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Saturday, January 15, 2011

How to choose Android phone(eg Droid Bionic, Sony Ericsson Playstation phone, IPhone)

1) Choosing android phone
2) Smart Phone comparison(Atrix vs Sony Erricson playstation phone vs Iphone)
3) Top Android Apps
4) General Android phone usage/tutorial
5) Android App Development(for software developers)

How to choose an android phone ?

a) First choose the carrier(eg ATT, verizon).
  • Cost: Everyone has different plans. eg ATT 25$ plan has 2G limitations, verizon 30 $ plan is unlimited(but voiceplan may be expensive), Sprint may have 40$ data plan for 4G phones. NOTE: The cost of monthly plan can get substantially reduced if your(or spouse) company has tieup with verizon/att (to provide discounts.)Hence check with verizon/att(or your company) to see if you qualify for discounts.
  • APPS: Also some carrier may have their own apps. (eg verizon bundles skype mobile and nfl mobile , sprint used to provide soccer coverage)
  • One advantage of ATT phone like Samsung captivate  are that they are quad band GSM - and hence easier to use globally(or sell them)
  • Of course the voice quality/coverage will vary based on carrier.
Atrix vs Ericsson : If you dont consider the impact of cell phone provider (ie go by features)- then  the best phones in 2011(by features) would be : Motorola Atrix (ATT), Sony Ericsson Playstation phone(verizon).
ATT has poor record in 2010 on android upgrades - while Sony ericsson is unlikely to
be as user friendly or upgradeable as compared to HTC/Motorola.

b) Choose the features :
  • Screen Size - Choose screen size that's comfortable to your hands/pockets.
  • Processor Speed -  Most new phones in 2011 should be dual core and more then 1GHz.. Take close look at GPU also.
  • Prefer Motorola or HTC (e.g. Samsung , Sony , dell did not upgrade their devices released in 2010). Besides keeping their OS upgraded - they provide better user interface and tools.
  • Battery Life. Droid X seems to have reasonable battery life.(though phones from HTC provide additional software/apps like HTC weather widget which could be draining them  - but at same time make it easier to use the phone) .. Check close look at battery mAh ratings. eg Droid Bionic is around 1900 compared to HTC Thunderbolt of around 1400 only.(So if specs are same - go for better battery life). Typically HTC - as compared with Motorola provides poor battery (rating/life ) on their phones.
  • Laptop Docking Facility :  Only available on AT&T Mortorolla Atrix. It allows a dummy laptop to be powered by phone - so that you surf on bigger screen. (AT&T may charge extra for this - just like AT&T/Verizon charge extra for tethering)
  • Support for 3D(eg HTC EVO 3D) , support for special game controller(sony erricson play)
  • Support for LTE 4G. Verizon Iphone 4 does not support 4G. Even though 4G may not be initially available or even work well.. It will be hard to re-sell or use it at end of the 2 year period. If you are buying ATT phones - then check if the "4G" phone supports LTE (or just the upgraded 3G network - HSPA+ ). However you may need to turn off 4G in phones like thunderbolt or Droid charge to help your battery life. Sprint 4G is based in wimax  -and will be slower then LTE 4G.
  • LCD/AmoledLED and Screen Resolution: LED will looks better inside(but not easy to see outside). Super Amoled as used in Samsung captivate may be easier to see outside.
  • Camera : Usually resolution (eg 8 mp)is good indicator. But other factors (like led flash) or ability to take phone in low light and stability may make a Samsung/Iphone with 5 mp better then say Droid X with 8mp.
  • Camcorder: Usually the resolution matters (eg 720 p) as seen in Droid X(or htc evo) as compared with "normal video"(as seen in droid incredible).  But image stability also matters(eg flip hd camcorder have poor image stability)
  • Memory : Most phone have 16GB memory which should be sufficient - and you can always store in external micro SDHC drive. (HTC EVO however has only 1GB of memory which will hinder downloading apps till it get upgraded to android 2.2 which allows apps to run from external SD)
  • SIZE: This is a difficult one.(especially with big 5 inch phones coming).. Bigger phone are easier to browse/read. However it may be uncomfortable to hold in hands or fit in pocket. Some of them may feel like holding book on your ears(if you dont use bluetooth). Droid X/HTC EVO have bigger size then Incredible.
  • Cost of Phone itself: If you wait for 3 months - then prices of all smart phone(especially android phones) usually drop(and sometimes drastically if competion is coming).
  • Extra Apps/Features:  Typically HTC phone with HTC Sense provides the best android user experience. HTC may bundle htc sense(weather widget etc). This may impact the battery life - but it makes the phone lot easier to use. (eg copy/paste with selection -  was there in droid incredible since android 2.1 )
  • Mobile hotspot(phone as wifi router) : You should check if there are apps to tether android phones - and you can setup your computer as wifi router (and hence not need this). Anyway mobile hotspot should take battery, have slower speed(then usb tethering) - and may get disconnected more easily - besides costing extra money(and you may not be able to talk while tethering).
  • Check if it has all basic things like GPS, fm radio(eg samsung captivate-ATT does NOT have fm radio), camera , camcorder
  • Physical keyboard: Some people like physical keyboard as seen in droid 2.(though they add to width or take space)
  • Trackball/Optical mouse : You can use touch screen as mouse, but if you want to play certain games or move 2 characters left , having hardware optical mouse is great.(its absent in samsung captivate and droid x... though its present in htc droid incredible)
  • Global Capability(eg Sim card/GSM) : While most ATT and Tmobile phones(Quad band) have global GSM capability. Certain Verizon phones like "Droid 2 Global" have SIM cards - which makes it easy to use(or resell) globally.
  • Check to see the resell value of your old phone(or the phone that you are planning to buy).. Typically Global GSM phone or highly rate phone(no bugs) - will have higher value.
  • Check crapware bundled with phones. Some phone(eg Verizon samsung galaxy ) have "bing" instead of "google" as default bundled application(make it hard to use google )
  • Check if phone is easily rootable. As you may need that capability to remove crapware at some point.
Watch out for defect/bugs in phones(which you will know only one month after release of phone). eg Droid X reportedly has flickering issue in some phone, Iphone 4 reportedly drops  signal strength if you hold it wrong.
Some other phones may have questionable call quality. Samsung captivate supposedly have GPS issues(besides others like mtp issue while charging). Some phone buttons or touch screen may not be responsive.

