My friend Ray recently gave me a call. He was in-between iPhones and wanted to borrow something for a week. I guess he figured I'd lend him something old - possibly with a keypad. So I can imagine his surprise when I offered to lend him my HTC One X.
Now Ray is an interesting fellow. He's a die hard Mac fan. He owns a Macbook, MacPro, iPhone and puts Apple stickers on his cars. I'm sure he's got a bunch of 'think different' T-shirts in his wardrobe too.
It's not that Ray hates PC's, cars without Apple stickers and plain T-Shirts. It's just that he just really loves Apple stuff. So the reason he doesn't use Android phones is not because he thinks they're inferior - it's just that Apple products work really well for him so he's never really considered anything else.
He follows tech news and knows what an HTC One X or Galaxy S III is but he's not that aware of all the features they have.
The reason I lent him a One X was not to try to convert him to Android. Rather I wanted him to give Android a try so that he could give me his thoughts on it. It's not meant to be a 'Why Android sucks or Why Apple sucks article'. Note the he's going from an iPhone 4 running iOS 5 to a HTC One X (He actually wrote this before the iPhone 5 launch). So the HTC One X is going to be a big step up for him. Here's what he wrote:
The home button on iPhones has to be the single greatest achievement in device usability If you've got a toddler, they will instinctively press that home button to make something happen. This is the first learning hurdle with the Android o/s and the HTC application. The subtle "vibrate" when pressing this home button isn't quite like an actual button. I'm assuming there's a setting for this but waking from "sleep" is done by the power button on top. With the iPhone on a desk, I can push down on the home button to see an alert. The HTC on the other hand isn't as easy.
Android appears to have layers with presenting apps. There are more ways to organize applications and I found this to be liberating, albeit time consuming to setup. Apple could learn from this approach of giving users more than one choice.
Typing was a pain on the HTC. Despite the increased real estate, the space bar button was too small and I kept inserting periods instead. Extremely annoying. I found the voice dictation to perform very well despite a minor lag compared to Apple's version. It did not take me very long to fall in love with Swyping. I know it's not for everyone but I could see that it learned on the go. And once again I have to be critical of Apple's lack of choice for text entry.
I'm split on the placement of settings. On the HTC, each app had settings and the "global" settings menu isn't easy to go through. The good side is that you have more control through the options available to you. The downside is that it's not easy to find the setting that you want. From a development point of view, I'm not sure you can justify one settings menu that includes all applications on the phone (or at least links to the apps). I think it's worth mentioning that once I found the settings menu that had the setting I wanted to set, I was happy. The journey to figure that out was annoying.
The "back" soft-button was nice to have but redundant on most applications (that have the function in a graphic usually at the top). I found this most useful in the browser application. And can you define "incognito"? This was an odd browser feature to see on a handheld device because I can't recall it being available on Safari or Firefox.
It's a phone so making phone calls should be at the top of any review. No issues with call quality and carrier reception was as expected. The only issue I have on the HTC is accessing functions like speakerphone or other sources - the iPhone presents larger buttons to activate these during a call.
The browser experience on the HTC is far superior to anything Apple currently has. Opening webpages via WiFi were quicker and navigating had more punch to it. Ironically, I found that opening Facebook from the browser was quicker than using the Facebook app. On the latter, updating the feeds took longer although browsing through profile photos was snappier.
Battery life was the most noticeable compared to the iPhone. Doing what I normally do didn't bring me any anxiety over available battery for the rest of my day.
It would be interesting to compare the vibration motor across phones because the HTC is loud. I'm used to the subtle iPhone vibrate so this came as a shock while at work and coworkers within a 10ft radius knew I received a message.
The display is gorgeous and game graphics are smooth. Youtube and Vimeo streamed quicker than what I observed on the iPhone. What I did notice was games crashing when initially starting up. The app would hang for a decent amount of minutes before notifying me of an issue.
Downloading apps from the Play Store was straightforward - not a "clean" presentation compared to the Apple App Store but better in the presentation of free versus paid applications.
A huge plus for the HTC is the camera application. It starter significantly quicker compared to the iPhone, and the image quality shined. Although all camera phones suffer from graininess due to boosting sensor sensitivity, I think the video captured had an acceptable amount. I wouldn't consider this camera functionality a deal-breaker for me.
Information integration has to be one of the best things to come out of social networking. I didn't realize how "closed" my world was with iCloud. Android's use of Facebook, all of the Google apps, DropBox, etc were all integrated into the phone. Presentation of this consolidated data was acceptable; it was difficult to ascertain the source when finding errors. But this was a huge step forward in bringing my online world to the handset, essentially bringing all of it wherever I go. So, if you have profiles in more than four online networks, an Android device is better suited for you than anything Apple currently has.