Is the Google Android platform the upcoming smartphone of choice?

Is the Google Android platform the upcoming smartphone of choice?

Summary: My T-Mobile SIM is setup for my T-Mobile G1 Google Android device that I have owned since day 1 (see my full review) and continue to enjoy with the updates and growing Android Market application selection. T-Mobile was the first US wireless carrier to support Android and then rolled out the T-Mobile myTouch 3G to add a second Android and become the carrier of choice for Android fans. T-Mobile will be launching a third Android device, the Motorola CLIQ, very soon, but they are no longer the exclusive Android carrier. Sprint has the awesome HTC Hero with the Samsung Moment coming soon and Verizon will have a couple of devices in 2010. AT&T has nothing announced yet, but there are rumors of a Dell handset. When you decide you want an iPhone, you only have one choice in carrier and form factor, but when you now consider an Android device you can stay with your carrier and/or have a choice in form factor. Let's take a closer look at what Android devices are or will be coming to each carrier in the US, followed by my thoughts on what I have found to be the best so far.

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My T-Mobile SIM is setup for my T-Mobile G1 Google Android device that I have owned since day 1 (see my full review) and continue to enjoy with the updates and growing Android Market application selection. T-Mobile was the first US wireless carrier to support Android and then rolled out the T-Mobile myTouch 3G to add a second Android and become the carrier of choice for Android fans. T-Mobile will be launching a third Android device, the Motorola CLIQ, very soon, but they are no longer the exclusive Android carrier. Sprint has the awesome HTC Hero with the Samsung Moment coming soon and Verizon will have a couple of devices in 2010. AT&T has nothing announced yet, but there are rumors of a Dell handset. When you decide you want an iPhone, you only have one choice in carrier and form factor, but when you now consider an Android device you can stay with your carrier and/or have a choice in form factor. Let's take a closer look at what Android devices are or will be coming to each carrier in the US, followed by my thoughts on what I have found to be the best so far.

T-Mobile

I'll start with T-Mobile since they were the first to support the Google Android platform. You currently have two choices at T-Mobile with a fourth coming soon. Here are the known choices on T-Mobile:

  • T-Mobile G1
  • T-Mobile myTouch 3G
  • Motorola CLIQ
  • Samsung Behold II
  • T-Mobile myTouch 3G Fender Edition

The T-Mobile G1 is the first Android device and can still be found at T-Mobile. It is a bit clunky, but it has a fantastic keyboard and is the primary Android device I still use today. The myTouch 3G drops the keyboard, gets a nice facelift, doubles the onboard memory, and gives you lots of customization options. I really liked the myTouch 3G and would buy one in a second if it had the HTC Sense UI (discussed below in the Hero portion) integration on board. The Motorola CLIQ (see Andrew's thoughts) is coming soon and will be the second Android device on T-Mobile with a hardware QWERTY keyboard. This device is being marketed as a social networking powerhouse and is a good device to consider. I was caught a bit off guard with the Samsung Behold II announcement and this device will give the myTouch 3G a run for its money with a 3.2 inch AMOLED display, Samsung TouchWiz user interface, and other Samsung customizations. The myTouch 3G Fender Edition adds standard 3.5mm headset jack and there will only be 10,000 of these made available in time for the holidays. I didn't count this as a 5th option since it is almost the same as the myTouch 3G.

As you can see, T-Mobile will have plenty of options for every Android fan and will retain the crown as the Google Android carrier to beat.

Sprint

The second carrier to have a Google Android available is Sprint and they came out swinging with the HTC Hero. I just returned my review unit today and after a few weeks of playing with the device I am still thinking of adding a Sprint account just to get the Hero. I found it to be an extremely compelling device, in large part due to the awesome customizations provided by HTC with their Sense UI. I loved the conversation view in Exchange, the HTC homescreen layout (7 screens and multiple scenes), the HTC widgets, and more. The hardware is rock solid and if you are on Sprint I have absolutely the highest recommendation for the HTC Hero as the device to purchase.

