Going to Android

Over two years ago I was thinking about next cellphone and wrote that it would be something with Windows Mobile. There were comments that I should go for Android which was not on a market yet. In first week of 2009 I switched to Nokia E66 running Symbian. There were apps for this device (I even bought one: ProfiMail) and community existed with lot of tricks, hints, suggestions.

In October I got Nokia N900 discount offer and I decided to take it. Device arrived month later and I got hooked. Finally device which I can use daily for my network activity without having to carry additional cellphone (like it was with Nokia 770 and N810 tablets). Maemo community existed already and I was a part of it. As there were developers already equipped with N900s there was a constant flow of new applications, themes, tweaks and hints. Platform was living. Nokia provided few system updates, some of them even gave some nice new features.

But at same time it was known that amount of love for Nokia N900 at headquarters is near zero. MeeGo was announced just few months after device release so it was known that there will be very limited support level and that some things will never be done (like Ovi Maps with voice navigation).

So I started slowly to look at market to know which way to go for next cellphone. Windows Mobile 6.x was out of question as this is platform which gets out of market now. Windows Phone 7 is fresh, strictly controlled so I do not want to go there — let it first get some devices, applications etc. Symbian? no way — been there already. Ok, Nokia N8 looks nice but it is still Symbian. MeeGo is not yet market ready when it comes to phones and even when mystic N9 will be released then it will not be pure MeeGo but rather some kind of mix of open components from MeeGo + huge set of closed sourced applications written by Nokia. And who knows how long it will be supported…

So I looked into Android. Installed NITDroid on N900 to play with FroYo and it looks and behaves quite good. There are lot of communities (usually around families of devices), custom system images are something normal for popular devices (so if vendor does not support upgrades to newer OS versions then community usually do). Also lot of friends already use Android powered devices (cellphones, tablets etc) so there are lot of hints from them what to choose when it comes to hardware or software.

Which cellphone to choose? I have few candidates:

  • Nexus S – brand new device, Google supported so should get few OS releases, runs latest Android
  • Nexus One – nearly year on market, also Google supported, runs Android 2.2, newest version “should be out in few weeks”
  • HTC Desire – nearly same as Nexus One but this time as official HTC device. Android 2.2, should get at least 2.3 version from HTC
  • HTC Desire HD – hardware similar to previous one but bigger screen
  • HTC Desire Z – Desire + hardware QWERTY keyboard
  • Samsung Galaxy S – Android 2.1 but 2.3 is promised

Which to buy? Nexus S looks good and I will be in US in January…

And this will be my 4th cellphone running Linux…

UPDATE: added Samsung Galaxy S because vendor promised Android 2.3 — but it depends when it will be available.

33 thoughts on “Going to Android

  1. opi

    I’d go with Nexus One as long as I could get it for cheap. I like to be “a generation behind” when it comes to my personal technology. No kinks, no show stopping bugs, etc.

  2. Oli

    The Samsung Galaxy S is a pretty hot phone.

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said about the N900. I’ve had mine since launch and it’s been horrifically under-supported from Nokia… So much so I’m not sure I could ever really trust Nokia enough to buy another phone from them. I don’t think it’s just their lack of love for the N900, I think they’re also incompetent at managing the services they attempt to foist on users. You can see more of my grumbles on my blog: http://thepcspy.com/read/my-n900-review/

    Google has a much better relationship with the Android operating system and has proven they can keep development going.

  3. Dawid Lorenz

    Desire Z is great, especially with CyanogenMod 6.1 which essentially is pure Froyo on steroids. Not like HTC Sense UI, which is more like big, fat layer of crap on top of Froyo. ;)

    1. mikecomputing

      Make me wonder why people like android so much when the first thing u still have todo on android is to root it and make thirdparty kernel patches like CyanogenMods. I thougt that thing was “HTC Magic” (the most buggy phone ever I used btw.) era and that HTC and others has make the core Android work without the first U have todo is to patch it…

      To mee it just sounds like HTC/ Samsing is not that different from Nokia in support.

      However I am not sure what the freak Nokia is thinking about Meego atm but I still hope…

      Else I dont know what I should by next time, Android is just an broken linux IMHO…

      1. Dawid Lorenz

        I didn’t have to do it. I have chosen to do it. Before getting Desire Z I’ve been using other Android phone for little while with clean Eclair/Froyo on it, so when I’ve got device from HTC with sh*tloads of crapware on top, I just couldn’t stand it. It’s not Android that was “broken” fot me but all that crap added by HTC on top. In my particular case, at least.

      1. Oli

        2.2 is available on the Galaxy S. When you get it depends on how awful the network it’s locked to is (as well as regional availability from Samsung)as they tack on their vendor-specific hacks. How long 2.3 takes is anybody’s guess but it could easily be 6 months.

        A Google Nexus [1/S] will be what you want if you need the latest version.

        1. Dawid Lorenz

          If Android version matters, I’d personally go for something from HTC and install unofficial ROM provided by community rather than wait for vendor to provide it. Or get Nexus1/2 and get latest versions directly from Google.

