If it weren't for AT&T I'd be getting an iPhone 4
June 11, 2010 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I've had it with AT&T. Help me switch to Verizon without ruining my Apple-icious mobile experience!

How can I transition from my iPhone 3G to an Android OS device (on Verizon) with as little pain as possible? I guess there are a few things I need to know...

1. Which device should I get? Flexibility's my top priority, so I'd like something with some real muscle to handle whatever craziness I might decide to throw at it. And I know Android phones all have their own little quirks, so I want to pick some hardware that's not going to have weird usability/compatibility issues with most apps from the Marketplace.

2. I've invested a lot of time personalizing my iTunes library and my iCal calendar. What's the easiest and most foolproof way to manage and sync them with the phone you identified in question 1? I'm not interested in walking away from either of those programs, but I'd be okay with something like doubleTwist (have you used it on a Mac with this phone? I've heard mixed reports about its stability).

3. Everybody approaches a new device with certain assumptions and expectations. I've been conditioned to view my mobile experience through a Jobsian lens... so what philosophical differences should I prepare myself for as I transition to Android? How does it deviate from the way my iPhone handles common tasks? I've never used it before and I'm mildly intimidated since using my iPhone is second nature at this point and, well, change is always hard.

Please hope me! If anyone can steer me in the right direction and flatten the learning curve a bit too, it's the hive. Thanks in advance!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis to Technology (20 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I forgot to add, if there are any awesomer devices coming out in the next month or two, I can wait. I've heard the HTC Scorpion is poised to be one amazing phone, but I can't find anything about a release date. Not sure what other upcoming hardware should be on my radar right now.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:50 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just got a Motorola Droid. It is awesome and, in my opinion, far better than an iPhone. (I haven't yet used an iPhone 4, but the physical keyboard and SD storage really mean something.)

The Droid uses Google Calendar, after a quick search I turned up this site which tells you how to sync iCal with Google Cal, which would then sync with the Droid.
DoubleTwist (haven't tried it out yet- had the Droid for less than a week) seems to be able to sync iTunes with the Droid.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:19 PM on June 11, 2010


Droid X and Droid 2 are supposed to come out this July and August respectively. The Droid X looks like an EVO type device (giant ~4in screen) whereas the Droid 2 is like an updated Droid with a QWERTY keyboard.

I suppose my answer to 3 is that Android applications have a much wider range of interfaces. Be prepared to dig around a bit with some less-beautifully designed apps. Also, pretty much anything that the phone handles can be replaced by something from the Android Market (for instance, there are several different capable browsers: Steel, XScope, Dolphin; several different music programs: bTunes, MixZing; several different SMS applications, so on and so forth). So you can customize pretty much every facet of the phone provided you are OK with delving into the default application settings every once in a while. To sum up, Android gives you a lot more flexibility with the operation of the phone in return for a slightly steeper learning curve.
posted by ofthestrait at 8:24 PM on June 11, 2010


I'm in the same boat and after doing some research, it seems that the new HTC Incredible is among the best reviewed Android phones on Verizon (both Gizmodo and Engadget it call it the best Android phone currently available in the US). However, it's sold out on Amazon and the Verizon web site (and perhaps everywhere else) through July. The main complaint I've seen about this device is less than stellar battery life.
posted by iamisaid at 8:26 PM on June 11, 2010


I've been conditioned to view my mobile experience through a Jobsian lens... so what philosophical differences should I prepare myself for as I transition to Android? How does it deviate from the way my iPhone handles common tasks? I've never used it before and I'm mildly intimidated since using my iPhone is second nature at this point and, well, change is always hard.

The Android is a computer in your pocket, in that it acts more like a PDA than a phone appliance. While it doesn't require much administration, it does have lots and lots of settings and preferences that you'll want to customize. Similarly, it exposes the filesystem to applications and users--so, for instance, you may need to remember that you saved those PDFs on the SD card.

The applications do not get the first-party quality assurance treatment that iPhone apps do. As a result, many of them are complete garbage (crashy, bogus, or useless). You may go through three or four notepad applications (for instance) before finding one that has the features you want, has a reasonable interface, and doesn't crash every two minutes. On the other hand, it also means that there are all sorts of really neat applications to customize the way the phone itself works. Also, I have yet to find a need for which I had to pay for an application--free, ad-supported ones are the norm.

