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My first few days with an Android phone

[Sidenote: Funny how I just posted about leaving Apple and now I am talking about my new Android phone…]

Alright, so a couple of Android observations after having this new Samsung Galaxy S3 for just a couple of days. I still haven’t adjusted completely, so I am trying to keep these observations limited to more objective things.

First of all, the hardware:

The screen is flippin’ huge and I love it. It has basically given me arthritis for trying to use it one-handed, but it is nice and roomy. After using an iPad for the past couple of months my iPhone display started seeming small. The SGS3 display size is good. The color, not so good. Far too blue. That probably is related to the materials, which brings me to my next observation: It is all plastic, which sucks. It feels really cheap. Taking the back panel off is like watching SNL: disappointing.

The wifi antennae is really weak. All of my other devices have no problem connecting to my router from all over the house. I get terrible reception with the SGS3. Looking online I learned how to get into a diagnostic mode and turn off Wifi Power Saving Mode or something or other. Didn’t seem to help.

However, it is FAST. Dual core and 2 gigs of RAM. Nice. I am coming from an iPhone 4, not the 4s, so it is even more pronounced.

Now, software:

NOTE: As this thing is using Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature skin thus I cannot generalize about the Android platform as a whole. Keep that in mind — I am.

Okay, just gotta get this off my chest. Every time you tap something you get this little “natural” water droplet sound. It is an annoying manifestation of the Nature theme. Makes me want to wiz.

Widgets are brilliant. I am still not quite sure how I should organize my homescreen and my app drawer, but I see the potential for optimal customization there. I wish more widgets could be placed on the lock screen.

As for apps, I got just about everything I had on the iPhone. My only complaint is the lack of a decent Twitter client. I have been spoiled by Tweetbot.

The keyboard sucks. No spell-check? And no Japanese? But at least I can go out and download a new one that fits my needs. Score 1 for Android.

For such fast hardware, this thing locks up wayyy to easily. Apps crash… a lot. And processes too. Add a new email account and the thing becomes entirely unresponsive for about a minute. None of the onscreen or hardware keys work except for the sleep button. Even if you put it to sleep it won’t wake up until it is done doing what it is doing. This happened to me three times today, in three different apps. All of them ended in a error message.

Speaking of error messages, take a look at one that I get all the time:

Why the hell is this a customer-facing error message? It is meaningless to the average user.

And why does Bell’s Mobile TV app throw an error when I am on a wifi connection? “Content rights restrictions”? OMGWTFBBQ! And that has to be the crashiest app ever.

Okay, so here my bias will show. Feel free to skip this next section and go straight to the last para:

There is a general lack of polish. In general it feels pretty chintzy. Just like the plastic outer casing, the software inside lacks a depth of thought. The UI is “good enough” but it lacks the intuitiveness of the iPhone. Many of the workflows require an abundance of steps using checkboxes, modes and menus with very deep and convoluted hierarchies. (Speaking of menus, TouchWiz is very menu dependent. This comes down to the hardware soft-keys. I mean, soft-keys originated on feature phones. It feels like a step backwards.)

Anyways, I have basically left my iPhone on the desk and have thrown the SGS3 only twice so far, so I think things are going pretty good. I plan on living with this thing for at least the next 2 years so I should have a better sense of comparison in the future. I am sure I will comment more then.

When it comes down to it, I’m enjoying (at least the novelty of) it.

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