Android Smartphone

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Android Smartphone

Postby Dthen » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:15 am UTC

Hello, I'm turning 16 in a couple of days and my parents have said they will purchase me a new phone for my birthday.
Unfortunately, I don't know much about phones, but you people seem to know everything, so I thought I might as well ask here for recommendations.

I'd quite like something running Android and most definitely do not want an iPhone, but I don't know much more than that.
Er, I'm currently on Vodafone, if that makes any difference to anything (as I said, I don't know much about phones) and I would be willing to change numbers is necessary.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby archeleus » Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:01 am UTC

Well, I prefer iPhones but the latest Android phone that I've seen with a friend that has smooth graphics is the Samsung Galaxy (I THINK). Another friend says the new HTC Evo 4 is quite good too. If you're willing to change numbers then carriers won't be a problem.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby dukederek » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:07 am UTC

archeleus wrote:If you're willing to change numbers then carriers won't be a problem.


It will only be a problem for the two or so days it actually takes to change a phone number between two networks. I did it recently and it was trivial and painless.

My only advice re: Android Phones is look at the manufacturer's track record in providing timely (if at all!) updates to the firmware. I have a Milestone and I'm still waiting on 2.2. I hear HTC are pretty snappy with their updates.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Dthen » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:09 am UTC

I've been looking at HTC and they also seem to make the nicest handsets.

Can anyone recommend a particular handset to me?
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Solt » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:55 am UTC

Dthen wrote:I've been looking at HTC and they also seem to make the nicest handsets.

Can anyone recommend a particular handset to me?


Unfortunately I don't know about UK models, and probably not many here do. Basically just decide if you want physical keyboard or not, then choose the most recently released model of your type. That way you are almost assured of getting the best specs.

In general, I think you will get a better quality display (in every measure) with Motorola over HTC. HTC has a more refined user interface, and does a better job of packaging. I'm not too familiar with the Samsung phones, though in terms of features they are very competitive with the other android manufacturers.


Honestly though, if you have the option to get an iPhone 4 and don't, you're an idiot. It's the best in class smartphone, period. And I say this as a happy Android user. I have a Droid running 2.2 and I think it's awesome. Where does my claim come from?

1) Display. No other phone on the market matches the resolution of the iPhone 4 display. I've checked. And the thing is absolutely beautiful.

2) Camera. I compared the 5MP camera of my droid side by side to the 5 MP camera of the iPhone 4. I was blown away by the difference. The iPhone camera is seriously good quality, while the droid camera was probably shat out by a cow in China. This build quality difference is something you can rely on throughout the phone: the iPhone 4 probably has the highest quality camera and camera firmware in the market while Android phones probably have the cheapest 5 or 8 MP camera they could buy with the minimum firmware to make it work. The lack of touch-to-focus on the Droid is another example of this.

3) Itunes store. I know it's not the first thing you might think about, but there is no real equivalent to the iTunes store on Android. There's the Amazon MP3 store pre-loaded to download MP3s, but that's it. Nowhere to get movies, tv shows, or random podcasts. No where to get books (well, there is... through Amazon Kindle, a different application). If you want university lectures on an Apple device, you can probably get it from iTunes. If you want it on your Android device? Better hope they offer it as a free download on their website in a format that works on your phone.

Just a few things I've noticed. In practically every other department the iPhone is at least even with anything else on the market. I don't own, nor do I know anyone that owns an iPhone, so these are things I've noticed with minimal contact. If I spent more time with one I'm sure I'd find more unquantifiable differences, and I'm sure the iPhone would win every time. The iPhone is still the gold standard and I'm disappointed that no one has stepped up to try to match it. Buy an iPhone.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Zamfir » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:11 pm UTC

Solt wrote:Honestly though, if you have the option to get an iPhone 4 and don't, you're an idiot.

Hmm, don't know about that one. It's a nice machine, perhaps better than any other out there at the moment. But it is better because it costs a few hundred more than any other set too, and one way or another you will be paying for that.
In phone-land, it can sometimes be quite hard to see where exactly you are paying. But if you are in a position where you would be paying the same for a new iPhone as for some other handset, it means you are getting screwed on the other set, and that you should research your options better.

