I Won a Samsung Galaxy S II – My Review

At the Xconomy Mobile Madness event on Tuesday I won a Samsung Galaxy S II in a raffle. Irony much?

The last time I used an Android device “for real” was in early 2009. At the time I was just getting going on building the Windows Phone 7 app platform and I wanted to make sure I really understood Android. I’m a firm believer that ignorance is idocracy and if I was going to build a developer experience that competed with Android I better know it. So I used Android for a few weeks and used the Android SDK to build some apps (I had previously been a hard-core iPhone user so that was already taken care of).

Winning this Galaxy device gave me an excuse to really use Android again and see how it had progressed. As I left Microsoft in early September after 21 years I made some pretty strong statements about how great I thought Windows Phone was and I continue to be an unabashed fan boy today. I love using Windows Phone. But a few days with another device wouldn’t kill me.

The disclaimers here should be obvious:

  • I am very biased after pouring 2.5 years of my life and soul into building Windows Phone…and believing we did it right.
  • I always hated Windows Mobile. As an MS employee and geek I owned many Windows Mobile devices. None of them made me happy. Few of them worked well as phones. Windows Phone != Windows Mobile.
  • The device I won is a stock Galaxy S II from AT&T. It is running Android 2.3.4 which is Gingerbread and, I guess, slightly old. Some of what I experienced may or may not be different on Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • Although I am admittedly biased, I have no vested interest in Windows Phone’s success. Nor do I really care what client OS “wins” because I fundamentally don’t think the client OS really matters anymore (that’s a topic for another rant).

Summary:

A typical non-geek consumer would be absolutely-fraking-crazy to pick an Android phone over a Windows Phone. Windows Phone is vastly more refined, cohesive, and easy to use. Period.

People who enjoy “managing” their phone might enjoy “managing” their Android smartphone. Those folks will probably forget how much fun “managing” a smartphone was after they’ve used Windows Phone for a while. Instead they’ll see how much fun it is to “use” a smartphone.

Details:

If you are still reading I hope you don’t expect some in depth review. Because you’re not going to get it. I’ve decided to write my thoughts down as I noted them. And for the most part they come across as very negative rants. Just calling it as I see it.

  • The battery life on this device is unacceptable. The first day the battery was near dead at about 2pm in the afternoon. Yes, I had hooked up Bluetooth to my car, used the turn-by-turn nav app, and played with apps like Seesmic, Angry Birds, and so forth. But I do this regularly on my Windows Phone 7 device and have never had my battery die so early in the day.  Helpful Android-fan-boyz typical comments were “Oh, that’s why it’s so easy to turn off Bluetooth and the GPS. I find when I carefully turn those things off my battery lasts great.”  Windows Phone doesn’t even HAVE a setting for turning of GPS. It takes care of it for you.
  • Google (or maybe it was AT&T or Samsung) were really nice to include a built-in task manager for listing running apps. I love managing what apps are running and having to kill pigs regularly. Not.
  • Why is the mail client so painfully slow? In 2011. Deleting a mail message is shockingly slow. Windows Phone’s email experience is sexy, consistent, and super speedy. I guess I took it for granted.
  • The home screen sure is flexible. I eventually figured out all the ways to rearrange and manage things. I got over enjoying managing my program groups about when Program Manager was replaced in Win95 by the Start menu. I do not believe typical consumers WANT to manage all this crap.
  • There is no consistency or cohesion on the UI. None. I was going to comment that it was as the designers intentionally tried to let the organizational boundaries of who built things show through, but then I realized that that assumed there was actually design involved.
  • Whoa! Apps can actually crash the phone!?!? I thought there was a sandbox on Android.  Oh, that’s right, apps can get out of the sandbox if they want. They just have to have an opt-in in the marketplace. But users never read that crap. For the record, I fought as hard as anyone at MS to keep the WP7 sandbox super tight.  So this one really hits home for me. The only way a WP7 app or game can crash the phone is by exposing an OS bug. And in my personal use since RTM I’ve NEVER seen it personally. It happened with two apps in 3 days on Android.
  • I have taken for granted having my calendar info & email counts on my lock screen. I was shocked Android doesn’t support that by now.
  • I sure wish WP7 had the pull-down notification bar metaphor. I actually do love that about Android.
  • “Samsung Galaxy S II from AT&T” is the worst product name ever to not come out of Microsoft. What’s next the “Samsung Galaxy S II+ 2012 with Ice Cream Sandwich from AT&T Special Edition”?
  • It’s the little things that matter. No one click dismiss-all on calendar notifications in calendar. Calendar defaulting to saving items on my gmail calendar even though my default email provider is no gmail (that one threw me hard).  Not being able to pin a contact to the home screen from within contacts/dialer.
  • The tilt to zoom thing is pretty slick. Too bad it requires instructions and doesn’t work everywhere.
  • I forgot how much I missed tethering (I have a Focus which doesn’t support it officially yet).
  • Hardware: Glorious display. Just fantastic. Weight and size are great too. But there are WP7 devices with equivalent.
  • I hate the iPhone’s single button. And I hate Android’s 4 buttons. I think if WP7 had just had home & back it would have been perfect. On both, search is confusing and inconsistent. On Android, “menu” is really not needed.
  • I miss the camera button on WP7!
  • The built-in (not AT&T Navigator) turn-by-turn directions app works great. As good as, or better, than the one on WP7.  Nice that it does voice automatically. Pretty funny how annoying it gets when it thinks you’re on the wrong road but aren’t.
  • Every app I wanted I could find. They all worked fairly well (except for the IP camera app that crashed the phone). Some are clearly better than their WP7 counterparts (TripIt).  Some weaker (4th and Mayor is better than the official Foursquare app).

That’s probably enough (for now).  I may update this if I think of anything else.  I’m going to continue using the device through the weekend so if you think I’m wrong or have a suggestion of something to try please leave a comment.

