I mean, just because Android phones *allow* for removable batteries doesn’t mean I should *have* to carry extra batteries! And I know, batteries are a hardware issue, and not an OS issue, but since just about every android phone review I’ve read rails on and on about poor battery life, I feel safe in lumping it in there.
Regardless, I’m a gadget guy, and Brittany reeeeeaaaaaallllly wanted a Siri-compatible phone, so I passed her mine and went for the upgrade so that I could try android. I picked up a refurb Samsung Galaxy S3 for $29.99 and figured if I hated it, I could upgrade back to Apple next year (there are four phones on our plan — spaced so that there are two upgrade opportunities per year).
I must admit that while I went in with some trepidation, I was pleasantly surprised. Almost all the apps I depend on in iOS were available on Android. The only real exception was Magic 2013. What, I might wonder, is the problem Wizards (of the Coast)?!? Plenty of Android tablets available… how about porting the bloody app?!?
In any case, it came with Ice Cream Sandwich, and I didn’t love it. There’s not a huge difference between Jelly Bean and ICS, but having played with it on a Nexus, the tweaks do make a huge difference in operation.
I’ve only encountered a couple apps that didn’t work well. The Great Big Sea app, for instance, works fine with the exception that every (EVERY) time the phone reboots, it will within 60 seconds, lock the phone for about 5 seconds and then report that the app has crashed.
And speaking of reboots, I do find I have to reboot the phone at least once a week… usually because it has suddenly decided there is no signal to be found anywhere even though you have line of sight of at least three towers. A simple reboot will take it from no signal to 4 bars 4g LTE… which is annoying.
The Weather Channel app is also annoying, but only because I am used to the robust, elegant version on iOS, and the android version… isn’t. It’s actually crap. Laggy, slow and ugly. I’ve switched to (not-quite-so-)Accuweather for the nonce.
I do LOVE the soft return and settings buttons. It’s nice that those functions can be reached in any app in the same way where as things were somewhat less organized on the iphone.
As per the hardware, I like the S3 quite a bit, but it’s clearly NOT an Apple product… there are design choices here that Apple simply wouldn’t make. First, it’s a plastic phone and it feels like it… very light, but not quite… solid. The buttons especially suffer from weak, plastic feeling. Also, the sleep button and volume buttons are both side mounted but are directly opposite each other which means that every time I go to hit the sleep button with my thumb, my fingers on the opposite side are being squeezed into the volume toggle. I am always, always accidentally cranking the volume all the way up or down.
On the plus side, the screen is gorgeous… and huge… I actually grabbed an iPhone a few days after having switched and was amazed how small the screen seemed. Bigger is better… to a point… I don’t understand phablets. The screen is Gorilla Glass 2, but I’ve already got several scratches on it… not sure how. I do keep it in my pocket, but always by itself… I never put anything in there with it, but scratched it is… so much for gorilla… I supposed I could get an Otterbox, but those things are too bulky.
I did find that dropping it in a simple Cosmos TPU case was just what I needed to give the phone a bit more heft to feel more comfortable in the hand and firm up the buttons without feeling bulky… no screen protection though.
The battery life though… ye gods! it’s awful. As it was a refurb with only a 90 day warranty, I had no fear about voiding my warranty, so I went ahead and ordered an extended battery. I started with the Hyperion 4200mAh which was roughly twice the battery life of the stock battery. This actually gave me almost two days of power, but was very, very thick and required a substitute battery cover (supplied with battery). Also, the NFC did not work. This is a fine solution as long as you don’t keep the phone in your pocket. If you do, it will crack… often. Frustrated, I order a pair of Hyperion 2200 batteries with an external charger. They are just slightly stronger than the stock battery (2100 vs 2200), but appear to be a much higher quality battery. I expected to have to carry spares with me all the time, but really have not problem making it until 9 or 10pm without having to drop it on the charger. I keep a spare charging cable at home, in the car and work though… just in case…
and speaking of cables, what is the bleeding deal with the micro-usb standard?!? I have found in very short order there is nothing more non-standard than a standard micro-usb cable. Some of the fit, so don’t. Some will charge your device, some won’t. I even have a few that will charge your device, but only if you insert the plug and lift upwards and hold it there until fully charged. Contrast that with a standard usb or mini-usb which just tend to work, and I tend to feel less-than-charitable about these things…
But that’s the cable makers problem… nothing to do with Android which is lovely…