My New Phone

Recently, I upgraded my phone. It was time. My LG enV Touch had run its course, and beside the battery giving me about 2 hours of use, it was dropping calls and not sending text messages. If you’re in the business of people, not connecting with them is a big no-no.

A lot of readers might think that buying an iPhone would be a no-brainer for me, but as suprising as it might seem I went for an Android phone. I made the foray into the world of Google devices for a couple of reasons:

1. At the church, we use Google Apps for everything: our email, our calendars, and many of our records.

2. I already have an iPad.

3. The iPhone is EXPENSIVE.

4. I like physical keyboards on my phones.

So, I got an LG Enlighten, which is an entry level phone running Android 2.3 “Gingerbread”. The phone itself has some quirks. It is not the fastest device you will ever use, but it is not my primary device. My iPad is. (I am writing this post on it.)

I just needed a phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard and the option to use it as a WI-FI hotspot. Since the Enlighten was also FREE with my upgrade, this was a no-brainer. The phone met all my criteria, so it made sense.

Google Apps Integration

Here is what I love so far about the Android phone – everything is integrated. I entered my Google email and password, and presto all my contacts, calendars, YouTube and Documents were available to me. A quick download of the Google+ app and all my pictures automatically go to Picasaweb.

Google does the cloud right. Say what you will, they are way ahead of Apple on the integration of services. (iCloud is an embarrassment thus far.) Need to add a contact? I just enter their info on the phone, and POOF! It is available everywhere – even my Address Books on my Mac at the office and my iPad. That does not happen with iOS without a lot of work.

Add a calendar event? Oh look, it is on my Google Calendar! My wife can see it. My iPad can see it.

The Google Docs integration is full, but editing a document on a 3″ screen is not my idea of productivity. It is convenient to be able to see the documents, but I’d do little work on the phone – even if it was an iPhone.

Social Media Integration

Once I downloaded the Facebook and Twitter apps, they integrated into the OS. It is the kind of “deep integration” that Apple claims to have with Twitter, but for everything. The phone merges all my Address books, so I not only see a person’s contact information but also have a link to their Facebook, Twitter and any other social apps I download.

What’s more, the OS can integrate with Evernote, my favorite app in the world. Just press the menu button and tell the phone to send it to Evernote. POOF! It is in Evernote.

If we’re honest, Evernote’s integration with iOS has lagged a bit. It took forever for them to get full rich text formatting, and just today I tried to use a shopping list on Evernote on a grocery trip. Nichole and I separated in the store, and the idea was to just keep updating the note as we picked up items. What happened was that everytime she edited the note on her iPhone, it would append an entire copy. By the time we were done, there were sixteen versions of the same list in the same note.

What’s Lacking?

1. Android really does not have a solid take on audio integration. The built in music player is bare-bones, and it does not allow convenient use of audiobooks – which are my primary listening. With iOS, I can build .m4b files that include bookmarks and section breaks. Try as I might, Android just does not play well with these files.

2. iOS’s approach to multi-tasking is both efficient and convenient. Android’s is bulky and does not lend itself to any sort of confidence that it is working. Battery life on my phone is about the same as my wife’s iPhone 4S, but I have to constantly be on the watch for apps running in the background. When apps are eating away at my resources (which are limited in this phone), I have to manually kill them or use an app killing software. Even then, I feel like the apps linger in the RAM.

3. The microSD dance gets annoying. My phone is an entry level device, so there is only 120MB of internal storage. That’s not a ton. I have a microSD card, and can move many apps to the card, but they have to leaves some of the app on the internal memory. So, even if I had a 32GB microSD card, I would still be limited to about 50-60 apps at an average of 1.5MB of storage on the internal memory.

But here’s the thing…

I Want My Phone to be a Phone

I have my iPad for mobile computing and note taking. I don’t want to use my phone for things I can do on the iPad. (And I certainly don’t want to pay $300 for a phone that does the exact same thing as my iPad.)

I want my phone to integrate that snapshot I took or to check my email really quickly. I want to be able to send everything everywhere – all at once. My phone isn’t for getting my news or for creating content.

My phone is for making calls, sending texts and quick updates. And when necessary, it is for letting my iPad get online. It does what I want, and it keeps contacts and such up to date.

I don’t expect Android to be as slick as iOS, anymore than I expect Windows to be Mac OS. Windows does different things, and does them very well. Each OS does something well, and we shouldn’t demand they do other things. I wouldn’t want Android on a tablet, and I am happy without using iOS on my phone.

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4 thoughts on “My New Phone

  1. One thing to bear in mind is that phone apps are designed differently than PC apps when it comes to memory management. Generally, the phone is doing much more active memory management on its own, and programs that are likely to be recalled are supposed to linger in memory, at least partially, to save on reload time.

    When the phone operating system needs the memory back, it will take it. This is very different from PC operating systems, where the best performance is gained from *not* maximizing the consumption of RAM, and where we expect a program that is not running to leave no memory signature at all.

    Generally, unless you find the phone getting sluggish or some other obviously malfunctioning process, you can avoid using a task killer. (I still use mine, occasionally, but it’s very rare that I resort to it–less than twice a month.)

    http://mobworld.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/memory-management-in-android/ has a pretty good explanation of how ‘Droid memory management works internally.

  2. I must agree that the Google Apps integration is nothing short of perfect, and, to me, the biggest reason to own a smartphone. I know without a doubt that I couldn’t run my family without it.

    I have yet to find a music program that does everything I want. The built in audio player is OK, but I find I’m using a combination of iTunes on my PC, along with the third-party iTunes Agent program, to get synchronization, having tried several other packages that just don’t work. Even with my acceptable solution, I still have to export each playlist from iTunes manually, and then hand-copy the files. I’d love to see something like (blasphemous though it may be) iTunes for Android for seamless integration.

    • I would not be overly surprised if Apple released an iTunes player for Android. Tim Cook is more flexible than Steve Jobs was. A lot of behind the scenes fence-mending has been going on as of late.

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