I promised a review of the HTC EVO I got at Google IO (@googleio) last week.
When I first started tinkering with Android on the Motorola Driod prior to IO, I had no intention of switching from my iPhone. In fact, I debated even opening the Droid, since I planned to sell it after the conference.
After using the Droid, the only thing holding me back from switching was the hardware itself because Droid is a clunky mess compared to an iPhone, which explains that whole “Droid Does” campaign. Classic misdirection.
The EVO is spectacular, a beautiful device. Thank you Steve Jobs for showing other manufacturers what a phone should be.
I’m in the process of weaning myself off the iPhone. I have only a few complaints so far; they are:
- Rich (@rmanalan) and I both noticed that the wifi receiver is weak. Sitting six feet from the wifi router, the phone does not get a full signal. By contrast, my OG iPhone and laptops all have full signals at the same range.
- The glossy exterior is beautiful, but it feels slippery. It’s hard to imagine a fall would not damage the giant 4.3 inch screen.
- When laid flat, the phone rests on the camera lens, which seems like a design flaw to me. I hope they know better than I do.
The 4G coverage here in Portland is wildly spotty. I’ve taken several speed tests in various parts of town. In some places, 4G is slower than 3G; in others, I’ve clocked it as high as 2,933 kbps down, 1,002 kbps up.
I keep the 4G receiver off, since the battery does drain pretty quickly, thanks in part to multitasking.
Yesterday at Radio Shack, I had another person quiz me on where I got the EVO, since it’s not released yet. I’ve been such an iPhone bigot that I’ve missed all the excitement about Android devices.
Oddly, I don’t remember people being as gaga over my iPhone when I got it in 2007. At the time, it might have been mistaken for an iPod.
The reason I was at Radio Shack is kind of important to the story. One nice thing about Android devices is that they can be mounted as drives, since they have micro SD cards. So, you can treat the phone as a drive and add music, ringtones, any media or file with simple drag and drop.
No syncing with iTunes and waiting.
Of course, if you don’t properly unmount the micro SD, the phone tells you the card is damaged, which is a bit of a scary moment because the only option offered is reformat. Turns out that’s not the end of the world, depending on how much data you have on the card, but still, it’s scary.
Thanks to Rich, who hit this problem already, I was able to mount and unmount the “damaged” card properly using a USB micro SD card reader, which I procured at Radio Shack.
Yes, we all know that tech begets more tech.
This little gadget is extremely useful for bumping up your device’s storage too. The Droids we got have 16 GB SD cards, whereas the EVO is only 8 GB, so again, thanks to Rich, my EVO now has 16 GB of storage.
I mounted the EVO’s card, copied its contents to my Mac, mounted the Droid’s card, erased it via Disk Utility, copied the EVO’s data onto it, and put the 16 GB card into the EVO.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Examining the contents of the micro SD card, it appears to house all the media (music, pictures, videos) and application cache data for the phone. I’m sure more goes on there, but I haven’t been using the phone very long.
Related to all this micro SD card business is the fact that iPhone hides all this from you. When you buy one, it’s a complete package, just plug into iTunes and go, no assembly required.
Not so with an Android phone. You’ll have to put the battery in, which was a bit of an adventure for me on both the Droid and EVO, and at some point, you might need to remove the micro SD card. So, some assembly required.
Just an observation.
I went through all the apps I have on my iPhone and tried to find the same app (or a similar one) on the Android Market. This is a big test. For the most part, I found every app I wanted, except for games.
It seems pretty clear that app producers are building for Android, which is great. I’m not sure the selection of games, which are highly dependent on the hardware, will ever be on par with the iPhone OS.
A game that runs well on the EVO might be awful on an older device like the HTC Hero. This is unfortunate, but who knows.
Oddly, the weather app that comes with Android is a fail. Its city database is woefully sparse, e.g. Hilo, HI is not in there. I also didn’t find an official Flickr app, which seems odd, although it did take them years to produce an iPhone app.
I’m really missing 1password on the EVO. I thought 1password Anywhere would work, but Android’s browser chokes on it. My guess is this will happen soon, as I’m sure they’re getting more requests for an Android version.
One cool thing is that apps you download stay on the phone, even if you don’t put a shortcut on the screen. This is useful for apps you don’t use very often and obviously different from the iPhone’s implementation of apps.
As I move music on to the EVO, I’ve discovered that Android won’t play music with DRM on it. Not sure why, probably a shot a iTunes or a “don’t be evil” thing. This came up in one of the keynotes too when they demonstrated streaming music from iTunes over the air.
The good news is that Amazon sells music with no DRM, and in most cases, they charge less than iTunes. Not by accident, Android comes with an Amazon MP3 Store app.
I’ve been buying from Amazon since they debuted the store, so luckily, I don’t have a ton of DRM-laced music.
So, now I’m completely converted to Android. I’m forwarding my calls, and I’ll be porting my number soon. I wish I could forward texts. Anyone know if that’s possible?
So, that’s it. Kind of rambling.
For a giggle, here are all three devices, OG iPhone, Droid, EVO, for comparison.
Interesting spec comparison:
- OG iPhone: 2 mp camera, 135 g, 3.5″ screen, 320/480 resolution
- Motorola Droid: 5 mp camera, 169 g, 3.7″ screen, 480/854 resolution
- HTC EVO: 8 mp camera, 170 g, 4.3″ screen, 480/800 resolution
As usual, find the comments.
Update: When I went to Camera, I got an insufficient privileges error on the micro SD card. When I copied over the files from the 8 GB card to my Mac and then to the 16 GB card, I remember having some permission issues with the DCIM directory, which is where Android stores pictures and movies.
I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but it turns out to have mattered. No worries though. I just mounted the card and used Terminal to empty the directory, since I didn’t have any media.
I suppose if you have this issue and want to save the media, that examining the permissions on any files and nested directories would help you understand what’s wrong. Further, I assume a chmod would fix it right up, since they’re just files. Anyway, just FYI.