Monday, 14 June 2010

Ah, dilemas...

Yesterday as I was sitting on one of my favorite chairs with my iPad in hand, I found myself browsing the latest iPhone 4 news and rumors online. After all, the new Apple smartphone will be released to the wild in a week, and pre-orders start on Tuesday (tomorrow). So I had to get my fix of the excitement.

But as I sat there for a while and hopped back and forth from the web browser to this app and that app on my iPad, it occurred to be: Maybe I don't really need an iPhone anymore. Maybe I should look at my options.

Why would I even consider this? Well - because I have the iPad.

A moment of clarity washed over me as I realized that all the functionality I rely upon on the iPhone is also available on the iPad, with few exceptions. All of my aviation software that I use for flying I have on the iPad for example, and honestly I prefer to use it there. Come to think of it, all the apps I use regularly are getting by far the most use these days on my iPad, not the iPhone.

So, what exactly am I using my iPhone for, now that the iPad is in my life? What would I lose if my iPhone disappeared for good, that I can't find on my iPad? Honestly, it's a pretty short list:

  • Phone calls -Obviously I don't make calls on the iPad, those all happen on the iPhone. And the phone's not too reliable for that purpose, I should add. But I blame AT&T for that issue.
  • Text messages - Which I also cannot do on the iPad, at least not in the native form. I use Google Voice for all my text and inbound voice calls anyhow, so I do some of that on the iPad, some on the phone.
  • Location and mapping - But, most of my GPS navigation and guidance work is now performed by the iPad (there are a couple great HD turn-by-turn apps available).
  • Facebook app - just for convenience, and because the app on the iPad is, well, the iPhone app (and what the heck's up with that anyhow?). But I also do Facebook in the Safari browser on the iPad. It's just not as portable. And Facebook is hardly a deal-breaker requirement.
  • The iPhone is there any time I need pocket-sized app services - And this typically means using apps for things like weather and finding a store or restaurant, which I think can be done from other phones pretty easily. I don't want to carry the iPad with me everywhere, so there are times when I would have to go without.
  • Photos - Again, not something you can create with the iPad since there's no camera. But honestly the camera in the iPhone 3G isn't much to speak of, and any phone I'd buy today will dramatically improve on the camera story. I might even get - *gasp* - video capability.
When I consider the (frankly) crappy call delivery and high cost of service on the AT&T network over the past few years, it's awfully tempting to consider making a move away from that carrier for my phone services, which would of course also mean moving off the iPhone. And maybe the iPad 3G makes that move possible for me. Im certain that's not what Apple or AT&T intended, but it might just be the effect.

So - What to do?

I should point out that I do have a few strong reasons to want to stay with the iPhone and get the new model. It has a great interface, common apps between devices are nice to have, and the fact of the matter is things look terrific on the iPhone display (and will look even better on the new one). I like Apple's hardware and software very much, despite the walls and restrictions they've put in place.

In the "alternatives" department, I've started looking at the Sprint EVO 4G - a big new phone with a good performance spec sheet. There have been some rumors of glass/screen de-lamination so I will have to look into that to be sure. And battery life is rumored to be a bit weak. But, having access to 4G wireless data speeds in the city and a Sprint monthly service plan that costs less than the AT&T equivalent by as much as $30 is tempting. In fact, I could add Sprint's $29.95 Internet-sharing plan to the EVO 4G and it would serve as a wireless hotspot for me and 7 of my closest friends if I wanted. And all that for almost exactly the same cost I pay AT&T today for the same service, sans the 4G speeds and hot spot.

I've also thought about the new Verizon phones. The Droid Incredible looks pretty darn sharp, although it appears one will have to wait until July for it to ship. And Verizon's network is - well, you know. It's the network!

One interesting and frustrating tidbit about both of these Android phones is that neither comes with the Froyo (v2.2) version of Android installed. I'm sure HTC will ship it for the phones before too long, but it would have been nice to see them ship with the latest OS, especially given the performance improvements made in that version.

And so, none of this brings me any closer to a final decision. None of these phones are available today, but since pre-order time is here I feel like I should be making a choice. I guess I don't have to, but I don't really want to wait for too long. This shattered screen is pretty aggravating.

It would be cool to see the Android phones in action and to see whether the Android apps look any better on the phone's screen than they do in screenshots available on the web. Frankly, iPhone apps look pretty awesome most of the time, so I am a bit of spoiled iPhone snob, I suppose. Many of the screen shots of Android apps I have seen look like something on a Commodore 64 from when I was a kid. But maybe that's not the norm. So, if anyone has an EVO 4G they'd like to show off in the Portland area please let me know. :)

What would you do, and why?



Add/Read: Comments [3]
Apple | Mobile | Tech
Monday, 14 June 2010 18:36:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Monday, 14 June 2010 19:04:04 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Might hold out for the next Droid, called "Droid X" if memory serves. Another option would be holding out for one of the Samsung models. They have some fairly sweet phones I am told.
Matt Hartley
Monday, 14 June 2010 21:26:16 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Go Android! Mostly because I just like to hate Apple :) Seriously though, I agree that there may not be a need for both an iPhone and iPad. As someone that works in technology, it would probably serve you well to become a user of another platform, like Android.

As far as Froyo goes....Isn't the N1 the only phone that can run Froyo officially right now? I am sure it will come to every Android phone in a few months.

Sprints pricing is very attractive but like you said, Verizon has the network!

Good luck deciding...so many choices!
Tuesday, 15 June 2010 13:14:11 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I just switched to the EVO 2 weeks ago. I had been using an iPhone 3g (no 's').

Things I love the most:
- Much, much, much faster. Both the responsiveness of the UI, and the speed of the data, are way better.
- Surprisingly - the 'compact qwerty' keyboard mode. I love it. I can enter text a lot faster than on the iphone. You can apparently replace the keyboard with a number of 3d party options as well.
- The big screen is great. Looking at an iphone now, that screen looks small to me.
- No AT&T overload. I was at a 6k-person conference with both my old iPhone and my Sprint Overdrive device. No one could get any data on their iphones, where OTOH the Sprint device did great, sitting in the same room. That's what convinced me to switch to Sprint.
- In two weeks have not had a dropped call experience like happened daily on AT&T
- There are a lot of nice little surprises - such as voice recognition in all text fields. Works great for sending SMSs without typing.
- Wifi tethering rules. (Although at that same conference, there were >100 hotspots in 1 room! This is going to change conference wifi)

Medium:
- with the Android market- it's nice to have the freedom of app choice. But, there are also a lot of junk apps, and tons of spam in the comments section.

Things I dislike:
- Battery life is terrible. I am always thinking of my next power fix. Cannot last from 9-5.
- Numerous pre-installed Sprint junkware that CANNOT be uninstalled (short of installing a custom ROM from hackers on the web) such as Sprint Nascar app, Sprint TV, etc
- It's way more like managing a linux machine in your pocket. For example the aforementioned Sprint junkware loads itself into memory on its own, and you see that stuff in the process list, and have to keep killing it. It's fun to hack linux when you want to, but not sure I want this level of intensity of trying to manage what's running on my phone.
- iphone has noticeably better cut-and-paste. There are also a lot of little things - like the Android mail app doesn't put deleted mail in the trash on imap, it just permanently deletes them. I'm sure I could find a better mail app, but then who has the time ...

Overall I'm really happy with the switch. I know something will come out in 2 months that will obsolete my phone, but that's the game with phones. I am most happy with the incredible speed increase (UI and network) - I came from 3g (not 's') so the change has been dramatic for me.
Peter H
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