Sprint also announced the Samsung Moment that will be the first Android device with a processor better than the 528 MHz Qualcomm one found in most all other Android devices. It will use an ARM 11 800 MHz processor and I can't wait to see how this performs. The Moment gives Sprint customers a choice in form factor since it has a QWERTY keyboard. I have yet to see the Moment in person and cannot give my opinion on how it performs, but my bar is set pretty high with the HTC Hero at the moment.

Verizon Wireless

Google and Verizon announced a partnership last week that will see Google Android devices launched in 2010. The photo of Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, and Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon Wireless, showed a couple of devices that we should see in 2010. Rumors have one being called the Motorola Sholes and the other a possible HTC one similar to the HTC Hero with Sense UI. At this time, there has been no official device announcements so stay tuned for more from Verizon Wireless.

AT&T

AT&T is the home of the iPhone and there has not yet been any announcements of a Google Android device being launched with them so there is no choice here when it comes to Android devices. There has been some talk that Dell will launch an Android device with AT&T in 2010, but there has been talk of Dell smartphones in the past that never launched so we will have to wait and see what happens.

Which Android device do I recommend?

As you can see above, the carrier of choice for Google Android remains T-Mobile with lots of available options in form factor and price. I am sure we will see even more in 2010. Just looking at currently available devices, I consider the Sprint HTC Hero to be the leading Google Android device and highly recommend it. There are some very compelling devices coming soon to seriously consider, including the Motorola CLIQ, Samsung Behold II, and Samsung Moment. We should see some devices from Verizon Wireless and AT&T in 2010 and I think 2010 will be the year of Android here in the US.

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google, HTC, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones, Telcos

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25 comments
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  • Android will win

    The ATT exclusive and the other closed Apple policies for iPhone have kept the door open and now Google is in. The fact that Goole is behind it and that all the phone mfgs. and carriers will be using it bodes well for quick adoption and a buzzing app market. The design advantage the iPhone had is quickly evaporating and now only the 'apps' make it the platform of choice (if it even is the paltform of choice anymore with that ATT ball and chain). I think Google has the moxy and the strength to pull this off big time.

    The brewing war between Google and Apple/ATT will be very interesting to watch indeed!

    It is mindblowing stupidity that MS has no answer even now.Ballmer blew that chance very badly.
    eggmanbubbagee@...
    • only the apps?

      QUOTE "The design advantage the iPhone had is quickly evaporating and now only the 'apps' make it the platform of choice"

      Isn't the driving force to purchase a smart phone the ability to use a large number of applications to do a large number of things with?
      Geuseppi
      • re: Only the apps

        Yes it is. And with over 10,000 apps available for Android, and the number growing daily, I'm pretty sure you can find "an app for that" in the Market.

        Of course, you aren't limited to the Google Market, there are others available, or you can download it directly from the author's web site and install it.

        Don't like that choice, you can write your own. The SDK/NDK are absolutely free for anyone to download, install and use. If you want to give the app out to a few friends, or a few thousand, to try out, it's easy. You don't need to register at the Market, or wait for the approval process. You DO want to put it on the Google Market? That will be a $25 registration fee. (Vs. $99 for Apple, plus you have to buy the SDK first.)

        Approval process? If it isn't malicious, and doesn't contain porn, it takes a few minutes before you app is available for download once you submit it.

        bkfist
        • WOW

          My sphincter hurts.

          I guess I will have to go look into the availability of android apps.

          UPDATE:

          Well I went and looked around and so far the apps for the iPhone are out numbering the android OS 7:1...

          But I know, only time will tell the outcome of Android vs. iPhone.

          I am all set and ready to watch the battle =)
          Geuseppi
        • Lies? FUD? or clueless?

          [i]"You DO want to put it on the Google Market? That will be a $25 registration
          fee. (Vs. $99 for Apple, plus you have to buy the SDK first.)"[/i]

          that did make your post very funny to read though.
          Bruizer
      • RE: Is the Google Android platform the upcoming smartphone of choice?

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    • Making the same mistake twice?