On Android phones: I've got an HTC Desire (which I think is for sale in the UK too), basically HTC's own-brand version of the Google Nexus. HTC makes and designs a lot of phones for others too, so if you buy a Sony for example you probably get something made by HTC too.

I am pretty happy with it. Screen is excellent, touch response too, processor is fast enough to make everything smooth all the time, HTC's modified Android is pretty accesible and at least for the Desire they upgrade it pretty fast after stock Android has been upgraded.

Build quality is not top of the line, comparable to the previous iPhone (the iPhone 4 seems better). It doesn't break or something, but I had a business-line Nokia before this and it is not in the same league. Camera is not a strong point I think, but I care too little about that to be sure. There is an optical trackpoint which doesn't work too great IMO, but I use the touch screen mostly so it doesn't really bother me.

When I bought it earlier this year it was clearly the best phone to be had. But it is not perfect, and some newer phones might be better. Resolution could be somewhat better, but I think Android is currently limited to this 800x480. That's a plus for the new iPhone.

One extra thing to watch: see how much you like a physical keyboard. It adds some bulk and weight, which I cared more about, but some people like it a lot more than a touch-screen keyboard. Size too is personal issue. I might personally prefer something with an even bigger screen, but only if that could be done at the same weight and volume (so thinner). But if your hands are smaller than mine, this is about as big as you can get while you can still comfortably hold it to your ear.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby enk » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:30 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:One extra thing to watch: see how much you like a physical keyboard. It adds some bulk and weight, which I cared more about, but some people like it a lot more than a touch-screen keyboard.


I pre-ordered a Desire Z. It's going to weigh 180 g which is a lot compared to the original Desire (135 g), but amazingly the thing is only going to be 2.3 mm (0.09") thicker. And it's beautiful:

Spoiler:
ImageImage


I've never had a smartphone before, so I'm really looking forward to getting it. My friend from uni also ordered a Desire HD (an update of the US-only (I think) EVO 4G). The two other guys in my work group at uni have the Google Nexus One and the original Desire.

The iPhone is nice buuut...... Android ftw! :P
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Solt » Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:13 am UTC

enk wrote:I've never had a smartphone before, so I'm really looking forward to getting it.


I have yet to hear someone say anything bad about their first smartphone. Smartphones are awesome, period.

Zamfir wrote:But it is better because it costs a few hundred more than any other set too, and one way or another you will be paying for that.


True. When I posed my situation I was assuming the cost difference would not be an issue. There are some ridiculous things about the iPhone, for example it has no SD card slot and so adding 8 GB of memory costs you $100 instead of $20 like it would with an Android phone which is retarded. But still, trade offs exist everywhere.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Zamfir » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:19 pm UTC

Solt wrote:
enk wrote:I've never had a smartphone before, so I'm really looking forward to getting it.


I have yet to hear someone say anything bad about their first smartphone. Smartphones are awesome, period.

Which is why I am a bit skeptical about too-expensive phones. Once you have a smooth and pleasant browser and navigation, more advanced features are more luxury than real game-changers. Most useful features, like email, an agenda, a music player, simple apps or games, do not require more than a browser does in terms of speed, screen or input methods.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Dthen » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

Okay, so I'm somewhat torn between the Desire and the Desire Z.
I realise the Desire Z isn't available yet, but I can be patient when I want to be.

The Desire Z appears to have a slide out keyboard (which is something I don't really care about too much either way), marginally less ram, an 800 mhz processor and is running Android 2.2.
The Desire appears to not have a slide out keyboard, marginally more ram, a 1ghz processor and is running Android 2.1.

Which should I get?
Oh, feel free to suggest something completely different if you think I'm making an awful choice.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Zamfir » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:40 pm UTC

Dthen wrote:Okay, so I'm somewhat torn between the Desire and the Desire Z.
I realise the Desire Z isn't available yet, but I can be patient when I want to be.

The Desire Z appears to have a slide out keyboard (which is something I don't really care about too much either way), marginally less ram, an 800 mhz processor and is running Android 2.2.
The Desire appears to not have a slide out keyboard, marginally more ram, a 1ghz processor and is running Android 2.1.

