A Tale of Two Phones

by Dave Michels

There is a common tiresome discussion about iPhone vs. Android. This is not that. This is a discussion of Android vs. Android.
My household has now purchased a total of 6 Android phones.

  • G1
  • MyTouch 3G
  • Original Droid
  • MyTouch 4G
  • LG Optimus T
  • Samsung Galaxy S 4G

Every one of these phones was a winner in their own way and evolutionary period. Well, sort of. The MyTouch 4G (MT4G) by HTC was a loser.
I was really torn at the time between it and the G2. Blogger Michael Graves was raving about his G2 which offered stock Android and a decent keyboard. But the MT4G has more memory, greater processor, and a front facing camera. I posted my thought process and requirement to compromise here.
But after two months of trying to accept the MT4G (there is always a learning curve associated with new tech), I determined the phone was not for me and replaced it with the yet even newer Samsung Galaxy S 4G.
First off, I could not make it thru a full day on one battery. I didn’t have that problem with the Droid or the Samsung. The Samsung can actually go almost a day and half. Secondly, the Sense GUI on the MT4G was very frustrating. Everything took more work. I blogged before about unlocking the phone requiring two steps (Droid and Samsung only require a pattern swipe). But little annoying things were everywhere. Like the MT4G has this (normal) alphanumeric dial-pad so you can spell someone’s name to dial. Very clever – except it always assumed the wrong number (home, cell, work, etc.) – it just picked one.
The Android experience is optimized for search. It’s one of the few hard keys and does get used. The MT4G replaced the search button with a “genius” button that I found totally worthless. There was no way to change it back, and it made search a two step process.
The kicker was an error I frequently got: Error Code 65 which would not go away. T-Mobile advised a master reset which meant re-installing every app. That’s a lot of work without much of an assurance it would fix the problem. I figured if I was going to to do all that, I would just buy another phone (on Ebay because of the stupid 2 year contract. I plan to sell my MT4G on ebay too.)

I have been impressed with the Samsung. It is a far better thought out device. It isn’t stock Android either, but it is much more intuitive. I like the SMS chats (more iChat like). I like the door cover on the USB port, I like the power button on the side of the phone. I like the screen size and color better. the phone is bigger and lighter. It has many new features like video-out and VoIP calling. It is faster.
There are plenty of reviews, and some disagree – some prefer the MT4G.
But here is my key point. If you like or don’t like Android – don’t assume other phones are the same. Personally, I found the MT4G unusable – I could easily conclude that iPhone is better and tell the world how much smarter Apple is over Google. Android’s simultaneous strength and weakness is the ability to its partners to customize the experience. And HTC’s implementation was not for me. My frustration is more correctly aimed at HTC (or Tmobile) not Android. I really like my Samsung – and feel these two phones have very little in common.
Lately, the news is that Google is ratcheting this down. The critics feel that it was open and now that’ it’s popular Google is ratcheting it down. But I think this is necessary – too many permutations make it a less appealing solution. Why are the hard keys different and in different order on these and other phones? Why is the unlock routine different?
Though this phone is far from perfect either. I don’t think it has NFC – though I can’t tell for sure. The camera has no flash. No HDMI port. I don’t know why I have to continue to compromise on what I want.