a bird chirping when a receive a @reply. I mean who does that? The iPhone?).
The notification system of Android is designed to notify you for every missed call, sms, tweet, e-mail, app update without distracting you from what you’ve doing. One swipe down, you have all the info, one swipe up it gone. BOOM!
You need to experience it to realize that what the other smartphone OS’s offer is simply distracting and for me nothing beats the Android notification system.
And then came Google.
Using Android with a Google account is not really compulsory but without it you’re missing a lot. A simple sign in when you turn on the phone for the first time and you have all your contacts synced, your e-mail, calendar and whatnot.
But it gets even better. Soon after Google starts suggesting “links” to your contacts. For example, Google “learned” that a friend of mine who we’ll call here Ben Parr (sidenote: It’s really really helpful if you have a naming convention for your contacts with Name and Surname and not using names like “Bill car mechanic’) of whom I only have his name, surname & phone number that he also is on twitter with the name @benparr, and he has an e-mil firstname.lastname@example.org! And I simply added those two extra contact information to his existing contact slot. That was something that really surprised but at the same time impressed me. Smart Google.
Apart from these, one other thing made me laugh: When I visited a website looking for an .apk file of Chrome to Phone, since I couldn’t install it from the Marketplace (more on that below) and there was a download link. I pressed it and the file was downloading! It never occurred to me that that’s the way every smartphone OS should behave.
Now in order to get short I will simply make a list below of things that work and things that I wish worked even better:
Things that simply work:
- The notification system is awesome, intuitive and non distracting.
- Google Account integration work really good. All data in one place.
- Camera app has all a camera app needs to have.
- OS is snappy and the UI is friendly, you can put more than just icons in your Homescreens
- Freedom of choice and customization is really there.
Things I’m struggling with and wondering how can they be so #fail:
- Marketplace. Google is a search company, but really search is utterly broken on it. Actually many things are broken. Today’s new Gmail app can’t be installed from the Market even tough it’s free. I don’t even use the Market app, I use AppBrain (Google should buy them BTW).
- I’m still not used to the keyboard, it needs to be more simple or I need a different approach
- I’m missing SBSettings from the iPhone, even tough QuickSettings is a decent alternative.
- A good Instapaper client. AndReader is fine, but only to read articles, nothing else.
- Twitter for Android is an utter failure. If you haven’t used Twitter for iPhone you won’t understand what I mean.
- Edit: Screenshots! I forgot to tell you that in order for a new user to take a screenshot of his Android screen it takes a rocket science to do that. Why is that so I don’t know.
- Edit2: When you lock the screen the only way to wake the screen is by pressing the power button, the other buttons don’t work. This is wrong.
What I’m trying to say is that with me using Android I probably won’t go back to iOS even if i had a chance. I’m tired of saving my SHSH blobs in order to downgrade my iPhone to be able to jaibreak it so that I can enjoy my freedom of choice.
Android gives me more freedom to chose what I want in my phone and I believe it is destined to become the major OS present in the smartphones that you or me will buy in the coming years.
P.S. Here’s what I have installed until now: My apps as of today.