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Concerns about switching from iOS to Android?
May 13, 2011 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Thinking of switching to Android (HTC Desire Z) from iPhone 3GS. Lots of questions inside...

So, I played a bit with an HTC Desire Z when I was in LA and I liked it. I preferred the keyboard, liked the screen, and the heft of the machine. While I was there, I also had some problems with my iPhone (mostly, the GPS was a block or so off constantly).

Since I'm a Mac person and that was my first experience with a non-iOS smartphone, I have tons of concerns/questions:

I mostly use these features of my iPhone and wondering what the equiv is on Android / this HTC:

- the phone, using the headphone/mic while iPhone is in my bag. I use voice control a lot.

- the iPod... one concern is how easy is it to move my audio files to/from the HTC. I read something on a site that said I can't send files to the machine from my desktop--I can only get audio on it by downloading or streaming. That seems ridiculous. True?

- if the phone can be used as a music player, can I control functions with the headphones/mic? And what if you're listening to music and the phone rings? Work similar to iPhone?

- apps made specifically for Toronto (say, that tell me when the streetcar is coming or highlight places in the city worth checking out). Where are the Android apps acquired and how are they acquired so that I can check out what's available?

- the person showing me the HTC did some neat things with voice control: "Send text to Sue: Hi, I'll be there soon" and the machine composed and sent the text. Is this native or do I have to buy an app?

- I didn't really understand the storage system on the HTC. It uses sd cards or something? Is there a limit to the size card I can use? Further, where do my address book and such stay? On the phone or an SD card?

- What about synching with a Mac in general? Contacts, calendars, etc? (I had a horrible experience with a Blackberry that deleted my contacts from my Mac--don't want to go through that again).

- there seems to be some confusion as to whether it's 3G or Edge. Or does that depend on the carrier?

Also, in general what are some issues that might pop up for someone switching from the iPhone to an Android device or this HTC in particular?
posted by dobbs to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm looking forward to all these answers as well, I'm thinking of switching, though to a Samsung Galaxy S II that seems like a better phone, did you look at that one too?
posted by Blake at 10:57 AM on May 13, 2011


Blake, no, I didn't try any other phones, which is probably a mistake. The Desire Z was recommended by someone I trust and what I liked best about it was the keyboard. I also really liked that using the maps doesn't download data as I use the maps when I travel, when downloading is most expensive. Here's the official video.

What I find weird about the video is that music isn't mentioned at all. Maybe it's not an mp3 player at all?
posted by dobbs at 11:05 AM on May 13, 2011


I made this exact switch and very much wish I hadn't. First, no the TTC app options for Android suck.

Second, the keyboard somehow doesn't work quite the same way/as well. I can't put my finger on why, but I make *a lot* more typos on the HTC Desire. I've had the phoen for months and this hasn't changed. The auto-correct, which could in theory compensate for my typos, doesn't work as well either. It guesses wrong much more frequently than the iphone did. Also, he iphone which can autocorrect onethung one thing into multiple words, figuring out where you missed a space of where you inserte da in the wrong spot. The android just assumes if there's no space, then it's one word and will try to find a one word autocorrect even with multiple words is obvious to a human/iphone.

I do not use the built in hardware keyboard.

There's a 16 gig microSD card in the phone. Most storage goes onto there. Right now I have it full of music, which means i can't upgrade the OS because there's no room. This is annoying. You can upgrade to a 32g card. THese cards go inside behind the batter where the SIM card goes, so you can't switch them in and out from one minute to the next like you might with a camera card.

My little indicator light sometimes says 3G and sometimes says "H" which the manual means it's on some system faster than 3G. I'm with Bell.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:07 AM on May 13, 2011


It definitely does play music. The battery life sucks. Seriously, it often doesn't make it through the day after an overnight charge. The google integration works well, if you use gmail and google calanders. The contact linking is nice-ish, though it's kind of annoying when it puts every single person you've ever emailed, and all your facebook friends in your phonebook.

There are many many many fewer app options for the android. Lots of things I could do on my iphone that I can't do or do as well on the android.

