Saturday, 16 January 2010

Why Android?

From ComputerBites
I have been asked by a few people why choose an Android phone rather than an iphone. I didn't want to get into a 'mine is better than yours' or 'google versus apple' thing but I thought I would just list a few reasons one might make that choice.

Choice of Phone - You can choose what's most important to you. Want a hardware keyboard? There is a phone for that. Want to take better photos? There is a phone for that. Want to backup your data to an SD card? There is a phone for that. Want a larger touch screen? There is a phone for that. Want to connect it at work via USB? There is a phone for that (trying to sound like the annoying 'there's an app for that' advert). The only choice of hardware you have with an iphone is 16GB or 32GB.

Camera - While on the subject of hardware the iphone comes with a 3.2 megapixel camera. If taking snaps with your phone is important to you then you could get the Nexus One with a 5 megapixel camera or wait for the 8 megapixel offering coming from Motorola. I can't speak for the iphone but Android 2.0 has built-in flash support, digital zoom, scene mode, white balance, color effect and macro focus.

Keyboard - After using a phone with a hardware keyboard I don't think I could go back to one without. If I do it would certainly have to have a better on screen offering than the iphones. The Android onscreen keyboard (which I use for short, quick messages) learns the words you use and doesn't keep throwing up autocorrects.

Internet browsing - The Android browser is getting Flash support. From Techcrunch: flash hits android when will apple play catch-up?

Software - We've all seen the 'There's an app for that' adverts. Well the Android Market isn't exactly bare, currently over 20,000. If it is a pretty decent app then it is likely you will see it on both platforms. There may be over 100,000 on the iphone store but how many fart machines do you need? The number of quality or essential apps are probably about the same. Long term Android is open source, to be an iphone developer you have to sign up and pay apple $99 or $299. So expect more apps to come, especially with more and more phone manufacturers releasing android handsets and with the Nexus being the most powerful phone currently available expect games to get better too.

Google Maps Navigation - Continuing with software, Google is planning to put SatNav makers out of business. You can get the TomTom app for the iphone for around £60 or get the 'Google SatNAv Killer' for free on Android. Includes Traffic View, Satalite View, Street View, Search By Voice and more. So for the price of an Android phone you get a phone AND a SatNav.

Google Goggles - Another great app the iphone can't beat. Take a picture with your Android phone and Google give you information about your subject. Take pictures of landmarks, paintings, places, product lables and expect information, prices, services and web pages about your subject at your fingertips.

Being able to switch between apps - You get an alert on the iphone and you have to dismiss it to do anything else, including when you are on a call. Also, say you want to look at a spreadsheet while you are talking to someone. On the iphone you have to hang up the call and and re-open the spreadsheet, on Android you can open it, or even switch back to it if it was open, while still on the call. Often I have got some text messages, some emails, maybe a few notifications of updates for games I have downloaded, some google calendar or AK notepad reminders I have setup for myself, a missed call and some music scrobbling to Last.fm. On my phone I can just drag down the notification area, deal with the ones I want to deal with, leave the rest for latter or dismiss. On the iphone I would have to go through each alert one at a time to get to where I want to be.

Being able to increase storage capacity - So you have decided to get the 16GB iphone as it was the one that was free on your contract. You have filled it, now what? With Android you can just get another Micro SD card and the Nexus One can be expanded upto 32GB.

Price - My major reason. When I was looking at smartphones the iphone was a major probability but the price just could not be justified. At the time the iphone was only on o2 so this may eventually start to change. Right now however, with Android you just get more for your money. I had a go at listing all the available price plans but ran out of room so here is what you get for £30 a month:

*A free 16GB iphone on o2 is available if you sign up for £45 per month for 24 months or £75 per month for 18 months.
A free 32GB iphone on o2 is only available on a £75 per month 24 month contract.
A free 16GB handset is available on Vodafone with a £45 or £75 per month contract for 24 months.
A free 32GB iphone is available on a £75 per month 24 month contract.

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