December 21, 2014

Android, FTW!

Two weeks ago I purchased my wife an iPhone 4 to get her to send/receive text messages  (my new toy by proxy) and I got me a couple of Palm Pre’s via craigslist, as I wanted to see what all the fuss was about for webOS’ coming out party with the just announced HP Pre 3 and new Touch Pad.  Obviously, I am in the Android camp but I wanted to keep an open mind and review the competition objectively to explain why I choose Android over anything else.  (I was not able to get a Windows Phone 7 device, so while it is gone, it is not forgotten).

First of all, the lot of these phones are very advanced.  As I write this article, I am reminded of my 2001 Kyrocera QCP-6035 that ran Palm OS 1.x and had a grayscale screen, connected at 14kbps, and felt like it weighed more than my current iPad 2.  So these all feel like some Star Trek communicators in comparison.  I have listed some short hardware descriptions below but this review will be all about the software, the key differences between Anrdoid, iOS, and webOS.

 

 

Begin.

I was inspired to write this article because I read far too many blogs that are populated by consumers who have never had the opportunity to actually own a competing device, except maybe for a brief fling in their friendly neighborhood wireless outlet.  So a few weeks ago I got an itch to own a Palm Pre Plus again (I had one briefly back in August, 2010, solely for the hotspot capability).  Well, I found two of them on craigslist and for the last few days I have used nothing but a pair of Palm Pre’s, with external batteries, and two Touchstone chargers to get the most use out of them.  I have to say I am very impressed with webOS and this isn’t even v2.0.  Even with the TI OMAP 500MHz, I got a pretty good idea of its potential.  The Palm activation is much like an Android one.  Just input your Facebook, Google, webmail, and IM account info and Synergy takes care of the rest.  While it takes at least twenty minutes to fully sync with said accounts you will not need a computer this post-PC era.

The multi-tasking capabilities of webOS are simply amazing, especially with the 256MB bump to 512MB total.  At any given time, I could run anywhere between two and twenty cards (application instances) and I usually didn’t  notice any slowdown.  Compared to my Android phone(s), it runs circles around them but it also taxes the battery very heavily.  That’s bad.  The ability to jump in and out of apps is very PC like and is refreshing on such a small scale.  The notifications on Android and webOS are very similar, Android’s coming from the top and webOS coming from the bottom, but while webOS alerts can be cleared one at a time, Android is largely an all or nothing affair.  iOS loses here because its notifications are generally annoying and intrusive to anything you happen to be doing at the time.  Apple, please fix these in iOS 5.

The Pre’s icon dock at the bottom resembles the iPhone’s most instead of Android’s three pronged attack but Android can be modified with a myriad of launchers.  No can do with iOS/webOS.  In fact, I use one myself as I quickly grew tired of Moto’s light BLUR implementation.  The biggest downside to webOS is its obvious lack of mainstream applications.  Even with PreWare Homebrew apps, there is no Skype, Google Voice, or even an official Twitter app.  In my humble opinion, this is the real Achilles heel.  No developers = no good apps.  No matter what, applications are still the dominating force behind choosing a live-in smartphone just behind the decision to pick a carrier with whom to betroth.

Android and iOS win hands down when it comes to a full catalogue of apps.  With thousands available, it may as well be an unlimited number since one phone can’t possible hold them all.  I have been pleasantly surprised how good iOS has gotten since the last time I owned an iPhone, v2.2.  Apple’s multi-tasking is good but still doesn’t even allow for simple updates to Twitter, even in timed intervals like Android.  No, for me the killer apps for iOS is the Skype integration of the FF camera and FaceTime.  While these are big wins for iPhone, iOS is very much an evolutionary platform and  getting better all the time.  Not many changes though in Apple’s walled garden approach but I have to admit, it’s definitely getting closer to the ‘Garden of Eden’ of mobile devices if you can overlook Apple’s tight control and use of iTunes activation and sync.  But I suspect most iPhone users do not think this is a major issue.  The iPhone is blazingly fast and keeps a charge over three or four days versus the Pro and the Pre’s one day term.  So I can see why this phone is not only wildly popular but with its good looks and app catalog it will satisfy the needs of ninety-percent of the market.

But for me, Android still wins out because it’s unadulterated integration of Google services like Gmail, Contacts/Calendar, Google Talk/Voice, Google Maps with turn-by-turn directions, and even a decent version of Skype (especially Verizon’s deal struck for Skype Mobile, not to mention the recent Sprint support for GV).  Again, let me emphasize, whilst the other have email clients that are geared towards Gmail, Android truly shines here with an integrated full-on client.  The  UI/UX of iOS and webOS have more fit and finish, and it seems as if Android users are more concerned with functionality over form.  I’m not saying that I don’t care about the UI but I will sacrifice some eye candy over usability any day.  Another ingenius move by Android developers was to allow sync function of Google services to be turned of and off at will.  Instead of listening to Gmail alerts all day on the iPhone and Pre whilst I receive dupe alerts on my PC in front of me.  Even though there has been endless debate about just how much of Android is open source, give me a little FOSS over proprietary code any day.  It’s not a coincidence that so many ROM’s have been created for Android in so little time versus iOS and webOS, just ask Steve Kondik AKA Cyanogen.

