Why we love (and hate) our smartphones [EDITORIAL]

Flagship Devices Featured Image

In the world of mobile devices, specifically mobile phones, we all have our favorite device as well as our favorite manufacturer that we constantly rely on and steadily buy from. At the same time we also have things that we don’t like about certain manufacturers, such as the way they make devices, their UI/UX, the lack of battery life, too many “features” gimmicks as they tend to call them and many other things.

Today, I’m going to give you my own personal opinions about the devices that I have used over the past 3 years, which ones I liked, why I liked them, as well as the manufacturers that I prefer to use the devices from, and those that just turn my head away completely.

Devices I’ve Owned

I started in the world of Android back in late June of 2011 and my first device was the HTC MyTouch 4G through T-Mobile. I kept the device stock from the day I got until the day I got rid of it about 8 months later when I made the switch to Verizon to get the ever impressive and loved Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I ended up rooting the Nexus after about a month, because I wanted something different.

After keeping the Galaxy Nexus for a bit of time, I moved up the the Samsung Galaxy S4. Again, I rooted this device after a short period of time and I’ll explain why a bit later. After the S4 came the LG G2 which I managed to keep for a whopping 6 months via AT&T and then as usual, it was time to change devices again.

Now enter the time that I started up AndroidDissected which is now TechDissected and always having access to the latest and greatest devices for review purposes. Since these sites came into existence, I’ve owned devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, Note 3, Galaxy Mega, Galaxy S4 Activ. Then there’s devices such as the aforementioned LG G2, the LG G Flex, LG Nexus 4, and a couple of others. HTC had a couple of devices in there, such as the HTC One(M7) and HTC One(M8), the HTC Amaze and the HTC Sensation.

Love And Hate Our Devices

Also in that list is now my daily driver, the Motorola Moto X, and previously before that was my Motorola Moto G which I still own. There are of course other devices that I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention, but the point is, I’ve owned devices from all of the major manufacturers that most everyone reading this will have used at least one device from. This gives me solid ground to tell what I like about certain devices or manufacturers as well as the things I don’t particularly care for.

One thing to note is that no where in this article am I comparing battery life of years ago to the battery life we have today in some devices. I’m also not comparing Froyo or Ice Cream Sandwich to today’s Jelly Bean. I’m simply comparing devices to devices and things that I either liked or disliked about each device and/or manufacturer that produced them.

My Love/Hate Relationship With HTC Devices

HTC Logo

HTC, to me, is just one of those companies that are in a lot of ways invisible to me. I know you’re asking yourself, what does that mean and if it’s what I’m thinking, how is that possible with the release of the HTC One(M7) and One(M8) over the past year or so?

Let me start off by going back in the day a bit to the MyTouch 4G, which as mentioned was my first device. Since it was my first, it was definitely cool. I was fascinated by all the things I could do right from the palm of my hand with a mobile phone. I could check email, surf the web, connect to IRC and a million other things. Yeah, all of that was fun and awesome.

The device itself to me wasn’t much better than OK. For starters it was a bit clunky to me. Not necessarily in size, but in weight and just how the device itself was made. At the time, I thought it was just that particular device itself that HTC had made.

At the time, my dad had an HTC Sensation 4G and some how we ended up with an HTC Amaze in our possession as well. Again, both devices were nothing more than just OK to me. The Sensation 4G was the better of the three devices, by far, but it wasn’t the greatest device by any means. Not to me at least.

So what is it exactly you’re asking that I didn’t care for with these HTC devices? First it’s their software, or the UI/UX that they add over top of Google’s Android OS, that they call Sense. To me, Sense is plain and boring in a lot of ways. And what I mean by that is, there’s nothing too flashy about it. It’s what I would call washed out, or drab and dull.

No, I’m not saying things have to be flashy and eye catching or whatever you designer/developer folks want to call it, but it’s got to appear decently to your eye if it’s something you’re going to be looking at for some times several hours every day. Sense just isn’t that for me.

Even with the release of the latest Sense on devices such as the HTC One(M8), it’s still boring and dull to me. It feels bloated or weighted and seems to lag at times. Not just Sense 3.0 or whatever was on the MyTouch 4G, but still today with Sense 6.0

Now for a little bit of something good about HTC and their devices. I know a lot of people like the heavy or sturdy feel of a device. We all know that’s one thing iPhone users constantly brag about is the fact that the devices don’t feel cheap. We’ve all had some cheap feeling Android devices that we’ve either owned personally or played around with in the store or something. With the release of the HTC One(M7), this is the one place that HTC excelled.