Which should I get?
Oh, feel free to suggest something completely different if you think I'm making an awful choice.

My Desire had an upgrade to 2.2 months ago. This.might depend othe carrier, but HTC has the upgrade finished. It does indeed.not have the slide keyboard.

Go to a shop to have try them in your hands. Especially for the keyboard. Also, don't look at the 800 mhz number, if it's a different processor and gpu it just as well be faster, and speed is not that important. Go to a shop and see if it is in anything way noticeable slower.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Dthen » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:24 pm UTC

Okay, I think I'll do that, thanks.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby dukederek » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:16 am UTC

Note regarding physical keyboards: I bought a Milestone (UK version of Droid) because, having played with friends' smartphones for a fair while, I just couldn't get to grips with the on screen keyboards.

Unfortunately, and herein lies the rub, about two months later, Swype and various others (Shapewriter etc) came along and made the physical keyboard largely useless since I can get acceptable accuracy and a higher word rate off Swype. All I use the physical keyboard for now is playing Angband.

And regarding screen quality, I can only speak for what I've seen but I am now fairly acquainted with the Milestone, Galaxy S and Desire and I'm not convinced that comment regarding Motorola screens holds much I have to say...

I'm also withholding comment regarding Android vs Apple. Let's not make this thread one of THOSE threads

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby enk » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:23 am UTC

dukederek wrote:Swype and various others (Shapewriter etc) came along and made the physical keyboard largely useless since I can get acceptable accuracy and a higher word rate off Swype. All I use the physical keyboard for now is playing Angband.


But the physical keyboard doesn't take up screen real estate.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Solt » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:49 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Which is why I am a bit skeptical about too-expensive phones.


Are you under the impression that the iPhone is an "expensive phone" for some reason? Not counting when carriers start discounting phones to get them to move, the base model iPhone costs the same as any other smartphone after subsidy and the same as what I paid for my Droid: $200.

dukederek wrote:And regarding screen quality, I can only speak for what I've seen but I am now fairly acquainted with the Milestone, Galaxy S and Desire and I'm not convinced that comment regarding Motorola screens holds much I have to say...


The Droid (Milestone) and its Motorola offspring are still the highest resolution Android smartphone screens available. There was also a row about the Nexus One's AMOLED screen and how it didn't have as many green pixels as it did red and blue, making it inferior resolution wise. I don't know if that's still the case with AMOLED screens.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby dukederek » Thu Oct 07, 2010 8:27 am UTC

Solt wrote:
dukederek wrote:And regarding screen quality, I can only speak for what I've seen but I am now fairly acquainted with the Milestone, Galaxy S and Desire and I'm not convinced that comment regarding Motorola screens holds much I have to say...


The Droid (Milestone) and its Motorola offspring are still the highest resolution Android smartphone screens available. There was also a row about the Nexus One's AMOLED screen and how it didn't have as many green pixels as it did red and blue, making it inferior resolution wise. I don't know if that's still the case with AMOLED screens.


Wow, I didn't realise that! (and I'm not sure on the real-world effect of this either...) Though I'm still recommending against Motorola phones though, what with their policy of locking the bootloader (except on the Droid*) so that you can't flash custom ROMs, which may not be an issue initally for the OP but it means that when Moto stop supporting the phone the community can't step in and keep releasing new Android versions.

*here is where Droid != Milestone, the Milestone bootloader is locked

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby savanik » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:28 pm UTC

I use ssh a lot from my droid, so a physical keyboard is a must. Even Swype handles things like, 'grep -i "auth" /var/log/syslog.log | grep -v "sava" | less' very poorly. The G1 is still... decent... if a bit pokey after rooted with the 2.2 update. I'm almost wishing I stuck with 1.6. Almost.

I got a friend of mine the new Sprint Echo 4G, which is semi-pricey, but is so, sooo, SOOO much nicer than mine I want to weep, and still has a physical keyboard. (He shares a similar use profile.) The layout is different, though (no trackball!!!) so not all apps run well on it.