On the subject of applications: there are no clear user interface guidelines. So, one application will use all of the built-in widgets, while another application will draw all of its own from scratch. Some apps will use the pinch-to-zoom gesture, while others will display zoom buttons. Some apps will have all their options on the main screen, others will require you to press the menu button to do anything.

In addition, because Android can multitask, you may find that some applications running in the background will draw down your battery. You can find out which ones on the battery page, though, as consumption is broken down by application. Also, reviews will usually indicate if something is a battery hog.

There is far less eye candy. Your phone will not be as visually slick as an iPhone. Animations that you've come to expect will simply not exist, and things will simply pop in or out of existence. I don't think this is a problem, but several iPhone users have told me that my phone is inferior because it isn't doing as much visual shit.

Basically nothing is done by tethering your phone to a computer. Everything is backed up over the air to your google account. Applications and updates are installed OTA. Music is loaded onto the phone via computer, but it's not done with a program; the phone just presents the SD card as a mass storage device.

Really, the big paradigm difference is what I mentioned first. The Android is more like a computer or PDA than a phone.
posted by Netzapper at 8:29 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


For me, the most important thing to consider is that with Verizon you're committing to a phone that is worthless in 85% of the countries in the world. If that doesn't matter to you, fine, but I'd never in a thousand lifetimes choose a CDMA provider. If I were to leave AT&T, in the US that unfortunately leaves exactly one carrier to move to, and it's T-Mobile. We have five (and counting) GSM or composite CDMA-transitioning-to-GSM companies in Canada now. I can take my Nokia E71, which I got unlocked for $9, and move to any other company I care to now as long as they support the phone's tech, and all except WIND in Canada do now.

Why anybody would want a phone that can't be unlocked, can't have an alien SIM card put in for travel, and can't be taken from one provider to another (via unlocking) is beyond me.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:47 PM on June 11, 2010


I would wait for the droid 2. I disagree with the previous poster that claimed it's better than the iPhone. If you like your iphone, there's a big chance you're going to be disappointed.

And the droid is going to look like something from the 90s compared to the iphone 4. But I'm sure the droid 2 will raise the bar for android.
posted by gtr at 8:53 PM on June 11, 2010


Ethno, I didn't understand a word you wrote.

If I move overseas, and I might next year, can my iPhone adapt? And which of the Androids can?

Also, following up on the OP's question: I have tons of podcasts that I listen to via iTunes. Will I lose them if I switch?
posted by kanewai at 9:06 PM on June 11, 2010


If I move overseas, and I might next year, can my iPhone adapt? And which of the Androids can?

Your iPhone can adapt. As of yet, I don't think there are any GSM Android phones in the States, but AT&T is planning on releasing one in the near future. Problem: it's AT&T.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:16 PM on June 11, 2010


Why anybody would want a phone that can't be unlocked, can't have an alien SIM card put in for travel, and can't be taken from one provider to another (via unlocking) is beyond me.

Because we don't care? If I move overseas, I'll just buy a new phone--its cost is easily swallowed by the cost of moving out of North America. Also, Verizon currently has the best data speeds I've found.

Oh, the other reason I have Verizon instead of AT&T or T-Mobile: coverage. I've had both, and they've completely failed to work in places where my wife's Vzw phones have worked flawlessly--one of which is my house. Since getting my Droid, there are only one or two places I've gone that don't have coverage.

Ethno, I didn't understand a word you wrote.

If I move overseas, and I might next year, can my iPhone adapt? And which of the Androids can?


Your iPhone can adapt, if it's been unlocked. [Phones sold in the US (and some elsewheres) are locked to the carrier. This is because the carriers subsidize the cost of the phones... which is why your iPhone cost $200 instead of $800.] I don't know how or if iPhones can be unlocked, though.

Any Android phone that accepts a SIM card, which is anything on AT&T or T-Mobile, can accept another carrier's SIM card. Assuming it's been unlocked.

The unlocking process, how much it costs, and if it's available at all (or under what circumstances), varies by carrier. You can also get shady dudes in phone kiosks to do it for you; though the legality of that varies by jurisdiction.
posted by Netzapper at 9:17 PM on June 11, 2010


For a typical end user they are almost identical devices. Unless you have specific requirements then the whole "OMG iPhone is the bestest" talk is ridiculous. I just made the switch to an 4G EVO from a 3GS. Its less polished than an iphone, but honestly not by much. Unless your principle interets are rating UI interfaces you won't notice much.

