So I'm pretty much ready to pull the trigger on my first celphone purchase. I still think it will be overpriced for the amount i will use it, but I have some other reasons to have one, and im the type to jump in with both feet when i do this. But unfortunately swimming in the pool filled with choices when you know very little about them is overwhelming. I've always admired the little devices but As i already had an ipod touch for music, a laptop for computer like functions, etc I just couldnt justify the expense of another little gadget. Now i am and while im generally familier with the brands, When i go into a store I'm swamped by the number of choices and need some questions answered from someone whos not likely to make a commission off a sale.
I'm still at the early stages of the decision, so need help with that first before moving onto specific brands but here is my current list of choices and i have questions about them all.
Ipad. I am partial to getting an ipad with a 4g antenna and just using skype / messenger programs to communicate. But im confused about how skype works in this way. How can people call me if they have a non-skype enabled cel phone or a home phone? Is this even possible? If i got an ipad and a contract for usage with verizon or at&t would they also give me a phone number connected to the account if the contract is for data usage on a ipad? would this outright not work with people calling me, and only allow me to call out via skype app? Again, say i wanted to text from my ipad to a persons celphone which is connected via a standard celphone contract (maybe not even a smartphone, just a regular celphone with text capabilities), and not using a messenger program app...would that work? are there texting programs that would let me send to a phone number from the ipad? Does anyone use this same method? and if so, what are the positives and negatives if any? Another positive why im leaning to this method if it gives me everything I want is that if i go with verizon, i can use my ipad to hotspot my laptop anywhere which i like the idea of without more charges, and while this is a nice thing, its mostly a convience thing and not neccessarily a needed selling point that would make or break the idea.
Iphone. The advantage is that i wouldnt have to carry an ipad around everywhere, as an iphone can fit in my pocket, yet I've seen many very cool apps that seem to be designed for a pad device, so it seems like i would be limiting myself somewhat..if im going to go with an apple device i probably want the pad over the phone.
Android phone. I've played around with an android device for a small amount of time, and while yes i can see the flexibility it allows, It also seems more a hassle to be upgrading and modifying to keep the best stuff running on it. Granted, it probably would be much more friendly a device for the phone and texting questions i have with the ipad, but at the same time i dont know if i want something so complex. Its not that i dont have the know-how to deal with it, I guess i need to know just how susceptible to crashes and (software)damage these devices are. Do they need any kind of maintenance like defrags or such? Is the android going to be easy to use enough that all the customization aspects are actually accessible without decending into regular time investment into the device? Without that time investment is the droid really going to be worth getting considering im just basically limiting myself to the most simple apps since i wouldnt necessarily want to put the time into deeper work?
I will admit that the only real droid interaction i have had was with a cheap pad running gingerbread that for some reason hated the google play app and crashed everytime i tried to install an app from the store so it hopefully wasnt a good example of the droid. But i want opinions and will keep an open mind.
Brand names/models for the various droid phones would be helpful to look at as well and what you love about them...All i can really go on is by the price in terms of how fancy a phone is.
Thanks for the help.
I'm not an Apple fan and I love PCs and google, but I'm really happy with an iPhone. It's great, it works well with my PC and my other ios devices, and it does everything I need very well. There is not task I'd expect a smartphone to fulfill that the iPhone can't do for me. I never wished for it to be more flexible. Of course, that's not the case for a lot of people, and your mileage may vary. But, being a first time user, I don't think you'd have that problem either.
Also, You can use skype to receive and make regular phonecalls, but you need to pay for credits you'll use to make those calls. I don't know if using a data plan's minutes/megabytes/whatever to receive calls is better than just having a regular phone.
Honestly, there are 4 phones worth looking at right now if you aren't limited to a carrier:
Apple iPhone 4S - I'm biased towards Verizon, but your choice of carrier is going to be largely based on coverage where you live.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus - This is the best Android choice if you care about getting updates in a timely fashion.
Motorola Droid 4 - This is the best choice, period, if you need/want a physical keyboard.
Nokia Lumia 900 - Some people really love Windows Phone. Try one out at an AT&T store and see what you think.
All of these except the iPhone will support LTE, which will give you significantly faster data rates if you live in one of the markets with coverage.
I recommend exercising extreme caution if you're considering the Droid 4. My hands-on impressions from playing with one in a store (xposted from the Android thread).
Physical keyboards have been pointless for a couple years now. Touchscreen keyboards are very well done these days, especially ones like Swype and Swiftkey 3 on Android.
Android customization is as much of a time sink as you want it to be. You can play with the widgets and shortcut options included with the phone; download a couple icon packs, a custom launcher, and widgets off the market for under $5 total at most and customize your homescreens to an interface that's customized to your liking; or you can root and start playing with ROMs and themes. The first two options are painless, the third requires some work which varies with the device you have and some anxiety tolerance. If you go the Android route, the best thing to do is use and play with the software that's included for a bit, decide from your experience what it is you need that the stock options don't do or do well, and then scour the market for things that fits your needs.
