The grass always looks green on the other side – until you cross to the other side, that is.
I have treated myself to experience devices on a number of mobile platforms, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, Palm, Maemo and Android. My background from the word go was Symbian.
All over the world, there is a huge crowd crying out for the newer, shinier mobile operating systems, iOS and Android being the most demanded. However, before you make that switch, here is more food for thought. I am one to always recommend that you think of your unique needs and situations before investing your hard-earned money in anything. It just makes sense.
I have been using the Android-powered Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro for a few months now, and while I love the device and the OS, there are some issues that just keep grating my nerves. This does not make the Mini pro a bad device or Android a useless OS. No; this is just so you know.
The following are weaknesses of Android-powered devices in general that I have faced the more I use the Mini Pro:
- Not-so-good to poor battery life, depending on the device
- Heavy data consumption
- Poor non-Gmail email experience
Note that before arriving at the above conclusions, I had also scoured the internet to see if these were common issues with Android. Generally speaking, I have found them so.
Not-so-good to poor battery life, depending on the device
This is so well documented that I do not need to say much about it here, so I’ll just skip.
Heavy data consumption
Android OS seems to have been designed to connect to the internet for everything. Setting up any Android device requires an internet connection and a Gmail account. Thereafter, it doesn’t get better. Unless you do not need PUSH email and so turn off auto-sync, your droid stays continually connected to your Google mail, contacts and calendars – and guzzles your data while at it.
Not only that, automatic app updates require that connection as well. Unless you are willing to turn background data off and lose auto mail/contacts/calendars sync and access to the Market, you are going to be burning lots of data.
I used to get by with a 100Mb data plan on my smartphones. There were many months in which I did not exhaust my data allocation. My troubles started with the Maemo-powered N900 and now Android-powered X10 Mini Pro.
With the Mini Pro, for example, I had subscribed to a 150Mb plan from Glo on the 20th of September. By the 5th of october, it was all gone! I re-subscribed on the 6th. Ten days later, it was gone. Then I re-subscribed on the 16th. Today, the 25th, I have been told that I have 29Mb left, along with a renewal/cancellation notice.
That’s N3,000 (450Mb) for on-phone data in about the space of a month! This is not happening, I have been thinking to myself.
Note that I have PC internet both at home and at work, and I am not tethering with my device. This is on-phone usage.
Poor non-Gmail email experience
This may sound unbelievable to those who had thought that email was a strength of android, but I am having email problems that have remained unsolved. Gmail works fine. You see, Gmail, not email in general, is a strength of Android.
I have tried setting up other non-Gmail accounts e.g. my business mail, and failed every single time. I keep getting a server settings error, though all settings I enter are correct. This same email account that won’t work on my Mini Pro works on other platforms and other mail clients.
The internet is littered with people who have all kinds of email issues with Android. Even on v2.1, email is described as buggy in a number of places.
Till this minute, all that I have on my X10 Mini Pro is my Google-based email.
If I may mention, the only mobile OSes on which I have had no issues with email are Windows Mobile and Palm. Apart from BlackBerry which I never got to use for long enough to be able to tell, the others that I have used have been found wanting in one way or the other with regards email.
Well, there you are. If battery life and email are really important to you, and you are looking to keep your monthly mobile internet bills as low as can be, perhaps you need to re-think getting on the Android groove. Just saying.
Just don’t forget – very often, the grass looks green on the other side. Till you get there.