The Smartphone Round Robin is finally over! After a long trip through five other smartphone platforms, we're finally back on our own lovely Android. Having played with so many different platforms, we can say with full confidence that there's been no better time to be a smartphone user. Really, any smartphone you pick up is worth your time. We've come a very long way from maddening UIs and cruddy hardware.
And maybe we thank the iPhone for shocking the smartphone market alive, but it doesn't stop there. We sure have to thank Blackberry for continuing to build great devices and fine tuning their experience. Certainly thank Android & webOS for introducing fresh concepts and philosophies. And thank Windows Mobile and Nokia for staying their course while still modernizing. And we haven't even mentioned third party manufacturers like HTC & Motorola. Everyone is in some part responsible for the growth of smartphones. Even you.
But anyway, let's see what the other editors thought of Android in the Smartphone Round Robin! We've picked out some choice quotes from all of their reviews that highlights their overall theme. It's an interesting lot, to say the least, and we're glad to see such fresh perspective on the Android platform. Seeing it day-to-day limits our ability to see it as outside the box as these guys.
Read on to see what the other editors had to say about Android!
Week One -- Crackberry
All around good guy Crackberry Kevin was the first to review the Android platform. He's definitely been intrigued by the Android platform and adores certain features (he fell in love with Scenes in the HTC Sense UI for example), but there are shortcomings that just drive him mad. To quote:
Obviously coming from a die-hard Blackberry user, his biggest complaint was the keyboard. And that's fair. We've grown used to the Droid keyboard and have become pretty capable with it (the outlines for AC's Round Robin reviews were written on the Droid) but it pales, simply pales, in comparison to any Blackberry keyboard.
In the end, he concludes that Android actually feels very 'Blackberry-like'. An evolution, if you will. We think he has a point, Android best imitates the Blackberry experience more so than other platforms, but to us Android feels a little bit like every smartphone platform that preceded it. Menu & back button like Blackberry. Big honkin' screen and touchable icons like the iPhone. Multi-device, form factor strategy like Windows Mobile, etc.
Week Two -- NokiaExperts
Matt Miller of Nokia Experts toured the friendly Android OS and loves it. In fact, he admitted to buying the original Android device, the T-Mobile G1, and said:
We definitely agree with him, multimedia on Android is simply just okay. And since multimedia seems like a feature that once you get right, you don't have to change much to it (look at the iPhone), it's surprising that Android hasn't gotten it yet. It's serviceable right now, but nothing to write home about.
Ah, this is a great perspective and a problem that Android will continually have to address. Smartphone users looking for consistency throughout the OS will have trouble finding it when third party manufacturers add custom UIs like Sense & Motoblur on top of Android. There may be a time when someone using Sense doesn't even realize Android is behind it. And with Android 2.x having such a refined and usable 'Google Experience', we're finding less reason for custom UI's. Yes, Sense is wonderful and we love it too, but for consistency sake, we almost always prefer Google Experience devices.
Read Nokia Experts' Matt Miller's full take on Android here!
Week Three -- The iPhone Blog
Our good friend Rene Ritchie of the iPhone Blog loves his iPhone but found some time to love the Sense UI in the HTC Hero as well:
He was very happy about the hardware of the Droid but thought the keyboard was subpar and was confused about the d-pad. Yep, definitely looks like the keyboard is the biggest flaw in the Droid so far.
And he also had some remarks regarding the growing disparity between Android devices. He recaps it all, ever so awesomely:
That's the beauty and crux of Android, it can be whatever, whoever wants it to be. For the end user, you'll get awesome devices that can almost be tailored to your liking. With Android having so many options, you're bound to find one device you like. It can be confusing if you try to trap all Android devices under one umbrella but if you think of Android as a tree with many branches, it gets a bit easier to understand. And if that paragraph sounded like we were convincing ourselves too, you're spot on!
Week Four -- PreCentral.net
Our good friend Dieter Bohn of PreCentral.net has used more smartphones than any sane man would, so to put it bluntly, he knows his stuff. He's also a die-hard Google user who loves widgets, customization, and homescreen experiences. Wait, why isn't he an Android user? This is how he sums it up:
Touche Dieter. Android 2.1 does come with a bit more polish but we're not at the level of webOS or iPhone yet. Almost there. Almost.
Here's a beef with Android that we definitely understand:
Yep, the soft keyboard in Android is just okay. It could get better. We certainly wouldn't mind it getting better.
Week Five -- WMExperts
And Phil Nickinson of WMExperts sums Android up nicely:
We agree 100%. If you're heavily invested in Google, there is simply no better mobile platform than Android. Obviously that's not all you should base a smartphone purchase off of, but no one beats its Google integration.
Droid will take over the world! !!!!
wow, I'm very impressed by these reviews I expected a lot of bashing and fanboyism but all reviews make very good points. i do believe that android needs to get its act together about so many different versions of the operating system, it's beginning to get to be too much...I own a G1 and love it but unless i have my phone rooted [which I do] i can't experience 2.1 and I'd love to just have the latest software on my phone without having to compromise the warranty. There's nothing like the Google Experience on an Android Phone.
Great write-up. Kevin - if you're reading, I know exactly what you mean about the Blackberry feel in vanilla Android. It's hard to define, but it's there. Hopefully RIM and Google can learn from each other because of this.
I would just like to say that I LOVE that the smart phone round robin exists. Anyone who wants to switch platforms or just wants a fresh perspective on their current platform would do well to follow all of these reviews. As a new android convert I agree that these phones rock but could use a bit more polish (just like most of the smartphones out there.) I love my eris a little more everyday - and typing this on my HTC soft keyboard is actually much less maddening than I would have thought coming from a blackberry myself. Thanks to all of you smartphone gurus for keeping us informed and entertained!
Glad to hear it!
LOL, I think some people are smoking some serious weed. There's nothing about Android that even remotely resembles Blackberry. I work with Blackberries often and their archaic UI is not only frustrating, but laughable by comparison. Their only saving grace imo, are the email capabilities and the keyboard. And to be truthful the Droid's keyboard isn't that bad. I, like many others have gotten comfortable with it and can type pretty fast now. It's not the greatest but certainly no where near as bad as some make it out to be.
I really don't like Android OS
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