© Charlie Kindel. All Rights Reserved.

83 comments


  1. I can say that i have the same issues with all the android devices, but somehow you can’t not love it. In my opinion, i think that WP7 homescreen is just boring, the animated squares are right, but i find the lack of “custom” wallpaper dissapointing. I have tested a Samsung Focus and is amazingly slick and fast, but it lacks the “beauty” component of a nice interface. Yes is super friendly but, once again, it’s kinda “ugly”.
    Your position about android is the same that i have, but the joy of all android devices is that you can actually customize EVERYTHING. It’s sad to say, but definetely, iOS and Android interface is far prettier than WP7. 

    • Msul Nma

      “iOS and Android interface is far prettier than WP7.      ” ha ha…. LOL !  That’s a cute statement. But you &I both know that that’s not even remotely true

    • Exclusiveonenyc

      Are u high??? Wp7 has a way better looking interface, all you can do to ios is group apps and on android the stolen idea of scrolling pages and pinned apps is exactly the same as ios

    • Anonymous

      You are either high or joking. Android is not even remotely close to the word beauty or pretty. It’s the worst in terms of user experience and probably has the least user friendly UI. Apps crash, battery dies early, has fragmentation written all over it! The tile interface in WP7 is extremely easy and elegant and more importantly – useful compared to those useless static icons on the Android home screen. Yes, Android users can keep the joy of customization. For us the WP7 users, there is great joy in using a beautiful, usable and responsive phone.

    • Anonymous

      You are insane sir. That is all.

    • Jason

      I’m an iPhone fanboy (bought the latest model every 12 months) and even I think the WP7 interface is the best looking out of iPhone, Android and WP7.

  2. Hm, Samsung phones only have the Home & Back buttons like you stated as your preference. And phones releasing with Ice Cream Sandwich (i.e. Galaxy Nexus) won’t have any buttons at the front at all. So, if apps never crash on WP7, they hang there and screw up the device?

  3. “I hate the iPhone’s single button. And I hate Android’s 4 buttons. I think if WP7 had just had home & back it would have been perfect. On both, search is confusing and inconsistent. On Android, “menu” is really not needed.” — well it depends on which variant of Galaxy S II you use. Mine is the 3 button international variant. The exact same one which the Focus S is based upon. For this malignment of button sets, the Telcos are more at fault than the OEM.

  4. Reggie Burnett

    An “alternative” point of view.  http://www.reggieburnett.com/you-always-have-to-consider-the-source

    • HAHAHAROFLLOL

      Lol and yet no comments on that post. Why? Because I guess he’s a nobody?

    • Anonymous

      I just read your “alternative” point of view and I would like to point out something, you mentioned for at least two of Charlie’s comments that you could download an App that did the same thing. You miss the point, WP7 does this out of the box and no additions are needed. Of course you can get apps to do many of the things that are easily done and/or included in WP7, iOS, and BB7 but you have to do it. It comes down to this, if you want to customize or add to the phone and it’s OS then you want Android. But with this comes a lot of baggage. Both of you are entitled to your opinion but in the end, it is opinion.

      • Reggie Burnett

        You’re absolutely right it’s an opinion.  I never said Charlie was wrong for having the opinion that WP7 is better.  I agree that Android is not as pretty and is clunky in many ways.  Android does require “managing”.  However, the WP7 fanboys also tend to gloss over things.  Mango doesn’t have “true” turn by turn (have to keep slapping the screen), you can’t force close an app that’s hung up (happened to me just the other day), and while the integration is cool in many ways it also leaves out many features.  I find I can do tons more sharing from my Galaxy S2.  Every single app has a share button (camera, camera zoom fx, youtube, …) and sharing from my favorite camera app not only allows me to share to facebook, twitter, and tons of other services, but it doesn’t use skydrive to host the pic (for things like twitter).  Also, how do you geo-tag your tweet or facebook post when sharing your pic from Mango?  It is apparently impossible to write a non-native location-based reminder app on Mango.  

        Mango is an excellent step in the right direction.  Another big step like that with WP8 and I feel it will be truly superior to iOS and Android.  let’s hope they make that step.  

  5. dexter

    I have to comment on a couple of things.
    The name and buttons. The US Galaxy 2 is not the same as in Europe. Mine has three buttons, menu, home and back.
    I guess you mean Exchange when you say mail. Is that an open standard? Or could that be a reason why it’s slow?
    I’ve been using Android for a couple of years and I can’t remeber an app crashing the whole phone…
    And for a couple of your points. There’s an app for that. :)

    • Anonymous

      “I’ve been using Android for a couple of years and I can’t remember an app crashing the whole phone…”

      :))) That opening is soooo huge, I’m sure the latest Boeing 747 will be able to fly through!!

    • David

      Exchange (really the EAS protocol) is Microsoft’s standard – and its very fast on wp7 and iOS.

  6. NienorGT

    [“Samsung Galaxy S II from AT&T” is the worst product name ever to not come out of Microsoft.]
    Well, “Microsoft WindowsXP Media Center Edition 2005 with Update Rollup 2″
    “Microsoft Windows Fundamental for Legacy PCs”
    “Microsoft Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5″
    And the first WP7 name: “Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Series”

    Don’t get me wrong, Android phone names are completely senseless sometime, but the part that Microsoft wouldn’t ever come out with is wrong, Microsoft is NOT an example in the non-confusing name. Sure, Samsung is the culprit there, but WP7 devices by Samsung suffer from the same problem:

  7. Mr_Obvious

    Just for context, I USED to work in the WP group as well. I kept arguing with management about the obvious mistakes and missing parts of the phone; it felt like the emperor’s new clothes. One of the most frustrating things was that WP didn’t learn from other’s mistakes and was targeting too narrow an audience. Many things have been corrected in the recent release, but there are still some glaring omissions:
    1) No visible file system
    2) No native code
    3) No way for 3rd party apps to register MIME types.

