Wow, what a week. Not only did we see several new devices announced, but these are some beast phones we got a look at. There was the HTC Rezound, the HTC Vivid, the Samsung Focus S, and the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket, to name a few, and we saw Motorola's new tablet attempt and leaks about the next NOOK Color. We had plenty to talk about during the show.
We spent quite a bit of time discussing the new Android devices and exploring the idea of buying a phone now even though Ice Cream Sandwich is just around the corner. Would it be a good idea? Once we moved on to the Windows Phone devices, the question became, Is Windows Phone behind in terms of specs or can it still compete with the new crop of devices? After discussing that as well as rumors about a NOOK Color 2 and the Motorola XOOM 2 and XOOM 2 Media Edition, we finished up with an open Q&A.
To buy, or not to buy, that is the question. For most consumers, buying a phone is as simple as walking into a carrier retail store, finding a device that fits in their price range and that the salesman says is a good phone, and buying it. Whether it's a phone that's brand new, been on the market for three months, or has a follow-up successor coming in a week makes no difference to them. That's their phone for at least a year. But you, our dear readers, you care more than that. You care so much about technology that you consider every device from every angle; not just the processor speed, but the brand and model, too; not just display resolution, but the technology as well. You consider RAM, ROM, pixel density, pentile or Super AMOLED Plus, Sense 3.0 or 3.5, locked bootloader or open for experimentation - you research it all. So, here's an angle for you: Should you buy a phone now with Gingerbread even though Ice Cream Sandwich is just around the corner?
The problem is that despite the promises that HTC and Motorola make, we are all well aware of fragmentation and what causes it - delays and downright refusals to upgrade phones. In a perfect world, we would buy a phone whenever we want, like right now, with full faith that when Ice Cream Sandwich is officially released to the public our phone will get the upgrade in a timely manner. However, that may not be what actually happens. We may end up waiting a month, two months, four months, or more depending on our device. And considering how many dramatic changes and improvements this new version brings, I'm not sure that's something all of us are willing to do.
I'm talking about features like folders, a much-improved Gmail experience with gesture support, screenshots without rooting, the Honeycomb-style multitasking interface, delete individual notifications, face unlock, new and in-depth Data Usage options, and Android Beam, to name a few. Sure, we can live without those features, but why would we want to?
Some users have wondered aloud if their phone would even get all of the new features of Ice Cream Sandwich if their phone uses a manufacturer UI like Sense or TouchWiz. I'm not sure. Visually, things may look the same as before the update, but I imagine that you will be getting most of these new features.
The HTC Rezound is a stunning device. It can easily go head to head with the iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S II, and the Galaxy Nexus. Easily. But then there's that fragmentation thing. The Galaxy Nexus is in many ways the best phone out there and it helps that it will be shipping with Ice Cream Sandwich. All of the good intentions in the world on the part of the manufacturers and carriers can't change that. And who knows? These could be empty promises that are not easily fulfilled.
It's a tough decision. Personally, I've gone back and forth on what I would do. I usually tell people that the waiting game is futile in the mobile industry. If you're waiting for the right device then you'll always be waiting. On top of that, I can't imagine not recommending a device like the Rezound. But then there's the whole update issue. What are you guys planning to do? Are you buying or waiting?
When comparing Android devices to other Android devices or to something like the iPhone, Android loyalists are quick to say that specs aren't everything. It's also about quality, brands, memory, and more which make up a whole picture of performance and that's what matters. I agree, of course. This is absolutely true. However, those same people seem to forget this principle when discussing Windows Phone devices. Some will say that because new Windows Phone devices don't have a dual-core processor or other powerhouse specs, that the OS is behind in terms of hardware. Not everyone says this, but there are many who do.
We discussed this during the podcast and questioned whether or not Windows Phone hardware is behind. Evan Selleck wrote a great follow-up article on this topic so I won't repeat the argument here. However, I do recommend checking out his article. If you want to talk numbers, then yes, most Android devices are ahead of the game. But if you want to talk performance, then there isn't really that much of a difference. Windows Phone devices with a single-core processor can hold their own against Android phones with a dual-core processor. If you don't believe me, just try one.