This has been upgrade weekend in the SkerP household. The wife's turn this time, and she is now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy Ace, featuring the all-singing, all-dancing Android operating system (OS). But more on that later.
HTC S740 / Windows Mobile 6
My first foray into the smart mobile space was the aforementioned HTC. Wow! 3G was a pleasure compared with the EDGE connectivity and WAP on my previous Nokia. Also, all those apps available natively.
However the cracks soon began to appear, literally (a shattered screen within a month) and figuratively. Unless one closed every app explicitly, the OS would slow to a crawl. The final straw was the OS starting random apps every time I closed an app.
To tide me over to my next upgrade, I bought a WAP-only-enabled Samsung, and stuffed the HTC back in its box, where it currently resides (as far as I know, my desire to check on it is nil).
Blackberry Curve 8520 / BBOS 5
The wife's next upgrade, in the emerging Blackberry craze, was the 8520. Another wow! phone. So much so that I followed suit, paying cash for the same device. Blackberry's cachet has always been mobile email, and indeed, this feature worked very well. With a competent browser (given the era, mind you), media player and excellent call quality, I was RIM's biggest fan.
It took almost the full contract term for the Blackberry to show its age, but show it, it did. The hardware, specifically the keyboard and tracker thingie started playing up, EDGE in an HSxPA world was a glaring shortcoming, and there was RIM's much-publicised and unapologised BIS/BES infrastructure fall-over.
Samsung Galaxy Ace / Android v2.3
I have always been a fan of the open-source concept which allows developers to take the best bits of software, and reject those they dislike.
So, with the wife's upgrade due, we essentially had a choice between two (more powerful) Blackberrys and the Ace. Given the parlous state of RIM, the issues we had with the Curve, and the fact that BIS is no longer 'free internet', since Vodacom throttles users who by their definition, abuse the system and download too much, I was leaning towards the Ace. The Android Market, with 100,000+ apps, versus the five titles available in BB AppWorld, was a definite consideration too.
To my surprise, my wife chose the Samsung.
The first irritation was having to create a Google account, in order to access the Android Market (and to do so much more, it turns out). But that's really minor, and it's done.
The second irritation is that the phone is complicated. Beyond belief, and beyond any rational need. It's been 48 hours, and it's still not fully set up / customised. The interface itself is clunky, and basic functions (like autocorrect and automatic capitalisation) are not active natively.
The clincher is the Wifi. We have ADSL and Wifi at home, and the phone sees and remembers the connection. However if the phone loses coverage and reverts back to mobile data (3G/HSxPA), and returns to Wifi range, it doesn't connect automatically. It reports signal strength to be excellent, and a moment later, when instructed to connect manually, says 'out of range'. Why? The only solution is to reboot the router! Now you would be forgiven for thinking the router was at fault, but consider there are four devices that regularly (daily) connect with the Wifi seamlessly, and another three that do so when so enabled (Kindles), the fault is not with the router. Vodacom's solution is to add additional data bundles! Pardon? When I have a 5,000 litre 'fuel' tank at home, each litre costing 4c, why must I pay R149 for extra deliveries of 500 litres each?
This all beggars belief, and my hatred for Android currently knows no bounds. I have tried to sign up for a Samsung Account, with which, apparently, I can upgrade the OS to 2.3.6 in an attempt to resolve the problem. When we try to put in a password for said new account, it tells us it is invalid!
My conclusion is that Android is one giant high school science project. It works as a mobile telephone, in a fashion, but is as elegant as a bulldog lapping up porridge when it comes to being 'smart'. It is actually collossally thick.
Forgive the anachronism, but we must now go back 16 months...
Apple iPhone 4 / iOS 4.x
My last upgrade, I made enquiries about the iPhone 4, at my local vendor (after my company SP asked me to pay in R6k for the handsetm bwahahahaha!), but was told there was no stock. A month later, I was staring down the barrel of getting another Blackberry, the retailer received their allocation of Apple handsets, and some sharp cookie remembered my interest, and contacted me with the news that a customer who was to receive their 4, had reneged, and it was mine if I wanted it.
Two hours later, back at home, I marvelled at the packaging and the device itself. 45 minutes later, it was fully set up with two email addresses (ISP and Gmail), Wifi (with which it connects without prompting, ever!), messaging and mobile data. The longest process was to synch my contacts and music from iTunes on my Mac to the phone.
What can I say, I love this phone. It is not without its foibles, but these are minor and generally easily forgiven, if one thinks fondly of all the good times. It is the elegant and simple Beef Wellington, to the Android potjiekos-gemors, and the BBOS cheese sandwich.
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