Probably the only app that makes me jealous right now of iOS is the Netflix app, however it looks as if Android could get its own any day.  But what is unknown is the hardware requirements for DRM of said app.  Oh and lest I forget, FaceTime is very nice, but Honeycomb has proven that Google Talk can be a conduit for video calls as well.

In closing, iOS and webOS are very good mobile platforms, great in fact, and are worthy competitors and both are wildly successful in their own ways.  And I have new found respect for these platforms as there is definitely enough room to have healthy competition in the new mobile society in which we live.  Between the three platforms, there is so much that can be taken away as positives like iOS’ ecosystem and UI, webOS’ true multi-tasking abilities, and Android’s openness and Google integration.  But I choose to be an AndroidGuy because I believe in community driven open source projects that produce good software, Google’s determination to make a world class mobile platform, and no matter the current carrier conflicts with Android, it is still a beautiful dream to have a “free” OS that is hardware agnostic.  Not to mention that no matter the hardware preference, there is definitely a device and form factor for you available from Acer, Archos, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson just to name a few.  The iPhone and Pre are limited to just two: the slab and the slider.  Not necessarily bad but I like to err on the side of Choice.

Palm Pre Plus, Verizon

  • Sleek hardware with full, albeit small QWERTY keyboard.  But a small tactile keyboard is better than none at all
  • Feels the best in the hand with almost perfect weight and balance resembling a river stone it was modeled after
  • No front-facing camera but the 3MP camera takes quick sharp snapshots like a point-n-shoot
  • No true GPS driving app except for Verizon’s VZ Navigator
  • webOS 1.4, will never be upgraded to v2.0 (Palm’s version of the G1)
  • Free hotspot app with no monthly charges up to 5GB/month.  Thanks Verizon!
  • Need PreWare Homebrew Apps to turn into a daily driver via side loading apps via your PC and/or alternative appstore
  • Adobe Flash coming in v2.0, Palm Pre 2/3
  • Touchstone induction charge is a nice accessory and comes in very handy, IF you can position it right to keep it from chiming incessantly and keep the “charging battery” message from popping up every 20 seconds
  • Removable battery and Touchstone
  • 16GB ROM out of the box but no external SD card

Quick walk around:
The Palm Pre Plus looks great and you can get it in any color as long as it’s black.  The sides are smooth except for a volume rocker on the top left corner and the power/sleep button top.  The face of the Verizon Pre is smooth since losing its home button that debuted on the Sprint version, and the only differentiation between the north and south of the device is the silver ear piece. The sliding mechanism feels strong and secure, and the keyboard is manageable with some practice.

iPhone 4, Verizon

  • Apple’s iconic shape of love and hate for so many of you users out there
  • Until the  iPhone 5 arrives, the 4th Gen remains the pick of the litter with a rear 5MP (w/ LED flash) and front facing camera enablement for Skype and Apple’s own FaceTime
  • Retina display is ridiculously clear and sharp
  • The big story here though is iOS 4.2 and its version of multi-tasking that allows real-world usability.  Will most likely be upgradable to iOS 5.0 in the future
  • The iPhone 4 is very thin but very fragile as well.  With its front and back glass casing, I don’t see how it would survive a drop without one of a thousand available cases
  • Verizon enabled hotspot but will add $20/month to your already unlimited data plan with only 2GB allowed montly.
  • No Adobe Flash….EVA!
  • Netflix app that looks better than Silverlight on a Windows PC
  • Needs a good jailbreak and possible unlock to “unlock” its potential using Cydia, for example, http://cydia.saurik.com/
  • No removable battery but it doesn’t need it with great battery life
  • No external SD ROM addition

Quick walk around:
With the exception of the ever elusive white iPhone 4, the default model in black is still stunning.  A silver band divides the front and back, and keeps the iPhone looking balanced and chic.  Stellar design and attention to detail keeps it looking both futuristic and the one to copy.  Also feels like an aspirational product, even though everybody and their brother has one.  Apple has kept the home button the integral part of the iPhone user experience and instantly makes iOS users feel at home.

