In January, I joined the bandwagon and bought a smartphone. I’m frugal, so I went with https://ting.com/ for my provider, and I’m paying about $15 per month for 100 minutes, 100 text messages and 100 MB data, and I don’t get reamed if I go over those limits.
I would have bought an iPhone, since I’ve been using an iPod Touch for the past two years, but Ting only offers Android phones. So I purchased the HTC EVO 4G LTE, which is an improved version of the HTC One X, although it has the dumbest name ever. It’s a fantastic smartphone, has a fantastic screen, and it shopped with Ice Cream Sandwich — the first release of Android that I’ve liked. Now it’s been upgraded to Jelly Bean, which is better in subtle and worthwhile ways.
What’s better with iOS (iPhone and iPod Touch)?
- Screen orientation change doesn’t delete data. This is a major black-eye on Android. Every time the screen orientation changes, the app’s UI is destroyed, and unless the developer took special pains, all data is lost. I’ve lost plenty of data (usually paragraphs of notes that I’ve entered with a bluetooth keyboard) this way with my Android, whereas with iOS, it wasn’t a problem.
- Universal media control on lock screen. FF, Pause/Play. If Jelly Bean fixes this, then I haven’t seen the fix because HTC’s Sense UI took it away.
- Screen orientation lock so that when I’m laying on the couch, trying to read, it will stay in the correct screen rotation mode. As a workaround, I have an app that locks the orientation.
- Peripherals. You’ll find a wide range of cases, keyboards, and peripherals for Apple i-devices at Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and elsewhere. Not so much for Android devices. Bluetooth peripherals (speakers, headsets, etc.) offer Android somewhat equal footing.
- Integration. Our Honda Odyssey integrates beautifully with our iPod Touch, showing album artwork on the in-dash screen, and allowing browsing and selection of albums. With Android, I can play my music over bluetooth, and that’s about it.
- Publishers. Everyone publishes content for iTunes and iTunesU.
- Easier to manage app notifications — it’s all in once central place. Jelly Bean introduced this ability, but it’s not in one central place. I disable notifications from any and all games. It’s unacceptable for them to bother me, ever.
- Updates. With an Apple product, you get operating system updates for three years. Not so with most Android devices. You’re lucky to get one OS update. The solution would be to purchase a Google-branded phone like the excellent Nexus 4, and then you will get two years of OS updates.
- It ships with a note-taking app by default.
What’s better with Android?
- I can limit data usage for the entire phone, and prevent individual apps from using mobile data. Since I’m using Ting, this is a big deal.
- Hardware connectors are cheaper (HDMI output)
- Google integration and authentication is SO much less hassle.
- WiFi Analyzer — is it even possible on an iPhone?
- AppLock Pro allows me to hand my Android phone to my children, knowing that they can only access the apps that I’ve allowed. Apple’s guided access is almost as good, but doesn’t allow me to define a range of apps they are allowed to use — it’s on an instance-at-a-time basis.
What’s better with the HTC EVO 4G LTE compared to an iPhone or iPod Touch?
- The larger screen makes reading content a much more enjoyable experience compared to my iPod Touch 4th generation.
- The EVO 4G LTE allows 32GB storage to be inserted.
- The battery is more easily replaceable.
- Most apps are fantastic on Android, just like on iOS: mint.com, Gospel Library, Pandora, Gmail, Dropbox, Kindle reader, Google Earth.
- A purpose-built digital camera is still better. Although I love the camera on the EVO 4G LTE, my Canon PowerShot takes better pictures.
- Gmail eats long-typed emails — ones that I type with my bluetooth keyboard. So I don’t trust gmail for anything but reading, searching, and short replies.
Here are my most used and favorite apps for Android:
- LDS Gospel Library
- Business Calendar Pro (although CalenGoo or Pimlical should be good as well)
- Google Voice
- Gmail (although it loses portions of long email replies, it works well for reading)
- RealCalc (a free RPN calculator)
- KSL Weather
- DropBox — I love that it automatically grabs my pictures and that they’re automatically available on my Ubuntu desktop computer.
- KeepassDroid so that I can have my passwords on Linux and on Android.
- LDS Tools
- The banking app for my credit union allows me to take pictures of checks and have them deposited.
- Widget Locker in combination with Pure Messenger widget, K9 Email for Pure, and Pure Calendar widget.
- Google Listen for podcasting.
A final note about ting.com: Although they do voice roaming on Verizon’s network when no Sprint tower is available, they never do data roaming. This means that when I’m out-and-about at my city library, or shopping, I don’t have a data connection. For the price, I’m willing to live with it. For a more expensive plan, yet more affordable than Sprint or Verizon, it would have been ideal to purchase a $300 Nexus 4 and use T-mobile as my provider.