Views from Phanfare CEO and Co-founder Andrew Erlichson

Link A Week with Android: Day 2

At this point I have removed most of the Motorola widgets from my home screen of my Droid X. I have customized my home screen with weatherbug, something I could not do on the iPhone. I have downloaded Android Task Killer.

I have figured out my way around the interface. It is just not as elegantly or meticulously designed as the iPhone.

But having said all that, the phone is entirely reliable. It never drops a call. Really. Never. And to be honest, I had forgotten how satisfying it is to carry a phone that can hold a phone call though whatever (I was on Verizon for 11 years before switching to ATT for the iPhone). The Droid X works in my house, even when I am on the first floor. Also, the phone never misses an incoming call.

I can read my email, in some ways more efficiently than I read it on the iPhone, it has a workable web browser, and google reader works through the browser, which is my main distraction when not reading email.

My calendar is synched with the cloud. My contacts are too. I have found that my most favorite apps are available: Kindle, NY Times, Open Table, Yelp, Facebook (just got a new release, still not perfect but getting better), and DropBox.

I could use this phone. My biggest issue? I don’t love the Droid X form factor. The phone it too large and too thick on the top. I am wondering whether I should swap it for a Droid 2 in 15 days. I can’t type on the Android keyboard all that well (although maybe I will get better) and maybe the physical keyboard will be useful for longer emails.

I know why Android is getting traction in the US. It’s because by 2007, 90% of folks in the US with a brain who were middle income or better had switched to Verizon. And for many folks, Android works well enough. That is, they are happier with an Android phone on Verizon than they would be with an iPhone on ATT.

I truly believe that if you subjectively compare the iPhone 4 to the currently shipping Android phones, the iPhone comes out on top. I don’t see many people choosing the Droid X phone I have running Android 2.1 over the iPhone 4 on the same carrier. But I can totally see why people would choose a Verizon Android phone over an ATT iPhone in the US.

If you are not the type of person who gets excited over phones, the Android experience on Moto is completely adequate. It’s head and shoulders above any feature phone you have ever owned. It is also superior to the Blackberry experience if you value web browsing and you use Google services. No, Android does not sing. The integration of the hardware and software does not border on the sublime. it’s a workhorse.

So for Apple, it’s do or die with Verizon. They have to get the device on the Verizon network soon because every day wasted helps Android get traction.

  • rlieving

    I am enjoying your Apple-centric series on the Android phone. As an owner of multiple Apple devices – and no Android devices – your analysis is very helpful. I especially like the cost comparisons in later posts.

    Here's a question not yet considered, however. What percentage is the iPhone to blame for connectivity problems? And what percentage is AT&T?

    I only ask because of my pre-iPhone AT&T experience. My first AT&T phone was a Nokia E71. Yes, it occasionally dropped calls, but not nearly on the level of my iPhone, which I estimate to be around 40%. In my experience, the iPhone hardware is at least partially to blame.

    The first question is, are Android users on AT&T as unhappy about connectivity as iPhone users? I haven't seen studies or reports, or maybe these people already have low expectations. I just don't know.

    The second – and more important – question is, what effect would similar connectivity issues on a different network have on the Apple/Droid race?

    Wired just wrote an article on the Apple/AT&T relationship that talked about the crummy AT&T network – but also about how the 'buggy' radio software makes a bad situation worse. Anyone who uses the phone knows that connection takes forever.

    Apple says this is necessary to maintain battery life. Engineers say towers are not designed to handle the way the iPhone connects to the network.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? What if the iPhone is partially to blame and this becomes painfully obvious on a new network?

  • erlichson

    I have no direct evidence that the problems holding a call on att are due
    partly to apple's radio implementation but like you I suspect that they are
    partly to blame.

    I have spoken to folks who claim that their att edge blackberry devices are
    pretty reliable for voice calling.

    I have traveled to europe with the iphone where cellular coverage is widely
    assumed to be better but unfortunately did not have a voice plan and hence
    made very few voice calls.

    We won't really be able to make an apple for apples (pun intended)
    comparison until there is a verizon iphone. And even then not really because
    it will have an entirely different base band implementation that is
    compatible with CDMA.

    All I can really say today is if calling is priority one, get a phone from

    I looked at the consumer reports reviews for smartphones last night. While
    consumer reports ranked the droid 1 point beneath the iphone, the ratings by
    users were much less generous. I believe the iphone had a four and a half
    star rating while the droid was three and a half.

    If I had to name the benefits of android over the iphone for me, looking at
    the droid x, it would be more reliable voice calls and tighter gmail
    integration. Principal drawbacks are form factor, battery life, inferior
    virtual keyboard and fewer apps.

  • lvgoto

    Any amount above that goes to pay Apple overhead and profits. That goes a long way in explaining how incredibly profitable Apple has been for the last few years. And I would charge thru the nose too, if I had a unique and appealing product.

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