iPhone versus Android (HTC Hero edition)

htc_heroAfter MAX I went backpacking and fell in a river with my iPhone in my pocket. The iPhone is not a fan of water so it was totally dead. I have to get a new one through the Adobe system but this week everyone at Adobe has been on vacation so I wasn’t going to be able to pick up a replacement. That left me with the HTC Hero that I’ve got for demoing Flash mobile content. I swapped the sim card and I’ve been using it all vacation. I hadn’t used any phone but the iPhone for a prolonged period of time in a while so I figured I’d write up my thoughts on the iPhone versus Android now that I’ve actually had to learn the Android quirks.

Overall User Experience

I really, really want Android to succeed. But the iPhone is still the king when it comes to user experience. I find the HTC Hero with Android to be much, much less snappy than the iPhone. When I click something on the iPhone, I get an immediate reaction. On the HTC Hero, there’s a noticeable delay which becomes very annoying. However I like the UI for the Hero a lot better. Android has a nice, polished UI that is mostly intuitive and a bit more interesting than the iPhone’s boring button UI. The responsiveness is what got me though. On a faster phone, I could see Android being king here, but right now: Winner: iPhone

Battery Life

I found the battery life between the iPhone and the HTC Hero to be pretty equal, they both last me less than a day with heavy use. But one thing that I found extremely annoying is that the HTC Hero takes forever to charge via USB while the charging the iPhone over USB works really well. As a result: Winner: iPhone

Software

I love the Android software. I know Apple has the “There’s an App for That” crap, but out of the box, Android rules. Being able to install applications with a barcode scan is also really slick. I found the Android software to be more full featured, have many more hooks into the social networking services I’m a junkie for, and generally just more fun to use. If it wasn’t for the sluggishness, it would be perfect. The exception to this is the mapping. It’s abysmal. No gesture support for zooming, you can’t click on markers and interact with them in the same way you do on the iPhone. It’s just terrible to use. But In general, even with that and all of Apple’s apps, Winner: Android/HTC Hero

Typing

I type a lot on my mobile devices because I use them pretty heavily for email. I found it took a while to get used to the Hero’s keyboard. I like the fact that Android offers you a set of words based on what you’ve typed so you can auto-correct. That feature also makes it easy to add things to the dictionary because you can just click the word you typed and it will be added (no more ’shot’ and ‘duck’). But even with that enhancement the iPhone’s keyboard is just better at detecting which letter I want to type next. Maybe I just need to spend more time with the Hero, but Winner: iPhone

Annoying Things About Android/HTC Hero

No sensor that detects when the phone isn’t near your face any more. This is just a limitation of the phone but it is annoying as hell. I also think the phone is too “buttony”. While I like the rollerball, it seems like any time I want to do something I have to click a button. With the iPhone they did a great job of making it as gesture-based as possible. The browser is a good example. On the iPhone, to type a URL, just move to the top of the page, and type it. With Android, you have to push the “menu” button. Takes some getting used to and the iPhone feels more natural.

Annoying Things About the iPhone

No Flash Player for one :) . But I also loved the GPS indicators on the Android. The little stauts icon at the top tells you whether you actually have GPS signal, and the camera lets you know when you’re locked on so it can geotag your photos accordingly. I really wish the iPhone had that.

Summary

In the end, the iPhone is just too damn good. I have high hopes for the Droid, but I’m on AT&T so I won’t be seeing it any time soon. But if the new processor is as good as people say it is, then hopefully we’ll get a snappy Android phone on AT&T soon. When that happens, I’ll ditch the iPhone in a heartbeat.

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