And the droid is going to look like something from the 90s compared to the iphone 4.


I get 4G on the EVO which runs at anywhere between 2.5mbps and 5mbps. I have free speech to text, that works in any app that has a keyboard. I have a front facing camera and do video chat. I have free corded tethering or paid-for mifi service. I have a translate app that does text to speech. I can run flash apps. I can remove the battery just like any other phone. I can watch high-def youtube over 4G. No censorship board regulates what I can run. iPhone 4 does none of this.

If anyone is selling people yesterday's technology, its Apple with its overpriced and closed offerings. If it matters to you, there is a much smaller selection of "how dumb are you quizes" and "fart" apps in the android marketplace.

Why anybody would want a phone that can't be unlocked, can't have an alien SIM card put in for travel, and can't be taken from one provider to another (via unlocking) is beyond me.


I travel internationally once every few years. I can get a POS GSM phone for 15 dollars and buy a temp SIM card at my destination. Very, very few GSM smartphones are portale between carriers. Sure you can take your iphone to t-mobile, but you're only getting EDGE, not 3G. Most smartphones are de facto "locked" to one carrier because of radio frequency differences. In the meantime in the US I dont have to settle for bottom-tier carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile nor do I have to put up with their slow 3G.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:26 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why anybody would want a phone that can't be unlocked, can't have an alien SIM card put in for travel, and can't be taken from one provider to another (via unlocking) is beyond me.

AT&T has had serious capacity problems. They stopped selling iPhones in NYC because their network was overloaded and they couldn't support any more of them. They're also looking at increasing prices and otherwise trying to discourage customers from using digital. See this.

Verizon doesn't have that kind of capacity problems.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:16 PM on June 11, 2010


Verizon doesn't have that kind of capacity problems.

Mainly because, up until very recently, Verizon didn't have very many customers saturating their bandwidth on smart phones. I have do doubt that the amount of Android phones will overtake the iPhones soon enough, but that is not yet the case. Verizon has certainly done a great PR job on AT&T's network capacity and reliability, but I'm not convinced that once people actually start using all the bandwidth they are promising that they will be any better off than AT&T in the major metro areas.

Anyway, if you really want a phone now I would go with the HTC Incredible (Verizon) or HTC EVO-4G (Sprint). HTC is the hands down winner in the new smartphone world, and I would think long and hard about picking up a Motorola. If you are prepared to wait a few months, there are a slew of new 4G phones coming out to compete with the iPhone 4G. Be prepared though, there are rumors of increased data pricing plans on some networks for 4G phones.
posted by sophist at 12:52 AM on June 12, 2010


there are a slew of new 4G phones coming out to compete with the iPhone 4G

Remember: the new iPhone is the "iPhone 4" and not the "iPhone 4G". The 4 denotes that is is the fourth iPhone, not that it has 4G technology. It remains a UMTS (3G) device.

The HTC EVO-4G is a true 4G device, and as such has the kind of battery life you might expect from such technology!
posted by hjd at 4:06 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did this last month, because of the horrendous AT&T coverage here. I jumped to the HTC Incredible, and my wife went to the Motorola Droid, and I cannot strongly enough recommend the Incredible.

While it isn't the polished overall experience of the iPhone, the Incredible is just so powerful that it doesn't matter to me. Widgets on screen are great, the ability get apps that aren't overly regulated. The prime example for me is the fact that I was able to download a Torrent program (AndTorrent) and download my talk radio shows directly from the phone instead of syncing with the desktop. I haven't had to plug my phone into the computer for two plus weeks because I can do so much just directly on it.

As stated earlier, it is much more like a computer or PDA of days past in terms of customization. I have an app called Timerific that lets me set rules for when my phone should be on Ringer/Silent, turning WiFi or Bluetooth on or off, etc. Just like I used to be able to do on my Treo 650!

The Sense UI that HTC laid over the top is nice, and I prefer it to the Droid interface, but it does generally delay system upgrades (hopefully not much for 2.2 Froyo), and the occasional app doesn't work with Sense (an app that allows you to control a game on the phone via Bluetooth gamepads).

