First impressions of my new Android phone

First impressions of my new Android phone

Summary: It seems that my anti-Android rants have come back to haunt me like roadside Chili. Get the scoop on my first day with my new Android phone.

TOPICS: Mobility, Telcos

This post results from one of those "never say never" stories that you hear so much about but are never in the right place to experience one first hand. Well, neither you nor I can say that anymore. I just received my brand new Samsung Galaxy SII Android phone loaded out of the box with Android version 2.3.6, Gingerbread.UCKK6 and Kernel version I'm both excited and worried at the same time. I'm excited because I've never had an Android-based device and I'm worried because my good friend Jason Perlow told me not to get one.

This whole Android situation began about two years ago when I wanted a tablet computer and started looking for one. I didn't want to plop down $600 on an iPad but I didn't want to settle for a tablet that wasn't going to meet my needs as a real portable computing platform either.

The topic arose again about two months ago, when Jason and I were talking about tablets, the new iPad 3, Android tablets and the general state of mobile devices in the workplace. From that conversation, I decided to write, "Why I'll never own an Android-based anything" and followed it up a few days later with "Android angst revisited. The saga continues."

I received much negative commentary over those two posts in the form of emails, Google+ rants, comments in the Talkback sections of those articles and on other websites. It was both stimulating and irritating to see so many people tell me how wrong I was for having rejected Android devices. You see, I eventually chose to purchase an iPad 1 and an iPhone 4.

In my opinion, a lot of people got the whole story wrong but I'm going to leave that in the past except for giving you a point of reference for this post.

My business phone, supplied by my employer is a Windows phone--an HTC Pro Touch 2. It's a very nice, reliable phone. However, it no longer holds a charge for even a full day's work. I have to plug it in after two or three hours of use. After a lot of frustration with having to keep the phone close to a power outlet, I requested a new phone through our online ordering system. To my surprise, the phones listed are all Android-based.

Since I had my choice of models and carriers, I selected the Samsung Galaxy SII. I made this decision based on a conversation I had with Jason (Perlow), another member of my team and a few other Android users.

Again, Jason advised me against the Android, stating that he was sick of messing with his. He was tired of all the crashes and problems he'd had with it. I think he was ready to toss it out the door. A few days later, he posted "I'm sick to death of Android." I haven't bothered to read the rancid commentary resulting from his post but I'm sure that his readers have told him how wrong he is to have come to the conclusion that Android just isn't working for him.

I went for the Android against his advice and against what I'd learned in my own research. I actually didn't have a choice, so that point is really moot. I needed a new phone. My choices were presented to me and I chose the one that other people on my team told me was the coolest of all. Even Jason said that it's a cool phone.

My new phone came yesterday. I've set it up to connect to my WiFi. I've connected to Google Play and grabbed InstaGram, Camera Effects and Cartoon Camera (All free Apps). I'm excited about the 8.0 Megapixel camera because I love photography and filmmaking. I'll never purchase any Apps for it but the free ones are hopefully OK. I won't use games on it but I can't let the awesome camera go to waste.

I don't have the SIM card yet but am enjoying the device as a computing platform so far. Aside from a few Google Play crashes, I'm pretty pleased with it. It seems a little touch-sensitive for my taste but maybe there's a way to change the sensitivity so that I don't accidentally make phone calls or open Apps that I don't want opened.

Now, I've only had the thing for about 24 hours but my first impressions are that it's pretty cool. I like the way the iPhone handles multiple Apps better but otherwise, it feels very iPhone-esque to me. So far, I don't have any major complaints about it but I'll keep you updated on that as I use it. After I'm able to make phone calls, I'll let you know how that goes for me as well.

I have to plug it in because I'm getting a message on the screen that reads, "Connect your charger." I must obey the Android.

Never say never.

What do you think? Did I make a good choice? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Mobility, Telcos


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • So, from what you have explained . . .

    . . . you have an Android phone only because you had no other choice. I am curious, if you did have a choice, what would you have chosen?
    • Good Question

      That is a very good question. I must say that I'd need to know what the other choices would be to say for sure.
  • My Gosh, Ken! That thing is as big as your face.

    Sorry .. couldn't resist, grin!

    May you have many hours of enjoyment with your new smartphone. Please do a follow up on when or if ICS will be installed on your phone. Did the carrier give you any time frame for OS updates?
    • ICS

      I've heard that ICS is coming to a smartphone near me very soon. It's AT&T, so I'm not sure of the exact timeline. Since it's new to me, I don't know the difference right now. Gingerbread seems OK but I have nothing to compare it to except iOS. ;-)
      • Unbranded...

