Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 18th Jul 2013 16:58 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless "The worst thing about Android phones isn't the crapware, though. It's the 'skins' - the modifications that phone companies make to Android's most basic features, including the dialing app, contacts, email, the calendar, the notification system, and the layout of the home screen. If you get the Play edition of these phones, you'll see Google's version of each of these apps, and you'll come away impressed by Google's tasteful, restrained, utilitarian design sense. But if, like most people, you get your phone for $199 from a carrier, you'll find everything in it is a frightful mess." Android's biggest problem (lack of updates is part of this). I got my Oppo Find 5 yesterday, and after only a few hours with the official, skinned firmware, I ran crying to the officially supported CyanogenMod 10.1 (Android 4.2.2). Stock (CM is mostly stock) is such a beautiful and elegant operating system - OEM skins are like screaming kids eating popcicles in front of you on a line to a theme park ride. Whenever someone hands me a stock Samsung or HTC, I die a little inside. Those guys simply have zero clue about software.
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Comment by gan17
by gan17 on Thu 18th Jul 2013 17:10 UTC
gan17
Member since:
2008-06-03

Agree with the linked article. Never used HTC's Sense in person, but I have tried a couple of new Samsungs, and I'd rather touch piss than touchwizz.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by gan17
by pedlo on Fri 19th Jul 2013 06:09 UTC in reply to "Comment by gan17"
pedlo Member since:
2011-04-30

Totally agree about TouchWiz. Nevertheless, on my personal opinion, HTC Sense makes... sense. I had it for one year on my HTC Sensation and I found it pretty, functional and elegant.
But yeah, plain Android UI is by far the most efficient UI.

Edited 2013-07-19 06:11 UTC

Reply Score: 2

agree
by DREVILl30564 on Thu 18th Jul 2013 17:18 UTC
DREVILl30564
Member since:
2008-04-18

I personally avoid buying any model of phone until I've verified that it either doesn't have carrier modifications such as touchwiz or sense, or it is a supported model that the CM team does builds for.

The only samsung model phone I've found recently that doesn't have touchwiz (mostly, only has it on lock screen) is the Samsung Galaxy Discover. Granted this is a lower end model phone with a single core 800 MHz CPU, 500 MB of ram, but even so without touchwiz it runs quite nicely. It's also starting to become very popular over on xda, it's already got ClockworkMod recovery support, has been rooted, and even now has ability to be overclocked to 1 GHz. I have one that I keep as my backup in case I break my phone.

I just wish the OEMs would figure this out, as this is why the Nexus phones are so popular. I know I'm still running a Galaxy Nexus with stock firmware, only modification I've made was to root the phone. There's no need for custom firmware for the most part, on a phone with stock Android with no modifications unless you just like working with custom firmware.

Edited 2013-07-18 17:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: agree
by BluenoseJake on Thu 18th Jul 2013 18:55 UTC in reply to "agree"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

touchwiz and sense are not carrier modifications, they are OEM modifications, made by Samsung and HTC, respectively.

Reply Score: 5

shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

viz, Most android phones are crap.

I tried devices from HTC and Samsing and frankly my old company iPhone 3gs was a better user experience for what I WANT OUT OF A PHONE.
I got so frustrated with the HTC Desire that in the end I took a hammer to it. Well, that was after it was totally bricked when I tried to load Cyanogen onto it.

Now I use an old Nokia 6310i and frankly have little or no desire to return to using a smartphone.

My views will not go down well with smartphone addicts but hey, not everyone's needs are the same.

Reply Score: 8

Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

Same here, I've been using a prepaid Samsung SGH-T404G for around 5 years now, never seen the need for a smartphone.

My camera does a far better job of being a camera, my GPS does a far better job of being a GPS, my netbook does a far better job of doing everything else.

So I can't play Angry Birds? So effing what?

Reply Score: 5

leos Member since:
2005-09-21

Same here, I've been using a prepaid Samsung SGH-T404G for around 5 years now, never seen the need for a smartphone.


