Posted by: vwbusguy | February 3, 2010

Android Review: My First Open Source Phone

I was a Blackberry user.  I had already been sold on smartphones, and was one of those BlackBerry users who scoffed when the iPhone came out as something expensive and shiny that could only do a fraction of what my Blackberry could, and yet was tied to an expensive plan on a single carrier.

I was aware of Android and had been running it for a while in a virtual machine hoping it would develop as a mature netbook OS.  I saw the G1 come out on T-Mobile and subsequent HTC offerings on Sprint as well.  And then came Droid.

By the time my two years had ended and my phone came up for upgrade, the new Blackberries were just not as impressive.  The Blackberry Storm had terrible reviews from friends, and was equally unimpressive when I tried it at the store.  After two years of use, I found the ball of my Blackberry was very finicky over time.

In the same I used my Blackberry for so much.  It was my mp3 player, my email client, my camera, and my alarm clock.  I had recently started to use Google Voice, which also integrated well on Blackberry.  I got an iPod Touch, but while the touch screen worked, and an mp3 player, I was very irked by how locked down it was, and how it seemed to have comparatively less features than the Blackberry, even my two-year old one.

Enter the Motorola Droid.  I got my Droid about a month ago and so far has been the answer to my post-Blackberry experience.  For the most part, it has been far more stable than my Blackberry and iPod Touch have been.  It again fills my need for an mp3 player, a camera, an alarm clock, an email client, a calender, and in addition, a pocket video gaming platform.

From a nerds perspective, I can get ssh and a terminal directly from the App store without having to jailbreak or root my Droid.  The control over the device is amazing.  For the linux user part, I like that it does not rely on a software platform to integrate it with my laptop.  I just put all my music in a folder on the sD card (simply by plugging in the USB cable that came with the Droid into my computer) and Android automatically organizes the library.   The same for pictures and video.  No need for iTunes to do this.  To be fair, this is exactly what my Blackberry did as well.  Droid comes with the downloader so you can purchase mp3’s directly to your Droid and copy your music over to your PC’s library no problem.

The battery life is mediocre.  Better than my wife’s iPhone but not nearly as good as my Blackberry was even after two years.  Blackberry definitely wins in that area.

If you are a Google user, the Droid integrates with all your Google account stuff, so anything on your Google calender and your Google Contacts can be sync’d.  It’s not just Google, it can do this with Outlook and Facebook as well!  The Google Voice app integrates even better than with the Blackberry.  Whenever you make a call you can be prompted to call through Google Voice or through your regular number.  The same goes for SMS.

Similar to the Apple experience, and an area Blackberry has been trying to do, there is a common software repository called the Android Market which is full of free and paid apps.  I have generally found that while there are more Apple apps, the Android apps are more useful, such as getting ssh or a good IRC client for free.  The gaming experience is pretty decent too, if you don’t mind the hit on your battery life, but there’s apps for that too.

Other cool apps are an Ebay app that can scan the barcode from any label and search for that item on Ebay.  Another one is Google Goggles from which the user can take a picture of something (a brand name, or a painting) and the app will come back with a Google search for it.

The Google Streetview integrated navigation system is a very nice thing to have if you happen to live in Los Angeles or any other major city, and so far has worked pretty well.

My recommendation is that if you can afford the required data package add-on, to go ahead and get the Motorola Droid.  The learning curve for it is not very steep, and it is loaded with functionality.  It is also one of the most stable mobile platforms available right now.


  1. […] original here: Android Review: My First Open Source Phone « Faith and Freedom This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 9:10 pm and is filed under Linux, […]

  2. Nice to read your Android experiences as a ex-Blackberry user, I always wondered about your persoective.

    Are there any “business” functions or apps you miss? Or do you know anything missing in Android what maybe other Blackberry users are used to?

    • Not really. The business type stuff, especially email, I actually prefer Android surprisingly. While I would definitely prefer a blackberry to an iPhone for messaging, email, meetings, and tasks, I actually really like the task-oriented nature of Android for those purposes. The Android to me is a good mix between the features of the blackberry, but with sex appeal.

  3. Interesting post.

    I very recently hopped from an iPhone 3GS to a Nokia N900.

    I have to say that the N900 has exceeded my expectations, and if you need a utility, it is there for it.

    The ability to have the space and the freedom of a phone that can do more than one thing at a time, as well as being familiar from a day to day pint of view. (e.g. I can back it up daily to a server using Duplicity, so if I lose it, I still have my data).

    The games available are great, the web browser is fantastic, and the mobile firefox with the weave plugin allows you to carry on browsing where you left off on the dektop.

    I’d like to try Android to see what it is like, in comparison to maemo, but it is interesting to hear points of view on this.


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