For my work, I need to understand the Android operating system from more than just a conceptual level–I need to use it. To that end, I picked up a refurbished HTC One (M7) to use as my primary device for a while. It’s been a week now, so I thought I’d record some of my early observations.
The short story is, I don’t hate it. Coming from me, this is a glowing review. As a long time iOS user that was quite happy with the way my phone was working, I expected this to be a bad experience. But, this first week has been quite good. Not quite good enough to convince that I’ll never go back to an iPhone, but I’m certainly edging in that direction.
If you’re interested in the longer story, keep reading for some more detailed notes…
What works well
First off, I didn’t think I’d care about this, but I really like the larger screen. For me, it might even be worth the larger phone, although, I’m still not sure about that (see below).
I’ve been happy with the design and performance of the Android OS and the applications. The OS, like any, takes some getting used to, especially for someone coming from another OS, but after a week, I’m starting to settle in. All of the apps I use regularly are available on Android or have an equivalent, excepting one (see below).
Initially, I was concerned that I’d have trouble accessing some of my data, especially my contacts and calendars hosted on iCloud. But, thanks to CardDav-Sync and CalDav-Sync I can leave both my contacts and calendars where they are so they still sync with my other Apple devices.
I didn’t expect email to be a problem, which it wasn’t, but I’m not a huge fan of the Gmail or HTC Mail apps. For now, I’m using HTC’s app, and searching for mail app that I like better.
What I miss
I never thought I would miss it, but iMessage is at the top of my “most missed” list. All of the people I text frequently have iPhones, and I enjoy iMessage’s ability to send and receive from all of my Apple devices. My iMessage pals are also getting error messages when they send me a text (the texts do get delivered). Plus, I had to add messaging to my wireless plan since I would be sending many more SMS messages than I have in the recent past.
I took iTunes for granted as well. While I wouldn’t list it as one of my favorite applications, I use it to manage my music library, and it makes syncing portions of that library to devices easy. On the Android side, I’m using doubleTwist, it gets part of the job done by letting me sync certain playlists to the device. But, it doesn’t sync play counts, star ratings, skip counts and such back to iTunes, and I rely on those for many of my smart playlists. I’m still looking for a solution that can give me that level of synchronization.
Omnifocus has been my task manager of choice for many years, but it runs only on Mac and iOS. Quantus Tasks can sync with Omnifocus, but the reviews aren’t great. For now, I’m doing without tasks on my phone. Eventually, I may have to invest $10 to try out Quantus Tasks, or find another task management application that runs everywhere.
The battery life is less than stellar on this HTC One. It’s worse than my old iPhone 4S. I’ll attribute the poor battery life to the age of this device and hope that the advanced power management features promised in the upcoming L release help out a bit.
Lastly, I miss the iPhone’s hardware design. The size seems perfect for me and it fits both my pocket and hand very nicely–it just feels more comfortable. With the HTC, I also find that the power button too easy to trigger. On more than one occasion, the phone has turned off in my pocket because the button is accidentally pressed. I also miss the physical mute button, it’s much easier to flip that switch than turn the volume all the way down or dive into settings to change the sound profile.