Shortly after Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 4s, I got an e-mail from Verizon. It said that, although my Droid X has eight months to go on its contract, I could buy my way out of the rest of my obligation for 20 bucks if I change my phone to the 4s. I went for it.
As regular readers of this blog – and I thank both of you – know, my experience with the Droid X has been mixed. I love the flexibility of the Android operating system: icons of many different sizes and shapes, icons that tell you things. The configurability is great, especially with privacy and security settings. I like the big screen in the Droid X. I like having a back button and a menu button (I don’t use the search button). The voice quality is better than the Apple phones. Because of the larger screen, the keyboard is just enough bigger than the iPhone keyboard that I can type on it without making a slew of mistakes. You don’t need a control freak of a program like iTunes to add content and upgrade software.
However, there are many areas in which the Android experience falls short.
I haven’t found a good Android Exchange client. The one I’ve been using the most, Touchdown, has problems by the bushel. The user interface is grotesque; to give one egregious example, if you want to schedule an appointment for 1:30, you tap one virtual button to set the hour, and then tap another one 30 times to set the minute. Compare that with Apple’s elegant dials-with-momentum. Also, when sending a message or saving an appointment, Touchdown often goes so comatose that the operating system thinks it’s died and asks if you want to shut it down. I’m not a stickler for beautiful GUIs, but the ugliness of the Touchdown interface offends even me.
Google marketplace is balky, and often goes away entirely for minutes at a time. The fact that it, unlike the iPhone, doesn’t ask you for a password every time you want to add or upgrade an app doesn’t make up for intermittent freezes, complaints about being unable to establish a connection, and requests to wait a while.
For some things, I’m a heat seeker, willing to tolerate glitches and bad design to get performance, configurability, programmability, and technical neatness. For now, my phone is not one of those things. I just want something that works. The new iPhone arrives today.