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iPhone or Droid Incredible? In other words, is AT&T really so bad?

Discussion in 'Mobile Phones / Entertainment' started by Cameron Yee, May 1, 2010.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    We all can. But we'd likely give different answers :) I think the iPhone is better. The reviews I read, the pundits I trust all agree that the iPhone remains the best designed -hardware and software- phone. The entire system is better conceived, better designed, better implemented. And it costs the same or less than any other smartphone. But that's me. My biases are well know around here :). Some here will agree; some will disagree. So let me reframe the question. What matters more to you: best carrier, best phone, or best price? If carrier, get your preferred Android phone on Verizon. Otherwise, buy an iPhone 4 on AT&T. And if cost trumps all, get a free-with-contract smartphone on Sprint or T-Mobile. And if you want the best Android phone, you want to buy the flavor of the month. I think the incredible is outdated by android standards and you should get the latest, a Nexus S or Galaxy or Droid Pro, I think. And of course: spend some time in the store playing with the phones. Look at what your friends have. Happy shopping! :)
     
  2. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Well, on the eve of the Verizon announcement and as the original poster, I just wanted to say I have taken the first step and done away with my landline. :)


    I'm still holding off on the next step though, just to see how things shake out.
     
  3. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    A different tack on fragmentation by one of the usual suspects:

    http://www.marco.org/2730711751


    I agree with this more than I did his post yesterday.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I think that also relates to the paradox of choice

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice:_Why_More_Is_Less


    That doesn't speak to whether people will or won't buy Android phones, but implies that the overall Android phone shopping and purchasing process will be less pleasant and satisfying than shopping for an iPhone. (And I can say that this effect had a strong influence on my purchase of an iPod, and helped push me to switch to Apple computer, and also plays into buying an iPhone.)
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    The contrarian viewpoint:

    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/12/the-verizon-iphone-is-too-late.html
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Contra-Contrarian Viewpoint ;)

    http://daringfireball.net/2011/01/lyons_too_late


    They both have insights but they both ignore important aspects of the arguments.


    I think the key thing that everyone knows but also ignores is the split between "Android", the free OS from Google, and Android phones from manufacturers trying to make a buck.


    Dan Lyons is probably right that if the iPhone had been on Verizon in 2010, or earlier, Android's mass market acceptance would have been slowed. But I don't believe it would have been stopped. Manufacturers would have looked for something to compete with Apple and Android would have provided a good option and phones would have been sold, and they would gain market acceptance.


    Gruber is right about understanding Apple as "perfectionist" rather than "control freak". Many people like good design and are willing to pay for it; and in the case of the iPhone best design cost no more than lousy design since all these smartphones and BlackBerrys cost the same with subsidy and phone contract.


    And he's right about this making Apple a profitable manufacturer of phones; but this elides the point of Android's popularity, which is Dan Lyon's point. Google doesn't care if Motorola or HTC or Samsung make a cent; all that matters is that Android is ubiquitous. And there are enough people who e.g. value a 4.5" screen that's readable to a 50-yr old man over a 3.5" Retina Display, that all those variations on mediocrely designed Android phones will find buyers and sell zillions: just like in the PC market.


    In then end: they're both right and they're both glossing over interesting and important aspects of the marketplace for smartphones.
     
  7. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Unrelated: my coworker I traveled with has a new Droid X on Verizon. Since he was driving, I spent a few minutes playing with his Google Maps on his X.


    I appreciate now the 4.5" screen and understand why Hanson prefers it to the iPhone's 3.5" screen. While the real and perceived resolution is lower, simply making icons on a map larger can make them easier to read; a 4.5" is 65% larger than a 3.5". I don't recall if I commented on this before, but it reinforces something I've had in mind: Apple may lose market to the over-45 market simply because a bigger screen will be easier to read to those with Presbyopia (i.e. when you need those bifocals). I didn't have enough time with it to get a feel for how pocketable and manageable such a phone is; compared to my iPhone 4 the X. (That said, I still prefer my Retina Display :)


    Google Maps with integrated Voice Nav is nice. I see this as a big selling feature to the layman. That said, I found it a bit confusing. I tapped the screen and it went into 3D driving mode. I couldn't figure out how to get back to top-down view (my preferred GPS display). No icon, nowhere on the screen would go back to the other view. I finally hit a turny-arrow hard-button and that did it -- unintuitive to me -- but I'm not sure if that stopped the voice nav process.


    Also, the screen response to gestures (pinch-zoom and drag, particularly) was noticeably worse than the iPhone. The iPhone is fluid, almost anticipatory to my gestures. The Droid X felt clunky, laggy. Not nearly as bad as my Garmin GPS with resistive screen, but lacking that feel of perfection the iPhone gives.


    The X's speaker is a good deal louder than the iPhone 4's. The iPhone would benefit from such a speaker, particularly when you're using it as a GPS in a car or doing a speaker call in a restaurant.


    I'd like to play more, but Android 2.2 isn't user hostile like 1.6 was. I couldn't imagine giving my worst enemy an 1.6 Android phone. But these new ones seem easy to recommend if someone can't or won't get an iPhone. And clearly the better choice over a Blackberry for anyone but the most diehard business user or thumb-keyboard typer.
     