  4. David Smoot

    I’ve strongly considered the same choices recently for the same reasons as you. I did not follow through for a few reasons: * My carrier (AT&T) has none of those devices so to get decent hardware I would have to pay full market price. * I’m enjoying learning QT and having real access to low level hardware. But Android development can’t be too hard. * N900 still has better Exchange support than Android

    Basically I’m stalling to see what the N9 / Nokia Meego device looks like. If Nokia can impress me enough with the specs and the openness, I might throw good money after bad and give them another chance

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz

      David: I used to write applications long time ago. With N900 I tried once and then just moved to hacking existing ones — for Android I do not even plan to start with development of apps. And so far none of my jobs required me to use MS Exchange ;)

      I lost faith in Nokia several months ago. Even if they will release really awesome hardware it will still lack in software.

    2. Dawid Lorenz

      Same here. Despite I’ve switched to Desire Z for now, I’m looking forward to see Nokia N9/Harmattan handset to come. Either Nokia will finally get it right and win me/you/us/everyone back, or they will sadly turn into grave…

  5. GDR!

    Take something with physical QWERTY keyboard. I’ll be switching from G1 to Desire Z some time soon. I tried operating with virtual keyboard only but it’s just… retarded compared to hardware one.

  6. ndec

    Marcin, how about Motorolla Milestone 2? That’s the Droid X for the EU market (GSM). looks quite good.

          1. zen

            Of course there is polish dictionary for swype. You could just extract it from android version and port for N900

  7. Seth Dove

    What is the N900 not doing that you need from a new phone? I really am curious. So many people post these “I’m leaving” messages over the web, but few actually post what they need a new phone for. I realize there are bugs in Maemo, but seldom do they really hinder anything.

    1. Dawid Lorenz

      For me it was responsiveness (or rather lack of thereof) of N900, mostly. I was getting fed up with situations where I had to wait several minutes (sic!) for the device to start reacting to my input properly or where I was getting missed calls because rt-call-ui app got stuck somewhere deep in swap space and didn’t manage to get back in time before the other party hung up. Otherwise I really love my N900 and probably would never think of Android.

  8. Ortwin

    Did you consider a Palm webOS device? Sure, the Pre Plus/Pre 2 Hardware is a little outdated. The Linux-based webOS is pretty brilliant, though. While not completely open source, it is very open and has a great developer community. The Pre Plus is around 240 € at the moment in Germany which is a fair price. If you have a little time, you could wait for the CES presentation in January, when HP/Palm will hopefully reveal some more up to date devices.

    1. David Smoot

      For me the screen resolution was the deal breaker on the Palm. Gotta have more pixels than that.

  9. XLSchwarz

    Everything in this story similar to my case. After one year of using n900 and casually playing with nitdroid I decide to migrate to android. I’ve bought htc desire z to my wife to change her n97. But I can’t find out wich android could be mine. For a week I’m using htc desire of my friend, and I think I’m not ready to reject the qwerty keyboard. In htc desire z everything rocks but slider mechanism is poor.

  10. Jamie Bennett

    I have the Desire and its a pretty good phone. There are points that I really like, Linux on a phone, tethering, sms whist docked in a cradle e.t.c. but owning an iPhone before has really ruined the experience. Android still isn’t close to the iPhones seamless integration and I often look at my battery indicator and wonder why, all of a sudden, I’ve gone for nearly full to empty in a matter of a couple of hours.

    Having owned the N900 and nearly thrown it out of the window in equal measures of disgust and frustration, Android is a major upgrade. Throw in iOS and for me its clear, my next phone is the iPhone 5.

  11. McGregor

    I’m thinking about archos 70 tablet. This will give me time to rethink my attachment to nokia phones and Symbian OS. Right now I cowardly refuse to move from nokia to android ones because of limited functionality (yeah there is an app for everything in android, but some basic things should have been always there) but it will happen one day for sure.

  12. stillerwinter

    I have a Dell Streak now (from Nokia n700 to n800 to Motorola Milestone to HTC Desire to the Streak). Its a wonderful device with a big big fantastic screen. Its the closest to the n800 you can get now. Android is great and the community is also great. The Streak is the max you can carry. Its has its little quirks but nothing really serious. I can only recommend it. All the others where to small..

    I personally think Nokia has lost the game (sad, sad, but they had the iPhone killer before the iPhone was there: n700, why no celluar?)

  13. zen

    I’m early adopter and pioneer Android user and dev (wannabe ;). Currently I’m still using G1, which is running 2.2 (to my BIG surprise). I’m quite happy with that despite constant problems with CyanogenMod – but it was my choice, so I will not complain. I really like Android’s UI consistency, platform capabilities and FLOSS/hacking climate around it. I don’t like fragmentation, but also fully understand Google strategy, to gain market. Now i\ll be getting Desire HD as new phone. Why? Because it’s cool ;) And I want phone that will last for next 2 years

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