Category: Technology

Ramblings On Smartphones

Android is dead to me – it has been for quite some time now.

I remember back when the iPhone 4 first came out on Verizon Wireless. At the time, it was so much better than similarly priced Android phones, mainly because of the Retina display, which really was the best on the market. Despite pre-ordering the CDMA iPhone 4 soon after it was announced, I still had a great appreciation for Android, Google’s young operating system that sought to bring more features to smartphone power users and provide a more capable experience than basic iOS. To try it out, I installed the Android Development Kit on my desktop computer and loaded up some of the virtual machines. Eventually, in December 2011, I purchased the well-known Asus Transformer TF101, which was touted as the very first Android device to receive the new Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Android spent many of its formative years as, harsh as it may sound, an exact knockoff of iOS. Since the only carrier with the iPhone was AT&T, and rarely anyone bought the full-price unlocked phone outright like they do today, the other carriers brought in hordes of random Androids that were all deemed “iPhone killers” in one way or another. Verizon launched the Droid brand, complete with the “DROID DOES” television campaign in order to show iPhone supporters all of the cool, “futuristic” features that they were missing out on through their allegiance to Apple. The largest of those features was definitely Adobe Flash Player, which is more of a punch line today, but in those times the Web was much heavier on Flash content and mobile-optimized websites were less common than you might have thought. While web browsing on Android would have been more capable, despite the fact that Android’s app store had lower prices, Apple’s has always been superior in content.

In 2012 I preordered the Black – yes, Black … not the ugly purple-blue color – Galaxy S3 for Verizon Wireless. That phone was a mistake – battery life was worse than the nearly two year old iPhone 4 that it was replacing, prompting me to quickly get a cheap extended battery courtesy of eBay which may or may not have caused some of the phone’s internal components to “fry”. But it’s not really my fault … because the battery life on the OEM battery was so bad that I actually needed something as large as 4500mAH to get through a single day.

In 2014 I upgraded to the HTC One M8, which has been a pretty good experience but it has definitely gone downhill since I first bought it. The first 6 months with the phone were awesome – then it got updated to Lollipop and battery life went south, and a bunch of other bugs rose up causing the phone to stutter much more than when it was new. The Marshmallow update, which took forever to receive, didn’t really improve anything – but fortunately, it didn’t make anything worse.

Getting the iPad Air 2 taught me that iOS isn’t bad anymore like it was during the malaise time of iOS 6, with its horribly ancient skeuomorphic design language (relative to the “Holo” years of Android Honeycomb and beyond) and controversial Apple Maps. I really can’t stand the iPhone 5 because it was the device that I would have upgraded to if I had chosen to remain with iOS when my iPhone 4 became eligible for upgrade. Why didn’t I upgrade to the iPhone 5? Because it ran boring old iOS 6. Because it was virtually the same phone as the iPhone 4, only taller. Because I didn’t care at all about camera quality since the iPhone 4 was completely serviceable. Because the processing speed on the iPhone 4 was completely adequate for the time, so who cares about the latest Apple chip. Because now it used Lightning, and none of my then-current accessories would work with it. Because it embodied the “cult of Apple” that many of the other kids in my high school appreciated and stuck with, seemingly … mindlessly.