Should you upgrade your Android phone?

Nicole Cozma
 from Chicago
Published: July 13, 2010

Over time phones that were once shiny and new begin to suffer from the same problems your toys did when you turned 10. Sometimes they don’t even get to stick around long enough for you to grow bored of them. Every once in a while you might have a phone that has features you love, but the technology just doesn’t keep up with you the way a new phone could. I never appreciated the newer technology in my pocket until recently when the Nexus One I was using stopped working.

The power button was not responding on the phone and I started to panic. Did the Nexus One just die on me? Luckily, no, it was just a power button failure—a known problem with this particular handset—and after pulling an awesome trick to get it started back up (read about that here) I quickly wiped my information off of it. Now it was time to pick up one of my older, but trusty, handsets I kept on the bookshelf. I know, I know, I’m not really making a great case for a newer handset, but stick with me.

For the last week I have reverted to a T-Mobile G1. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great phone, but I never realized how much of an upgrade the Nexus One had been for me until it wasn’t an option anymore. I’ve still been able to make calls, check email, browse websites, and abuse my Google Voice texting privileges, but… verrrrry slowwwly. Sure it was awesome in its day, but not nearly as awesome as an Android handset with a 1 GHz processor. Although, since this G1 was running a very old version of Android (not an issue for the very savvy user) it brought back some fond memories of the mobile operating system’s growth over the last two years, and most importantly, proved to me once again why it was so worth upgrading to a newer phone.

I remember being amazed by all of the functions on the G1, and most of all, how much I loved the keyboard. However, after using a softkey for some time now—a combo of Swype and HTC’s IME keyboard—I’m not really enjoying the workout my thumbs are getting from the G1’s physical QWERTY. I never noticed this when I was using the phone on a daily basis, I guess I was used to it? It’s not really a huge deal though, since the G1 can use on-screen keyboards, too. I went ahead and loaded my keyboards on it, but the screen on the G1 is so much smaller than the Nexus One so it was difficult to get used to the keys all being cramped together on it. Even with the keyboard issue mostly out of the way, I was still missing many of my current favorite Android features.

For starters, I am in love with WiFi hotspot broadcasting—a feature that made it’s way into the wild with Android 2.2. I can use this with my laptop, a nook, or a friend’s phone that isn’t getting data service in the area (yeah, this happens). I also love that the browser can now support some sites using Flash, since Adobe went ahead and made Flash Lite for newer versions of Android. The email client on newer versions of Android is awesome. It now supports multiple GMail accounts (finally!) and makes managing messages much easier. Android’s built in phone dialer got a bit of an overhaul. Finally the same number is grouped in your call log, making it much easier to see when you last spoke to someone or missed their call. Even the Android Market got a makeover in newer versions of the OS, allowing you to update all apps at once, or you can allow automatic updating on a per app basis. There are tons of other differences, some more technical than others, but all combining to make a better user experience than earlier versions of Android, like those found on the T-Mobile G1.

After receiving a “new” Nexus One from HTC (their customer service is fantastic by the way), I was very happy to step back up to the newer technology. I think Android being on a faster processor definitely allows all of the features it has to offer shine to the consumer. However, it is always smart to keep one of those once shiny and new handsets around if your new technology endeavor happens to have a hardware issue at some point.

Products mentioned