Battery Life: It’s about damn time!

Everyone’s universal complaint about smartphones? Battery life! It’s a sad but true fact that we have been conditioned to think that if a phone gets 8 hours of battery life, that is “good”. That is not good, it is crap. My worst battery life experience was the Samsung Charge, which I returned because of this. It was lucky to get 6 hours with minimal use. That is useless. You can read about that whole incident here if you so desire.

Anyway, I will keep this short as I really only have one thing to say. The phone I am currently using has battery life I am fully willing to call “good”. In fact, compared to every other phone I have ever had, it is phenomenal. With average to heavy use, I am routinely getting 15-20 hours. Not a full 24, but a hell of a lot closer than any other phone I have had. This phone catches a lot of crap (from me too) but when it comes to battery life, no one comes close. If you haven’t guessed yet, the phone I am speaking of is the Apple iPhone 4 (on Verizon).
Does this phone have problems? Of course; they all do. But this is strictly about the battery folks.

I, of course, have to mention the “it doesn’t have a user replaceable battery” lame ass excuse that everyone uses for every other phone. All I have to say to that is, if you have to carry around a pocket full of batteries in order to have a phone throughout the day, you are doing it wrong.

Samsung Charge (I have signal again!) *UPDATE* Phone = returned.

Well after a brief 5 month stint on T-mobile, I have now left. According to them, they have “the worlds’s largest 4G network”, but according to me, their network sucks. I was using the kick ass Samsung Nexus S on T-mobile; everything about the phone was fantastic, except the carrier it was on. I found the service to be very weak, or non-existant in most of the areas I frequented. This mind you, was not in the middle of some random desert either; I live, work, and play in the Silicon Valley. One would think they’d have amazing coverage here; they do not.

I am back to Verizon now. I now have more bars than I know what to do with! It was easy to leave the carrier, but leaving the Nexus S was going to be hard since there were no phones that could match it, until I caught wind of the Samsung Charge. Slated to arrive on April 28th, it was of course delayed, for whatever reason, until May 14th. Today is May 14th. I have the Samsung Charge now.

Overall the specs are basically identical to the Nexus S. The Charge has a larger Super AMOLED Plus screen, and the addition of hardware buttons below the screen. I quickly installed Launcher Pro as the Samsung UI wasn’t doing it for me. The phone feels snappy and looks pretty good, having similar styling to the Nexus S.

Once I get it rooted (so I can remove the preinstalled crapware) it will be a great Verizon alternative to the Nexus S for me. (until the next awesome Verizon Android phone comes out!) 😉

Side note to Verizon: Concerning this “droid” campaign you have going on right now, CUT IT THE F*** OUT!!! IT IS TERRIBLE!! NO ONE WANTS A PHONE THAT LOOKS LIKE IT IS GOING TO KILL THEM!! It is loud, obnoxious, and damages the android brand HEAVILY. Please stop. Stop it. Do not do it anymore.

*UPDATE* I have returned the Samsung Charge to the Verizon store. Fortunately within 14 days, since it seems the return period is 14 days, not 30. This phone was the victim of Verizon branding and Samsung’s terrible interface makeover. The Charge was a great phone hardware-wise, but was completely ruined by the software tampering. Samsung’s Touchwiz interface is nothing short of terrible! Had this phone been running the “Google Experience” version of android it would have been much better off. The other major factor in the return was the HORRIFIC battery life. I was having the phone die on me before hitting noon. Completely unacceptable. On a side note, when I was returning the phone the Verizon rep flat out told me that the 4G was the reason the battery life was so incredibly terrible. Back the phone went. On to the next. My next phone may surprise many of you. 🙂

Windows Phone 7

It’s true! I got a new phone! (like that is a surprise) If you read the title of this post, you probably are not only aware of what the new phone is, but may also be confused as to why I would do such a thing!? Well, the fact of the matter is, Microsoft did something very right this time around! After having used and seen what Microsoft has done in the past with windows Mobile, I was not holding my breath for the launch of Windows Phone 7. Once Windows Phone 7 finally hit I was quite impressed with what I saw. After watching a bunch of videos online and reading a bunch of reviews I had decided that I liked what I saw and thought I might be in the market to pick up one of these phones.

fake phone

(Side Rant: Almost every time you see a picture of a Windows Phone, it is of the phone I have placed to the left here. Problem with this is, THIS PHONE DOES NOT EXIST! I love the design of this phone and this is the phone I wanted to buy. I can’t imagine how it makes any sense to anyone to market your product to consumers with a device that does not exist??)

Moving on.

Since the phone I really wanted was fake, I decided on what I thought to be the best phone in the first round of WP7 phones, the HTC HD7. The phone is quite beautiful, not perfect, but quite nice. I really like it. That is about all I am going to say about the hardware, since afterall, the hardware really doesn’t matter. The OS is what is important here, that is the part that is going to stick around, phone to phone, and (hopefully) grow with you.

From the very first use of the OS, I really thought they did it right. The design and user interafec are very beautiful and easy to use. I find the interface to be quite intuitive. (Somewhat hardware related) the OS is VERY snappy and responsive as well. The phone came with a pretty solid base of applications and services.

I really feel that if Microsoft stays on top of this platform and updates regularly, adding features, this platform is going to do very well and bring them back from the dead in the area of smartphones. Windows Mobile 6.5 was a complete disaster, which means they have an uphill battle trying to convince people that WP7 IS actually something different, not just a rev of that pile of garbage. I am really hoping they do not drop the ball on this one, because with enough effort, they will dominate the competition that has gotten far too comfortable in the mobile OS space.

