As I hold my fantastic HTC One with Android 4.3 and Sense 5 in hand, I am questioning the value of custom Android user interfaces compared to the pure Google Android experience of the Nexus line.
I own a 2013 Nexus 7 and enjoy using that tablet. However, I find lots of value in HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, and LG's user experience.
HTC Sense offers me an amazing people-focused contacts and phone experience, Zoes, Highlight Videos, excellent Exchange email and calendar experience, HTC BlinkFeed, HTC TV utility with IR port, Evernote integration with Notes, multi-service image gallery support, and more.
Samsung TouchWiz offers enhanced S Pen support (Note devices), smart scroll, amazing feature-packed camera application, Air View, multi-window support, S Health service, Quick Glance lock screen functionality, and a huge number of Quick Controls.
LG's new custom UI is similar to TouchWiz with some additional functionality such as Knock On (turn on your display by tapping on the display), customizable home screen icons, enhanced camera software, IR blaster and software, and more.
There are also aspects of these custom user interfaces that drive me crazy (extensive notification areas, confusing task managers) and that are more gimmicky than useful. We used to experience reduced performance with these custom UIs, but the hardware has gotten powerful enough so that really is not noticeable on most devices today.
In addition to software enhancements, consumers in the US can pick up subsidized devices for much lower cost than paying for unsubsidized Nexus and Google Experience devices. US wireless customers, except for T-Mobile customers, are already paying for the phone in their monthly plan so subsidized devices make sense for those carrier customers.
So will I be purchasing a Nexus 5 today or tomorrow? You bet I will because I am a smartphone enthusiast and enjoy testing out the latest and greatest phones.
Will the Nexus 5 replace the HTC One as my daily driver? That remains to be seen as nothing else over the past seven months has been able to knock the HTC One out of my pocket.
- CNET: Hands-on Nexus 5, KitKat pics and details pop up online
- Hands-on with the new high resolution Nexus 7 (Gallery)
- The HTC One is the best smartphone I have ever used (review)
- Galaxy Note 3: Frustrating, overwhelming, but is that part of its appeal?
- LG G2 Review: Super specs, funky buttons, settings galore