Another thing to contemplate - in the near-term future (next year, I'm guessing) updates for the Android will give it HID profile support. Once that happens, we can use a wide variety of mini-to-full-size Bluetooth Keyboards.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby mosc » Fri Oct 15, 2010 4:23 pm UTC

Solt wrote:
Zamfir wrote:Which is why I am a bit skeptical about too-expensive phones.


Are you under the impression that the iPhone is an "expensive phone" for some reason? Not counting when carriers start discounting phones to get them to move, the base model iPhone costs the same as any other smartphone after subsidy and the same as what I paid for my Droid: $200.

dukederek wrote:And regarding screen quality, I can only speak for what I've seen but I am now fairly acquainted with the Milestone, Galaxy S and Desire and I'm not convinced that comment regarding Motorola screens holds much I have to say...


The Droid (Milestone) and its Motorola offspring are still the highest resolution Android smartphone screens available. There was also a row about the Nexus One's AMOLED screen and how it didn't have as many green pixels as it did red and blue, making it inferior resolution wise. I don't know if that's still the case with AMOLED screens.


Memory card. Memory fucking card. You honestly think features like "more resolution than the human eye could possibly care about on a 3" tall screen" or "itunes integration" make up for the most basic capability of a smartphone standardized more than a decade ago, you go right ahead and call the rest of us idiots...

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Solt » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:17 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Memory card. Memory fucking card. You honestly think features like "more resolution than the human eye could possibly care about on a 3" tall screen" or "itunes integration" make up for the most basic capability of a smartphone standardized more than a decade ago, you go right ahead and call the rest of us idiots...

thanks



It's not "more resolution than the human eye could possibly care about". It actually looks better. Forget about the human eye crap. Higher resolution = prettier. It looks like Android up to version 2.2 is actually limited in screen resolution by software to what the Droid has. Here's to hoping the updates in Gingerbread (out next week!) allow manufacturers to include nicer screens that beat the iPhone. Still, if I was an iPhone devotee I could have had a nice screen months ago instead of still wondering if a nicer screen will even come out :(.

And I didn't say "itunes integration" but the actual presence of the itunes store. It's a cool place to get media and Android doesn't have anything that competes with it directly.

Honestly I haven't really filled up my memory card, not even half way. The fact that you can use Android phones as a USB drive is actually a pretty big plus, which I imagine is part of the reason the bigger storage space is actually useful. That and the fact that iPhone uses that stupid non-standard connector are actually turn-offs. But it's pretty annoying that no one is stepping up to provide the same quality of hardware that the iPhone has.


Something else I've been worrying about recently is fragmentation of the Android OS, which apparently makes it more of a pain to develop for (not harder, just more of a pain). iOS and WinPhone7 won't have this problem since neither of those companies believe in open source. It'll be interesting to see which model wins out although the results could prove disastrous for Android devotees.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby flamewise » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

I used an MP3 player basically for two things: Listening to music, and transferring files via its USB hard disk.

Now, technically, there's ways to get your iPhone to act as an external hard disk: But they all make you jump through loops Because Of Apple.

They could allow it, but they deliberately don't.

That angers me. The whole "Apple is Magic" thing angers me. No you don't need a Blu-Ray player in your computer. Buy movies through iTunes instead!

I don't doubt this is where content is actually going, but I'm going there last, and I'm voting against it with my money in spite of craving their quality.

Hence, HTC Desire. Connect to PC via standard USB cable, select "Use as hard disk", copy 4GB of Micro SD to a backup volume, replace 4GB with 16GB, reverse copy, done. Putting music on it is just the same simple file copy.

If you still want to go Apple, do me a favor and root it.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby RAKtheUndead » Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:51 am UTC

Solt wrote:Honestly though, if you have the option to get an iPhone 4 and don't, you're an idiot. It's the best in class smartphone, period. And I say this as a happy Android user. I have a Droid running 2.2 and I think it's awesome. Where does my claim come from?

[...]

Just a few things I've noticed. In practically every other department the iPhone is at least even with anything else on the market. I don't own, nor do I know anyone that owns an iPhone, so these are things I've noticed with minimal contact. If I spent more time with one I'm sure I'd find more unquantifiable differences, and I'm sure the iPhone would win every time. The iPhone is still the gold standard and I'm disappointed that no one has stepped up to try to match it. Buy an iPhone.