Current (Sep 2011) Best phones:
a) Verizon :

Droid Bionic <-- Check my review with this new phone.
Droid Charge
Sony Ericsson Playstation phone
Droid Charge by Samsung  - dont expect updates on OS made by Samsung(supposedly may provide free mobile hotspot unlike thunderbolt)
Iphone 4(note iphone 5 will come in summer - and iphone 4 does not support 4G)
HTC Thunderbolt
Motorola DROID X Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)
Motorola Droid 2 Global(not Droid 2)

HTC DROID INCREDIBLE Android Phone (Verizon Wireless)

b) ATT
Motorola Atrix (Hotest phone for 2011)
HTC Inspire
Samsung Captivate Android Phone (AT&T)
HTC Aria Android Phone (AT&T)

c) Sprint
HTC EVO 4G Android Phone (Sprint)
d) TMobile
Google Nexus S

IMP: Typically the latest phones have the best specs(but watch out for defects). But like laptops(eg I7 processor) -  you typically have to pay premium for buying
latest phones. But on the other hand if you dont buy latest phone - it may soon
get outdated.(eg i can see the old Iphone 3g  or motorolla droid as way slower)
Its usually good idea to wait for 2 or 3 months to see if the price is going down.(especially when the next droid is right around the corner)

Choosing Plan: Take the minimum data plan - and dont use SMS at first. (upgrade it later if you need it).. You should note that most phone carrier would allow the primary
holder to upgrade the phone after 1 year.

Dont forget to buy screen protector(MUST) for your smart phone.(avoid anti glare screen protector,as they make it hard to see your screen) . You may
optionally need a carrying case to protect it from minor drops(silicone ones may
be comfortable to hold as compared with plastic/metal ones).

PS: This is my personal opinion . Please put comments - only if information
is incorrect.


  1. This is good, as a Java developer, choosing what phone to buy was very easy. The only platform and phone that I chose by default was Android. I didn't have to learn a new language to program it.

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