Just in general, it's hard to point at specifically what it is, but (and I'm not Apple groupie), the iphone just WORKS better. It's less annoying. More intuitive. Does more stuff. And lasts longer. Hell how many gigs is your iphone? Cause it's it's 32G I'll trade you for my desire Z, if you like.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2011


I'll answer what I can and ignore what I can't. I have a bunch of experience with Android, but none with the Desire Z, so I'm mostly skipping the hardware questions.

- the phone, using the headphone/mic while iPhone is in my bag. I use voice control a lot.
Whether wired headphones or bluetooth, you should have no problems here.

- the iPod... one concern is how easy is it to move my audio files to/from the HTC. I read something on a site that said I can't send files to the machine from my desktop--I can only get audio on it by downloading or streaming. That seems ridiculous. True?
Untrue. You can mount your computer through USB and copy anything you wish over. There are also more iTunes like solutions like DoubleTwist.

- if the phone can be used as a music player, can I control functions with the headphones/mic? And what if you're listening to music and the phone rings? Work similar to iPhone?

Yes and Yes.

- apps made specifically for Toronto (say, that tell me when the streetcar is coming or highlight places in the city worth checking out). Where are the Android apps acquired and how are they acquired so that I can check out what's available?
You can browse all officially available Android Apps here. They are acquired by accessing the market on your phone, or by selecting them from that website and sending them to your phone.

- I didn't really understand the storage system on the HTC. It uses sd cards or something? Is there a limit to the size card I can use? Further, where do my address book and such stay? On the phone or an SD card?
Storage options answered by previous poster. In terms of where stuff is stored: Anything you download, any photos you take, any music you listen to goes to the SD card. Text messages are (in general) stored in the internal memory but can be exported/imported as needed. Your address book, contacts, email, calendar, and a slew of other things all live in the Cloud. You'll essentially be creating a Google Account with all of this stuff. If you already have a Gmail account, all contacts there will be automatically pulled in, and anything you do on your phone will sync to that, so if that's not what you're looking for, you'll want a fresh google account for your phone.

- What about synching with a Mac in general? Contacts, calendars, etc? (I had a horrible experience with a Blackberry that deleted my contacts from my Mac--don't want to go through that again).
Related to the above: There are ways of syncing with pretty much anything, but you'll get the most out of your Android device if Google stuff becomes your primary Calendar/Address Book/etc.

- there seems to be some confusion as to whether it's 3G or Edge. Or does that depend on the carrier?
Carrier-dependent, but it is definitely 3G capable.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2011


DISCLAIMER: I don't have an Android phone, but I do have an iPhone 4. I've also been playing with the Android OS on the Nook Color, FWIW, so I think I can answer some questions in a general iOS->Android framework:

the iPod... one concern is how easy is it to move my audio files to/from the HTC. I read something on a site that said I can't send files to the machine from my desktop--I can only get audio on it by downloading or streaming. That seems ridiculous. True?

No, see below.

What about synching with a Mac in general? Contacts, calendars, etc? (I had a horrible experience with a Blackberry that deleted my contacts from my Mac--don't want to go through that again).

Coincidentally, Lifehacker just posted about syncing Android with both Macs and PCs, so that should answer those questions.

if the phone can be used as a music player, can I control functions with the headphones/mic? And what if you're listening to music and the phone rings? Work similar to iPhone?

I don't know which headphones you have, but the kind that I use (Nuforce NE7M) seem to work fine with the default player. Not sure about others.

I didn't really understand the storage system on the HTC. It uses sd cards or something? Is there a limit to the size card I can use? Further, where do my address book and such stay? On the phone or an SD card?

That depends on the phone, but it's my understanding that the OS is all stored on the internal memory, and the microSD is used exclusively for storage. The Android information site XDA Developers has a whole forum devoted to information and tweaking/hacking (the good kind) for the Desire Z/G2, which seems to contradict some of If only I had a penguin...'s experience, but I didn't delve into it.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:20 AM on May 13, 2011


You can browse the android app store here: market.android.com

I have had 2 android devices so far, one with a physical keyboard and one without.
While I enjoyed the tactile experience of the physical keyboard more, I feel it decreases the life of the phone. I have had 2 HTC G1s that both died within 12 months from the same problem; the repeated action of popping out the keyboard eventually unhinged something in both the screen and the little device that detects the orientation of the phone.