Android devices don't require any sort of "maintenance" like a Windows device does. The platform is perfectly stable and usable out of the box (though I really do strongly recommend playing with at least a little bit of layout customization, it's worth it). The only time you might run into stability issues is if you start playing with custom ROMs and themes. Rooting a phone is generally a really simple process for devices these days, and that's the only sort of "hacking" that I'd come close to considering necessary at this point.
I'll second the recommendation of the Nokia Lumia 900 if you're just going to use the phone "as is" out of the box. The Windows app market is pretty barebones, but the videos I've seen of WP7 in action on the 900 have looked quite nice. It's not available on Verizon, but as a new customer that's not necessarily an issue. The phone's hardware is very much not future-proofed, though. Neither is the software, for that matter. The hardware is on par with Android's hardware of last year, and Windows Phone 8 will almost definitely be out in the fall. But it's cheap, $100 at AT&T and $50 on Amazon, and reviewers seem to like it (not love it).
The single best thing to do is go to stores and play with devices. For Android, my top recommendation would be the Droid RAZR MAXX despite it not having the latest software (Ice Cream Sandwich, but it is coming and apparently very soon). I loved the one I played with. The only reason I'd recommend the Galaxy Nexus over it is because of the very timely software updates. I personally didn't like the screen as it looks like everything has a yellow hue to it, and I think it feels very cheaply built. Hold a RAZR/MAXX and a GN and I'd be incredibly surprised to find you'd think the GN would feel sturdier.
I found that as much as I love being a power user on my PC, I hate it on my phone. I just want my phone to work. As Storm said, everyone has different requirements.
Android... well, it's a crapshoot. It can be months (sometimes as much as a year) for an official version of the newest OS to grace your device, and it may never happen at all without rooting and relying on the neckbeard community to come through with an unofficial and unsupported version for your device. And that unsupported version may end up DRASTICALLY different from the version of the OS that shipped with your device (your love or hatred of Sense or Moto's overlay will determine if that is a good thing or not).
I mean, Ice Cream Sandwich has been out for a long time now, and only 2.3% of Android handsets are running it.
Let's play Mario Kart or something...
1) Emulators. Apple has a strict zero-tolerance policy for piracy, and they extend that into the realm of what people generally use emulators for.
2) Torrent Apps. See above.
3) Full on, ridiculous amounts of GUI modification. Android phones can be warped and bent to your whim. Don't like an icon / skin / animation / sound effect / lock screen / anything? You can change it.
All of these things can be done on a jailbroken iPhone, mind you. And most of #3 involves "rooting" your android device.
What you will miss by picking an android over an iPhone is the app library. Android has a shitload of apps now, most of them free, and most ad-driven. The premium stable of apps is fairly small.
The iPhone has its share of free apps and ad driven ones as well, but the number of paid apps from major companies is worlds apart from anything else on the market.
I can't even begin to tell you how much time I have wasted on games on my phone, or how awesome it is to be able to compose music on a train with an 8 track in my pocket, or log my workouts in the Fitocracy app.
All that said, both platforms are great; just don't feel like you are "missing out" on any special functionality by picking an iPhone over an Android device - I mean, just look at how tweaky iOS5 can be:
Let's play Mario Kart or something...
Voice plans are dirt cheap these days. If you can exploit some of your carrier features, they are even more so. Telus offers unlimited national calling/texting to 5 favourite numbers on my voice plan. As such, while my plan only includes 150 minutes per month, I actually end up using many times that for free. And, I usually barely dig into those 150 minutes for calls that aren't in my 5 favourites. I don't know if any American carriers offer similar features... but I'd be surprised if they didn't.
As for the phones themselves. As others have said, your choice of OS depends quite a lot on your personal needs. The iPhone doesn't offer as much customization as Android, but it's still quite a powerful device with a very streamlined, polished, hyper-responsive interface. If you use iTunes, it definitely offers the easiest, most painless syncing ever. Once you enable wifi syncing, it requires no effort on your part at all. And, iTunes Match is among the most glorious features I've ever encountered in technology. Don't think you're tied down to iTunes, though. I watch all video on my iPhone with Goodplayer... basically the VLC equivalent for iOS, for instance. All the polish and simplicity of iOS comes at the expensive of customization, though. Quite the opposite of Android...
... which obviously offers the most customization potential, but at the expense of a bit of polish and simplicity. Android can do basically anything if you have the will to do it. It won't always be as easy or simple, but it will get done. What turns me off Android is the fragmentation and generally ambiguous update-ability of all but the Nexus devices. I have so many friends with former flagship Android phones that are several versions out of date because the manufacturer didn't feel like supporting their phones for more than a year or so... and yet the so-called neck beard community seems to be able to pull it off, albeit with more effort on the user's end. Android phones worth checking out, IMO, are the Galaxy Nexus, HTC One X, and the Sony Xperia S. These phones, IMO, provide the most polished experience possible on Android, and the phones themselves have some pretty nice hardware.
Windows Phone is also worth considering. The Nokia phones are absolutely gorgeous and beautifully designed. Windows Phone inherently lacks the spec sheet "wow" of Android, but Microsoft's tight hardware requirements ensure that the experience is still very polished and reliable. Windows Phone is my personal second choice behind iOS, despite a few lacking features, and a much less developed app store.