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On being a late adopter

I have an iPhone.

I didn’t get a first version iPhone, partly because I wasn’t convinced. I got a 3G one once they came out, and it’s a thing I require now. I have gone somewhat beyond the first stage of iPhonicness, where there is no moment where you are sitting down and not playing with it. I still play, obviously, but I attempt to put it away occasionally.

Anyway, my contract on it ran out in January, so I’ve been thinking about an upgrade, and because I am a geek I’ve been looking at Android phones, and with the HTC Desire, I think I have found a winner for my next phone.

It’s an iPhone.

The Android phones are nice, in fact they’re pretty awesome. The UI is progressing in leaps and bounds, and the hardware is getting more and more impressive. That’s actually part of the problem, in fact. When I started thinking “I need to get a new phone, what can Android get me now?” it was the Droid – the Milestone, when it was eventually released here – and then as my contract expired, Google announced the Nexus one. I thougt originally that the release date of the Nexus One was a cool bit of timing, exactly 18 months after the release of the iPhone 3G, which was the standard contract length O2 were offering for it. I was ready to sign up, switch to T-Mobile, and go. But it didn’t release here, only in the US. It may have released here by now, but I no longer care, because the upgraded model, better in every respect, has launched in the form of the HTC Desire.

That, from the Droid to the Nexus One to the Desire, is three major leaps in Android hardware in nine months, and I will be really unsuprised if another one isn’t announced in June, around the same time the new iPhone is announced.

The iPhone isn’t perfect. I mean, physically it pretty much is, and technologically it’s awesome too, but it’s not ideologically sound. The closed in hardware and software model is not one I like, but to be entirely honest for a device that I will be quite literally using and relying on every single day, I care a great deal about the UI, and the joined-up-ness of the software, but I do also care about the openness. A bit.

I’m also literally invested in the Apple platform, having bought a number of Apps over the last 22 months.

In July, the new iPhone OS 4 will be released, and many of the new features won’t work with my phone. Importantly, Multitasking won’t, because it has half the processing power and memory of the current model iPhone (and probably a quarter of what the next model up will have). But for a year, it was the best model available and would run everything. One of the standard anti-mac-fanboy rants is that there’s an upgraded model out before you’ve bought the current one, but if I buy the new iPhone in June, I can be pretty sure it’ll be the best iPhone for at least a year, and a supported platform for another after that. If I bought an Android phone today, it’ll not be able to run the newest stuff in six months time – possibly including OS updates – and by the time an 18 month contract expires I’ll be eight revisions behind, assuming advancements at current rates.

But we shall see what the next announcement will bring.

7 replies on “On being a late adopter”

The Nexus to the Desire isn’t a leap, it’s the same frickin phone in a different case. Okay there is the HTC software on top of the Google stuff, and the buttons are slightly different, but other than that it’s identical.

That doesn’t invalidate your point mind, Android is moving at a frenetic pace, which is both good and bad. I’m very happy with my Desire at the moment, but we’ll have to see what I think in six months time.

The Desire is proving so popular to T-Mobile that they have upped the monthly price from £10 to £15 a month (if you pay £160 for the phone). Like Ghworg says, it is essentially the same phone as the Nexus One.

I imagine the pace of innovation will slow down slightly, but is the speed that different to the iPhone? You admit yourself that your current iPhone is out of date and that will be 2 iterations out of date by July. You have to step off the conveyour belt at some point and I think the Nexus One/Desire is a good jumping point.

I admit I only had a iPod touch but I find a lot of things so much better on an Android, particularly the google stuff obviously. It is a pain that some of the touch actions are different and I have hard wired some actions into my fingers – they will patent finger waving at some point in the future, and that is why it is better to free.

Unless you want an ipad that is 🙂

I think your logic is broken. Why does it matter how many revisions come out after you buy one? Surely what matters is how the device you choose meets your requirements?

The problem with the revisions is that new apps tend to come to depend on the newer versions. Apps are one of the major selling points of a smartphone so losing access to a large number of them is a big deal.

Mm, s’pose. The only thing I’m aware of I’ve not been able to use with my Hero so far is google goggles.

Also, openness *is* a UI issue. If you don’t like to do things exactly the way Apple say Thou Shalt, you’re buggered.

Also, given the number of obvious features that should have been there from the start that are announced for each upgrade, I believe the apparent “technological awesomeness” to be the result of some kind of chemical addition to the water supply.

If you don’t like the iPhone UI, yeah, you won’t get on with an iPhone, but it does mean that most applications work the same and at least *look* like they belong to the same phone. They also give a starting point for UI consistancy at a high enough bar that if you design with the UI Guidelines in place, your app won’t be a horrible mess.

Cut and Paste, for the original iPhone, would have meant something else had gone wrong in the UI.

Most of the time, when you’re cutting and pasting things in a phone, it’s because the phone isn’t smart enough to recognise the data its been given. It should recognise postcodes (and addresses, as far as it could) and make them map links, recognise phone numbers and make them call or textable, and it did. I didn’t actually miss cut & paste on my phone, except in places where the app I was using wasn’t smart enough. It’s useful, but not required.

I also didn’t care much about multitasking. In fact, right up until Spotify for iPhone, there wasn’t an app I wanted to be running in the background at all. Having used an XDA for a year, having to wander though a task list and shut down apps that I wasn’t using and were still wasting battery and CPU cycles was an admin task a phone just shouldn’t *need*. Multitasking on phones is a hard problem, and Android’s solution of allowing small services to remain resident while the front-ends are still killed off is the best solution so far, which is probably why Apple have basically copied it vertibram.

Anti-phone rhetoric tends to make a lot of “it should have been there at launch” but, to be entirely honest, I don’t care. It was designed without them, and was still better without them and far easier and more pleasant to use without the “required features” than most phones are three years later.

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