Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 18th Mar 2012 21:23 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless This past week and this weekend I've finally found the time to enter into the colorful world of custom Android ROMs. After figuring out just how insanely great and awesome ClockWorkMod Recovery is, I set about to figure out what the best Ice Cream Sandwich ROM is for the Galaxy SII. While the answer to that question became clear quite quickly, this answer also gave rise to a whole bunch of other questions.
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Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

And just stick to the Android phones from Google.

Or buy superior stuff like an iPhone or a Windows Phone.

"Superior" is a subjective concept. It depends on what you expect from a phone, and what you are ready to bear from your OS.

As an example, for my own purchases, I first consider that paying more than €400 for a phone is crazy, and that phone hardware should be built in a robust fashion that can survive half a dozen falls every week without requiring users to purchase ugly cases. I also strongly value physical keyboards on my handsets. This pretty much rules out anything running iOS or Windows Phone 7 already.

Without that, there would also be the issue of software : my phone is an electronic agenda and a communication tool before anything else, and I like its home screen or its lock screen to reflect this by being a readily available source of information. I typically set things up so that I can get very quickly to a summary of upcoming agenda entries and past notifications. And from this point of view, WP7 offers an average to poor performance, while iOS is simply awful.

Coming next in my priorities is battery life, which should preferably be good enough to survive a week-end without a power adapter, which means about 3 days of intensive texting and light web&youtube browsing. Bad luck : every single popular smartphone OS sucks in this department. In less popular circles, Blackberry OS, bada and Symbian do provide good performance on this front, but bada does not come on a device with hardware keyboards anymore, and buying Symbian-running hardware means putting money in Nokia's CEO and shareholders pockets, which I'm not interested in.

This pretty much only leaves Blackberry OS. Or, if I can get over the battery life issue, there's also Android. Each has its set of pros and cons, which is different from what iOS and WP7 have to offer.

As you can see, liking iOS or WP7 is a matter of priorities and taste more than one of intrinsic superiority.

Edited 2012-03-18 22:41 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 9

tonny Member since:
2011-12-22

Agree. I still stick with my e63 as almost everything I need just in there. For productivity/functionality it's on par with my android, IMO. And it has qwerty keyboard. And the price is right (unlike US$ 300+ android phone with physical keyboard).

Android manufacturer just think about how to sell many-many phone. They don't/can't think about what user need.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Excellent post. I will say that the battery life on my HTC Arrive is far and away better than any Android or even BlackBerry I've owned. In fact, I'd say the last time I had a smartphone that lasted three days like this, was my trusty old Treo 650 in 2005-2008 that I should never have let go.

Of course, I'd be in phone heaven if someone out there would release a rugged or Mil-Spec phone that could dual boot WP7 and ICS, and last more than 24 hours on a charge. I know that will never happen, as Microsoft surely wants to keep other OSes off of its phones. But I'd settle for a good quality rugged phone with either OS, and the battery life of my current unit.

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Of course, I'd be in phone heaven if someone out there would release a rugged or Mil-Spec phone that could dual boot WP7 and ICS, and last more than 24 hours on a charge.


I really, really, really miss my first cell phone ever, the Panasonic TX-220. It was a ruggedised phone, all encased in nice feeling rubber, with various shock-absorbing materials inside. That thing survived a lot in the years I used it:
- fall off hip while riding mountain bike, bouncing around on pavement
- fall off second floor balcony onto pavement
- fall down 2 flights of cement stairs
- various falls onto various flooring surfaces from varying heights

Unfortunately, the only other ruggedised phone I've seen since are a Motorola flip phone. ;) I would love to have a 3.5" smartphone with a hardware keyboard, ruggedised to withstand drops onto cement, without any external/extra cases or whatnot.

Reply Parent Score: 2

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Coming next in my priorities is battery life, which should preferably be good enough to survive a week-end without a power adapter, which means about 3 days of intensive texting and light web&youtube browsing. Bad luck : every single popular smartphone OS sucks in this department.


