My thoughts on Android phones

Even though Android is pretty much a giant iOS rip-off (see pre-iPhone UI screenshots), I appreciate its' existence. Healthy competition brings about innovation, and Apple's iOS devices are better due to having Android on the playing field. While my current carrier (Verizon) doesn't currently offer the iPhone (until tomorrow, I guess), I haven't had any interest in buying one of the many Android phones that they do offer. The reason is the "openness" that Google touts as being one of Android's advantages.

In practice, what "open" means for Android is that each phone manufacturer will take the base OS, then try to customize it as much as possible for their devices, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from other Android handset manufacturers. As far as I know, it's impossible to remove these customizations and revert back to Google's "vanilla" Android UI without significant hacking. The annoying thing here is that I would want to use a phone with no tacked-on cruft, but HTC, Motorola, etc. don't provide that option.

The other problem with Android phones is that you can't get official OS updates without going through the carrier/manufacturer. With iOS, this isn't a big deal; Apple releases a new version, and everyone can download and upgrade at the same time. With Android, Google releases a new version, and then the manufacturers have to tailor the upgrade to fit each of their devices. Of course, this takes time, and in some cases a manufacturer won't want to keep supporting their device, which means you are crap out of luck.

Both of these problems don't exist if you buy one of the "official" Android phones, the Nexus One or Nexus S. But bizarrely, the Nexus phones are only supported by T-Mobile in the US (you can run one on AT&T, sans 3G data connection). Of course, that means they don't work on Verizon's CMDA network at all. The unfortunate conclusion is that Google doesn't feel like giving people using carriers other than T-Mobile a choice on whether or not to user their official phone.

These three problems have prevented me from using Android, and since it looks like Verizon is going to start carrying the iPhone very soon, I don't think there's much hope for Android in my future.

Posted by Posted by Nathan at 13:01 · Tags iphone cell phones verizon at&t t-mobile google android


Review: Nexus 4 | Ganbaru Games wrote on December 07, 2012:

[...] my thoughts turned to Android. Since I was running on prepaid GSM, my previous problems with Android phones (specifically the Nexus line) were somewhat mitigated. Plus, having a taste of [...]