Let me guess, you never used a good one.

My camera does a far better job of being a camera


Yes, but do you have it with you literally everywhere you go? Many of my good pictures are taken at times when I would never think to take my camera.

my GPS does a far better job of being a GPS


In what way? My phone is just as accurate as a GPS, is much easier to load maps (automatic), and there are specialized apps for everything navigation (backcountry, geocaching, public transit, car, bicycle, walking). No standalone GPS is nearly that versatile.

my netbook does a far better job of doing everything else.


Well aside from being much less portable, taking much longer to boot, having worse battery life, not having any specialized apps for various functions, etc etc etc.

Edited 2013-07-18 20:34 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Kivada Member since:
2010-07-07

I've used several iphones and a few nexus phones, not impressed.

I keep a Canon S3-IS with a collapsible mini tripod in the car. Videos and photos at the same time.

My GPS does all of that.

SSD, cell network USB chip installed inside of the netbook.

Small enough that it fit's in the netbook and car charger fit in the glovebox, glovebox has a lighter/power socket in it that only runs if the car is on.

Keyboard that is usable, extended life battery

Real programs since 90% of those cellphone apps are just web front ends Firefox does all of what they do, only better. And yeah, I eat local, but I have already looked up or have already been to every restaurant in the area. When it comes to going on trips, I look these things up in advance.

Having all of these things means I'm actually able to interact with real people instead of having my face buried in a damn phone everywhere I go.

So yeah, I see no reason to get a smartphone.

Edited 2013-07-18 22:26 UTC

Reply Score: 2

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I'm actually able to interact with real people


Those smell and are generally very unpleasant. I rather interact with electronics.

Reply Score: 6

Chrispynutt Member since:
2012-03-14

Now that I can agree with

Reply Score: 2

Colonel Panic Member since:
2005-07-28

I personally like my 5 Shih Tzus vs. people. And the way they behave, I like them a little more every day.

Reply Score: 2

leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I've used several iphones and a few nexus phones, not impressed.

I keep a Canon S3-IS with a collapsible mini tripod in the car. Videos and photos at the same time.


Right, in other words you don't always have it on you.

My GPS does all of that.


I guarantee you it does not. I also guarantee you I can do everything much faster on the smartphone. Furthermore I guarantee you you don't have the GPS with you most of the time.

SSD, cell network USB chip installed inside of the netbook.


None of that refutes what I said.

Real programs since 90% of those cellphone apps are just web front ends Firefox does all of what they do, only better. And yeah, I eat local, but I have already looked up or have already been to every restaurant in the area. When it comes to going on trips, I look these things up in advance.


In other words, you miss out on the convenience. Of course a smartphone is not a necessity. Neither is a computer or any other device. But it's incredibly convenient.

Having all of these things means I'm actually able to interact with real people instead of having my face buried in a damn phone everywhere I go.


I guess you have poor impulse control if you think having a smart phone means using it 24/7

Edited 2013-07-19 01:47 UTC

Reply Score: 3

levi Member since:
2006-09-07

Problem with smartphones is that there is a hidden competition - who's the smartest: user, device, manufacturer, operator or maybe NSA ?

So ... having camera that just takes photos and can't upload them somewhere behind your back, phone that is just phone and you can switch it off whenever you don't need it , gps receiver that shows your location to yourself counts for something; won't you agree ?

There are many arguments for both approaches but I think it's choice of the individual and not general rule.

Reply Score: 1

spinnekopje Member since:
2008-11-29

Some thoughts:
A dedicated device does it's job (a lot) better than your smartphone.
I can use multiple functions at the same time or let someone else use a device while I use another one.
When one device fails, I only need to replace that one, which is a lot cheaper than your smartphone. Most have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years for me.

Things that are important to me:
phone: last as long as possible on a charge (now 1.5 months)
camera: make very good quality pictures in bad lighting conditions without flash
gps: usable on the mtb, a couple of days on a set of batteries when used a lot on a trip.. no problem when it falls on stones/concrete..
netbook: I never carry a computer with me as I really don't need one. I might buy a (small) tablet in the future, but I can't see enough use for it now.