With a little tweaking on your part, and possibly the purchase of an extended battery, you can get an Android device to last 50 hours+ of phone, SMS, e-mail, web browsing, and even light gaming. Changing the CPU governor, adding an applet to control when/how the various radios turn on, tweaking the screen brightness and auto-shutoff, etc.

My 3.7", single-core 1 GHz Xperia Pro running Android 2.3.4 gets 50 hours of usage on a regular basis. It's only when I whip out Great Little War Game for an hour or two that battery life dips into the sub-20 hour range. ;) And I use the web browser, SSH, and e-mail throughput the day.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

I take note of this ;) I've been eyeing the Pro's "Mini" cousin as a potential next phone for some time, since it seems to combine fast enough hardware, a nice price, a small and robust form factor, and reviews mentioning a battery life of one to two days which apparently is as good as it gets for a mid-range Android device. If tweaking can get me above that, it would make the thing more interesting...

Edited 2012-03-19 17:35 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

helf Member since:
2005-07-06

I beg to differ on WP7 phones. Don't talk out your ass, especially since an HTC WP7 handset = HTC Android unit. I have an HTC Arrive and it has a really REALLY nice physical keyboard and has taken a ridiculous number of falls. I beat the crap out of my phones. I had to get a new back plate due to the old one getting so bent up falling on my gravel driveway it wasn't staying in place well.

I'll agree on the iPhones. My sister has an iPhone 4 that she dropped in her office on carpeted floor and shattered the back glass.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Apologies. I didn't know about this little piece of hardware, which Morgan also mentioned earlier, but it seems indeed quite nice by my hardware standards, although a little expensive with respect to competition.

Edited 2012-03-19 18:27 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

If he don't want to get a Nokia Symbian phone because it would give Nokia money which is bad for some reason (switch to WP?) then it doesn't make much sense to get a WP phone from someone else since... obviously he dislike WP / doesn't want it / want something else.

Reply Parent Score: 2

aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

Why do you think you'd break the Lumia?

If it's too high speced for you (screen and glass?) I guess you can get something simpler. Even from Nokia to.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Why do you think you'd break the Lumia?

Maybe I wouldn't break this one, I trust Nokia to build robust hardware and that polycarbonate shell could protect the glass well enough if it keeps the phone light. The problem here lies more in the lack of physical keyboard.

Since I have first tried it out, I have kept thinking that putting today's touchscreen technology on a phone form factor is a mistake. It is expensive, needs large screens and fast hardware that both eat lots of battery, and takes lots of screen estate for the simplest things. I do believe that touchscreens have the potential to become a proper button replacement in a few years, once they all support such things as hovering ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q73bHn9xus ) and haptic feedback ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ovwSxcJdTE ). For now, it seems to me that it is a loss. Since manufacturers leave me no choice, I do have to deal with the touchy stuff in the end, but I still ask for a hardware keyboard to type on as a minimum.

And then, of course, I have issues with Nokia in particular, as discussed in more details above.

Edited 2012-03-20 07:58 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

and buying Symbian-running hardware means putting money in Nokia's CEO and shareholders pockets, which I'm not interested in.
Why not and won't you have the same problem with kinda all phones? Maybe not with a government ran Chinese one?

Because they ditched/will ditch Symbian and switch to WP?

Hard to fault the shareholders on that. The CEO I can see. Regardless they could both need the money I suppose. Nokias stock haven't had a happy ride. I doubt too many stock holders are happy but there's some morons who still think it's all brilliant.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Why not and won't you have the same problem with kinda all phones? Maybe not with a government ran Chinese one?

Because they ditched/will ditch Symbian and switch to WP?

Hard to fault the shareholders on that. The CEO I can see. Regardless they could both need the money I suppose. Nokias stock haven't had a happy ride. I doubt too many stock holders are happy but there's some morons who still think it's all brilliant.

My gripe is pretty much there. The shareholders for putting Elop where he is, and Elop for messing up with the company so badly in order to give Microsoft the dedicated OEM which they desperately wanted.