    These 3 missing parts mean that you can’t really write interesting and functional apps which do real work. Mobile phones are little computers and not everyone cares about updating their facebook status.

    • David

      No visible file system is not a mistake. I hear you on the other two though.

      • Mr_Obvious

        It is a mistake because people actually want to use files on their phones. If you use WP and someone emails you an attachment not supported by the built-in apps, you won’t be able to do anything with the file except forward it. Zune only allows for working with recognized files. If you download something from a website, you’re also out of luck. 

        • Dbdavidmail

          You are right about the scenarios, and wrong about the approch. Yes, people need to be able to store/save different types of files and do things with them that are meaningful on their mobile device. No, the way to accompish this is not to show the user a filesystem.

    • Anonymous

      Not sure about number 2 and 3, but although I’d consider myself a geek, I’m happy that there’s no visible file system. I hate managing files on my computer, it really does not belong on a phone.

  8. Daniel Mechtchanenko

    Well, it’s an opinion. I think if I could do more then just add a comment I could change a few of yours. Generally, you don’t understand some concepts, and if you want to know, most of the stuff you’ve listed, was Samsung’s fault.

    I hate Samsung. But hey, congratulations on leaving Microsoft!

    • “you don’t understand some concepts” ?!?!  What?

      Whether it’s Samsung’s fault or not is irrelevant. If you want me to try something or see something that will change my overall opinion (“”A typical non-geek consumer would be absolutely-fraking-crazy to pick an
      Android phone over a Windows Phone. Windows Phone is vastly more
      refined, cohesive, and easy to use. Period.”) I’m all ears!

    • Anonymous

      “and if you want to know, most of the stuff you’ve listed, was Samsung’s fault.”

      I ALWAYS love this line from Android users. Its always someone else’s fault. And while at face value you may be somewhat correct, the root of the issue is actually Google for ALLOWING Samsung (or the carriers, or whoever else has their hands in the Android cookie jar) to do the things that they did to screw up the OS.

      Android touting that it’s “open” is just an excuse to suck..period. That may eventually change & Google may get more aggressive with demanding a uniform experience with Ice Cream Sandwich, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. That genie is already out of the bottle.

      • Daniel Mechtchanenko

        I think I implied that the issue is Google allowing Samsung to do bad stuff quite well. Now, why the hell did he get 5 likes?

    • Anonymous

      Samsung Galaxy S2 is supposed to be the best Android phone right now. Admitting that the best Android phone sucks and that Samsung have made so many mistakes it doesn’t inspire much confidence. From my experience with Androit it was awful (1.5 years ago). I am a very happy WP user now.

  9. Anonymous

    I wish all the Google apps (gmail, voice, docs, plus, calendar, reader, etc.) worked better in WP7.  I’d already have the phone if it did.  Google surely does not have any incentive to make it work like it should there, but reality is, I’m deep into that world, and it’s imperative that it be integrated in the phone.  It’s also the reason I don’t have an iPhone.

  10. My two issues with android are the sucky battery life and having to manually kill still running programs. And, as you mentioned, the UI makes the phone feel disjointed. Even makes me more excited for my Focus S arriving later this week.

    p.s. kudos for admitting that MSFT has some pretty awful product names.

  11. Anonymous

    “Windows Phone doesn’t even HAVE a setting for turning off GPS. It takes care of it for you.”
    What are you talking about, Charlie?

    In WP7 GPS is turned on/off via Settings>Location. 

    • Exclusiveonenyc

      That’s for location services the gps is not constantly active it remains in a passive state untill an app triggers the service to locate or your using the maps hub

  12. Damn I actually like WinMo (and WinCE in general)

    Running 6.5.3 on my Touch Pro2 was better for me personally than any Android.
    And WP7 on my new HTC Arrive is miles better than WinMo as far as stability and WM still takes the cake as far as functionality/flexibility goes. Plus it had better unified landscape support throughout the OS. 

  13. Sir Walter

    OK, I must correct you on 1 issue. I have the Samsung Galaxy S2, and yes, it’s very dissapointing BUT:
    You CAN make shortcuts on any homescreen for calling numbers direct. Or maybe it’s one of my 163 apps that made that possible:)
    Battery life is horrible. I have multiple apps crash on AND crash the phone a few times a day.
    Also the Samsung KIES software for syncing is terrible. It will randomly select what calander it wil sync to. Causing mine private calandar to be all over the companies public calandar. It also swaps first and last names and mames email addies for my coworkers.

    The camera is suposed to be good, but it takes me forever to focus on a subject, and WHY is there no dedicated camera button?

    Yet this phone is suposed to be the best you can buy? It is the worst 500 Euros I have ever spent!

    • Does the S2 have MTP the way the Galaxy S does?  My Vibrant has MTP so I can sync directly with Windows Media Player (Video, Music, and Pictures) without the need for a second client like Zune or iTunes.  I think that is the best way to go, and that’s what Google implemented in ICS (native MTP support in the base OS).

  14. Guest

    I used WM 6.1 shit for 2 years and I was wondering how people like you over at MS would call that crap an OS, and where were you to babble about how the OS should work back then?! 
    apart from a fully biased writing above (I refuse to call it a review), one lesson MS has to learn is once you sold crap to people you shouldn’t expect their trust afterwards. fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me. 

    • Guest

      I guess you didn’t read the article, he clearly states he hates Windows Mobile. Further yet he states that Windows Mobile and Windows Phone are a completely different OS (built from ground up)

      • Marc Herbert

        Too bad they kept the “Windows” name.

        • Roger

          Yeah, damn them using a brand that’s used by 85% of the world and has sold billions of units. Damn them to hell.

