Will AT&T ever sell an open high end Android device?

Will AT&T ever sell an open high end Android device?

Summary: AT&T seems to be giving lip service to Android devices with none of them as good as similar devices found on the other carriers. The iPhone 4 is the clear choice for smartphone buyers, but it sure would be nice to have some equal competition with this carrier.

SHARE:

AT&T must really love the iPhone as they keep releasing subpar Android devices that aren't giving the high end smartphone consumer much of a choice. AT&T was the last carrier to provide Android devices to consumers and has done it so far in a rather lackluster manner that shows me they are not very committed to supporting Android. The latest device, the Dell Aero is launching with Android 1.5 and I am sure still includes all the AT&T crapware and limited access to applications outside of the Android Market.

Other Android devices you can find on AT&T include the HTC Aria (the best of the bunch), Motorola Backflip (strange design and older OS), Samsung Captivate (nice hardware, but locked down a bit and poor overall performer with AT&T junk), and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 (again Android 1.6 loaded at launch). We even see the smartphone/tablet device, the Dell Streak, launching with Android 1.6.

The HTC Aria is quite good with a bit limited processor speed compared to other high end devices and a lower resolution display, but it comes in at a good price and if it didn't have the AT&T lockdown and promise of an Android 2.1 or 2.2 update then it would probably be the one to buy. I thought the Samsung Captivate would be outstanding and even recommended it to a coworker who now comes to me every other day with issues and I have seen it locking up for no apparent reason. I also don't appreciate the lockdown AT&T puts on it and agree with much of what Jason Hiner wrote concerning the "openness" of the Android platform.

Other carriers add in their own stuff too, but in the case of Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile we have seen them including their own branded tab in the Android Market so the consumer has the choice in most cases about which apps and services they want to install and use. AT&T has always loaded their junk on most all of their smartphones with no ability to remove, but has left the iPhone alone.

If I was an AT&T customer, the choice for a smartphone would be easy and it would be the iPhone 4 all the way. I wouldn't consider an Android device until we see more openness by AT&T and I imagine that won't be happening anytime soon.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Smartphones, AT&T

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

12 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Will AT&T ever sell an open high end Android device?

    I agree that AT&T does it best to screw people over with it's smartphones but luckily the Samsung Captivate is very easy to "free". Rooting took about 30 seconds and once that was done I was able to uninstall the AT&T bloatware with Titanium Backup.
    RonCri
    • Good to know, may have to try

      @RonCri My coworker is very unhappy with his Captivate now after being quite pleased for about a week. I may just have to root it for him to get it to be a winning device for him again. Thanks for the tip.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • You can never truly OWN a phone you've paid full-price for

        @palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller) What about the customers that've purchased a smartphone at the no-committment price. They own the device and should be able to use it without any LIMITS IMPOSED BY THE CARRIER (AT&T altering the stock OS). This alone is enough to start a class action suit and stir up chatter in congress. Matt.. consider this for another write-up.
        unabated
    • RE: Will AT&T ever sell an open high end Android device?

      @RonCri ditto, easy to root, easy to remove the bloatware with Titanium Backup. I also was able to get AT&T to replace my initial phone with another Captivate. That seems to have fixed the problems I was having with sluggish performance and poor GPS reception. I'm very happy with the phone, now.
      youngkin
  • Monopolistic practices on smartphones

    Its no surprise that AT&T dropped the deal with Google at the last minute for Retail in-store sales of the Nexus One. They are unwilling to put an open device on their network. Contradicting itself, most smartphones today have the processing power of a low-end laptop. Yet, if you purchased an AIR CARD for use with your personal laptop it's OK, and they dare not dictate what you may, should, or may not install on your laptop. Smartphones are no different. End the monopolistic practices with Apple and get with the times, AT&T. My business devices and I are ditching you in a couple months if things don't improve.