I would not go with a Motorola Droid, wait for the new batch if you are desperate to have a physical keyboard - but the rumor is that the specs of that new one are lacking, just a very slight bump from the already underpowered current version. If you don't mind screen only, the Incredible is the way to go on Verizon.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:26 AM on June 12, 2010


check your pricing plans!!! an extra $20/month adds up to almost $500 during a two-year contract...currently sprint has the best deals (and the best android phone), and not just by a little bit...$69 for unlimited everything (phone, text, data...the only exception being calls to landlines...which are limited to 450minutes..i.e. unlimited mobile-to-mobile, regardless of carrier)...it is $10/month extra for the 4G service if you go with the EVO

at&t: $40 for the same plan, but mobile to mobile is only for calling other at&t customers (do you know who all of your friends carriers are?)...oh wait, then there's a data plan...$35(200mb) or $60(5mb) ...no unlimited available...wait, does that even include texting? what? hunh? at least $100/month...deliberately confusing, overpriced, and to top it all off...treasonous
fuck at&t.

tmobile: $100/month or $80/month, plus you pay full price for the phone...huh, not as bad as i thought, but i've heard their coverage sucks...no 4G

verizon:unlimited talk/text $90! plus $30 for the data plan? $120/month!? jesus christ, to hell with that noise...

right now, i'm with boost, pay $45/mo (no taxes or fees, just $45/mo) for unlimited talk/text/web...they run on sprint's network and the coverage is great...no real smartphones tho..there's a blackberry, meh...

i had verizon a few years back and they were just awful...go with sprint...my roommate uses them and says they're great...he has the htc hero...a fun little phone...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2010


oh yeah...don't get motorola...they've long since lost the plot...go with the htc
see, android is still a little rough around the edges, so the phone manufacturers put a 'skin' on it (htc calls it 'sense', motorola is 'motoblur'..etc) it's basically an improved UI, and htc's is the best, prettiest, and most like the iphone...(it's basically the home screens and how everythings laid out...you can even turn it off in the settings and go with the basic android interface) I can't reccomend the EVO on sprint enough...i'm pretty sure that's my next phone...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:45 AM on June 12, 2010


Only complaints so far about the EVO are the battery life.
posted by sophist at 1:50 PM on June 12, 2010


Late to the party, but just thought I'd chime in.

I do a lot of work with phones at my workplace and all of us are on Verizon, with most on Android phones. I've got a Droid and have handled a few Incredibles. If you're at all worried about durability, I would think twice before I get an Incredible. Yes, it's fast and the Sense UI is nice, but the plastic case is so thin and flimsy. I took the back off to look at the battery and I could twist the battery cover in my hands like a piece of cardboard. They also designed it so that the camera lens sticks out - this is unfortunate, because that's what hits the desk first when you put it down. One of the guys who got one - the first week he had it, he did something that bashed in the USB charging port. It also bothers me that I can see sensors in the screen, whereas I can't on my Moto Droid.

The Moto Droid is metal and save for a few paint chips, it is still like new. I've dropped it on asphalt probably six times now. No problem. It still runs great and all of the parts are solid. I personally prefer the vanilla Android experience to Sense UI. It is highly hackable, customizable and flexible. That said, the Droid is showing its age. It's just a little more slower and I'm not sure how many more OS updates we an expect. There are things the Incredible has that I covet (FM radio being one of them). I could do without the keyboard.

I would personally wait a few months to see what both HTC and Motorola come out with, keeping in mind that the next Motorola phones will not be quite so open and hackable as the current Droid. A good place to keep up on new Android phones is Droid-Life.com.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the current Droid is the most popular phone on the marketplace right now, and most likely to play well with apps that are out there. If you pay attention to ratings in the market and download intelligently, you will very rarely find an app that force closes or just doesn't work.
posted by bristolcat at 9:05 AM on June 14, 2010


I had made up my mind to get an Incredible, perhaps with a case like this to protect the phone and its lens, but found out Verizon has a shortage and it won't be available until July. If that's the case, maybe I should get a Droid X instead, though I'm not sure I'm comfortable with its large size (and people in this thread have been pretty vocal about Motorola's poor products lately).

If anybody's still reading this thread, a little help choosing between the two would be very helpful! Thanks!
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:14 AM on June 14, 2010


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