I have an android phone because I'm with T-Mobile and I like the native integration with Google. However, I feel the iPhone is a better engineered piece of hardware.
posted by Wossname at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2011


Android and iOS user here, primary phone is an HTC Desire.

Some of your answers in some sort of order:

HTC phones come with earbuds with the inline mic similar to the iPhone's, and there are several aftermarket options. Pretty standard nowadays.

Moving music to an Android phone goes from Ridiculously Easy to Easy-ish. You can simply plug it in, and drag and drop what you want onto the phone. I highly recommend DoubleTwist, especially if you are used to iTunes. Pay the extra buck or two for Airsync, and your music can sync wirelessly.

I haven't seen an android equivalent of the headphone controls for music that the iPhone has. It definitely works the same way when a call comes in- pauses your music, you take/decline the call, music starts again when you hang up.

Scan the Android Market for Toronto apps. There are a couple for the TTC, for instance. Bonus: apps you get from the web store get pushed to your phone immediately- no syncing. (or you just get them from the market on the phone...)

Android has built-in speech-to-text. In the default case it's a long-press of the search key to get to it, different manufacturers have varying software for controls other than simple text-entry.

Every Android phone has internal memory and 'external' memory. External memory is in the form of SD cards- as big as you want to pay for. The OS is on the internal memory, and any app with widgets will probably be there too. Contacts, emails, text messages and all histories live on the internal memory so they can't be pilfered from the SD card. Many apps allow you to choose to install them to the SD card. Media (music, photos, videos) will go to the SD card.

Any new smartphone you buy today will be at least 3G. The Desire is actually '3.5G', as it supports HSPA+. You'll see that as a little 'H' symbol in the menubar instead of '3G'.


Android is really coming into it's own these days, especially if you use other Google products (Gmail, Docs, etc). Still, it takes effort to switch, especially if you're used to the nice integration with iTunes. Take the hour or two to migrate to DoubleTwist and you'll be happier for it. Some things seem archaic next to an iPhone (there's much less animation, and a bit of painful menu-digging), and some things will make you wonder why Apple hasn't pilfered them yet (long-presses for alternate keys, information-rich widgets).
posted by t_dubs at 12:08 PM on May 13, 2011


Android user here, former iPhone user. Very, very satisfied with my switch. I'll only touch the questions that I can answer:

- the iPod... one concern is how easy is it to move my audio files to/from the HTC. I read something on a site that said I can't send files to the machine from my desktop--I can only get audio on it by downloading or streaming. That seems ridiculous. True?

False - this works very well on Android. You can connect the phone to your computer and drag-and-drop to your heart's content. One of my favorite things about my phone is no more iTunes syncing. But if you like iTunes, then you can buy an app that will let your Android phone sync with iTunes. I've never used one, so I can't tell you if they're any good, but the upthread Lifehacker article will probable shed some light on how to accomplish this.

- if the phone can be used as a music player, can I control functions with the headphones/mic? And what if you're listening to music and the phone rings? Work similar to iPhone?

It can be used as a music player. Yes, you can control the music with headphone controls. If you get a call, the music stops - just like on the iPhone

- the person showing me the HTC did some neat things with voice control: "Send text to Sue: Hi, I'll be there soon" and the machine composed and sent the text. Is this native or do I have to buy an app?

It's built in for free, and it's AWESOME. Seriously, two years ago I never thought speech-to-text would get this good in my lifetime, much less in this decade. I use it several times daily. I actually prefer to write some emails on my phone rather than in GMail because I'd rather dictate them.

- I didn't really understand the storage system on the HTC. It uses sd cards or something? Is there a limit to the size card I can use? Further, where do my address book and such stay? On the phone or an SD card?

The Desire Z comes with 1.5 GB of storage on the phone, and in addition to that it can store things on a microSD card. The SD card vs phone storage thing is completely transparent - if you don't want to think about it you don't have to.