Reply Score: 1

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Just to throw in another perspective...

I've used smartphones almost exclusively since the Treo 650 was released. It is still my favorite of all the smartphones I've owned and used, and that list includes:

Palm Treo 650 (favorite by far)
Palm Treo 700w
Palm Tungsten W
Original iPhone
more Blackberries than I can count
more Symbian Nokias than I can count
Nokia N900 (second favorite)
Motorola Cliq
HTC MyTouch 3G
Motorola Admiral
HTC Arrive (WP7, third favorite)
Blackberry Style (really liked it)
Samsung Nexus S
iPhone 4S (current phone)

I do enjoy having a stable, fast, feature packed phone, and while it's everything I seem to need in a convergence device (excellent phone, excellent camera, decent portable computer, decent media player, passable GPS) I find myself just so bored with it! Nowadays my phone is mainly used for (gasp) phone calls and texts, and the occasional picture or internet search. I could accomplish all of that with a basic phone, or if I were to dump Sprint and go back to T-Mobile I could pick up a Nokia 808 Pureview or Lumia and be all set (I really like the newest Symbian OS and I'm dying to try out WP8).

Then again, I have enough "toys" to tinker with, including a Raspberry Pi; to constantly tinker with my phone risks leaving me without a primary communication device. If I were a jobless, friendless bum that wouldn't be a problem but I have a life and two jobs, and both require me to keep a working phone.

So yeah, I can see the case for a non-smartphone in the hands of a smart user. To each their own.

Edited 2013-07-19 22:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

"my netbook...

... taking much longer to boot ...
"

Minor nit, but the boot times of Android and iOS (no idea about WP8) are ridiculous (usually longer than a current Windows, Ubuntu or Fedora boot).
It just doesn't matter because they're rarely booted from power-off - except if you're doing OS hacking (where this got painful for me).

Wakeup from stand-by is quite comparable between phones and netbooks - near instantaneous.

So the difference is in the use pattern.

Reply Score: 3

Oppo Find 5
by shotsman on Thu 18th Jul 2013 17:29 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

Thom,
Are we going to see a review of it soon?

Reply Score: 2

Of course, he's right
by WorknMan on Thu 18th Jul 2013 18:13 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Of course, he's right... a lot of carriers flat out butcher Android phones, and it's something Google isn't willing to do anything about. And given that, at least in the US, Apple is able to get their phone on every major carrier without any modifications, there is NO excuse for this. Well, maybe if you're buying the phone equivalent of a $300 eMachine, but not on flagship devices.

On the other hand, the author fails to mention that in terms of functionality and customization, iPhones are like Fisher Price phones compared to Android. For me PERSONALLY, I would not want to give up the flexibility that Android provides in order to have a better out of the box experience. When I buy a new Windows PC that I didn't buy myself, I usually have to format the hard drive and install clean in order to remove the crapware that the OEMs put on there. It just goes with the territory, given the fact that MS has pretty much been forced to let OEMs install whatever they want. That doesn't make the Mac superior just because iDiots can use it right out of the box; it just makes it easier on tech tards. You have to judge it on criteria other than that, like the fact that on forums for many of my favorite Windows apps, there's almost always people bitching that there's no Mac version ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: Of course, he's right
by leos on Thu 18th Jul 2013 20:36 UTC in reply to "Of course, he's right"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

You have to judge it on criteria other than that, like the fact that on forums for many of my favorite Windows apps, there's almost always people bitching that there's no Mac version ;)


Yes interesting. Just like whenever I try an Android phone (or worse, tablet) I have to bitch that the apps I use on iOS either don't exist, or are poor imitations.