          • I think the comment makes a good point. Though 85% of the world (I’ll concede the percentage) may use the brand, a large percentage of those people also loathe Windows. There’s not a lot of choice when it comes to desktops. Getting a choice at work is rare, it’s usually Windows or nothing. And many people buy home computers by price, by what their friends have, or what they know best. But none of that means they like Windows. The only people I know who have affection for Windows are developers. It’s unlikely that the average user has such a fondness for Windows that he’s can’t wait to purchase another Windows device. Who has not had a problem with Windows on their desktop at some point in time? Just about everyone. I’m not pointing fingers or making a judgment about it as an OS, I’m just saying that there’s no love lost when people choose something else over Windows.

            Part of the problem for Windows is the 85% that you point out. Windows is so ubiquitous that people view Windows and Microsoft much like they view a utility company. They have to live according to the will, whimsy and prices of Microsoft (and their dopey management and customer service) much the same as they do with the phone, cable or electricity company (and their dopey management and customer service). Comcast, for example, is not running out to brand their own cell phone line, and for good reason. People buy their service because they have to but generally most people hate them. Certainly the people who adore them are few and far between. Microsoft should realize that most people feel the same about Microsoft. Developers aside, of course. You guys are a different breed altogether.

  15. Cbro

    Hey Charlie – Got any scoop on whether or not Sprint will get some cool WP7 phones?

  16. JGuinan007

    If you dont want your Samsung Galaxy S 2 can I have it?

  17. Anonymous

    I was helping out a decidedly non-techie friend with this phone. Her eyesight isn’t great, and although the screen is beautiful and big, guess what you can’t zoom in on? Emails. I spend 10 minutes sure that I was missing something to change the font size. On WP7, you just pinch to zoom.

  18. “The battery life on this device is unacceptable.”

    Really hard to determind without knowing what your phone looks like and what you were running.  Android actually allows devices to run in the background and use stuff like GPS data in the background.  WP7 battery life isn’t that much better than the typical Android phone.  I can get over a day on a charge on my Vibrant with moderate use, easily.  That’s with GPS always on, AutoBrightness On, but I use a 30 second screen lockout.

    “Google (or maybe it was AT&T or Samsung) were really nice to include a built-in task manager for listing running apps.”

    No one told you to use it.

    “Why is the mail client so painfully slow? In 2011.”

    Why can’t I “Mark All as Read on WP7.  In 2011…

    “The home screen sure is flexible. I eventually figured out all the ways to rearrange and manage things. ”

    No one is forcing them to.  Go down to 1 home screen and put a couple of widgets there or something.  You have to manage Tiles and Live Tiles on the WP7 home screen.  I don’t think consumers want to manage all of that crap?

    They do want things like Universal Search and quick toggles for things like WiFi and BT…

    “There is no consistency or cohesion on the UI. None.”

    I agree with this.  On the other hand, WP7 enforces too much consistency which makes some types of apps either look like crap or like a poor substitute for stock apps.  IM apps, for example, have no personality on WP7.  Look at IM+ and WhatsApp on WP7 and compare the UI to the Android and iOS versions.  The WP7 versions are clearly superior.  This is mirrored in many apps available on 2-3 platforms.

    “Whoa! Apps can actually crash the phone!?!? ”

    Yes.  Be careful what you install.  I didn’t know that plugging my HD7 into external power could obliterate touch response and make my phone lag, but it happens…  Every time.  It’s unusable when it’s plugged in.  “Bing it,” it’s a known issue.

    “I have taken for granted having my calendar info & email counts on my lock screen. I was shocked Android doesn’t support that by now.”

    I have taken for granted having a decent calendar app.  Really, the Calendar on WP7 is one of the most embarassing in a “premium smartphone OS.”  Even its most fervent fans agree that it’s pretty terrible.

    “Not being able to pin a contact to the home screen from within contacts/dialer.”

    Samsung phones allow you to pin Contacts to the home screen.  Long press on the desktop.  Tap Shortcuts.  You can choose Contact, Direct Dial (will dial that number when selected), or DIrect Message (will start an SMS to that contact when tapped).  It’s as easy as doing it in WP7, IMO.  You don’t even have to go into another app to do it.  Enjoy saving yourself that step.

    “Hardware”

    WP7 devices run on hardware from 2 years ago.  The hardware in 2nd gen Mango phones is worse than the hardware in the 1st gen Galaxy S phones released in early-mid 2010.  But they have equivalent screens.  Incredible?

    – Search on WP7 was perfect when the button was contextual.  You always new that when you pressed it you would be searching in the context of the app you were using.  What the WP7 team did to the search button (made it launch Bing search, everywhere), is attrocious.

    – There are Android phones with Camera buttons.  The Amaze 4G even has an extra camcorder button on it.  When will we get a WP7 device with HDR like the iPhone and Amaze 4G, though…  That’s more important than a button that is more often than not so stiff that it causes more movement than simply tapping the screen…

    – WP7 Mango’s TBT Navigation is no match for TeleNav.  There’s no such thing as “as good” as Mango’s Navigation.  Almost every free and paid Android solution (Google Maps, MapQuest, and TeleNav all offer free TBT Voice Guided Navigation on Android) is wildly superior to Bing Maps’ Navigation, which is actually sort of dangrous to use while driving…

    – There are third party FourSquare clients on Android as well.  There are a ton of apps that aren’t available for WP7.  Apps is probably the weakest part of the WP7 platform.  It almost feels like I’m using a bare phone because most of the apps I want or need simply aren’t available for my HD7.

    • Freestaterocker

      I personally love WP7’s native calendar. It works simply, intuitively, and flawlessly. I only started using it after I received the mango update in November), the Canadian carriers rolled out the updates a bit slower, unfortunately…) and I had no issues whatsoever becoming acclimated to its functions.

    • Joey

      Ok so what people need is a Samsung/HTC Amaze 4G phone so they can have contacts shortcuts and a camera button. But you have a HD7 so you don’t have  these functions, but still consider you have to defend Android because they’re family, or something ?
      Enough with this behavior. When someone criticize an Android phone, some people are “proving” him/her wrong by mixing different models/brands. Yeah sure the Nexus (well, not *all* the nexus) have the latest version of Android. Some models have nice screens, some others are very powerful, some others have a very long lasting battery etc. But they are different phones.
      So just pick one.
      Otherwise we could mix all the complaints about all the Android phones and pretend they apply to all the Android phones.