      I am not an apple fan nor an Apple history buff, but I seem to recall that once before, Jobs had the lead in technology. Then the PC with its more or less open architecture and MS came along and slowly relegated Apple to the back bleachers of the computer business.

      Apple has made a very substantial come back, but to dominate a market, you have to be the biggest fish in the pond. Job's mindset unfortunately does not seem to have changed, and he may be about to have the same thing done to him by Android and Google in the the smart phone market that the PC and MS did to him in the personal computer market.

      Any thoughts?
      Economister
  • Consider the entire world

    The focus on "iPhone will lose with only 1 carrier" is misplaced.
    In most countries, the iPhone is available from multiple carriers.

    I hope that Android and Palm phones do well and give Apple some competition.
    davebarnes
    • Too Bad

      Too bad this country is so restrictive with the carriers policies - the consumer loses.
      1djk1
      • Actaully there is a technical issue also involved...

        All the major carriers in the US do not use the same technology for the phones, so Manufactures would have to make 2 Handsets for to cover all carriers which means 2 trips through the FCC approval process.
        2 Carriers are using CDMA Sprint/Verizon
        2 Carriers are using GSM T-Mobile/AT&T
        mrlinux
  • Funny at the turn of events


    5 years ago it was all about web standards and inter-operation so that any system with the right client would access the desired service.

    And now this nonsense? Android the platform of choice?

    Forgive me if I'm politically incorrect and say that I don't want any platform of choice. As a consumer, it shouldn't matter what OS is running in my handheld.

    Oh but then I'd have to admit that I don't see jumping into bed with Google any different than jumping into bed with Apple or MS. Different techniques, same results: money leaving my wallet in some way.
    croberts
  • Makes sense

    Google was smart enough to position Andriod @ inhouse built and maintained OS's. And lets face it, Samsung, Moto, LG can't build the type of OS the future will demand.

    Thus far, I don't find anything terribly compelling about Android, but I expect to change within 18 months.

    - San

    Eagerly awaiting WinMo7 so I can finally upgrade my aging ATT Tilt. Not that I am waiting for a WinMo7 phone, I just wanna be able to compare them all.
    JoeMama_z
  • Android is a no-brainer

    Android is a no-brainer, for device vendors to adopt:

    1. It is a small, fast, secure, portable, stable, free & open source mobile platform.

    2. It is community developed. Everyone contributes...everyone benefits.

    3. It can be custom tailored, by device vendors, for the desired user experience.

    4. It provides an application delivery platform, for value-added apps & services (free or revenue generating).

    5. Its support for open web technologies (HTML5, SVG, WebGL, ...) is likely to be extensive, with Google involved.

    6. It removes the burden of proprietary OS development & support from devices vendors, allowing them to focus on great devices, applications & services (REAL revenue).
    linuser
  • RE: Is the Google Android platform the upcoming smartphone of choice?

    Just HYPE. I don't think anyone would buy a phone for its OS. For a device of that form factor, all one has to think is
    -- Does it have a good keyboard??
    -- How easy it is to email, view a couple of office documents (I have never seen any one editing and making a document on a smart phone), read a small pdf book, listen to music/radio, view a small video (beleive me you are going to have eye accomodation problems if you overdo it)
    -- play an interesting came, something without much graphics. Its quite hard to see the details on such a small screen.

    That's it...
    sreesiv
    • Yes, some people care about the OS

      I purchased an Android phone this weekend (Sprint HTC Hero) specifically because the OS was "open". I would have seriously considered a Nokia Memo based phone, were any available. But the open nature of the platform was an absolute must for me. I switched carriers from a BlackBerry device that I could have replaced with a newer version almost 20 months ago. I did not replace it, because I knew Android would *eventually* be available on a carrier in my area, or T-mobile would have expanded it's coverage before my old BlackBerry eventually died.

