Android – the update

Its been four months now since buying the TMobile Googlephone aka Nexus One to replace my old, broken, Blackberry Pearl.  In that time, several new high-end Android phones have come on the market for other carriers:  Sprint HTC EVO, Verizon Droid Incredible (also HTC), and the iPhone 4 on ATT.  Mid-July we will see Verizon / Motorola’s new Droid X.

Each of these phones is getting a lot of gadget-blog buzz and print, and for good reason.  In addition to the  hardware innovations (better screen res, better cameras) we have also seen both a significant Android (v2.2 – aka FroYo) OS upgrade and now Apple has release its own OS upgrade.

I’m still quite pleased with the Googlephone.  I couldn’t give up all the Android features I’ve now gotten used to.  I am going to visit my father mid-month and he doesn’t have any internet service.  With the new FroYo I’ve been able to easily set my phone, with a 3G connection, to act as a WiFi hotspot for my Macbook.  So I will have access to email and internet while with my Dad.  Yea!

With a great camera in the phone, and easy controls plus a flash, I find I take a lot more pics – and they are geo-tagged as well as timestamped.  Sync-ing with my Picasa account is painless – no more having to wait to dock with a USB cable.

The browser is fine, and I love the way I can zoom in to read the small print and tap to have the columns realign automatically to the new font size.

The minuses?  I would have to say I deeply miss the voice quality from my Blackberry Pearl.  In years of use I never had anyone say they had trouble hearing me.  With this HTC Googlephone, it is pretty obvious the focus was on “Smart” rather than “phone.”  It makes me leery of trying another HTC phone at all  – if I need to switch I will try a Motorola Android phone,  as my old Motorola Razr also had stellar voice quality.  Other minuses – battery life does suck – really.  And the sensitivity of the screen to touch gestures needs polish.  I don’t find it all that accurate (a real problem trying to type, although the speech-to-text is so good I do less typing) and sometimes just refuses to respond.

I’ve learned how to manage with the battery life (not keeping things running in background, turning off WiFi and Bluetooth when not being used – they start up like greased lightning anyway). Using a headset gets around the abysmal sound quality. I will consider the new Motorola Droid X once it becomes available however – in part because I may get crystal clear call quality back, and because Verizon service is much better here in San Francisco than TMobile. In NYC a couple weeks ago, I was getting TMobile 3G everywhere – and the convenience of that was fantastic. Here in SF I get 3G when downtown, in the Castro but (rarely) at home – when I could really use the boost.


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