Seems that a lot of my posts are about smartphones. It's hard to ignore the industry given how prevalent the devices have become in our daily lives. It's also hard to ignore the ongoing battle between Apple and Samsung. And as much as I'd like to make Apple out as the bad guy, I can't deny that Samsung is flinging some poo as well. Here's the thing... I don't care about those lawsuits, and neither should you. Why? Nothing that results from them will benefit you, the consumer, in any way, shape, or form. I'm tired of talking about it, and I'm tired of reading about it, so I'm just going to drop the topic now.
So I've had my Galaxy Nexus for a couple months now, and I'm quite happy with it. Sure it's not top-end specs anymore, but those quad core phones don't do anything for you besides enlarge your e-peen. And drain your battery faster. There's no practical difference in performance for the daily tasks I use Android for. I still think the LCD on the HTC Evo LTE is better than the AMOLED screen on my Nexus, but it's still a very nice display.
Jelly Bean is also quite nice, and just as buttery smooth as the project's namesake. T-Mobile has also been pleasantly surprising with very speedy service. At home I have full bars most of the time and can pull down 10 megabits in speed tests. At work it's a bit hit or miss once I go inside a building, but not completely unusable. Definitely not as fast as at home, though. Really I can't argue for $30/month. It's not quite as good as the plan I had on my iPhone 4S for the three weeks I spent in the UK (15 pounds/month for unlimited data, 3000 minutes/texts), but pretty amazing by U.S. standards.
Speaking of the iPhone, I upgraded the 4S to iOS 6 last night. And promptly yawned. Major version increments in iOS usually mean big new features. With iOS 4 we finally got multitasking, and with iOS 5 we got Siri and notifications. With iOS 6 we got a new maps app with turn by turn navigation. It really feels like iOS 5.2. Sure there's a lot of tweaks and small new things, but it doesn't add up to a major version in my book. Turning wifi on or off from the home screen is still a three step affair requiring the settings app.
Oh, and am I the only one that thinks the iPhone 5 looks like a Photoshop gone bad? What the hell was Apple thinking when they came up with that aspect ratio? Short of scrolling lists, there's nothing I can think of that is made better by adding pixels to one dimension of the screen and not the other. It really boggles my mind. Yes, Apple, you want to be different. But different is not always better.
Anyway... if you want a good phone without a contract, get a Galaxy Nexus. You won't regret it. It's a steal for $350 from Google. T-Mobile's your best bet if you have good coverage with them (luckily I do), though there's also Straight Talk if AT&T's network will serve you better (though be warned, they're a bit thuggish with their hidden data caps). If you're on Sprint, my recommendation of the HTC Evo LTE over the Galaxy S III still stands.
Maybe it's insensitive, but I had hopes that Apple might head in a better direction after Steve Jobs passed on. It's been no secret that Jobs had a pathological hatred for Android. He felt that Android had stolen literally everything from iOS. Maybe it did, but saying iOS didn't steal a good deal of elements from software that came before it is outright lie. Innovation, by its very nature, is built on what came before. Steve Jobs' definition of innovation seemed to include the line "as long as it doesn't build on what Apple has made."
Unfortunately, it looks like Jobs left enough of his special kool-aid to last a while longer.
The recent ruling over Samsung is exhibit A. There is literally nothing in this lawsuit that benefits consumers. Apple stifles innovation by putting fear into hardware and software developers while continuing to prove just how broken the U.S. patent system is. Oh, and they get to add another billion to what I can only assume is a Scrooge McDuck-like vault of cash (a hundred billion and counting). It's nauseating. It makes me want to punch Tim Cook in the face, especially after that gloating memo he tossed out for all to see.
I admit, I owned an iPhone 4S for a while. It wasn't bad, but it was somewhat underwhelming. I knew at the time that I didn't like Apple, but I could hold my nose while using the 4S without too much trouble. After this, though... the stench is just too overwhelming. It stinks of selfishness and greed. I was actually somewhat interested in the new mini iPads, but there's just no way I can in good conscious buy an Apple product anymore.
There was a time when Apple was the plucky upstart to Microsoft's behemoth. Buying an Apple product was cool. How things have changed. Apple now gets SWAT teams to raid people's apartments when a prototype iPhone is suspected to be there. They toss their corporate weight around with lawsuits like the malevolent beast that they are. Don't even get me started on "beating a dead horse" metaphors with their Kodak suit. Apple claimed once to be purely about innovation. Now that seems to come with a clause that reads "as long as it's only our innovation."
I am absolutely done with Apple. No more hardware, no more software, no more purchases on iTunes. The bile spewing forth from that company is just too much to ignore anymore. I've owned iPods, iPhones, and even a few Macs over the years. Apple products have generally been solid. It's just a shame that their upper management is quite possibly the largest group of flaming assholes in the industry.
But enough of that rant.
In other news, I'm now using a Samsung Galaxy Nexus on T-Mobile, and I'm quite happy with it. It does everything the iPhone didn't and then some. Quite a good bargain too seeing as it sells for about half of what an unlocked 4S goes for. I'll do a review on the GNex in another post.
Bigger isn't always better. It's really a matter of personal preference and how you use that size. What was I talking about? No, not that. Get your mind out of that filthy gutter. I'm talking about smartphones. Specifically, the trend of high-end Android devices getting bigger and bigger screens (I'm looking at you Galaxy Nexus).
I've had my iPhone 4S for over two months now, and I've discovered one of the primary reasons I like it; it's unobtrusive. It's diminutive size compared to the current top-tier Android behemoths is striking when you put it next to one. In daily use it becomes even more obvious. It goes in pockets without issues. It sits on my desk without getting in the way. It's not challenged to fit in any pocket inside my backpack.
That's the reason I'm sticking with the iPhone right now in a nutshell. As I said in a previous post, iOS is mature enough now to compete on the same level with Android, but the advantages and disadvantages of both cancel each other out in my experience.
So where's the top-tier hardware running Android 4.0 and a 3.5" to 4" screen? There's a demographic out there looking for these devices, and the only device offering that (sans Android) is coming from Apple. Is anyone paying attention? Samsung? HTC? LG? Sony? Bueller?
Yeah, you read that headline right. I got myself an iPhone 4S on Sprint. And quite honestly... I like it.
Now don't get any crazy ideas. This doesn't mean I'm suddenly an Apple fanatic. Quite the opposite in fact. I've made many disparaging remarks about Apple in the past, and I don't take any of those back. Apple as a company is still an evil entity.
The iPhone, however, I think is finally at the point where it can legitimately claim to be competitive with the rest of the market. It's not playing catchup anymore, and you're not really sacrificing anything by choosing it over an Android device.
One of my biggest issues with iOS up until version 5 was notification popups. Especially when they came in chains. So Apple implemented Android's notification tray. Problem solved. It works in a very similar fashion to its Android counterpart, and that's not a bad thing. It's arguably the best way to do it.
Multitasking was one of my other big problems, which got addressed back in iOS 4. Sure it's not quite true multitasking, but in most ways that matter it gets the job done. While the bulk of the app gets frozen, some small part of it keeps running and pushes notifications. I haven't had the phone for long, but it hasn't given me any problems in that regard.
There was a time when you had to be a serious Apple fanboy to want to use an iPhone. Now I'd call it a real choice. It's actually not about the fruit factor anymore, it's just a really good device. Apple, on the other hand, still has some work to do to redeem itself. Get to that, Mr. Cook.