Motorola Droid Pro, Verizon

  • One of only two Android phones that Motorola produced with a full QWERTY keyboard, but the Pro mimics even the best BlackBerry
  • Largest phone of this bunch but still small by the new super phone standards set by the Droid X and the EVO, Thunderbolt, et al
  • The Pro doesn’t look overly flashy and while it won’t win any beauty contests, it definitely shows up with its business suit on.  This thing’s not called ‘Pro’ for nothing
  • Android 2.2, will probably never see 2.3 AKA Gingerbread but I can dream, can’t I?
  • Runs Adobe Flash 10.x in the browser
  • Verizon offers their proprietary hotspot app but the Pro can be rooted in about a minute and then you have your pick of Barnacle or WiFi tether to use for FREE
  • Removable battery and option for an extended version that adds at least 8 hours of life
  • Camera w/ LED flash is 5MP but is slow for most picture applications, ditto for the camcorder
  • Most Android devices can be made even more awesomer by adding some Cyanogen love
  • SD card for adding ROM
  • Side loading of apps is supported

Quick walk around:
The Pro definitely comes from the Droid bloodline, that Verizon’s marketing has made both a blessing and a curse for us Android fans and not just “Droid” users.  Anybody who has seen a BlackBerry, will know exactly where Motorola derived its inspiration.  In the Pro’s case, imitation is certainly the best form of flattery.  The screen resolution on the Pro is not the highest but will work in most conditions except for movie watching.  In short, the Pro is the best Android phone for people who require a full QWERTY but do not want a sliding mechanism to get it.

 



  • Anonymous

    Objective and honest, loved it! Much better reading than the biased tripe over at Engadget.

    • Anonymous

      especially on TechCrunch also.

      Great review.

  • Jerry

    This would be a good read if I could discern the story from all of the damn ads on this site.

    • David

      what ads? Try Chrome and ad block and *poof*!

    • Honeycomb

      ad block + zoom the page so all the garbage is off screen anyways :D

    • Honeycomb

      ad block + zoom the page so all the garbage is off screen anyways :D

  • JlbMacUser

    Very well written and objective. What keeps me on iOS is a fiduciary responsibility to my client’s privacy and security. With iOS I have a closed data solution with local sync of contacts, calendar and other data, where I’m in control with my own security implementation and encrypted, automated, offsite backups using the open source Unix tools on the Mac. Call me old fashioned, but I do not trust the “forced cloud” solution with WebOS and Android. My data is mine, locked up tight, and backed up locally and over the Internet with unbreakable encryption.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Davis/100001064032833 Shane Davis

    webOS 2.x.x is the bomb and 3.x.x will explode into the market

  • Shooter

    So you bought your wife and iphone and you have an ipad2? Your are an Apple Fanboy in the #@$&ing closet.

    • Herren Sam

      Yeah, I also own a Ford AND a Nissan. Go figure!

      • Honeycomb

        Did you pay twice as much for one over the other while the more expensive one actually gives you less features and less functionality? ;)

    • Honeycomb

      I think there are a lot of people that may be “apple fans” that attempt to convince themselves and others that they are platform agnostic or even fans of other platforms. I see a lot of “tech reviewers” trying this all the time but it always shows through.

      I don’t have a problem with anyone that likes apple products and other products. Just as long as they can be truly objective towards all products. That’s the big problem, most can’t be objective about apple products and gloss over all the negatives yet point out every little negative about every other product.

      Like the iPad 2. If Motorola released the same hardware they would have been crucified by all sides. But the same people that say the Motorola Xoom isn’t that great say the iPad 2’s hardware is the bomb. . . please!

      You do have to be somewhat of an apple fan to buy any of their products, or just clueless. Let’s face it, it’s an expensive restrictive ecosystem in many ways when compared to any other “computer/tech” ecosystem.

      • Shooter

        Dead on, I read / see it all over the place. Many writers are Apple fan boys, it seems to be their religion, they can’t write a paragraph without saying something to worship Apple

  • John

    You bought your wife an iPhone 4 to get her to send/receive text messages. Android cannot send/receive text messages? My wife and I love our androids and we can also send/receive text messages.

    • Herren Sam

      Ha! I got my wife an iPhone because she wanted one.

      • Honeycomb

        “Two weeks ago I purchased my wife an iPhone 4 to get her to send/receive text messages”

        Don’t see anywhere in there where you are saying that she wanted it. Sounds like you wanted it for her from what you wrote.

  • Herren Sam

    Funny, how I always get bashed for owning any Apple devices when I enjoy choice and freedom, and to be locked into any One platform is truly the opposite of that. I also own PC’s that run Windows and Ubuntu and am a fierce open source advocate, and I make my living in the FOSS market. But I am also open minded enough to relize that if I have to dig a hole I often don’t differentiate between an open source shovel or a proprietary one. I just need one to get the job done.

    • Honeycomb

      See my reply to Shooter.

