After enjoying my trusty t-mobile dash for 2 years, the time had finally come to upgrade phones. As I do with most tech decisions, I spent too much time obsessively researching the alternatives out there.
Mainly I was looking for a phone that did email well, supported 3G, full web browsing, and had good task/calendar support. My search led me to two contenders — the much-hyped iPhone and the brand new G1 running the google android OS.
First, I went and checked out the G1 because I was already a t-mobile customer so that was the path of least resistance. After trying it at the store, here were my initial observations:
- Form Factor: Due to the slide out keyboard this is really a chunky phone, it was much thicker than my existing t-mobile dash.
- Google Linkage: This phone is tightly linked to all things google which means it wants to use gmail and google calendaring.
- No Exchange Support: This hurt the most. I live and die in exchange. I’m sure it will get support soon, but it does not have it right now.
- Real Keyboard: I like that it has a real keyboard rather than a virtual one. That’s what I was used to with my Dash. The only problem was that the outlaid chin-rest made it hard to hold while typing.
- Android OS: This was the gem of the G1. The OS had some really nice features like a notifications pane that told you whenever processes finished or email was received.
I actually went into the store planning to buy this and stick with t-mobile, but after trying out the phone I just couldn’t do it. The big deal-breakers for me were the no exchange support and the strong ties to google mail (which I didn’t even use). Not to mention, the clunky design of the phone bothered me.
After being disillusioned by the G1, I decided to check out the iPhone and possibly switch to AT&T. Here is what I discovered after trying it at the store:
- Form Factor: Much thinner and sleeker than the G1.
- Exchange Support: This version had great exchange support.
- Virtual Keyboard: At first, I had a REALLY hard time typing on this, and it was almost a deal-breaker for me.
- OS: The OS running on the iphone is simply gorgeous. There’s just no other way to say it. Everything is wonderfully rendered and where you expect it to be. The flicking your finger around the screen is really a great way to navigate and all of the icons just float into place.
- Task Management: It was missing a good task manager though the calendar was pretty good.
After using the iPhone, I was very impressed. It’s just an extremely intuitive device and the combination of phone, ipod, email and calendar in one device is makes it very compelling. My main issue was that I struggled to type on the virtual keyboard and have never been a huge apple fan, given that I make my living doing Microsoft programming.
I went back home and read some reviews on the iPhone keyboard. Most users said that it took time to get used to but they did finally become proficient. I also found some good 3rd party task managers for the iPhone. That was enough to remove my last few stumbling blocks, so I finally settled on the iPhone.
It’s two weeks later, and I don’t regret it one second. The iPhone has really grown on me as I’ve gotten deeper into it and played with the many apps available. I compare to Tivo in that the UI is just so well done, that it puts so many other devices to shame and makes it a pleasure to use!
It just goes to show that the UI is so important because that’s how the user interacts with the device. If you can make the UI lovely you will make your user enjoy the experience.
For someone that regularly uses the google set of apps (mail, calendar, etc) and who highly values open systems, the G1 might be a stronger candidate. Or maybe a killer app will soon be released for the G1, but we’ll see…In my mind the iPhone has a big head start.