Take Your Pick of Mobile Operating Systems, But Pick Wisely

My friend Reggie Wideman at tenfour needed a new smartphone, as many of us do from time to time. But before going to the store to buy one, he decided to let voters in an online poll choose his phone for him.

Voters in the poll picked the iPhone 4S by a wide margin over the HTC Titan (running Windows) and the Samsung Galaxy (running Android).

Reggie describes the differences in metaphorical terms:

The iPhone is like a pristine, planned community with credit and background checks just to get a visitor’s pass. Android is like, well, it’s like New York City: everything all the time, just the way you want it, but also dirty, confusing and sometimes it just doesn’t work as expected. As for Windows Phone OS, I’m not even sure yet. It’s feeling like something in the middle—maybe downtown Chicago.

I left this comment on Reggie’s post:

I like how open to new things you are Reggie. I want to be like you, so I opted for something different this week–the HTC Inspire running Google’s Android mobile OS. At first, I was WOWed by the speed of the 4G network and the phone’s processor, but now I’m starting to waver along with the device’s battery, every few hours. I want to break Apple’s spell, but doing so is troublesome. The Apple fanboy thing is annoying, but there is a very solid reason for it. Exceptional design that lifts spirits.

I went to the AT&T store today and almost dumped the new HTC I bought at Costco for a new phone I know I will love, the iPhone 4 or 4S. But I didn’t. First, I want to see if the Advanced Task Killer app I installed (at the recommendation of the AT&T sales person) will preserve the battery. Right now, a full charge is only good for three or four hours max, which makes me wonder how a phone like this is ever released in the first place.

I am pleased that I can nearly replicate the iPhone experience with an Android smartphone, but it’s the little things that count and forgetting the horrendous battery problem for a second, Apple’s user interface is simply cleaner and more intuitive.

Just because I want there to be a more affordable alternative to Apple does not mean that there is one. Not yet, anyway.

On the whole, I’d say this “trying on” period is somewhat trying. I’m thinking about phones when I don’t want to. A smartphone and the operating system it runs on ought to be an afterthought. When the expensive devices we put at the center of our day are hard to figure out or use, we might like what they can do but we won’t bring ourselves to love them.

In related news, this Fortune article suggests that nearly half a million of the estimated 3.9 million Kindles to be shipped this quarter will be returned to Amazon.

Meanwhile, the satisfaction ratings for iPads are simply off the charts.


  1. Shawn says:

    The Kindle Fire is a decent device. It isn’t an iPad, no question about it. But if you’ve ever been a Kindle user, it is a revolutionary device to the Kindle family. Kindle Fire, plus Amazon’s cloud storage for music, and the Netflix app, make this a great media consumption device. My 6 year old son, with an iPad and Kindle Fire in front of him, will take the iPad for games, but take the Fire for watching movies.

    I think much of *drama* in the negative reviews of the Fire are due to comparisons to the iPad. In that light, it will fail. But taken for what it is – an enhancement to the Kindle line – that gives you some multimedia capabilities at a very attractive price point, it works.

  2. David Burn says:

    This story reminds me how platform preference is an extreme version of brand preference.

    I ended up taking the HTC handset back to Costco.

    Darby and I both went to Target where they took our old iPhones (all three of them) and turned them into instant store credit. We got $50, $43 and $40 in total. The 8 gig iPhone 4 costs $99, so we were able to score two new iPhones for $65.

    Since the move to the Android platform was in part motivated by price, I have to laugh at myself here. Two new iPhones for $65 is one hell of a price. The devices are $699 without a contract.

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