        I always go for unbranded phones, then I can stick the SIM for whichever carrier I happen to have a card laying around for.

        I also get the updates before the carriers get their dirty mits all over the thing and ruin it.

        My htc Sensation got its update on Monday and I'm very pleased with ICS. It certainly seems to go longer between charges than under Gingerbread.

        I also put in a larger capacity battery last month, so with ICS I can go for over 2 days between charges with normal usage, about 36 hours if I play a lot of Triple Town...

        I currently have an iPhone, a Windows Phone 7 and the Sensation and I have to say, although I really like WP7, I find myself taking the Sensation with me everywhere, with the WP7 as a backup. I can't remember the last time I charged up the iPhone.

        ICS, at least with the htc Sense skin, looks a lot smoother than Gingerbread and some things are better organised than before. It also feels a bit faster. That said, I don't know what Samsung and their TouchWiz will do to the ICS experience.

        After trying the Sensation and the Galaxy SII in a shop, I went with the Sensation, because it didn't feel so cheap and plasticy in the hand, but the AMOLED screen on the Samsung is nice.

        I hope you have a good experience. My Sensation has been rock solid, with fewer app crashes than the iPhone and I have to restart it less often.
  • Give it time

    It'll be fine for a couple months until the battery starts to wear down after 3 hrs, and after you downloaded a number of apps that run in the background. Don't forget to download an app to manage those because the OS can't. Eventually you'll have to remove the battery to reset after frequent lockups.
    • Ouch!

      But I have read several online comments and blogs regarding your excellent suggestion for acquiring an application management tool.
    • Not so fast...

      While adding apps like "Advanced Task Killer" was absolutely necessary not so long ago, today's flavors of Android (Gingerbread and ICS) really don't need it as the OS does a much better job of task management. In fact, many report *reduced* performance and battery life when running task killing apps. Yes, the more apps you have running and the more data you're pulling, the more battery it will consume, but that's true of ANY mobile device, and NOT exclusive to Android. I've had my current Android device for over a year, and I have never run a task killing app nor suffer from any of the symptoms you mention.
    • I've downloaded an app manager

      But I have never used it in anger - unlike the app manager in iOS, where I use it to kill off battery hogs, like Skype.

      I've not had any problems with battery life on my Sensation - and the larger battery means I have to recharge it every 2 days, instead of every day. With the standard battery, it would last about as long as my iPhone - as long as the iPhone wasn't running Skype.

      As to lockups, only on my iPhone - it was sent back for repair 3 times in 6 weeks, before they finally relented and gave me a replacement. I haven't had to remove the battery on my Sensation yet.
  • From a Galaxy S2 user --

    I am a senior lady and have had my Galaxy S2 for 5 months. It's my first Android device, and I switched from years with BlackBerry because I was tired of not being able to do a lot of things my friends and neighbors could do on their smartphones.

    I liked the S2 immediately and found Android to be very intuitive, easy to figure out for a non-technoid; but after 5 months I can honestly say I love this device. It handles my work & personal emails quickly and effortlessly; I've dropped only one call in 5 months (TMobile) and that one was expected in a familiar "dead zone". The S2 has become my sole news source via half a dozen different news apps; my primary shopping tool via apps like Amazon, Target, eBay, etc.; and virtually my whole entertainment experience between Kindle, Netflix, and a few favorite games.

    While the battery life isn't great -- it just barely gets me through the day -- I've found it comparable to tales I've heard from friends with half a dozen other smartphone brands. I chose early on to spend $50 on the Galaxy S2 battery charger kit, which includes an extra battery & charging station; I keep it charged and always carry it in my purse. On days when I need more battery life than usual, I'm prepared with my spare. I've had a good experience with Watchdog, an app which monitors my data usage and processes running unnecessarily in the background.

    I hope your Android experience is a good one, and I hope you enjoy the S2. It's not perfect and I can't say it's the best device out there; I can only say it has done great for me. If it meets your own personal needs -- as the S2 meets mine -- you'll like it. If not, it will at least give you first-hand experience which will better equip you to yea or nay both the OS and the phone. Best wishes!
  • Third-party battery

    I got Anker batteries for my SGSII, which last longer than the stock one. Good value for money, and it's great being able to replace the battery, which wasn't an option in my old iPhone.
  • Multitasking

    Handling of multiple applications will be much better once you get ICS. You will get a long list of screenshots of all your open apps and you can just swipe it to the side to kill the app, or click it to bring it to front. This works very well. Unfortunately, you will probably still have to get the list by longpressing the "home" button as your phone has dedicated buttons. On phones, like Galaxy Nexus, where ICS provide the button functionality you get the list directly from one button click, a way that is far superior to the iOS double click action.
  • Accidental Calls

    Free app called Call Confirm from 7bit is great. It will pop up and ask if you really want to call the specified contact. It is always one of the first apps i install on my Droids.

