When the iPhone was introduced, it was a true game-changer, defining what it meant to be a smartphone. For a long time it has been the best phone available. By far. It has been the phone that every other phone has tried to live up to.
However, since Android phone sales overtook iPhone sales about a year ago, it’s been hard to miss the clamour surrounding Android.
When my close-to-three-year old iPhone 3G died a few weeks ago, my interest in Android turned from academic to pragmatic. I have been unabashedly enthusiastic about Apple products, but wanted to see what the Android fuss was about, instead of just buying an iPhone 4 or waiting for the iPhone “5”.
It became clear, at least to my mind, that Android is a better operating system than iOS, and that surprisingly, Apple is playing catch-up. For example, features such as unobtrusive notifications and cloud-syncing have been available in Android for a long time, but are only appearing in iOS 5 now. Android has support for Flash. It also has support for creating a WiFi hotspot that uses the phone’s connectivity!
There’s more to like. The iPhone’s user experience is extremely polished all-round, but you’re pretty much stuck with what Apple gives you. On Android however, you can customise pretty much every aspect of the phone. For example, you can replace the default homesreen, lockscreen, keyboard, sms application or web browser. Android is a lot more open and flexible. For example, you can copy a directory of videos directly on to your phone without having to use iTunes as an intermediary. Or you can automatically change various settings via applications like Tasker and Locale. This is extremely appealing to a “power user” like me. Also, I must say I was quite impressed with the user experience of HTC Sense (HTC’s UI on top of Android).
There are of course far more apps in the Apple App Store versus the Google Android Market, but the Android market is growing fast and developers are increasingly choosing to move to Android’s far less restrictive policies. Apple should be worried.
And then there’s the hardware. The likes of Samsung, HTC and LG are churning out phones at a frantic pace. That means the cutting edge is found there. So, despite HTC’s great user experience, I bought the Samsung Galaxy SII. And I couldn’t be happier with it.
Here’s what I love about it:
Screen: It has absolutely gorgeous 4.3 Super AMOLED Plus screen with very deep blacks and colours that pop-out. It’s hard to imagine using anything else after spending some time with it.
Speed: It has a 1.2 GHz dual core processor that just screams.
Build: At 8.5mm, it’s the slimmest smartphone in the world. It’s also incredibly light. It has a lovely, sleek minimalistic all-black design with an unobtrusive gunmetal insert. Holding it in your hand, it’s hard to imagine there’s so much inside!
Storage: 16GB built-in plus an SD card slot.
Camera: Excellent 8MP camera plus a front-facing camera for video calls.
Battery life: The battery life is a little disappointing, even though it’s supposed to be better than most other “superphones”. I often find myself needing to recharge it after half a day of moderate use. But fortunately, “there’s an app for that” 🙂 I haven’t tried it, but JuiceDefender looks promising.
User Interface: Samsung’s TouchWiz 4.0 UI is so-so. Again, this is easily fixed. I replaced the homescreen and keyboard with GO Dev Team’s awesome GO Launcher EX and GO Keyboard.
I’m convinced that not only is the Samsung Galaxy SII superior to the iPhone 4 and even the 4S on both fronts (hardware and software) but is the best phone you can buy today (at least in India).