Take Nokia before Elop. They have the most diversified phone production in the industry, and manage to still produce stuff of good quality (especially from a robustness point of view. Their phones running s40, Symbian, and Maemo/Meego, can pretty cover the needs of everyone buying a phone, except if they're into capacitive touchscreens. They are in the progress of making software development for all these phones much easier by unifying them under the Qt development framework. One big issue : Symbian is stagnating. Bugs don't get fixed, the touchscreen interface takes ages to be completed, and worse the Symbian team tries to slow down the progress of other branches by messing with the internal politics of the company. Worse yet, absurd signing requirements do not help mobile software development, a growing source of revenue, to rise on the platform.

When you own the world's largest phone company and have a problem with the world's most widespread phone OS, what do you do ? Well, you swallow your pride, spend a month enumerating what exactly is wrong, try to reason the team on the high-priority nature of these fixes, kick the most annoying fellows out and hire better replacements if needed, and then you refactor the parts of the code base which have become unworkable and fix the damn thing -- while keeeping compatibility.

Many major players of the OS market have had to do something like this at some point in the lifetime of their product, where old decisions started to slow down the progress of new ideas. Symbian probably did not even require as much work as Windows or Mac OS, which were both successfully rewritten while keeping good enough compatibility in the process, because the whole kernel design did not have to be thrown away.

And what did Nokia do ? Deprecate one of their most successful OSs, running in the phone industry's most diversified range of hardware, in order to roll out a newborn OS on lots of touchscreen slabs that offer no benefit (except maybe build quality) over any other similar phone out there.

Either they were being incredibly stupid, or someone got a good paycheck from Microsoft for this. I tend to lean towards the latter hypothesis, but either way I can't financially caution that. Maybe once they have lost enough money and become yet another minor WP7 OEM they will realize how much of a bad idea this was, though it will probably be too late at this point.

Edited 2012-03-20 07:53 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

Coming next in my priorities is battery life, which should preferably be good enough to survive a week-end without a power adapter, which means about 3 days of intensive texting and light web&youtube browsing. Bad luck : every single popular smartphone OS sucks in this department. In less popular circles, Blackberry OS, bada and Symbian do provide good performance on this front, but bada does not come on a device with hardware keyboards anymore, and buying Symbian-running hardware means putting money in Nokia's CEO and shareholders pockets, which I'm not interested in.


The main culprit isn't the smartphone OS, it's the 3g/4g radios. If you want your phone to last a weekend with texting and light web browsing, disable 3g. 3G+ enabled Symbian and Blackberry phones are not immune, although Blackberry has an inherent advantage in that it doesn't need to maintain a constant data connection if you're on a BIS/BES plan.

I spent a week in Cuba and brought my Nexus One to use for calls and texting, data wasn't an option so I disabled it. Phone went 5 days before I needed to charge. When I travel up to the cottage or somewhere for the weekend with my Galaxy Nexus, I set it to 2G which is sufficient for checking emails or light data use, and the battery will last the weekend.

I agree with your general point that smartphone battery life sucks in general, and while optimizing the OS can help, there's only so much that can be done when there are multiple radio transmitters of various types drawing juice from the battery constantly at a time when everybody seems to want slimmer and sleeker phones. Disabling those radios that aren't needed can work wonders.

Reply Parent Score: 2

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

By most of your requirements, the discontinued HP Pre3 probably would have been right up your alley. That is the phone I have (bought one on eBay and used it to replace my BB).

I am quite happy with it - even knowing it is probably a dead-end as far as software goes. The one mark against it - doesn't seem very tough. I have not dropped it but I don't suspect it would survive many drops. The battery life isn't stellar, but it generally makes it through a weekend if you are mostly just using it for voice and email. It meets all your other requirements admirably though.

Edited 2012-03-22 18:32 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Really ? I had heard that battery life was one of the problems of the original Pre, have they managed to solve it in subsequent releases ?

Reply Parent Score: 1