    • Chris

      There’s a lot of “apples and oranges” comparison going on here.  I’m not sure pointing out WP7 having a crap calendar is much of a response to the fact Android doesn’t have homescreen counters (which, is by far, my biggest gripe about Android. My previous workaround was ADW notifier, but the latest gmail app update seems to have blocked whatever it was using to get the count).

      Responses like this show why either OS can be better dependant on the user.  I’m a certified Android user that’s unlikely to switch without a damn good reason, but I couldn’t care less about the calendars or home screen widgets. I certainly wouldn’t list them as a reason why people should use Android over WP7.

      Incidently, your comment about mark all as read – umm, what phone are you using?  I can find hundreds of forum posts from people asking how it’s done, and all conclude it’s not possible. Care to share?

      • fishman

        I need to get my old HTC Desire tonight to check for gingerbread, but in ICS stock email app you can select multiple emails and mark as read/unread just by clicking a soft button that on screen. Its an absolute breeze  (although not a particularly important feature IMHO).

        If you’re a certified android user then you definitely need to get a taste of ICS asap, it’s a massive leap forward across the board for the OS…

    • Prof. Peabody

      This entire comment is a waste of space.  Giant ego much?

  19. Wilde Sage

    I don’t care whether it’s biased or not, these are the types of things I like to hear about a product when I’m considering buying – the little, everyday things. 

    I will be purchasing a smart phone (my first) in a few months time. I’ve been really wanting an Android phone for a long time now, and when Windows phone first came out I was interested, but there were too many detractors at the time (no CDMA support, not enough apps/dev support, lack of update(s), weak hardware). I assumed all these things would keep me from buying. Well, it’s several months down the road now, I still haven’t had the chance to buy yet, but lo and behold, all the WP issues are being stitched up, and the faults of Android in comparison are coming more into the light (or maybe just to my eyes). 

    At this point I’ve decided: I will be getting a Windows phone, unfortunately I will have to choose a different carrier, as Sprint (my first choice) is not getting their act together as far as WP7 goes. No way will I ever support Verizon or AT&T (aka Data Rapists), so that leaves T-mobile. Eh, alright, probably better than Sprint in several ways, but not my first choice. The other thing is I want 2nd gen hardware, so I will be waiting until early 2012 for something equivalent to what you’d be getting over on AT&T.  

    But I appreciate the every-day look into Android, and someone who will thoughtfully state its flaws, and not just endlessly sing its praises, or bash it for being.. well, not an iphone.

    Cheers. 

  20. Anonymous

    Quote:

    People who enjoy “managing” their phone might enjoy “managing” their Android smartphone. Those folks will probably forget how much fun “managing” a smartphone was after they’ve used Windows Phone for a while. Instead they’ll see how much fun it is to “use” a smartphone. 
    End Quote:

    WRONG!!! I *NEVER* want a device making a decision for me..EVER!. *I* want the control to build my Home screen the way I want it, Screen 2, Screen3 and so on.

    I guess this is what MSFT fails to realize. People have “put up” with MSFT “Making choices” for the end user because (in the past) THEY HAD TO.

    (ie can’t even terminate GPS when/if I want to? WHY? WHY is this called a “FEATURE” (the *INABILITY* to terminate GPS?

    Consumers no longer HAVE TO, “put up” with MSFT and the choices *IT THINKS* we should interact with a device, thus why Android is handing MSFT it’s …..in the RACE and will continue to do so. 

    The “SMART” part of a SMART PHONE is that it does *WHAT I WANT IT TO DO* not some corporate, behemoth, code jockey *THINKS* it should be the way I should interact with the device. 

    GLARINGLY OBVIOUS, as a fundamental team lead on WP7, and this *JOKE* listed as a “FEATURE” (requiring it’s own paragraph no less)—is the only way “your Grandfather’s Software Company” would think like….I suppose.

    • Stew

      “I *NEVER* want”

      “People have “put up””

      You see the difference?  If you look beyond your own requirements, you’ll see billions of other people who also use phones, most of which – as the OP correctly points out – want their phone to “just work”.

      My mum’s had an Android phone for over a year – she still has the default widgets it came with (widgets that were someone else’s choice, made without anyone’s consent, incidently).  So does she care about customization?  Not at all. Does she complain about things not working?  Constantly. Has she decided to get an iPhone since playing with my sister’s phone?  Apparently so!!

      WHich leads me to the iPhone. Why is is the single most popular phone on the planet right now when there are very few customization options?  I would have thought that seeing as people are sick of “putting up” with other people’s choices, they’d all be rushing out to by an Android phone?  Yet despite Apple have 1 phone (2/3 if you count older models still on sale) and Android having 100+, Android smartphone sales only recently overtook iPhone.  That, to me, doesn’t sound like everyone is clammering to get hold of a phone they can tweak to their heart’s content.

      Disclaimer – I’m an Android user and have been since the G1. I’m just a realist that accepts that no OS is perfect, and some do things better than others.

    • Prof. Peabody

      What an idiotic philosophy you have.  

      By this logic you must build your own car and house for starters.  You are just an obsessive that is justifying same by maintaining that you do it on purpose because you actually like it, when in fact you are driven by a pathology.  

      Classic obsessive/addictive behaviour. 

  21. Andrew

    There’s actually one app that seems to always crash on my Samsung Focus Flash, which is the Halo Waypoint app. I still haven’t figured out a way to contact them about this issue, but in all honestly I haven’t been trying very hard.

  22. Gregg

    To clarify Android GPS is also a passive sensor that only turns on when an application calls on it, like Maps. The Android GPS toggle is for those that are paranoid about such things or perhaps would rather use Androids target clever network based location service.