      I’m not saying you are or aren’t an apple fan. However, it is often the case that apple fans try to say they are platform agnostic when they really aren’t–they just want to believe they aren’t apple fans due to the perceived negative connotations.

      However, I do find it curious that you have many glowing things to say about Apple products and happily rip into non-apple products. Personally I can’t rationalize to myself any reason whatsoever to enter the “apple ecosystem” because of the ridiculous control freak inflexible high price nature of apple and their ecosystem. So, to someone like myself it can be seen that anyone willing to enter that ecosystem must be somewhat of an apple fan.

      It’s kind of like joining the SS for Hitler but then saying, I really like freedom. Well, maybe you do and maybe you need to evaluate the situation of the ecosystem/environment you are supporting a little more because it wants to destroy those freedoms you claim to love ;)

      • http://twitter.com/chuckfalzone Chuck Falzone

        Ding! Ding! Ding! Godwin’s Law has been invoked and “Honeycomb” has forfeited the argument. Thanks for playing.

        • Honeycomb

          You are welcome. . .

          The analogy is used because it is appropriate. . . does not make the analogy or argument invalid.

          Try again.

          Or follow that ignorant path and claim you love “freedom” also while supporting those that do whatever they can to ensure that freedoms are reduced. . . like trying to invalidate a discussion by making ignorant statements about “Godwin’s Law.”

        • Guest

          Go Fuck Yourself Chuck F.

  • Shooter

    Sam, you say “I always get bashed for owning Apple Devices” so obviously you have been an Apple Fanboy for a long time then.

    • Herren Sam

      You’re right, Android is a cool platform and a hobby of mine. Not a religion. I save that kind zeal for church.

      • Shooter

        So what was it like standing in line overnight waiting to get your iPad2? Can you write a story about it for us? Was your wide able to text you?

        • http://twitter.com/herrensam Sam Herren

          No line or drama. Walked into my local Walmart and bought it two minutes after it went on sale the first day.

    • Herren Sam

      You’re right, Android is a cool platform and a hobby of mine. Not a religion. I save that kind zeal for church.

  • http://twitter.com/herrensam Sam Herren

    BTW, I absolutely love the passion of the readers of AndroidGuys! Great comments!

    • Paulrobert49

      WOOOH ANDROID coming up with app from http://www.mybantu.com/ …its awesome with its interesting features…i love ANDROID  for this kind of apps …GO GO android!!!

  • Shooter

    We’re all only kidding you Sam, I’m sure you’re loving your “current iPad2″ (I guess that means you had the first one also?) and you knowingly bought an iPhone4 for your wife; apparently because Androids can’t txt: “get her to send/receive text messages”.

    We’re lucky she is letting you write for Android Guys, how else would we find out how cool the iphone is: it is “almost the perfect Garden of Eden”.

  • Shooter

    We’re all only kidding you Sam, I’m sure you’re loving your “current iPad2″ (I guess that means you had the first one also?) and you knowingly bought an iPhone4 for your wife, apparently because Androids can’t txt: “get her to send/receive text messages”.

    We’re lucky she is letting you write for Android Guys, how else would we find out how cool the iphone is: “almost the perfect Garden of Eden”.

  • Wdavis0911

    Unfortunately there isn’t much good android software most of it is buggy and the interfaces are awful.

    • Robert

      lulz. Are you shitting me?
      Anything an iPhone can do an android device can do.
      The same cant be said in reverse….

  • Robert

    I love how people compare platforms like one of them is Satan and the other one is “the holy grail”

    Bottom line is they are all shoes made to fit different people.
    No1 goes to the office wearing flippers.
    No1 builds a house wearing leather dress shoes.
    No professional athletics run marathons in high heeled shoes.

    TLDR apple is great for the technology age immigrants.
    Android is great for people who dislike apple software and customization.
    WebOS is for people who cant afford the above.

    Ok little joke there at the end.
    Sorry.

  • Guest27

    Interesting that you mention ” jealous right now of iOS is the Netflix app”.
    I have heard several iPhone users wishing for Android’s Swype app.
    P.S. My family has 1 iPhone and 1 Android phone. Both happy users.

  • Shooter

    Android fans know what to do with an iPad 2; Check this video out — Will it Blend? – iPad 2 http://t.co/bjNkD2T via @youtube

    • Uncle Paul

      Ugh, you couldn’t be more of an annoying fan boy.

  • http://rampee.com Ramprakash R

    Nice read! :)
    Here are some of my thoughts: http://rampee.com/2011/03/lessons-from-the-droid/

  • Mohammad Neyaz Hasan

    nice analysis, looking for driod 3 new features.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bkedersha Brian Kedersha

    Icky Verizon! and the Pro is ancient! Get a real phone, the EVO 3D!