My Palm Treo has reached the end of its lift, it is time to buy a new cell phone. I have been debating whether or not should I get the iPhone 4. iPhone 4 is sleek but I disapprove the control freak business tactics of Apple. Although almost everyone around me use a iPhone, I decide to go against the trend and embrace Android, a truly open platform compare to Apple’s walled garden. I naturally picked the Samsung Galaxy S, since it is the flagship Android phone and its specification is on par with iPhone 4. I used Rogers, so I have to picked up the AT&T version of Galaxy S Captivate. All Galaxy S versions are essentially the same under the hood, only cosmetic difference on the shell.
Galaxy S is actually slightly lighter and thinner than the iPhone 4. The Captivate looks like a Blackberry while the Vibrate looks like a iPhone. I must admit iPhone has better design of the shell, however that’s purely cosmetic. Galaxy S use normal SIM card, I just plug in my old SIM card it simply works. It comes with 16GB internal RAM and a micro SD card slot, so I can expand the memory if I ever need more, another point winning over iPhone. The screen and sound quality is top-notch, although the screen resolution is slightly less than iPhone 4. The battery is pretty good, I can watch 5 hours of video before runs out of the battery. In stand by mode with Wi-fi data enabled for background update and occasional short phone calls, it used about 20% in a day.
The contact and calendar links up to my gmail and facebook account. Since all the data is stored in Google’s server, I don’t have to worry about sync up with my computer and I can access my data anywhere. Transfer contact from my Palm is really easy, I just need to export the old address book to a vcf file and then import it to gmail, I got all the numbers and addresses into the phone in less than 30 seconds.
The haptic feedback of the screen is nice, every time I press a button or a key on the screen, the phone will vibrate to give me a freedback. The swype keyboard is definitely an improvement over iPhone. I don’t have to lift my finger when I type, I can simply trace the characters on the screen. I think with enough practice, I can type in swype as almost as good as using a real keyboard. The only complain is the stock OS does not come with Chinese input, I have to download the Chinese IME separately.
For most applications your found in iPhone, you can find the pretty much the same on Android. The Android apps market is the equivalent of the iTune app store. I can find most of the apps I need for free. I can also download paid software without paying from Applanet instead of download from the Google Market. iPhone boost to have many more apps than Android, but most of those extra apps belongs to the long tail that nobody really use. Android allows game console emulators, combined with the one stop game ROM download apps, I play virtually every single old games from the 80s and 90s on my phone.
iPhone has has a one stop sync up solution for music and video files with iTunes. Android does not come with any fancy sync up tools. Although Samsung has the Kies software but it is not very user friendly. For better or worse, a Android phone can just act like any other USB driver. I can easily copy files between my computer and my phone using Windows Explorer. I have a few options if I don’t want to plug in the USB cable all the time. I can either run FTP client from the phone to log into the FTP server on my computer or run FTP server on the phone and log in from my computer. The only problem is FTP cannot not handle Chinese character properly. Double Twist Air Sync comes close to a one stop solution, but its file database still has too much influence from iTune and does not let me control the directory structure. Web Sharing seems very promising, I can mount my phone as a network drive on my computer.
The stock Captivate comes with Android 2.1, so I decided to upgrade the OS to 2.2. Flashing the ROM of your cell phone is not for the fainted heart. I bricked my phone a few times before I get the new OS up and running. Instead of using the Samsung stock firmware, I used the Cognition ROM, which is better performance and has more features built into the OS. It double the speed of the stock ROM according to benchmark result. This is a major advantage of Android over iPhone, I can do whatever I want with the cell, including installing a complete new OS.
Android is not only a smart phone, but is really a full function computer inside your pocket. It just happen to be I can also make phone calls from this pocket computer. After all Android is Linux under the hood, with the root control I have complete control any feature of the phone.