Edited 2013-07-18 20:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Of course, he's right
by moondevil on Fri 19th Jul 2013 05:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Of course, he's right"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

"You have to judge it on criteria other than that, like the fact that on forums for many of my favorite Windows apps, there's almost always people bitching that there's no Mac version ;)


Yes interesting. Just like whenever I try an Android phone (or worse, tablet) I have to bitch that the apps I use on iOS either don't exist, or are poor imitations.
"

You mean like Windows users when they try a Linux distribution?

Reply Score: 2

Regular users ..
by acobar on Thu 18th Jul 2013 18:28 UTC
acobar
Member since:
2005-11-15

don't give a flying duck about the little changes.

They didn't care that much about crap installed on their computers by OEM and, at least for what I see, they don't either for their smartphones.

Actually I would go further, I bet that some of them would complain if someone, somehow, turn off touchwiz because that is what they are used to.

But, yeah, I do find standard Android more appealing.

Perhaps, the tone used did not look too impartial to me, to start off.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Fergy
by Fergy on Thu 18th Jul 2013 19:02 UTC
Fergy
Member since:
2006-04-10

I went from Galaxy Nexus 4.2.2 to HTC One 4.1.2 and I kind of like how it looks and the extra functionality. The main thing for me that is worse is the agenda. At this time I find no good reason to go for clean android. Especially because the camera software is much much better than android.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Zaitch
by Zaitch on Thu 18th Jul 2013 19:33 UTC
Zaitch
Member since:
2007-11-23

Less is definitely more in the android world!

Reply Score: 3

A little exaggerated.
by tkeith on Thu 18th Jul 2013 21:02 UTC
tkeith
Member since:
2010-09-01

While I agree, stock Android looks a lot better than most of the skins, this guy is taking it a little far. Other than the settings app, you are not constrained to Sense, touchwiz or whatever. It's android, not iOS, you can change all the default apps.

Stock keyboard, camera, launcher, dialer, almost everything is available in the play store. Only the settings app and notification shade will be different, and these are pretty close in ICS+ phones.

Reply Score: 4

Re:
by kurkosdr on Thu 18th Jul 2013 21:06 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

ouchwiz and sense are not carrier modifications, they are OEM modifications, made by Samsung and HTC, respectively.


Exactly. I got a SIM-free Galaxy SIII and it has a skin. Personally, I actually like Samsung's somewhat baroque aesthetic, and hence present myself for public shaming.

Anyway, OEMs will do anything to make the skins trend last as long as possible. They want to be able to differentiate, they don't want to become chip packagers and suffer the margin crush PC OEMs suffered in the 90s. It remains to be seen if the much awaited Moto X will run mostly stock androud and if the 99% prefers stock Android.

Edited 2013-07-18 21:07 UTC

Reply Score: 3

This will never change
by moondevil on Thu 18th Jul 2013 21:14 UTC
moondevil
Member since:
2005-07-08

OEMs already used this type of customizations with:

- Windows CE / Pocket PC

- Symbian

- In house Linux distributions

So why would it be any different with Android, given that anyone can access the source code?!

Reply Score: 4

Most Android phones are good enough
by chithanh on Thu 18th Jul 2013 21:32 UTC
chithanh
Member since:
2006-06-18

Why do so many phones still run stock firmware?

They can make phone calls, surf the Internet, the battery lasts through a day, users' favourite apps are there.

Sure they could run more smoothly with a new firmware, but best case the phone will become better at what it already does sufficiently. Worst case it will be bricked and the manufacturer will refuse warranty.

Besides, this requires educating oneself, which many users avoid like the plague.

Reply Score: 5

I use CM 10.1 on my Nexus 7 and 10
by rklrkl on Thu 18th Jul 2013 22:13 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I have CM 10.1 on both my Nexus 7 and 10 (and recently moved my HP TouchPad from CM 9 to CM 10.1 too) - even vanilla Android is well beaten by the extra options provided by CM.

There's one tiny option that I look at *every time* I use CM that isn't on vanilla Android from what I remember - the battery percentage shown in digits next to the very imprecise standard battery icon. Just those perecentage digits being missing (no, I don't want a stinking battery widget or extra notification text which won't be next to the battery icon) make me wonder why the freak all Android versions don't show it?