That's a bit harsh - and a dubious sentiment to be taking. Yes, the display on the iPhone 4 is worthy of praise, but that's where I believe its superiority starts and finishes. There are my personal pet peeves - the battery can't be quick-swapped, no support for microSD cards (this isn't about extra capacity - it's about not having to connect your phone to a computer every time you want to transfer files, and the inability to transfer files between phones), no hardware keyboard - and then some of the more questionable decisions of Apple - incomplete multitasking support without jailbreaking, no Flash support (yes, Flash is a pile of donkey droppings, but not including support out of the box is an arrogant decision, as far as I'm concerned), having to go through iTunes in order to do anything (I strongly dislike iTunes; it's frustratingly slow), et cetera, et cetera.

Solt wrote:3) Itunes store. I know it's not the first thing you might think about, but there is no real equivalent to the iTunes store on Android. There's the Amazon MP3 store pre-loaded to download MP3s, but that's it. Nowhere to get movies, tv shows, or random podcasts. No where to get books (well, there is... through Amazon Kindle, a different application). If you want university lectures on an Apple device, you can probably get it from iTunes. If you want it on your Android device? Better hope they offer it as a free download on their website in a format that works on your phone.


What sort of university do you go to that doesn't offer lecture notes in a format that doesn't work on your phone? My written lecture notes are going to be in .ppt/.pdf, both of which work on both my phone and my three-year-old Palm T|X PDA. If your lecturers are submitting your lecture notes in another format, talk to them about it! You shouldn't need an expensive smartphone with a bodged OS to read your lectures!

Solt wrote:2) Camera. I compared the 5MP camera of my droid side by side to the 5 MP camera of the iPhone 4. I was blown away by the difference. The iPhone camera is seriously good quality, while the droid camera was probably shat out by a cow in China. This build quality difference is something you can rely on throughout the phone: the iPhone 4 probably has the highest quality camera and camera firmware in the market while Android phones probably have the cheapest 5 or 8 MP camera they could buy with the minimum firmware to make it work. The lack of touch-to-focus on the Droid is another example of this.


So, all of those Symbian phones with Carl Zeiss lenses don't enter the equation? The Samsung Pixon12, the Nokia Nseries, et cetera? I'm pretty sure that they'd kick the iPhone to the curb in a straight-up camera test. Just because the iPhone 4 might have one of the higher-specification cameras in its end of the market doesn't mean for a second that it's got the best camera in the smartphone market by any means. Anyway, with cheap-but-superior quality compact cameras on the market, if you're getting a smartphone specifically for its camera, you're probably being foolish.

I'm just going to link this side-by-side review as well, not necessarily endorsing all of the content: http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_i9000_g ... ew-500.php
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:05 am UTC

Re lectures: He's talking about the *actual lecture* not the notes. iTunes offers full video and audio lectures, which may or may not be available elsewhere, and if they're not, they may not be easy to play on anything but an Apple product.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Zamfir » Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:09 am UTC

Endless Mike wrote:Re lectures: He's talking about the *actual lecture* not the notes. iTunes offers full video and audio lectures, which may or may not be available elsewhere, and if they're not, they may not be easy to play on anything but an Apple product.

Making lectures available in an apple-only format would be really strange. Like having a Lexus-only car park.

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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Emu* » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:23 pm UTC

I have a Samsung Galaxy S. It's very nice and shiny but the lack of OTA OS updates is a pain in the arse.

Get a second hand Nexus One or a HTC Desire. That way you can run whatever version of Android you like on it without messing about too much.

TCO of iPhone vs Android handsets is higher when you try and match the iphone and non-iphone contracts based on tasktime, sms and data allowances.
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Re: Android Smartphone

Postby Hawknc » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:40 pm UTC

It's a one-click process to root the Galaxy S (but I don't plan on doing so on mine, at least not until I get bored). The Desire HD is out, though, if you're after something especially awesome. I probably would've picked that over the Galaxy S if it were available on my carrier.


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