From iPhone to Android
I’ve been using the HTC EVO for a full two months now, after a trial period of a few weeks where I was essentially carrying both the EVO and an iPhone. Quite simply I don’t see myself going back. The iPhone 4 announcement, while exciting, didn’t induce one iota of regret, and as others have noted, the acceleration (literally) of the Android platform implies that for the near future I’ll be sticking with Android devices. Many posts in this genre are accused of comparing the iPhone to what Android could be or might be in the future, which is unfair; however, I’m confident in saying that I’m happier on the the current Android platform than I was on the iPhone.
This is the most frequently discussed aspect of the EVO and of multi-tasking enabled devices generally. Here’s the thing: These devices formerly known as phones have morphed into miniature laptops. The EVO sports twice as much RAM as the laptop that I bought before starting college; it’s processor has about 80% of the speed of a coworker’s current machine. I’ve adopted a “plug it in when you can” mentality with the EVO, and I think it makes a lot of sense - you wouldn’t bring your laptop to the office, start using it, and only plug it in when the battery was completely drained.
Along the same lines, usage plays a large part in battery life (not surprisingly). Just like a laptop with the brightness cranked up and Flash video maxing out the processor, the EVO is going to lose charge well ahead of even the officially stated battery life, if you’re using a lot of battery- intensive apps. I haven’t attempted this, but my guess is that if you fired up all sorts of background apps, particularly ones that stream data (Pandora) or constantly track your exact location (navigator/maps), you could probably drain the battery in about 2-3 hours. In normal usage, however, you can probably go up to 24 hours on a single charge. Here’s what I’ve done to maximize the battery life:
- Turn off 4G (if you’re not in an area with coverage). Constantly looking for 4G and not finding it is what kills it here. If you’re solidly in a 4G area it’s fine to have on.
- Turn off Sense. You can’t completely turn it “off” but you can have the home screen use the stock Android launcher.
- Wifi: I have it turned off since most of the time I’m perfectly happy with the Sprint network speeds. Similar to 4G, if you’re somewhere that has a reliable signal, turning this on won’t hurt you much if at all, but if it’s constantly looking for the network anyway just turn it off.
If you really get down low and are trying to conserve, there are plenty of other tricks such as dimming the screen, turning off account sync, and killing all background tasks that you’re free to do in order to help matters.
Tethering and Cost
Part of the reason I’ve gotten into the habit of plugging in the phone whenever I have the chance is that I’m most often charging it through my laptop in order to use the tethering capabilities. I actually don’t have an internet connection at home and just use the EVO to get online. The speed is perfectly good; about 90% of the time I can happily stream Hulu and Netflix without issue, and otherwise buffering for a few minutes (max) will do the trick.
All of this usage means that I’m consuming a fair amount of bandwidth each month. Here’s the total so far for this cycle:
If I extrapolate out, I’ll be at 15+ GB by the end. Under AT&T;’s new data plans, I would be charged:
- $40 for the minimum voice plan
- $20 for tethering
- $25 for “Data Pro”: buys the first 2GB of data
- $10/GB after that = $130
- Total: $215/month. Compared to $70/month on Sprint.
Android + Kindle beats iPad
Yes, the Android Kindle app isn’t quite as fully featured as its iOS cousin, at least not yet. But the huge screen on the EVO is plenty big enough to the point where reading books on it is perfectly reasonable. The portability makes it possible to read anywhere without any prior planning - with the iPad you have to make a decision to bring it along because you think you might want to read a chapter or two. I also like to read before I go to sleep, and reading on your back – impractical with the iPad and with most books – works very well with the EVO.
It’s Fun to Futz
As I’ve pointed out before, it’s fun to futz. Not only with settings, wallpapers, and behaviors - but with apps. I had “Hello World” up and running on the Android SDK and - more importantly - installed on my own phone in a matter of minutes. It was also a snap to download the actual source of the WordPress Android app and compile and install it myself. Google is attempting to make this even easier with App Inventor though I’ll most likely be skipping that route - it’s a little too Visual Basic-esque for my tastes.
As you can imagine by now, I don’t have a ton. One thing I was a bit disappointed with was that it appears that data and voice don’t work at the same time - if you’re talking on the phone, you can’t say “hold on” and look up the nearest restaurant. I only rarely find myself in that situation though, so it’s not a huge issue. The other is the keyboard. It takes a bit of getting used to; at first I would say that I was at about 80% of my iPhone speed but that has since improved, probably up to about 90%. The screenshots I’ve seen of the Android 2.2 keyboard lead me to believe that with that release the speed will improve further. Part of the issue with the 2.1 layout is that there’s just so much stuff trying to fit into a small space that it’s difficult at times to know whether it’s best to bring up the secondary character set or try to find the character you’re looking for in the shift keys above the current one.