With their metal/aluminum backing and overall feel to the device, the HTC One is without a doubt a solid device. I honestly feel that if I were to drop one, it would do little to no damage to the device. it doesn’t feel cheap, and certainly is full of plastic or at least not all plastic on the outside. This is something that other manufacturers such as Samsung surely should take note of it. Is it a bit more cost effective for them? Probably by the smallest of margins, especially when you’re buying parts and materials in bulk like these companies do.

Of course, these are all my opinions of HTC and Sense and the way that HTC makes their devices. Am I saying it’s right or wrong and that you should feel the same way? Absolutely I’m not, as it’s just my personal opinion of the company and how they manufacture devices for the Android ecosystem.

What Samsung Does And Doesn’t Do For Me

Samsung Logo

I’ve owned several Samsung devices over the course of just the last year or so and I’ll just start by saying that they are without a doubt my least favorite manufacturer of all time right now. And they get that title from me for several reasons.

The first reason on the list, and many would agree, though a lot of you will disagree, is TouchWiz. To me, this is the ugliest and most bloated UI/UX that’s put over top of the stock Android OS by any manufacturer that’s currently making Android devices.

I mentioned the word gimmick in the first paragraph of this post and to me, Samsung is full of them in a lot of ways. While I understand that a lot of people use the things that Samsung includes, such as their health related apps and all of that, but honestly, why not keep that stuff in the Google Play Store, or in their own Samsung Apps store and let each individual user pick and choose what they want.

If I don’t ever want to measure how many steps I take in a day and how many calories I burn, I surely shouldn’t be forced to have that on my device from the time I purchase the device itself. If I decide I want to be health conscious, then by all means I’ll go install apps like this. And to be fair, if I owned a Samsung device and wanted those types of apps, I do have to hand it to them that they make them nice and pretty. They aren’t dull and boring looking like that Sense UI/UX I mentioned above.

Next thing on the list that I despise about Samsung, or more specifically, TouchWiz, is their notification screen. If I own a device that’s 6 inches tall, and I pull down my notification shade on my device, I would like to see majority of that screen for notifications, not for the pre-installed, permanent tool bars across the top. It’s ridiculous that Samsung covers up a good third of the notification pull down screen with their own junkie, clunky tool bars that to me make no sense, when I can access all of that stuff via the Settings screen instead.

If Samsung is going to include those things, at least give the user the option to disable them, ALL OF THEM! But please, don’t force it upon those of us that can’t stand stuff like that. We all know Android is about options, and TouchWiz takes that away from us, instantly.

With that little rant out of the way, the next thing Samsung does that I don’t like is the way they manufacture their devices out of plastic. Yes, yes, yes, I know, plastic is lighter and that’s important when you have devices like the Galaxy Note 3 that are closing in on 10 inches for a phone. Ok, well, maybe 10 inches was a bit drastic, but you get the gist of it all.

Plastic is the new metal, and it works for a lot of things. It works in cell phones too, no doubt about it. But a mobile device doesn’t need to be and shouldn’t be 95% plastic, such as Samsung does with their Galaxy line now days. And to me, it’s not just plastic, it’s cheap, flimsy plastic at that.

For example, the battery cover on devices such as the Note 3, that have this leather look and feel. It’s so thin, so flimsy that I feel like it’s going to crack in half anytime I need to take it off to pull the battery or switch SIM cards or something. Just not something I care for at all.

What’s sad is, I’ve used more Samsung devices, mainly for review purposes, than most any other brand, and to me they all feel the same. The only difference is the size. From things like the Galaxy S4 to the huge Galaxy Mega. They were all made with the same cheap plastic and it appears Samsung really isn’t concerned about changing that. But you know what, if I were selling 30+ million of every plastic device I manufactured, I probably wouldn’t change from using plastic either.

LG Devices: Is Life Good With Them?

LG Logo

I’ve only used 3 or 4 LG devices over the course of my time with Android, and I have to say, they are one of my favorite manufacturers. There’s actually several reasons for this and those I’m about to explain.

