February 16, 2010
My wife and I recently switched from AT&T to T-Mobile and we picked up some new Android-based devices. For me, the Nexus One; for her, the Motorola CLIQ. Both phones have a lot of really great features, most of which are Android-related. But each device has a handy set of features that made them good decisions for us. Her Pantech phone was ruined by our son dropping it in the dog’s water dish, and I just got tired of the closed mindset of the iPhone. That, and our monthly cell phone bill is cheaper with T-Mobile.
For me, the flexibility of a multi-tasking phone with a fast processor, decent screen resolution, and the new Android 2.1 feature set. For my wife, the superb MOTOBLUR tool on the CLIQ (running Android 1.5 or 1.6, I forget) gives her a means to combine all of her social/texting/facebook/etc feeds into a single experience. She’ll get an Android 2.1 upgrade in the near future, according to Motorola, which will give her even more voice commands.
Another nice feature is that both phones sport a micro USB connector for charging – for the first time ever in our marriage, we have similar phone charging needs. Using a $5 coupon for newegg.com, I ordered two more three-foot micro USB cables for $2.99 each, so we’ll have enough cables for our laptops, desktop PC, etc. Next purchase will likely be a two-port USB charger for the car so we can keep both phones charged on road trips.
Our experience with the Android Market has been pretty nice. I’ve found myself looking over her phone to see which apps she’s found, and she’s found some great apps and widgets. She found some text-to-speech tools, and is looking for a decent voice recording app. I found Android versions of the iPhone apps I used the most: Bump, Pandora, last.fm, Dropbox (Droidbox), a mobile Bible, Stitcher, Shazam, Instamapper, Flixster, and a Starbucks Card manager. Sadly my Starbucks Gold card has been so overused the card’s numbers have worn off.
We’re both spoiled with the voice search tools, and yesterday I transferred our family calendar into a shared Google Calendar so our phones will update with appointments, etc., so we both have a better handle on who’s where and when. No more “I’ll have to check the calendar when I get home…”
Overall, it’s really nice to finally have a decent multitasking phone, not a uni-task setup like previous Nokia/WinMo/Pantech/Samsung models or the iPhone. Finally, I can stream Pandora music, use turn-by-turn directions, while constantly updating my location on Google Latitude all on one device.
There are a few key differences in our phones, but they share many commonalities thanks to the Android OS. The Nexus One is a touch screen device only, whereas the Motorola CLIQ has a slider keyboard (which isn’t always needed, but my wife needs the physical keyboard. Both have a 5 megapixel camera, and I think the CLIQ’s cpu runs about 600MHz to the Nexus 1GHz speed. They both have similar RAM/ROM sizes, and I may upgrade her microSD memory to a 16GB card for her birthday (shh!)
Moving to a new platform wasn’t without its hiccups of course.
We had difficulty getting her old contacts from her AT&T SIM to her CLIQ. Ultimately, we put the SIM in an old Samsung Blackjack II, sync’d it with Outlook, used a third-party tool to sync Outlook to Gmail, then had to set those Gmail contacts to family/friends labels, at which point the CLIQ sync’d them over the air (OTA). What an ordeal.
We also had to figure out how to get the camera gallery to send photos to Facebook on the CLIQ. While MOTOBLUR has Facebook integration (it only does status and contact sync’ing), the CLIQ doesn’t include the full Android app for Facebook; simply installing the app immediately gave us an option to ‘share’ a photo with Facebook. The CLIQ also came preconfigured to show weather in New York, which we really only need to know to tease a SoCal friend who recently moved to the frosty NYC area, and it wasn’t completely intuitive how to fix that. There were some other minor things she asked me to handle for her.
On the Nexus One, my only pain point was getting my productivity apps installed as soon as possible, and that T-Mobile took nearly two days to get the data plan working on my phone so I didn’t have to rely on wifi. Nowhere was it documented that I needed to remove my battery to cold-boot my phone.
Now it’s time to learn some Java so I can tinker with some app building of my own. Now that I have a commute to work, I may revisit my old w98podfetch application and build a nice UI for it. There are a handful of podcast downloaders for Android, but I see a lot of comments about how there are too many limitations.