Windows Phone 7 is definitely something to go check out in person.

Issues I am having:

  • If you use Google calendar, and have multiple calendars, it only seems to sync the main one.
  • I have had a couple apps crash, but a reboot fixed it. To be expected from a 1.0
  • Unlike other mobile platforms that give you a choice of search engines and so forth, this does not. So far WP7 means you have to use all Microsoft properties. Bing, Bing maps, Internet Explorer, etc. I have to think this will evolve to more choices in the future if they want to compete and gain users.

Features that are still needed

  • Taking screenshots (really?)
  • Custom ringtones (really?)
  • Copy & paste (really?)
  • Folders

Applications that are still needed

  • Pandora
  • Evernote
  • Toodledo sync
  • Google Maps
  • Dropbox
  • More twitter apps (of course)
  • Navigation Apps (that don’t cost $9.99/month)
  • Official Google Voice
  • More photo editing apps

If you have a WP7 phone and have more suggestions/hints/tips please feel free to leave them in the comments. If you don’t have a WP7 phone, feel free to ask anything in the comments also!

wp7 logo

What sucks about Android.

What sucks about Android.Well, to be honest, very little! I switched from using an iPhone to using Android in November of 2009. After switching I never looked back. To this day I do not regret it one bit. Sure the platform is a little less polished, but it is so much more forward thinking and open. This makes it number one for me. All that being said, there is one thing that is absolutely driving me up the wall; OS updates. I see a huge problem in the way Android OS updates are rolled out. I am mostly speaking to version 2.0 and later since all the 1.x builds were still, in my opinion, in Android’d infancy stage. When the OS hit 2.0, I felt it was ready for prime time.

Since Android is open source, anyone can grab the OS and modify it how they see fit. A lot of hardware manufacturers are doing just that. It’s great on the one hand because you get a bunch of cool versions of the OS, it sucks on the other though because updates to those handsets are very slow to come and are never up to date with the virgin “Google Experience” phones. If a handset maker wants to make a custom OS version, at this point, they seem to be locked into using older 1.5 and 1.6 versions of the OS code. This sucks for the consumer because even with a brand new phone they are stuck with 3-6 month old technology on day one of using the phone.

With each new release of the OS like 2.0 and 2.1, the new OS seems to launch with a single phone. With 2.0 it was the Motorola Droid. With 2.1 it was Google’s very own Nexus One. Meanwhile everyone else is stuck with whatever version their phone came with. This almost makes it seem like if you want the latest OS you have to buy whatever phone is launched with it. This of course will not work.

I am not sure what, if any, are the technical reasons for this. Perhaps drivers for specific hardware are the culprit. What I would like to see is a more uniform release schedule of OS updates. If drivers are the problem, there should be a more common specification for how hardware is to talk to the OS and every handset maker should follow that spec. If you want to have a hardware keyboard, here is how it talks to the OS, same with touchscreens, trackballs, cameras, speakers, and so forth. Something similar to how USB peripherals work on a computer. If i get a new USB keyboard, no matter what it looks like, it still types normally. There should not be a difference in how an HTC keyboard talks to the OS vs. how a Motorola keyboard does.

I use a Motorola Droid so I have a “Google Experience” Phone. In this case I would like to see updates hosted by google. When google put out the Nexus One with 2.1, I would have liked to see a ROM download for “Google Experience 2.1 Update” and one for each of the carriers if necessary. This would ensure the platform keeps moving forward, and applications are more likely to work across the board

Currently in the Android market you are seeing over and over applications that say “does not work with droid” or “must have 1.5”. If the latest version of the OS were more readily available, I think more developers would be developing for the newest version and taking advantage of all the newest updates have to offer

So, to say that Android sucks, would be a gross mistake. Android is absolutely fantastic! Any of the problems I have seen up to this point are all nothing to worry about. I had an iPhone from the very first day it was launched, and to be honest it sucked until half way through version 2.0 also. Although I love Android and recommend it to a lot of my friends, I would still not recommend my mom use it, but very soon in the near future I think I probably will be able to.

I got invited! (to Google Voice)

Today was the day I was finally invited to Google Voice! This might have had something to do with my constant badgering on Twitter (@googlevoice), or I was just lucky. So far it is a fantastic service I must say, even though I have only been using it for half a day. That said, I can already tell this is going to be HUGE, definitely the way to manage all your phone communications in the future. When signing up, one of the first steps is picking a phone number. They let you pick a number according to area code of course, but they also let you type in letters and words and then attempt to find you a number that corresponds to those letters or word. This is an awesome way to personalize your number since it will be your single number to give out. I was fortunate to get XXX-XXX-BURK! Really excited about that for sure. After the initial setup I started looking at features. Some of the features that stick out right away are the ability to route calls according to groups and the SPAM feature which lets you mark incoming calls as spam which I believe in affect will block that person (bot) from calling you anymore. One thing I had to do since I do not use the entire Google workflow is sync my contacts with Google so I can setup the groups and routing, but no big deal, Apple’s Address Book has a check box to sync with Google. So, for now that is my mini review. I am sure I will have MUCH more to say as I use the service going forward, but already I can tell this is going to be my command center for all phone traffic going forward.