The smartphone market has matured dramatically since the last time (spring 2010) I was in the market for a new phone. Earlier this year Android surged into the lead for smartphone OS nationally and globally, ahead of IOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Symbian. The increased volume gives us a wider range of choices on the Android platform, including niche devices with improved social networking or multimedia features.
I will be upgrading from my current HTC Droid Incredible on Verizon Wireless, which has exhibited remarkable reliability and burrowed into a comfortable spot in my front pocket. The Droid Incredible, which arguably helped launch the most recent Android wave along with the Motorola Droid, , has been showing its age lately. Looking at my wife and stepdaughter’s new HTC Thunderbolt, I marvel at the rapid response and 4G LTE speeds, and envy their shiny 4.3 inch super AMOLED displays.
The two current Android smartphones which I’m evaluating are the recently-announced Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Motorola Droid Razr. It’s ironic that the Samsung Galaxy device is named “Nexus” since last year I was originally planning to purchase the Google Nexus One, which eventually only saw limited release. (Too much Nexus – have been working with lots of Cisco Nexus switches this year too)
The Motorola Droid Razr is currently available, and lists for $299 at Verizon. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus will be available first from Verizon Wireless, but pricing and availability has not yet been announced.
The devices match up very closely to each other, with Samsung Galaxy Nexus distinguished as the first smartphone installed with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and the Droid Razr coming in lighter and thinner though with a smaller screen. Having handled the Razr, I can attest that it’s very comfortable in your hand, however for me the tie-breaker will likely be Ice Cream Sandwich.
Here’s a chart comparing the primary features:
|Samsung Galaxy Nexus||Motorola Droid Razr|
|Screen||4.65″ HD(1280 x 720) Super AMOLED||4.3” Super AMOLED|
|CPU||1.2 GHz dual core processor||1.2GHz dual core processor|
|Memory||1GB RAM||1GB RAM|
|Storage||16GB or 32GB||16 GB microSD card pre-installed|
|Camera(s)||5 MP (rear facing camera), 1.3MP Front||8 MP (rear facing camera), 1.3MP Front with 720p HD|
|Android OS||Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)||Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread)|
|Dimensions||135.5 X 67.94 X 9.47 mm (LTE)||130.7 x 68.9 x 7.1 mm|
|Interfaces||Micro USB, 2 Mics, HDMI via Micro-USB adapter||Micro USB, HDMI® Micro, 3.5mm|
|Battery||1850mAh||1780 mAh Li Ion|
|Data||CDMA800, CDMA1900, LTE B13 700, WiFi, Bluetooth||
CDMA800, CDMA1900, LTE B13 700, WiFi, Bluetooth
I’ve been meaning to post updates on this handy device, but have been unusually busy getting up to speed at a new job. More on that another time.
- Performance – With a 1 ghz Snapdragon CPU and 288 MB RAM, response time is quite snappy. Verizon’s 3G network is reasonably reliable, averaging 1 mbps downloads when tested at home.
- Camera – Since I upgraded from a humble Blackberry Pearl, have taken many more snapshots using the excellent 8 megapixel camera on the Incredible. It’s easy to use and the flash works well, though have read reports that IPhone camera is still better…so what.
- Usability – Android interface is really well-designed. Took me less than a day to feel comfortable. Having five screens allows you to set up lots of apps for quick navigation.
- Form factor – Very light and easy to hold. Occasionally gets a little warm stuck in my pocket, a reboot helps.
- Video and sound – Very bright and large 3.2 inch display easy on the eyes. But sometimes hard to view in direct sunlight. Sound quality beat out my Ipod Touch, Blackberry Pearl and CD Player in testing, it’s become my primary playing device in the car.
- Apps – Pretty good selection, including techie and music-related apps. Google Sky Maps is an Android-only special, and caused my sister to literally snatch my Droid away to gaze at the night sky!
- Seems like Yahoo Mail isn’t supported through a Wifi connection, which is annoying since I still haven’t made the full leap to GMail.
- Accessories are still not widely available. Not a lot of protection until custom cases finally hit the market.
- Android App Market is pretty good, but still playing catch-up to the IPhone App Store. We’re getting there, last quarter Android devices collectively outsold the IPhone globally.
I’ve been in the market for a smartphone for some time, caught between reluctance to part with my trusty, crusty Blackberry Pearl (T-Mobile) and avoidance of the IPhone due to AT&T carrier lock-in and a persistent distrust of Apple (to be explored further). Have been using a Pearl for more than 3 years since Version 1, and always appreciated the compact form factor, but the small screen and sluggish performance are no longer acceptable. On top of that, I’ve noticed significant call quality degradation on the T-Mobile network in the last couple years, not to mention terrible delays using the Blackberry Internet service.
The Google Nexus One from the Android family has caught my attention, and continues to garner generally glowing reviews. In addition to the appealing form factor, packed feature-set and Snapdragon 1 Ghz CPU, I’m impressed with the new approach Google is taking with the Android devices, not only with open source code (observed by none other than Linus Torvalds) but also carrier independence. The Nexus One is currently only available through T-Mobile, but the latest rumors appear to confirm an upcoming release date of March 23 through Verizon. Strangely, it’s been difficult to see a Nexus One in person, as a T-Mobile store employee here in LA recently informed me that “no stores” were carrying demo versions. Have to wonder if the same policy will apply with Verizon, or is this another case of software-centricity overwhelming marketing good sense?
In any event, anticipation is building and still have to decide whether to purchase through Google online or Verizon.