    I think you should edit your post to reflect these truths.

    • Anonymous

      …or for those of us who have a widget on our home screen or other long-running app which is location-sensitive, and would otherwise be waking up the GPS too often.

    • Stew

      I’d argue the GPS toggle is there for people who want to use location-aware apps but don’t want said apps checking on their location every hour, 24 hours a day, and spend 2 mins draining battery whenever they try to get a lock when you’re indoors.

      I would suggest you edit your comment to reflect the truth, but I’m not sure that’s possible.  ;-)

  23. Guest

    I don’t like Android – at all.  But this isn’t a review, this is just propaganda from a Windows Phone homer.

  24. Hmmm…. I have an AT&T GS2 and my non-tech/average-consumer fiancee has a MyTouch 3G Slide (Android w/Sense)

    I’m definitely techy, and I love the GS2.  The performance, hardware, flexibility and performance (yes, it deserves to be listed twice) is just remarkable.   Android might not have an elegant visual identity like iOS or WinPho, but it makes up for it with OS philosophy identity.  For example, long-press on most anything, and an extensible “share” menu pops up, encouraging you to share your content with others, via an innumerable methods based on the apps you installed… not based on what MSFT or Apple devs had the time to integrate at the OS level.

    Philosophically, Android “gives control” generously.  This, to me, is a very important identity marker of the OS that just makes it a joy to use if you use it like I do — consuming, sharing and interacting with content.   And, in addition, all of the Google cloud-based integration is magnificent.   Have your photos on Google Images?  Well, all those will automatically show up in your photo gallery.  Etc., etc., etc.  It all just makes me happy.  Yes, Android evokes an emotional response when paired with such blazingly fast hardware.

    Now, Android gets a lot of flack over the downsides of being generous.  Android is said to be too generous in allowing OEMs to customize the OS.  Android is too generous in variations of hardware.  Android is too generous in allowing apps to be in the market.  All of this control generosity creates all kinds of problems.  

    But just because there are problems doesn’t mean that its bad, wrong, or less awesome than the other platforms.  It’s just different. 

    In fact, I’d argue Android is the smartphone OS analog to a political democracy — it’s messy and reactive, but it enables the most freedom as well.  And in the end, freedom seems to beat most of the other more top-down governing models.  Yes, I’m calling iOS and WinPho socialist OSs in this analogy.  And that’s fine, too, but it’s certainly less dynamic.  

    My fiancee who owns an Android phone has really no problems navigating her phone or making it do what she needs it to do for her.  The only bit that is a bother is the lack of device memory… it limits the # of apps she can actually install on the phone.  That’s a fail, for sure, but Sense seems to coat Android well enough to make it usable for her.  

    I’ve used all the OSs out there in including WP7.  I love the Metro UI.  And I appreciate the fluidity of WP7 as well as iOS.  But with the GS2, Samsung finally gave Android the fluidity that the rest of the pack have.  So, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything there at all.   The rest is just preference + access to quality applications.   Now, if WP7 came through on the promise of getting out of the “app game” and instead investing in the hub plug-in model, it might very well be more compelling to me.  But I feel like that idea never ended up defining WP7 like it should have.  

    Thoughts on this perspective, Charlie?

    • Anonymous

      “But because there are problems doesn’t mean that it’s bad, wrong or less awesome…”

      Sorry to disagree, you had me for most of it, but that line, really? that’s just nonsense.

      • Wait… so you are saying that it’s nonsense to think that something can be awesome even though there are problems?  

        • Guest

          What I’m saying is that a problem is a problem, you act like its just a different way of doing something “…it’s just different”. No it isn’t, it’s broken and needs fixed. And yes, it’s is less awesome than something at works.

          A kettle that doesn’t boil isn’t as good as one that does and a car that won’t drive isn’t better that one that actually moves.

          A feature that doesn’t work shouldn’t be treated as some sort of loveable eccentricity on the part of the software – its a bad thing. These are practical objects and should be judged by by how well they carry out their function

        • Guest

          What I’m saying is that a problem is a problem, you act like its just a different way of doing something “…it’s just different”. No it isn’t, it’s broken and needs fixed. And yes, it’s is less awesome than something at works.

          A kettle that doesn’t boil isn’t as good as one that does and a car that won’t drive isn’t better that one that actually moves.

          A feature that doesn’t work shouldn’t be treated as some sort of loveable eccentricity on the part of the software – its a bad thing. These are practical objects and should be judged by by how well they carry out their function

          • Anonymous

            “…a car that won’t drive isn’t better that one that actually moves.”

             Unless one is into old British roadsters. Which I suspect captures the fondness for Android of many of its fans. Where you or I might see appallingly broken software, they find a character trait to be cherished.

          • Anonymous

            True, and maybe the comparison doesn’t work – however, I did say that these are practical objects and should be judged by how well they carry out their function.  While you may judge a british roadster on its styling or engineering, you are also well aware that it is a product of it’s time – typically they were the best on offer.  The same cannot be said for poor software. 

            If you buy a phone purely for it’s aesthetics, I imagine you are in a minority.

  25. Well said.  Every time a friend of mind who has a Droid talks about having to Root it i just want t cry.

    The Droid is a prime example that marketing sells not user experience or feature set.

    I am a VERY HAPPY WP7 user (who is also a former iPhone user) who never sees himself owning a droid phone.

  26. Rockysadler

    wworst name ever um let’s see windows phone 7 sound gay

  27. Anonymous

    Ah, guess what. A “Toy” (ha) that CNN and NASA are using, is built on WHAT platform….anyone…anyone…IPHONE and DROID…the “Hottest” thing going right now is GoPro’s and strapping them to “Helicopters” to get great Ariel Shots (already 11,100 YouTube Video’s uploaded. Does it have software for Windows Phone..DON’T THINK SO!

    So, MSFT is “innovative”. You think MSFT could ever come up with something like this, based on OPEN SOURCE standards?

    Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter Controlled by iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Android Devices
    http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa/ar.free-flight-for-android

    You don’t think they’ll soon LOCK UP the “Kid Vote” for an Android on this?

    Already 11,100 videos Uploaded to YouTube using this.
    http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa/

    And if I remember correctly, how quick did MSFT want to *SUE* people for jail breaking the Kinnect, until SOMEONE with 1/2 a brain said “Let it happen, it’s what they do in the 21st Century”

    CNN already using it with a GoPro…WOOT!
    OH and NASA too!

    “Microsoft, Your Grandfather’s Software Company”

    • I find it annoying that you’ve randomly capitalized every other word. I found this review to be helpful and clear.

      • enigma

        How do you randomly capitalize every other word? Either you randomly capitalize words or you systematically capitalize every other word. Aren’t they mutually exclusive? Wow, this is mildly intense!

    • Chris

      An enthusiastic response, judging by the capitalisation, but ignores a number of key considerations, such as target markets.

      If WP7 is mostly used amongst business users (for example) and iPhones are mostly used for personal reasons, which platform do you think would be the best choice for the first remote controlled helicopter app?  It’s like saying Windows is better than Linux because Linux doesn’t have Photoshop (clue – Android is based on Linux).

      It’s all hypothetical, obviously, but developer choices don’t dictate which platform is better – but rather which platform will get the biggest response from their target market and beyond. The BBC first released their iPlayer on Windows only, and ended up with this huge backlash from Mac/Linux users.  They made perfectly clear that they had to start somewhere, and as 90% of the world uses Windows, that’s where they started.

  28. Anonymous

    You nailed it, Charlie! Coming from using WinMo, Blackberry, and iOS phones, I was and continue to be shocked — literally taken aback — at how bad my first (and likely only) Android phone is.

     From painful experience, my three rules of using an Android phone:

     1. You can have battery life, or you can have a functional smartphone. Choose one and live with it.

     2. When in doubt, whatever it is you’re looking for and can’t find is under the Menu button.

     3. Sometimes pulling the battery out is the -only- way to fix whatever mess Android and its apps have gotten themselves into.

  29. Wow.  Android fanboys are just the worst, mainly because they just don’t get it.  Nobody other than hardcore geeks want to manage their device or set up their home screens with a bunch of battery-hogging widgets.  Get over it.  In the real world people value reliability over flexibility,

    • Anonymous

      ^ Obvious Apple troll is obvious.

      People are commenting here to share their views on what the author laid his arguments for/against Android in this article. They want to add to the discussion and correct the misconceptions (if any) of the author here. The only ones trolling here are the likes of you.

      Your ignorant post is already telling that you’ve never used Android and have come here just to troll.

  30. Bensgoogle

    You’re likely to ruffle a few feathers with this one Charlie. I agree with you, Android is functional to a degree and lacks polish. I’m an iPhone evangelist, but have been very impressed with WP7. While I don’t wish to use one myself I have purchased them for family members as gifts, and recommend them to friends. I dont like Android, for the reason you stated “spend less time managing you smartphone…spend more time using it”. It’s a simply philosophy that I believe only WP7 has been able to successfully implement into its design. iPhone has made smartphones simpler, although the constant in and out of apps means that while Apple have tried they haven’t fully achieved total simplicity.

  31. Bidmead

    “Calendar defaulting to saving items on my gmail calendar even though my default email provider is no gmail (that one threw me hard).” Windows Phone 7 on this Lumia 800 syncs ToDos to Winlive, not just by default but WITH NO OPTION AT ALL to sync them to GCal.

    Chris Bidmead

  32. Althe3rd

    I would be curious to know how many people commenting actually own and use WP7, Android, and iOS.

    I haven’t gotten my hands on a WP7 device yet so I can’t speak for that.  But I do have an iPhone 4S and an HTC Inspire 4G and between the two I still prefer the iPhone, but I can see why some would prefer Android.

    In my opinion, many people put too much stock in particular specs of an Android phone.  For example, the Inspire has  4.3″ display and I have had many Android users tell me how superior that is to the 3.5″ iPhone display.  But I can tell you that the 320ppi, better brightness, better contrast, make the iPhones display much more preferable in day to day use.  Even watching videos is almost unbearable on my HTC phone since the color inaccuracy is almost unbearable.

    My point is that the common arguments I see in the comments are meaningless as either side of the argument can’t see the other sides preference as valid.

  33. fishman

    Came across this blog via the Guardian – really interesting to read informed opinions instead of the usual rants from fanboys. There’s some interesting points in this article, aswell as the one on why WP isn’t selling. Here’s my opinions (which aren’t right or wrong, just as I won’t say Charles is right or wrong – just different and equally valid opinions).

    My disclaimer is that I have had an android phone for a couple of years – a HTC Desire, which I’ve recently upgraded to a Galaxy Nexus. No doubt about it I like android, so what I say is coloured by my positive experience (as Charles is for WP), but I also use iOS extensively at work and have a genuine interest in all platforms, so I will try to remain objective as he does.

    First some specifics:

    “I do not believe typical consumers WANT to manage all this crap” 
    Hmm, what’s a typical consumer? I would say that you’ve missed a huge demographic in the under 30’s market – this consumer is generally reasonably tech savvy, and more specifically want to differentiate themselves from their peers. For iOS devices this means the plethora of case accessories as that’s about all you can do; android offer a unique user experience – the learning curve is steeper and it’s not as intuitive in part through UI design issues and in part due to the flexibility on offer. But the payoff is in the huge flexibility – you say people don’t want this, but I think you’re talking about age 30+ non techie users, which is a substantial but ever diminishing demographic. I’m a 40yr old tech user, and I DEFINITELY want it, as do all my colleagues. Hell, my 3yr old son can operate my HTC Desire easily. I would say that a lot of people don’t want this flexibility, and for them iOS or WP is a far better option, but there is a huge and growing number of people who do want this.