    Also, go the swype website and download the beta for the swype keyboard it is the best for typing.

    Wait until you get ICS on that device and you will find out just how good Android OS is.
  • Toy Story

    I ditched mine for an iphone and will never go back to Android. I spent so much time "messing" with it just keep it running properly (it never did) that I got fed up and bought an iphone 4s. To each his own, but the iphone has been a pleasure to use compared to the SGII (let's not even talk about the SG1). Lag, force closes, weird error messages, frequent battery pulls, etc all made me want to seriously throw it out the window. It now belongs to my 9 year old to play Angry Birds on. Good luck.
    • Same experience

      Yeah, I had basically the exact same experience with Android. I'm not so arrogant as to think the platform is hopeless- I believe you can absolutely have a great experience with it- it just left a sour taste in my mouth that I won't soon forget.

      I'm very tech-focused and love tweaking/customizing, but as I grow older, I find I want my *phone* to just work without compromise.. Android just didn't fit the bill for me. Android would be a GREAT hobby device OS- unfortunately my primary tech means of connecting to the world isn't a hobby device to me anymore- it is a *necessity* that it functions correctly all the time, every time. I'll leave my hobby platforms to my linux boxes.
  • The best thing about most Android Phones... the option for third party batteries. I've had my phone for a little over a year now and the battery was getting a little flat on me, so I made the simple option to just buy a new one. For 20 bucks, I traded my old 1500 mah for a 3600 mah battery and it works like a dream. And I didn't have to ship my whole phone off to the manufacturer to do it. Lord knows my iPod Touch needs a new battery.

    Now, if you really want to become efficient Ken, get a Swype-style keyboard. It'll change your life. It's the main reason I can't ever go back to Apple or try out WP7.
  • New toys!

    New toys are definitely exciting to get! Hope you like it in the long run- that is what counts. I would never buy a non-Nexus Android device, personally- carrier controlled updates are the worst.
  • Welcome to Android

    Ken, I'm on my second Android device. Mine is an HTC Sensation 4G, because I had a positive experience with my previous HTC MyTouch 3G. However, the Samsung Galaxy SII was the other contender. In the end, my carrier was charging a 50.00 premium vs. the HTC for the same specs and performance. I got my Sensation before Christmas 2011 and what an experience. It is faster for checking emails than my laptop when connected to our home Wi-Fi. Football scores, Facebook status checks, loading pictures up to Facebook are a snap. I got my wife a Sensation for Valentine's day and she is definitely hooked on it since she can check her Outlook mail at work via the Web. I am hoping for an ICS update from my carrier soon. I also hope that by the time we get to Android V.6, it'll be running on my laptop as the primary OS. I can't wait to be free of Windows.
  • Even if you end up hating it in the end...

    ...I think it's cool that you're at least giving Android a try. If you do experience issues, wait for the ICS update and see if it fixes them. I've only had one smartphone so far. My Thunderbolt came with Froyo and it had some bugs and a couple high-profile apps it didn't support, but after it got updated to Gingerbread all my problems were fixed. I'm really glad I didn't give up on it because everything worked out for me, but not everyone who bought an Android phone is that fortunate. Android can be like a gamble. I totally understand why the iPhone has such an advantage when it comes to this sort of thing. Everyone who gets an iPhone 4 or 4S pretty much has the same stable experience.
  • First impressions of my new Android phone

    I have owned half a dozen high end droids (at least at time of launch) over the years (including Desire HD / Galaxy S / HTC Sensation to name few), and I have had issues with every one of them, with ranges from Android's famous stuttering/lag/performance issues to crashes/stability issues & connectivity problems. Prior to that I owned Omnia I900 for many years, which served me perfectly during its time. So once I'm done with my current droid, I don't see myself buying one ever again. Then there is small fact that Google 'imitated' iOS in many ways instead of coming up with some genuinely new UI like WP, which has always been a bone of contention IMO, if I want iOS look a like I would rather buy the real thing.