I have been using my HTC Desire for a bit now and have clocked some hours on it. I’m pretty happy with it though I’m quite sure it won’t be the phone I will be recommending to most of my friends. Heck, I won’t even recommend an Android phone to anyone in Malaysia without geek expertise at this juncture.
First the good news:
Browsing is a dream with all sites rendering in their full glory. The default Froyo 2.2 browser is ok but having an Android means you can use the Skyfire 2.0 Beta which renders flash videos properly and loads pages faster! Probably the best mobile browsing experience I’ve had.
Highly configurable especially with the Desire UI. Being able to customize how my phone displays information is super important to me which you can’t really do either on the IPhone or the Blackberry. Android gives you real freedom to customize your phone experience which was the main reason I chose it over an IPhone.
Swype and SlideIT: The ability to use custom keyboards like Swype and SlideIT keyboard really changes the typing experience on a touchscreen. Apple unfortunately does not allow modifications to its keyboard at this point in time. It’s not just a matter of a better keyboard in this scenario, it’s a totally new input method that’s great for those who use one hand. Take a peek here at Swype!
Wi-Fi hotspot is amazingly useful if you’re a geek on the go being able to broadcast a wi-fi signal and have devices around it connect to it. It’s like a mobile wireless router! Facetime on the go anyone? 😛
Now I’ll cover the main bad news:
Android MarketPlace has limited functionality in many countries: Android only supports a handful of countries. By default in Malaysia, you only have access to a limited selection of Free applications. Even Google’s own free protected applications (such as Google Map updates, Gmail app updates and Google Earth) are not available. This is frankly unacceptable…I bought a Google phone that can’t update some of its core features without a total OS upgrade? To get access to all these, I had to root my phone and use a third party app called MarketEnabler which really is beyond the realm of technical expertise for people who just want to have a working phone. This to me is a huge deal breaker. Even Google Navigation only works in certain countries! Until people do not need to root their phones and fake their providers to get Market applications, you’re really missing out on one of Android’s strong points. Compare this with the IPhone which being entrenched in the Malaysian market already and having full access to its paid apps, an IPhone makes more sense. This CNet article describes the situation very accurately.
Many Android phones don’t come with sufficient onboard memory (ROM memory): Some of the lower end of previous generation Android phones (including the HTC Desire at 512 MB of memory) have very little onboard memory. Now you would think this isn’t a problem since you can add SD cards to the HTC Desire. However you realize that only some apps can be moved to the SD card and even then, a portion of data remains on the onboard memory. Many games and applications do not support moving to the SD card and with some apps as big as 14-20 MB and your Android OS taking up already about 350 megabytes of your meagre 512 megabytes of storage, leaving you a mere 100 + megabytes of storage to play with. When you consider that other applications like Facebook also store data on the onboard memory…you can only have a handful of applications installed in your Android at one time. Newer phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S come with much more onboard storage at 2 GB giving you much more room to play with so this is a fixable problem.
Mediocre to Poor Battery Life: This varies from device to device but generally both the HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy S don’t really do so well with battery life, a theme that commonly cropped up among IPhone users prior to the IPhone 4 (which improved on this but still isn’t perfect). Coming from a Blackberry where I could message and browse all day without needing a charge, the HTC Desire would sometimes fall flat on me before I could finish the day unless I managed it.
As a side note, the Super AMOLED screens (for example on the Samsung Galaxy S) in my opinion looks better than the IPhone’s ‘Retina’ IPS panel so don’t be fooled necessarily with the marketing hype. Take a look at both and make your own informed decision (unless you already own one then just enjoy either as they’re both great).
I absolutely love my Android phone and my next phone would probably be an Android one as well. I love the freedom it provides and the tinkering. However because of the lack of support Google provides for its Marketplace and several key Google applications, I can’t recommend it for the average user unless to root their phone and do a lot of homework. Remember, rooting your phone VOIDS YOUR WARRANTY and until the phone can work as it should out of the box, the IPhone 4’s experience still reigns supreme despite its Draconian rules and its antennae flaw. However, if you are up for the challenge and want something a bit different that you can really personalize to call your own, then an Android phone might be right up your alley.