Since this is my first encounter with an Android phone, as I’m moving away from the iPhone OS (now also iOS) I’m writing down my first impressions and experiences with HTC EVO and Android 2.2. This list will grow with time.
– This thing (HTC EVO) is an absolute war machine with everything under the sun on it! It takes time to get used to after having used the iPhone for over 2 years, but it seems to be worth the move.
– I can testify it is fall-resistant. I promise to take a better care of it – its most dangerous falls so far were several times from about 3 ft to the tile floor (twice as a result of my toddler’s incredibly quick grab and once out of my pocket), but shtaff happens and even though I have no protective cases, the only scary effect was to see the back lid and the battery split open and fly away from it
twice many times (updated after a month with many falls without a scratch). It gave me a very bad feeling, but after a quick reinsertion and reassembly everything felt and worked perfectly normal, no cracks, no scratches or marks. Either I’m very lucky or this thing has a very sturdy design.
– OS-wise, this is something I believe in. After talking the talk for over a year (had to wait for the contract to expire), I’m finally walking the walk. I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of a giant who grew to tremendous heights – I see the Android’s success as a cumulative sum of the great efforts and ideas of all the good people who are investing their work and brains into making this world a better place. Even Android forums show what this phone/OS is about – not only Google, but many people before and after it working on improving an invention together.
– Syncing the contacts was the first obstacle in migration and since I didn’t want to mess with fixing iTunes synchronization only to wipe the software off my main laptop as soon as I’m done with this iPhone, I rather invested in an alternative solution and learned something new instead. Since the contacts on Android phones are shared with a Google account assigned to the phone, I bought this $0.99 Google Contacts Sync iPhone app which unlike Google Sync, which wipes and replaces all the iPhone contacts, has options to replace or merge them either way. It transfered most of the phonebook items from iPhone to my Gmail account, however, it seems that this app is not perfect for people with an extensive list of contacts (I only have about 170), and several contacts with multiple numbers and/or non-standard fields didn’t get synced. Since this app cost me almost nothing I didn’t want to waste too much time on troubleshooting it so I entered the few problematic contacts manually on my PC (sign into Gmail, then select Contacts) while I was double-checking all of them for errors. After that, the most frustrating moment came when I tried to merge my own contact with the card assigned to the phone owner (“My contact card”), and that never really worked. I spent about an hour troubleshooting that, only to give up and just re-enter my own contact information manually once I found out on “Google University” that many people out there have complained about this same exact problem. Sometimes it’s wise to give up troubleshooting an issue it if there is a relatively simple workaround to it.
– Battery mileage? 1 highway, 0 city. It’s got to go as it only lasts several hours under full load. Since I’m not willing to serve the gadgets that should serve me as stated before in this blog, I refuse to disable any of this computer’s, pardon phone’s great features except when I’m on the road or in nature, so I researched and ordered an an extended battery with double capacity from Amazon for only $25 and with great reviews/user rating. I already love the fact that I’m finally out of the Apple’s strong ripoff grip, as a similar accessory for the iPhone would probably cost over $60, provided it had such a thing as a replaceable battery. Just take a look at the prices of juice packs (external batteries) for iPhone and you’ll see that the good ones are priced around $100.
– It seems that the camera lens sticks out of the phone a bit and thus gets in touch with the surface under it when you lay the phone down on a table. As I don’t like using cases, the battery I ordered (see the link above) has a different back cover which will also protect the camera lens by keeping it from touching any flat surfaces when the phone is laid down.
– The initial feel was a bit awkward because I am so used to iPhone’s simplicity and robust buttons, but I am getting used to this phone/OS sooner than I thought I would. The first day I was lacking the single home button a lot and found the power button to be more gentle and harder to find than on the iPhone, but after two days I’m used to it.
– The size of the screen is very nice and easy to get used to. I wouldn’t mind going even above 4.3″ to 5″ or so. I just used my iPhone and it feels so tiny, almost handicapped with lack of the real estate for better browsing and GUI layout. Very nice, and I’m writing this line on EVO.
– No Netflix streaming? WTH! I’m not happy about that one as I already have it on iPhone and it works miracles for my attendance of gym cardio machines.
– Getting to the power button seems to be a bit less seamless and natural as on the iPhone, perhaps because of the iPhone’s power button’s sharp edges, but that may be the power of a habit of over 2 years hitting the same button.
– I reset to factory settings (wiped the phone) 3-4 times, because during the first 2 tries Sprint integrated alll my Google and Facebook contacts into a nightmarish conglomerate of phone numbers, email addresses and photos. Because of all this, but also just for the heck of it, instead of choosing one of the predefined Scenes (layouts for applications, shortcuts, widgets and wallpapers), I decided to slowly build my screens and layouts from scratch.
– I’m missing the “All Inboxes” view of all my email accounts that I had on iPhone, but there’s a long research and browse throughout the Android apps market ahead of me, and I’m sure it will be there sooner or later…
– I love Google’s free turn-by-turn driving instructions. If you want anything similar and equally dependable on iPhone you need to cash out $50 or more.
– Some Android tips and tricks that would have eliminated my confusion if I read the manuals first:
- When you create a new folder its name is “New folder” Now what? Took me some time to figure out that in order to rename it you need to open it and tap and hold the title bar.
- To delete individual SMS (text) or media message instead of the entire thread from a person, open the message, tap and hold the message and wait for the interaction menu, then select delete.
- Hold down the home button to see which applications were used recently (or to switch for multitasking).