  8. Hanson

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    The real point Gruber is totally whiffing on is that people are cheap. I mean, really cheap. People ask me about what phone to get all the time, and I am shocked how many people balk at one phone over another for a measly $50. Now, $50 in and of itself isn't anything to sneeze at -- it's that $50 over 24 months is a hair over $2 a month that separates functional from fantastic. And that's just $50 -- if you can get an Android phone for $50 or free with a contract, many, many people are going to do that over a $200 iPhone. Gruber doesn't realize that $200 for a phone is still a luxe purchase in this day and age, and many people don't even take the smartphone plunge because they don't want the added monthly expense of a data plan. It's not like the Verizon customers on features phones are all going to buy iPhones when they take the plunge because most of them are reluctant to put out the money. With cost being such an imnportant factor, a free with contract Android phone will win that sale.
     
  9. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Apple doesn't want cheap people as customers just as Lexus, Ferrari and other high end brands don't.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veblen_good


    Some people believe that the 'entry level' rungs of products like these have specific deficiencies that only exist to help you justify the next rung up. =)
     
  10. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    I think an iPhone is much more egalitarian than any of the brands you mention. And if Apple wasn't trying to expand their market, there's no reason to move to Verizon at all. The Verizon iPhone is a conspicuous move on Apple's part to solidify and expand their position in the smartphone market. They don't want the iPhone to end up being a niche product like their PC's.


    "Apple doesn't want cheap people as customers". You have read this article, no?
     
  11. Ken Chan

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    False equivalence is leading to the downfall of civilization. Gruber is more right.




    Then there's statistics. The Droid X has a 4.3"-diagonal screen, not 4.5". A 4.5" square is 65% larger in area than a 3.5" square, but neither screen is a square, and they have different aspect ratios. (A 4.3" square is only 51% larger than a 3.5" square. Also, for its listed PPI, the iPhone is closer to 3.54", which drops it below the psychological/rhetorical half-way mark to 48%.) If my math is right, the Droid X screen is about 37% larger in area than the iPhone.


    But for the relative size of identical UI elements, what matters is the PPI; the larger Droid X also has fewer pixels. In the end, each pixel is 105% larger in area; which in some senses makes things "twice as big", and in some senses not.
     
  12. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    According to my math, the Droid X is 34% larger in area. Man, wanna take a shot? 16:9 4.3" vs 4:3 3.5" screen. And do it in your head like Ken and I did.
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Hanson: I agree about people being cheap, and Gruber consistently missing that. Even though the phone itself may only be 10% of its 2 yr cost, people see the $200 cost and look to make it cheaper. Yes, Apple pursues profits, and again we have the trouble of separating Android/Google dominating the market while Apple simultaneously dominates the device profits. (to state a possible outcome) Ken, I'm not arguing false equivalence, I'm stating that both make good points bit both - yes even John Gruber - elides important aspects. In actuality, because of this duality, they may both be right in various degrees. I'll leave I'll leave it to someone else to compute exact percentages of correctitude. :) As for screen size, I was going from memory; but your math is wrong too. You can't weave in pixel size to compute area difference. Whether it's 65% or 50% larger, The point stands that the larger screen does make some aspects easier to read for older eyes; I sympathize more with Hanson's previous comments on the matter. Now if you want to talk about information density and weave in pixel count, you could do worse than re-read my previous posts on the subject from last summer ;)
     
  14. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Gah! IPhone + HTF = horrid grammar & spelling. Apologies if my posts seem incoherent.
     
  15. Ken Chan

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  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Ok, so I was approximate with my screen sizes and calculations (iPhone & posting in airports :). And I may have misunderstood your comment, Ken. So I'll try for exactness here.


    iPhone 4 has a 3.5" (89 mm) diagonal screen with an aspect ratio of 3:2 so area is 3656 mm^2.

    Droid X has a 4.3" (109.2 mm) diagonal screen and an aspect ratio of 1.77 so area is 5089 mm^2.

    (For those keeping score at home: Area = Diagonal^2 * Aspect Ratio / (AR^2 + 1)


    The Droid X's screen is 39% larger.


    I appreciate more fully Hanson's comments, in a discussion we had last summer, that a 40% increase of display elements--given that they already have pixel count to be sufficiently detailed--are more easily read when 40% larger on e.g. a Droid X than an iPhone 4. I can honestly imagine that about 5 years from now when I have presbyopia, I may well prefer a physically larger screen to a better resolution.


    Implicit is that there the actual pixel count is already pretty good. Obviously a single pixel 4.5" large is much less useful than a million pixels spanning 3" inches. But I see that some will prefer ~410k pixels in a bigger display than ~614 pixels in a smaller display.


    As for the information density: starting on the first page of this thread, there's a wandering conversation between Hanson and me about smartphone resolution, "Retina Display", and visual acuity, and how important this stuff is.


    I think the Retina Display is a Big Freaking Deal, the first display that really is above the visual resolution of most people so text is effectively perfect and easily readable, even at unusually small sizes.
     
  17. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    Yes, the iPhone is 3:2, not 4:3. The irony is that I had done the correct screen size calculations earlier in this thread.

     
  18. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    As the original poster, I wound up sticking with Virgin Mobile and getting the Optimus Android phone. It has very good reviews and Virgin's basic Beyond Talk plan can't be beat!
     
  19. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    As open as they wanna be...

    http://thisismynext.com/2011/05/02/verizons-removal-tethering-apps-android-market-shame-fcc-violation/
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I was wondering how long the free ride would last. It didn't make sense that iPhone users paid for tethering, but Android users got it for free. They've overlooked the loss of revenue long enough and are making their plans uniform, with Google's help.


    But it's still a "wink wink nudge nudge" situation, as I understand it: anyone can "sideload" (as I've read) a non-Markeplace app for free tethering. Maybe there's rooting involved. Still this sweep will certainly capture the majority of users. And it seems likely that Verizon, like AT&T, will attempt to identify and bill on-the-sly tetherers.
     

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