    The battery life on this device is unacceptable 
    A common complaint railed against android, and to a large degree is has some merit. But you need to compare apples with apples – the SG II is running a dual core 1.2ghz cpu with a 4.3″ AMOLED screen; there is no comparable spec’d WP device (I’ll get to that later). My HTC Desire running a 1Ghz single core CPU with 3.7″ lcd screen and gingerbread is a far more comparable product, and it would easily last 2 days of moderate use. Generally newer android AMOLED devices have large bright HD screens, and that’s the current trade-off against batter life. Android actually has ok power management – my Nexus lost only 4% battery while left overnight with 3G and sync on. Fyi you also need to cycle the battery for a few charge for android to collect enough stats to accurately reflect the true battery status. Does this mean it’s acceptable that a device doesn’t last a full day without any tweaks? No – I can eaily get a full day from my Nexus, but I suspect this might not be true for a heavy user, and it needs addressing. But to be honest I’m VERY happy to accept this trade off for that sensational screen. There is NO WP device with an equivalent screen or specs – WP doesn’t even support dual core.

    “calendar info & email counts on my lock screen – I was shocked Android doesn’t support that by now” 
    Well, on ICS this has been largely addressed, as you can see and access the notification pull down directly from the lock screen. It doesn’t show counts, but does show when you have emails, texts etc outstanding, and bring the pulldown actually shows a preview of each one, which you can drill into or dismiss with a single swipe – VERY nice. You should check this out before making such a sweeping statement.

    There is no consistency or cohesion on the UI. None 
    Again, this has been addressed to some degree by ICS – doesn’t affect your SG2 until later Q1 2012, but it’s right in the pipeline and so directly relevant. It’s by no means all there, but you can at least now see the direction android is going and is a HUGE improvement over gingerbread.

    “Apps – Some are clearly better than their WP7 counterparts (TripIt).  Some weaker” 
    I think no one in their right mind would say apps is a level playing field – iOS is the definite king here; android now has the same momentum and is rapidly closing the gap; WP is WAYYYY behind and still struggling to get momentum. These are just plain facts right now – apps are a major reason why WP is struggling (which I’ll get to later); to suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

    Whoa! Apps can actually crash the phone!? 
    Well, my experience of android is that it’s solid, although not perfect – I might get an app force close once every couple of weeks at the most. I’ve never had and app crash the device in 2yrs, but I have no problem believing its possible – Google DEFINITELY need to tighten up the app store. However, from my perspective the open & flexible nature of android make this a price I’m happy to pay – if you get a dud app then just take it off your phone. But it’s a very fair point that not everyone will be happy to accept this, and the balls in Google court to address this.

    So lets address the question…
    “Why hasn’t WP taken off?” 
    I would actually argue the easier question PRE-MANGO is “why would anyone buy a WP phone?”. That’s a damning statement, but here’s my reasons:

    – Lack of apps. This is an absolute KILLER
    – Missing key functionality (copy/paste, multi-tasking etc etc)
    – Dated hardware with VERY limited choice

    I could go on, but these points alone mean that buying a WP pre-mango requires a HUGE leap of faith on behalf of the user, and this is something most people will not be prepared to do, whatever the merits of the OS.

    So let’s look at WP now we have mango.

    – Still a huge lack of apps. Remains an absolute killer for WP
    – No dual core support. You can argue WP doesn’t need it, but Apple and Android have offered this for some time, and now apple does too, and this makes WP hardware look dated in consumers eyes
    – No HD screen support – again results in dated hardware

    So, for all the strengths of WP OS, the lack of apps mean WP still requires a big leap of faith from the consumer, and they have to be prepared to use limited and dated hardware to buy into the experience. This is before we even talk about the competition, and whether consumers want a flexible OS. And if they just want a simple OS that “works”, it’s a seriously tough call to justify getting WP over iOS.

    Now, it’s then only fair to make comparisons to the latest android version ICS given the releases came out with 3 months of each other.

    I have to say that find the Nexus an amazing device, and ICS is a quantum leap forward for android. Here’s my list of key features it brings to the party:

    – HD screen; this is a killer feature, the 4.65″ HD display with 300+dpi is without question the best on the phone market. It raises the bar for everyone. Fyi HD display are the reference resolution for ICS
    – Multitasking; works gloriously and seamlessly in ICS
    – Performance; laggy UI was definitely an achilles heal for some android devices, but by adding HW acceleration to UI this device just flies
    – Resizeable widgets; full screen email & calender widgets are a joy
    – Enhanced notification; now accessible from the lock screen, and swipe to dismiss is great

    These are in addition to all the things that were androids strong points, amongst others:

    – Access to the filesystem; for me personally this is a killer feature and is reason enough to pass on iOS/WP; iTunes/Zune to access your device… come on your kidding right?
    – Widgets & multiple home screen; I have a great weather widget on my home screen which shows a rolling 5 day forecast, aswell as a lovely stock live wallpaper; on my remaining home screens I have email, calender (which can be scrolled directly in the widget) and bookmark full screen widgets. Awesome
    – Complete flexibility & control over the device; for me personally another killer feature, but definitely arguable that this strength is also a weakness for others.

    No doubt I see the android cup very much from the half full perspective, but these are the things that work for me. Looking around my office, most others have android aswell (predominantly SG S & SG S2), and everyone is very happy with their device – some run custom roms or stock android, others stick to the official rom, but no-one has any complaints about their device, and most of the iPhone office users are slowly migrating over to android as they see the flexibility the android devices offer; and once you’ve set it up how you like it android JUST WORKS in the same way iOS & WP do. These are all tech capable people so it’s by no means a fair sample, but my decidedly non-tech wife is more than happy with her HTC desire too.

    Anyway, just calling it as I see it – all perspectives and opinions are valid, so keep the INFORMED debate going!

    Cheers

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