- Press the home button twice to pick the screen to switch to
- Press and hold an empty area of the screen to add a shortcut or a widget to it
- Press and hold a shortcut or widget, then drag it to the trashcan to remove it from the screen (this doesn’t uninstall it)
- When browsing all apps, press and hold the one to create a shortcut to it on one of the screens/folders with available space
- When in the browser, pres the back button to browse back, or press and hold the back button to view history
- In the browser, hit menu to enter the URL or to select back, forth or a bookmark
- Organize apps and shortcuts in folders just like on iPhone (this option was available on Android phones before iPhone)
– EVO still feels mighty, especially after using it for hours and then taking an iPhone into your hands. This move was far more rewarding than the move from iPhone 3G to 3GS where aside from video recording, I could only see the benefits whenever switching back to 3G and seeing a barely noticeable slowdown.
– Voice recognition and voice control is faster and much better than iPhone’s, including over Bluetooth (iPhone would almost always dial a wrong contact in spite of my persistent practicing of my robot voice.)
– Typing is different. At first I thought it was going to be harder, but it’s not. Third day after the swap I’m already quite used to it and while typing on iPhone feels better in portrait mode, it feels cumbersome and awkward in landscape mode. Although typing on EVO in portrait mode so far seems to be the worst of both worlds (I used the other keyboard for years, so I should really give it a few more days before saying this), using HTC EVO’s on-screen keyboard in landscape mode is absolutely the best of both worlds. It seems to go much quicker and with far less errors than in any typing mode on an iPhone, requiring far less focusing and it’s as fast as on hardware keyboards, if not faster. That’s what I call bliss as I never really got to relaxed as much with typing on iPhone :-). HTC did a great job here.
– Have I said that the Internet browsing feels absolutely superb on EVO’s bigger screen? It seems its size doesn’t leave people indifferent and while some love it, others hate it. For tall guys like me, it’s a real blessing.
– Speed tests at home [download/upload speed]:
iPhone 3GS on 3G: 0.3-1.5/0.6 Mbps
EVO on Sprint 3G: 1-2/0.5 Mbps,
Evo on 4G: 3-6/1 Mbps.
– Rhapsody music client installed and key playlists downloaded. It’s funny how it can slow down or stop and warm up an Android phone just like it can the iPhone. It’s a buggy software or a resource hog on both platforms, but I love my playlists.
– After using this phone and getting used to it, I often perceive my iPhone as quite small and round, sort of like a TV set from the early 50’s compared to the big and square, abundant and powerful EVO. The latter is probably the best deal for technology enthusiasts, engineers, scientists, programmers, IT support people and open source aficionados who prefer bigger devices with more options and levels of freedom, factory battery life aside. iPhone is still a great option for people who don’t want to mess with their smartphone too much and prefer to let Apple make their choices (which by the way are not bad).
– Built-in Google Navigation is pure goodness. My wife asked me to drop off some of our old baby clothes to charity, so of course, I had to enter the location’s address into EVO’s Google navigation to check out how it works. While I was driving through the modern canyons made of very high buildings of downtown Chicago where nobody can receive a good GPS signal, my EVO suddenly asked me to turn on my WiFi to increase accuracy. I had a few very skeptical and paranoid seconds before I complied because it dawned on to me – this is why Google cars keep driving around and scanning all the WiFi network SSIDs worldwide, so our Android smartphones can scan and use their names to pinpoint our exact location when we ask for it. What a revolutionary idea, and what an advantage over their competition, who is doing anything possible to try to give them bad publicity and feed people’s paranoia about Google being the big brother. They do snoop around, however, it’s not to record your confidential information, but to get these location identifiers so our devices can use them for navigation accuracy, and it really, really works. My iPhone never did this. Neither did my portable car GPS. Who needs a car GPS when you have an Android phone with a big screen, loud speaker, fast processor and high speed data connection? I never did and never will pay any extra for a built-in navigation system in a new car (unless they give it away for free) – the smartphones are constantly ahead of the game.
– EVO-ed out in the morning so I stayed away from it for a while to give my eyes chance to experience the real world. Installed some apps late in the evening (see my updated apps list below)
TWO WEEKS LATER:
– Out of the box, without any tweaking, it seems that the Gmail app consumes far more battery life than the Mail app. I have multiple Gmail accounts (personal, business, forward from work, family/youtube, junk mail) and while I had them all configured in Gmail app the battery life suffered tremendously. As soon as I removed them and put them in Mail, it got back to normal. Since I had to leave one account in Gmail (the one that syncs the phone contacts and settings), and I also keep it in my Mail app to access them all from one spot, I disabled the notifications in Gmail settings to avoid them overlapping with new notifications from Mail. Then I went into main screen, hit the menu button=>Settings=>Accounts and sync=>Google=> uncheck Sync Gmail (I keep syncing the calendar and contacts). I hope that is my final answer for configuring email access.
– I uploaded my custom iPhone ringtones to the new phone in two minutes, once I figured out how to do it).
– I’m still learning and I realize that I’ve only scratched the surface as this thing can probably be configured to make my chilled cup of instant coffee with pure ice-cold milk, toast a bagel and spread cream cheese on it just when I wake up in the morning, if I had enough time, will and money to find or write the adequate app, buy proper interface machinery and teach it my preferences, but why bother when my wife often does this for free… (and I often do the same for her. For the record, this thing cannot replace a girlfriend or wife… perhaps an executive assistant, but not a good one).
Joking aside, in my search for Android apps that perform similarly to the ones I have on the iPhone I compiled a list of my most important iPhone apps and whether I found and installed a replacement. Since I keep updating it frequently I decided to move it to a new post of Phone Apps and chosen Android alternatives.
See you there.