Now if only CM would add seconds to the system clock in the top right (I don't care about extra battery drain - I want seconds like Linux desktop clocks have and Windows desktop clock doesn't have!).

Basically, if an Android device can't be rooted and run CM, it isn't worth buying.

Edited 2013-07-18 22:13 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Soulbender
by Soulbender on Fri 19th Jul 2013 01:28 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

But if, like most people, you get your phone for $199 from a carrier, you'll find everything in it is a frightful mess


I got my $80 Android from a store and it wasn't a frightful mess. As far as I can tell, it has very little in terms of modifications other than a (very) few included custom apps. I'd say most smaller phone makers simply don't have the time and resources to screw around with the OS and interface. Staying mostly stock is a good business decision for them, especially since they usually don't have much of a brand image.

Reply Score: 4

News just in
by lucas_maximus on Fri 19th Jul 2013 05:59 UTC
lucas_maximus
Member since:
2009-08-18

90% of pretty much everything is crap.

Reply Score: 4

crap or not, all relative
by l3v1 on Fri 19th Jul 2013 07:49 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

Lots of people complain about Sense, lots of people complain about TW, and others complain about everything. I've used quite a number of skins and UIs on android, including stock Google versions, and I have yet to find one that would've irritated me to the point of complaining about it.

However, I've _never_ bought an Android phone from a carrier, so I've - thankfully - never had to endure carrier-crapped versions. And I don't intend to.

Currently I'm using an s7562 galaxy s duos (wanted one which could handle 2 sims _and_ doesn't cost an arm and a leg), with TW, and I'd say it's quite OK. It didn't yet bother me enough to change the launcher, let alone the rom.

As about being "tasteful"... it's _very_ relative. I've met some people who actually don't like the stock Android launcher. I don't like it either - I don't hate it either, it's just I think Sense or GoLEX are handier to use. Again, that's just for me, others feel different.

What I want to say is stating 'Most Android phones are crap' is an ignorant, idiotic, stupid, timewasting flamebait.

Reply Score: 3

RE: crap or not, all relative
by Chrispynutt on Fri 19th Jul 2013 11:22 UTC in reply to "crap or not, all relative"
Chrispynutt Member since:
2012-03-14

True.

I guess the people that like Sense and TouchWiz don't write articles on the net complaining about the lack of phones with them.

As long as their is a good range of phones with stock Android I'm actually less worried.

Good community support is a massive bonus though if you really must have that handset with those features.

Though the Google Edition movement should shut some people up.

That said I am getting bored of Holo. It feels better than 2.x Android, but I am getting fed up of lack of charm.

Wish my phone supported MIUI.

Reply Score: 3

My problem with a LG
by biffuz on Fri 19th Jul 2013 12:14 UTC
biffuz
Member since:
2006-03-27

My LG P500 with its original firmware did not accept several perfectly valid email addresses. That was my first Android, and the first time it happened it was a work contact, so you can imagine what I was thinking about Android. Until I figured out it was LG's fault, and it was fixed with later firmwares.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by agnus
by agnus on Sat 20th Jul 2013 07:51 UTC
agnus
Member since:
2006-05-10

Are you sure you don't over exaggerate Thom? I don't know about oppo but I am perfectly fine with TouchWiz on my Note 2, and my previous phone was a Galaxy Nexus. Really there is nothing fundamentally wrong with TouchWiz, and even though I haven't used Sense I believe it must be ok too.

The only downside is the forced Samsung applications that I can't uninstall.

Reply Score: 2

dsmogor
Member since:
2005-09-01

Touchviz allows calling from the list screen using swipe gesture. In addition one can SMS using reverse swipe. In fact this is *more* effective than stock version.
Looks like the author didn't do his homework. The fact that he's used to some skin and has trouble grasping another one doesn't prove it's bad in itself.
Still I agree that TW is messy design-wise, but well, people like colors and prefer them in whatever short time with device they have in the shop.

Reply Score: 2