As has been mentioned, it comes with a 16GB card. If you want a larger card you could get a 32 GB card from Newegg for $42.

- What about synching with a Mac in general? Contacts, calendars, etc? (I had a horrible experience with a Blackberry that deleted my contacts from my Mac--don't want to go through that again).

I can't speak for syncing local contacts, calendar, etc, but it's extremely easy to sync everything to GMail / Google Calendar, and that's a good thing. Now my contacts aren't tied to just one device. Anywhere I go, any computer I use, I can see my contacts, email, and calendar. And the syncing between phone and Google is silky-smooth - every change is synced extremely quickly. In nearly 2 years of use I've never had a problem where I updated something on my device but it didn't sync to my main calendar.

- there seems to be some confusion as to whether it's 3G or Edge. Or does that depend on the carrier?

Depends on the carrier, not on the phone operating system.
posted by Tehhund at 12:42 PM on May 13, 2011


Don't forget about Winamp for Android. It's free and allows very easy WiFi music syncing. The best thing, though, about Android is definitely the way it deals with notifications. No more blue boxes popping up over what you're doing, you just see a preview of the SMS (not e-mail, unfortunately) and can deal with it when you want to. The Google Voice integration is amazingly useful. Also, having the ability to use multiple browsers is surprisingly useful: download Skyfire and you can spoof the user agent field so that sites that typically would refuse to work on a mobile device will. I've submitted many an ADP timecard this way! :)
posted by speedgraphic at 3:12 PM on May 13, 2011


The short answer is android devices are more annoying - but also more capable.

For example, the reason most people's battery life sucks on android is that by default, most android phones prefer 3g networks (WCDMA on GSM networks like AT&T in the states). This means they're constantly polling for 3g connections instead of being more energy efficient and grabbing a list of 3g towers via a 2g or edge connection, then looking specifically at towers in that list. The fact that anyone has to screw around with this just speaks to what you're in for.

That said, if you can get past the idiosyncrasies, the honest answer is my android device (motorola bravo) is flat out a better device than my old iphone 3g or my stolen iphone4. Consider my current situation abroad - I'm in Europe for work. I called up AT&T before I left and they gave me a code to unlock my phone when I asked. Now I'm mobile abroad with a foreign pay as you go sim card. You simply can't do that with the iphone, because AT&T won't give you the unlock code. You could crack the baseband of your 3g or 3gs, but you can't do it for the iphone4 - period. How do I call back home to the states? Via wifi. Maybe you can do that w/the iphone, now.

I literally made a list of all the apps I use regularly before I switched, and the only two that were missing were zipcar and netflix. Zipcar is out for android in beta now, and netflix is coming.

If I had it to do over again, I'd go after a nexus branded phone (nexus one, or now nexus s) as they're supposed to get the latest greatest android updates without haveing to go through the hardware vendor. For example, Samsung is by far the slowest and most reluctant to release their android updates. HTC is among the best.

Lastly: forget the idea of syncing. The android philosophy is your stuff is pretty much in the cloud, and the phone sucks it all down directly via wifi without a computer as intermediary. What isn't in the cloud is just dragged and drop via filesystem. Takes some getting used to, but honestly, I like that approach way better.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 4:16 PM on May 13, 2011


I switched from an iPhone 3G to my HTC Desire HD and I love it. Use the same pair of bluetooth headphones that I did with the iPhone, and they work perfectly. Music stops for a phone call. Comes back when I hang up. I can pause, skip forward etc with them too.

The battery is the big down side. It isn't great, but I find that if I charge it once a day then it is grand. It'll last two if I'm careful, but because you can charge it via usb rather than the apple-specific yoke I can have various connections on different computers, at home & work, without shelling out for an extra cable.

Transferring music is as easy as drag'n'drop. Much better for me than iTunes, which I hated and despised. (I use media monkey)

As for apps, any of the ones I used on the iPhone have alternatives on the android market, and I love the instant installation. Although you do have to be slightly more careful about what apps you are downloading, read the reviews.

I'm very happy with the switch.
posted by Fence at 8:34 AM on May 14, 2011


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