    Recently tried the CAPTIVATE and I am NOT impressed. First with AT&T's app limitations, browser limitations, and other built-in limits (try changing the browser's UA string from Android to Desktop.. you'll need to perform a factory reset on the device to use the browser again). The Galaxy S stands well on its own, WITH the Front Facing Camera and WITHOUT AT&T's limitations on the OS. Its best that they leave the firmware, OS, and APPs to the phone manufacturers and STICK TO IMPROVING THE NETWORK.
    unabated
  • AT&T seems to *want* me to leave

    I've been a Cingular/AT&T customer for just over 10 years now, and I've never been more dissatisfied with the company than I am now. I suspect before the year is done, I will be leaving for either Sprint or T-Mobile.<br><br>Here's a partial list of complaints, in somewhat random order:<br>*More dropped calls in the past year than the previous 9 combined. Sure, they don't *count* as dropped calls because AT&T holds the dead/silent line open for over a minute so that *YOU* end the call. Thus, no "drop". It's bogus.<br>*More "Network busy. Retry?" messages than ever before.<br>*Still the same signal strength problems on my route to work, on an Interstate highway near Washington DC.<br>*No updates to my current phone in 3 years, though Sony Ericsson has released several updates. AT&T controls my firmware version, and they don't care.<br>*Poor choices in phones in recent years. Few of the "cooler" Android phones, and when they get one, like the Samsung Galaxy S (a.k.a. "Captivate"), they remove useful free features like FM Radio and Voice Dialing and replace them with pay-per-month features like AT&T Radio (streaming) and AT&T Voice Dialing ($5/mo). And to add insult to injury, the manual says that AT&T Radio is data intensive and user should subscribe to an "unlimited data plan". Yeah, you know, the one AT&T *no longer offers*.<br>*They decided to change my employer's corporate discount from 19% to 15%, which is their right. But how they went about it was *horrible*. They sent a letter saying they found I was "mistakenly" getting a discount and it had been removed. Call this special number, they said, for details. When I called the number I was told they could not help me, but I should go visit an AT&T store. It's been months and many discussions and I have neither 19% discount nor 15% discount.<br>*Yes, they dropped the unlimited data plan.<br><br>Why am I with them still? Right now, my entire extended family is with AT&T, so our mobile-to-mobile is all free. But a large number of my relatives are soon to be free of their contracts. Then I'm pretty sure I'm moving on.<br><br>I won't go with Verizon, cause I think they're just as bad. I got forced into Verizon (from MCI) land-line service a few months back, and trying to talk to a human was a nightmare.<br><br>So I'm going with either Sprint (cool phones, decent plans, still unlimited) or T Mobile (GSM for international travel).<br><br>Sorry for the long post, but I had a lot of venting to do! <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/grin.gif" alt="grin">
    bmgoodman
  • Probably just trying to ditch them all before WP7 comes out and they have

    toss them all in the dumpster out back...
    Johnny Vegas
    • I agree ....

      They need dumpster space for the WP7 crap in the works.
      wackoae
  • Compete

    ATT doesn't want to compete with the iphone, I get the feeling this is because of Apple.
    jdsd6@...
  • RE: Will AT&T ever sell an open high end Android device?

    I'm guessing when at&t loses its exclusive agreement with apple, then you will see good android phones on their network. I wouldn't be surprise if apple has a hand in what android phones can be on at&t while iphone reigns on that network.
    rengek
  • RE: Will AT&T ever sell an open high end Android device?

    No. They won't. They now have ONE high end device, and it's hardly "open".
    This and their stupid decision to terminate the unlimited data plan caused me to bail on AT&T mid-contract, in favor of t-mobile, and I'm satisfied that I did right. Got a nice Samsung Vibrant, and a (cheaper!) unlimited data plan. Coverage is fine, where I am.
    never going back as long as they maintain the control-freak mentality.
    handydan918@...
  • Re: Android yes, iPhone no!

    I have to disagree with Matthew on the choice of which smart phone to get if you are on AT&T. I did buy the Captivate when it came out, but thought that it may be more "hassle" than my wife wanted to deal with so I bought her an iPhone. I have regretted that decision ever since. While the Captivate is not perfect, I do really enjoy it's ease of use and stability, while my wife's iPhone has cause her no end to grief from very practical perspectives and general head scratching like saying "what... what a crazy way to do things." One thing is, where is the speed dial feature on the iPhone and why did they leave out such a basic feature, and relatively simple to implement I might add, for ease of calling one of your usual numbers?!<br><br>If I had it to do over again, I'd buy her a Captivate instead of the iPhone in a heart beat. Yes, AT&T did add too much crapware, but there is a one-click root now ... which I plan to do as soon as it gets the 2.2 update and rooting has been verified.
    TheRealUMLGuy