The Fat Lady “Almost” Sings! Android Challenge

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After a month of using the HTC One, Android exclusively, I have finally reached the magic number, a full month, not four times seven days, which would be an empirical month, but from the 23rd of May to the 23rd of June. With no skimping or sliding back. I‘m not going to lie and say I went into this challenge without any pre conceptions about Android as an OS, but I was looking for reasons to make me like it, and an understanding of what makes a fan a fan.

Of Course, what better device to challenge myself with than the HTC One, admittedly HTC’s Sense softens, eases the experience quite a bit, and the latest version, 5.0 is definitely leagues ahead of the last time I tried it on the HTC Desire. It definitely makes things easier, although there is some duplication between HTC and Google included apps that can be a bit confusing at first. Am I a convert though?

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t give the hardware a really good plug, and I said some where early on in the process, that the One would be a killer phone if it was running Windows Phone, and don’t you know it, a rumour appeared this week that points at exactly that happening.

The aluminium body, and gapless build make the phone a joy to hold, and the combination of materials works really well together. For it’s overall size it is the thinnest lightest device I have ever owned. In fact the weight, and finish of the brushed metal didn’t quite gel in the mind with the size of the phone, like an optical illusion.

For all the younger readers out there, a key feature that they may have picked up on is the one piece construction of the phone, but it worth noting that tis is a design ethos that HTC have been working on for quite a while, with phones like the Mozart and Titan II milled from a single piece of metal, and even earlier devices.

History lessons aside, HTC have done some great things in software and hardware customisation on the phone. The combination of dual front facing speakers and Beats technology is a winner, it’s amazing what sort of volume and sound quality come out of the phone.

The 4 Ultra pixel camera, probably a contentious feature, with cameras becoming so important for phone users these days, does actually take great images. It is limited though in terms of zoom, but it performs well in both day and low light. Video is really good and auto focus in video is very responsive. The custom software that goes along with the camera is really what makes it an every person point and shoot. Taking Zoes, short videos of three seconds that can be broken down into stills after the fact, and filtered or turned into sequence shots, and removing unwanted objects is massive. The way the events feature works as well, a set and forget, do not even think about it highlight reel, that happens without you knowing  is awesome.

The other feature, a RSS reader type home screen, called Blinkfeed is good but not perfect, it cannot be customised beyond a certain point, and it would be nice if you could add your own feeds to it rather than what it comes bundled with. I found it heavily Android biased and even though it is an Android phone I was using, that is not the news I wanted to focus on. The saving grace was that I could pull it down to just a Twitter feed, which was much more useful to me.

Overall I think anyone would be happy to have the One as an every day driver, it’s a really good package, initial set up was quite easy, and without going to deeply into the OS you are away. Once you start to dig though, the major differences between it and Windows Phone become obvious.

Android is like a labyrinth, it may have an inviting entrance, but when you get down into it it gets dark, dank confusing and doubles back on itself quite a bit. It took me at least a week to get comfortable with the settings/menus, that go for ever in some cases, and everything is the same visually, these black and white text lists, with nothing to differentiate them. There’s really no style to the OS, and that continues to a lot of the apps, no consistency in look, and some apps were even sneaky with third party advertising popping open the browser when you didn’t want them too.

I kept mainly to apps that I use on Windows Phone, and official apps, or apps that had really high ratings which seemed to keep the app experience fairly reasonable but overall, I found something missing in the whole experience. If I was going to give one really big thumbs p, it would be for the range and quality of photo editing apps on the platform, it was also the area where the best looking, visually designed apps seemed to reside.

Again, this is not meant to be a full review of the HTC One or Android in any way, more a recounting of one Windows Phone Users foray into a different platform for a length of time. In the end I happily put my sim back in the 8X and went on my way.

I think the most negative thing about the whole experience was the way it left me feeling disconnected from the community that I had built using Windows Phone, it is true you make the phone your own and it is all there to hand on the home screen, compared to a range of apps that are spread over multiple screens. While I could easily duplicate the app environment on both OS’s, and Android has a great notification system, I still felt out of touch. Windows Phone’s focus on people, both yourself with the me tile, and others and social networks with the people tile really makes a difference in responding to what is going on in your extended circles.

Overall it has been a great experience, catching up on Android and the hardware it runs on now, and I can not recommend the HTC One enough if you are looking for a top end phone. It’s also worth noting that there is no point in not being familiar with the competition, an expert without broad experience is really just a fanatic.

While I’ve not been turned into a fanboy by the One, I have to admit that it will be travelling with me now as a second phone for some of it’s features that I really value, but WinPhone wins out. It really all does down to personal choice in the end, and Windows Phone just has that personal feel for me. I would encourage anyone that gets the chance to really try out another OS when they think they have found the one they love to to actually do it.

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4 thoughts on “The Fat Lady “Almost” Sings! Android Challenge

  1. “I know a lot of people who hate their android devices, it’s a complex OS with too many customizable capabilities allowing it to drown in them until your device won’t even run properly. I’ve had my phone for more than a year now and it still runs like I’ve just taken it out of the box… that is the power of Windows Phone.”

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