      As it turns out, Sprint won the race, and both I and a friend jumped ship from U.S. Cellular to Sprint specifically to get this phone. Every other person who came into the Sprint store that morning, during the 90 minutes we were there, was also coming into Sprint for the Hero. I know they only had 12 phones in stock at this particular store, and that they were telling people who were coming in as we were leaving that they were out of the Hero, but were expecting more in a few days. I would guess that those other 10 people who came in the store, as well as the ones who were being told "sorry" were also adopting the Android based on the operating system. If not, I wouldn't have been hearing all the questions regarding porting their phone numbers from other carriers, nor would they have been coming in asking for the Hero. If it were just a matter of their "contract being up" and wanting a new phone, these customers would have been just as happy at least *looking* at one of the new windows moble 6.5 touch screen devices.

      Also, my wife and my friend's wife, who were milling around the store said that not a single person who "looked at/demoed" the Hero that was on display, walked away without purchasing one. Were it just hype, I would think that 1 or 2 of the people who came in and were able to touch/use the fully functional display unit, would have been disappointed enough to walk away and not purchase.

      Nobody did.
      bkfist
      • That's exactly what I am also saying.

        You bought the phone because you want the OS to be open source. How many would buy a phone or a PC or any device because it's running a open source OS. Sorry very very small percentage cares. If you were so particular about the open source thing, then you should have asked the device manufacturer to give you a CD with the RTL code, the PCB wiring diagrams and all. Did you do that? :-)

        The fact is that no one cares about these stupid stuff. If the hardware is good and the software that's running on it is easy and comfortable to use, people will buy it. They don't care whether it is open, closed or anything.

        The trouble will start when these idiotic corporations starts using the freedom stuff for their own profits. Similar to tivoization, there will be googlization and then there will be the GPL v4. :-)
        sreesiv
        • But...

          I openly admit that I am in the minority as far as choosing a phone based on the operating system. :)

          Yes, usability will be the main factor in the success of any platform, well it should be, but in reality it's not. Marketing seems to be the driving force, really, but the product has to be usable also, at least to some extent. (And of course, in the case of Vista, even that apparently is not important.)

          However, you said nobody would pick a phone based on the OS, let's say a very small percentage will do so. There are/will be a lot more people who pick it simply because of the brand, than the OS or functionality. (Apple)

          The fact is, though, that the Android OS is very functional at this point and is evolving rapidly. The evolution is occurring on many fronts, speed, stability, features etc. On the other hand Apple seems to be devoting a lot of energies into making sure their itunes won't sync with the Palm Pre, making it harder or impossible to jail-break the phone, and a lot of energy and time into making sure that every app, and every revision/update doesn't do something they don't think you should be doing on your iPhone.

          Face it, when it comes to marketing, Google sucks. It will be on the shoulders of the individual carriers and phone manufacturers to get their Android devices in front of the public and create a market.

          Apple on the other hand is unparalleled at creating an almost cult-like following. Some of the cult members making excuses for and accepting every limitation Apple adds to their devices.
          bkfist
  • RE: Is the Google Android platform the upcoming smartphone of choice?

    It sure will. However, the biggest blunder by Sprint
    is following in Apple/AT&T footsteps with their
    bundled plans.

    So whether you use it or not the cheapest calling plan
    is $70. They should have just made it so you could
    pick your calling plan of choice/need and add a data
    plan to it.

    Also, the no tethering is a HUGE mistake.

    What sprint needs is the ability to differentiate
    themselves. Instead they are sheep following the
    Apple/AT&T herd.

    When will someone put the customers needs first and
    let that drive their profits????
    scdaddyo
    • yeahhhhhhhh

      [b][i]So whether you use it or not the cheapest calling plan is $70. They should have just made it so you could pick your calling plan of choice/need and add a data plan to it.

      When will someone put the customers needs first and let that drive their profits????[/i][/b]

      Righttttt.... so let a customer decide not to purchase a data plan and bill them on a per Kb usage...

      [sarcasm]That would be really be looking out for the customer. [/sarcasm]
      Geuseppi
    • maybe

      "When will someone put the customers needs first and
      let that drive their profits????"

      Yea, I wonder about that. Just err on the side of giving things away and hope your short term losses are made up for with long term market share. I guess the tethering thing may not be so important for most users though. I would use it but then again I would be the kind of bandwidth hog that costs them money . .
      eggmanbubbagee@...