The first reason is simply the way they make their devices, with the one exception being the Nexus 4. Their devices never feel cheap or even cheaply made. They appear solid and very well put together at the seams if you will. I really noticed this when I got my hands on the LG G2. A device that I used for about 6 months and didn’t even consider upgrading to something new during most of that time.

The LG G2 also had something new that other devices don’t have, and that’s those awesome back buttons. Awesome to me at least because they just work being there for me. LG took a big risk in doing something like that, and personally I think it paid off for them. So much so that they did the same thing with their LG G Flex and now it appears that LG G3 will have buttons on the back of the device too.

One place LG did go wrong in my book was with the Nexus 4. Was this LG’s decision or was it Google’s decision? More than likely, it was LG’s and what I’m referring to is the again the back of the device. On the Nexus 4 as we all know, was a glass back. This was something that shattered, cracked and broke for a lot of people, and did so very easily. What LG was thinking when they did this is beyond me, but it appears they learned from this mistake as they haven’t done it since then.

The only other thing that I can honestly think about that I didn’t like about LG devices, Nexus 4 aside, is the same thing I mentioned above with Samsung, and that’s their notification shade screen. While not as bad as Samsung, it’s still crazy to see those little tool bars across the top that take up so much space.

The Good, Bad And Ugly About Motorola Devices

Motorola Logo

Currently the Motorola Moto X is my daily driver and has been for a couple of months. Prior to that for about 3 months my daily driver was the Moto G. I can honestly say up until the Moto G I hadn’t even used a Motorola Android device at all. I had always heard all sorts of good stuff about Motorola but had just never gotten a chance to use one. Then when the Moto G was announced, and me being on StraightTalk, I figured this was my chance.

From the get go I was very pleased with the Moto G as my first Motorola device. It was a smaller phone which is something I personally enjoy. I’m not a big fan of the Note 3’s, Galaxy Mega’s and all those types of devices. So the Moto G was perfect for me, size wise.

The software and the hardware in the Moto G weren’t the best, but what do you expect from a $200 device. What was good though was the hardware and software optimization that Motorola had put into place, giving the Moto G an awesome battery life. Battery life like no other device I had ever used in the past and this was something very important to me.

Now, the one thing I didn’t particularly care for was the camera that it came with. While it wasn’t that of the LG G2 or the Galaxy S4 or any of those flagship devices, it wasn’t exactly the worst either. It was mediocre at best. This of course coming from someone who is not a photographer by trade. Just someone who likes to point and shoot. Pictures were decent, but for me certainly could have been better. Especially since I use my phone to take pictures of family, the girlfriend, nature related stuff and a few other things similar to that. It’s important to have a decent camera.

Then came the Moto X, which as stated as my current daily driver right now. Simply a great phone, but there are a couple of things that I don’t like about it. First is the fact that it’s got a non-removable battery. I know, this isn’t always a big deal, and with battery life the way it is in this device, it’s really not necessary, most of the time.

However, there are times that my Moto X freezes up(it’s rooted, but running stock) and it some times takes a good minute or two to get it to shut off or turn back on. When it freezes up it would be nice to be able to pull the battery and be done with it. Again, not a huge deal, but it’s something that I’ve always liked to have access to if need be.

Final Thoughts

As stated previously, this is merely my own personal opinion as to why I like and dislike certain manufacturers or specific devices that I’ve used from those manufacturers. This is by no means a bashing session and I’m certainly not saying that I won’t try or test the next Samsung, HTC or LG device that comes out. Because you can bet that’s not the case simply because I’m a tech geek who loves to check out all new things tech related, especially within the Android ecosystem.

My opinions are simply that, my opinions and are not the reflections of AndroidGuys or any other staff member here. While we may share the same opinions, that doesn’t mean that this is theirs nor am I saying you have to feel the same exact way.

With all of this said, currently my favorite manufacturer is without a doubt Motorola. It’s very possible that this could change, especially now that they have been purchased from Google by Lenovo. Will they still be my favorite after the supposed Motorola Moto X+1 is released? Only time will tell and you never know, I might be right back on the HTC or Samsung train.

I am definitely curious to hear your thoughts and opinions on the devices and/or the manufacturers that you like or dislike, and why that’s the case either way. You’ve read mine and I’m sure a bunch of you disagree on certain subjects, features, aspects or whatever that I like or dislike, and I’d love to hear your counter arguments/opinions in the comments below.

Loading...