I am back to using my navy blue and orange Moto X as my primary device and as I looked around my desk at the devices in my collection and under review it is clear to me that Android is my preferred smartphone platform. While I do enjoy the apps and services of the Apple iPhone 5s, Android smartphone manufacturers offer unique experiences that mean more to me that a few apps.
Google's Nexus and Google Play Edition devices offer up a pure Google experience, but even that experience has the Google Now launcher that adds some slick functionality to consumers. It's really the other Android devices from Motorola, HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony that interest me. Some people are annoyed by customized experiences, but I personally find real value in these devices as I explain below.
Motorola Moto X
I previously listed a few reasons I love my Moto X, including touchless controls, active notifications, Motorola Assist, Bluetooth trusted devices, quick camera flip launch, and more. As Kevin and I just talked about on MoTR #316 we are both using Moto X devices and we agree it is a device that just gets better with time. Kevin recently wrote about the cool What's Up phrase and it really comes in handy.
The HTC One was my favorite smartphone of 2013 and I keep popping my SIM back into thanks to the KitKat and Sense 5.5 update. HTC's Sense UI offers Highlight Videos, BlinkFeed, enhanced Exchange client, and more. HTC has evolved Sense over the years to be much more of a helpful interface than a bloated interface that consumes resources.
Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3
TouchWiz used to drive me crazy, but I was much more accepting of what I saw on the Note 3 and found good value in what Samsung is doing. I still think they go a bit too far in many cases and even on the Note 3 I saw regular crashes in some of their custom software. However, experiences like the S Pen cannot be beat and have yet to be matched by anyone else.
Samsung has significantly improved their camera software and I personally think it is the best available on an Android smartphone. I have many friends and neighbors with the latest Galaxy smartphones and they all love the experiences Samsung provides with many of them coming from iPhones.
LG has vastly improved their smartphone offerings and the G2 is excellent. While there are lots of ways to customize your smartphone, I think the software is a bit too much and can be overwhelming to folks. The KnockOn, IR remote, and advanced camera software are custom experiences that I find worth having on the device.
Sony Xperia Z
Sony offers a fairly pure Google experience with their latest Xperia smartphones. The waterproof design is unique to smartphones while their camera software is fairly advanced. Their connectivity with the Sony ecosystem is attractive to many users, similar to what Samsung offers with their smartwatches and entertainment hardware.
Do you find the custom experiences on Android to be worth choosing one of these over an iPhone, Windows Phone, or even a Google Nexus device?
- Attention to detail and conveniences earned the Moto X a place in my pocket
- My year with the HTC One; still my favorite smartphone of all time
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review: World's most capable Android smartphone gets even better
- LG G2 Review: Super specs, funky buttons, settings galore
- T-Mobile Sony Xperia Z1s review: 20 megapixel camera phone in a waterproof wrapper