A few years ago I published why I would never buy an iPhone. Since then I have owned an HTC and Samsung Smartphone both using the Android OS. Do you think my opinion has changed?
What has changed?
The problems with Android is that the majority of phones in the UK, no doubt the same in other countries too, come with a 2-year contract. In that 2 years, you would expect to get security updates, possible even major upgrades from JellyBean (4.3) to KitKat (4.4) especially if it’s announced that your phone will receive an update.
My first smartphone was an HTC Desire HD which came with Android 2.2 (Froyo) and was eventually upgraded to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). As HTC didn’t plan on upgrading the phone to 2.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) I did just that and installed a custom ROM. My daughter now uses the phone and the battery life has improved dramatically after removing all the crap that both HTC and Vodafone had bundled in with it. I have owned a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for the past 18 months, running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) after the initial update from 4.2. The phone was reported to be updated to 4.4 (Kit Kat) last October and so far I am still stuck on 4.3. On that note (pardon the pun) the so-called Smartphone still doesn’t work correctly. I am unable to answer calls 90% of the time, the screen comes on by itself which makes it extremely hot and drains the battery. The touchscreen is unresponsive at times, leaving me to switch it off and back on again to get it to work.
What Frustrates Me
In a cut-throat society, manufacturers are quick to add new models to their line, which is understandable. The only downsides to this are that your phone becomes discontinued when you have only had it for 2 months, you are forgotten about. The software is no better, how many phones are running software that is no longer being developed? Software that can be targeted by malware, viruses and hacking! Think of your Android software is similar to Windows XP now that Microsoft no longer supports it.
Now I know that Apple is far from being perfect but at least their update process is more pleasing, they will support the phone long after it has been discontinued. When they release iOS 8, this year, they will support the iPhone 4S which was released back in 2011.
As Always There Are Alternatives
Install a custom ROM – As Android is Open Source developers are free to use the source code to build and develop there own custom versions. There are lots of custom ROMS available, depending on which phone you now have, although Cyanogen and MIUI are quite popular.
There are downsides to installing Custom ROMs. It invalidates your warranty is probably the biggest problem to deal with however if you install one correctly you can achieve a better user experience, remove bloatware, improve battery life and much more. I do recommend that if you wish to choose this pathway then please don’t ignore any steps in the instructions or otherwise your phone may become as useful as a house brick!
Firefox OS Firefox, one of the oldest and most popular browsers have released an OS which is available on several phones. Firefox OS is an adaptive phone, it has all the basic functionality of any other smartphone, for instance, a camera, music player, messaging etc but it also comes with an adaptive search feature which makes it easy to access what you want. Although I haven’t tested one out yet I reckon Firefox would be good with the older generation (like my mum, don’t tell her that) that find Android far too confusing.
Windows Phones – Currently you will find them mainly on Nokia Lumia smartphones (no surprises as Microsoft own Nokia) although there are HTC, Samsung and Huawei models. If you are familiar with the tiled appearance in a Microsoft Windows 8 OS then this may be the smartphone for you. Fingers crossed that security has improved over the years.
Ubuntu Phones – With Ubuntu becoming ever more popular, especially after the demise of Windows XP, they have decided to branch out in the smartphone and tablet department. At the time of writing this canonical are working with several mobile phone carriers so no doubt we can look forward to a new arrival soon.
BlackBerries were more commonly used in the business sector until a few years ago when the BlackBery Curve, with its distinct keyboard, became popular among your average Joe. Unfortunately, things started to go a little pear-shaped as Android and Apple dominated. Thankfully Blackberry fought back and gave users what they always wanted, a smartphone. They only have a small percentage in the market share but if you are looking for a secure phone then look no further.
No doubt Android and Apple control the market share of all smartphones out there. If you need lots of choices in the games and applications department then they will be suitable. However, if you want to use the same phone for 2 years + and have all the updates then Apple iPhone may be more suitable. If you are a ‘Just want a bloody phone person’ without all the hassle of thousands of applications then one of the alternatives may be more useful. In my opinion, after having an Android phone for nearly 4 years I’m leaning towards an iPhone at this current time as I would rather have a break than a KitKat!