iPhone

Eight reasons to trade in your iPhone for a Droid

Don't let the iPhone's pretty exterior cause you to overlook the Droid's features. Deb Shinder details eight ways in which the Droid outshines the iPhone.

Don't let the iPhone's pretty exterior cause you to overlook the Droid's features. Deb Shinder details eight ways in which the Droid outshines the iPhone.

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The biggest splash in the smartphone market since the iPhone occurred last November when Verizon Wireless unleashed a new potential iPhone killer. The Droid, which runs the Android 2.0 operating system, was heralded by an ambitious ad campaign proclaiming that "what iDon't, Droid does."

Is it all hype or should Apple be worried? A close look at the Droid's specs and features shows that it does indeed have some big advantages over the iPhone. While it may not be as sleek and "sexy" looking as the iPhone, it has features that those of us who depend on our phones for work, as well as for play, want and need. Here are eight reasons smartphone power users may want to consider trading in their iPhones for a Droid.

1: The keyboard craze

As virtual keyboards go, the iPhone has a good one. However, if you need to write a long, involved email message or actually edit a document on the small device, soft keyboards just don't cut it. Another problem is that the onscreen keyboard takes up a large part of the screen, obscuring much of the document that you're typing or the form you're trying to fill out.

The Droid has a slide-out physical QWERTY keyboard that's surprisingly useful, considering the small size and flatness of the keys. And Motorola has managed to fit the keyboard in while still keeping the phone thin -- it's only about one and a half millimeters thicker than the iPhone.

2: On display

At the time the iPhone came out, it had one of the largest displays ever seen on a smartphone. Just a little difference in display size can make a big difference in usability on such small devices. The Droid's display is larger than the iPhone's (3.7 inches vs. 3.5 inches). More important, the Droid's screen is higher resolution at 854x480, compared to the iPhone's 480x320. Both have capacitive touchscreens that are comparable in responsiveness.

When you're trying to read a Web page or view a spreadsheet on the monitor of a handheld device, bigger definitely is better.

3: Thanks for the (additional) memory

One of the most common complaints that many of us have about the iPhone is the omission of a flash memory slot to allow you to add more storage capacity. The standard iPhone comes with 16 GB of memory built in, or you can pay more for a model that has 32 GB, but you can't add memory to the phone you already have.

The Droid comes with 16 GB, but you can expand that with a 32 GB microSD card. Another advantage of the expansion slot is that you can swap out cards if you want, storing different types of files on different cards. This kind of flexibility and expandability is especially important to business users.

4: A picture is worth a thousand words

Cameras are becoming important components in smartphones, and more and more people are relying on their phones rather than carrying a compact digital camera to snap quick portraits or capture a visual record of what they see. There are a number of factors that affect photo quality. The Droid's built-in camera has specs that rival many standalone digicams. It takes 5 megapixel still photos and can record videos at 720x480. It also has a double LED flash that works quite well for taking photos when there isn't enough ambient lighting.

The iPhone's camera is lower resolution at 3 megapixels and 640x480 video, and it has no flash so that in low light, you're out of luck.

5: Apps just want to be free

iPhone proponents boast of the number of applications available in the Apple Store -- ostensibly close to 100,000. Android, being a newer platform, currently has only about 10,000 apps available in the Android Market. On the other hand, Apple's App Store is the only place you can get programs for your iPhone, and Apple has complete control over what apps you can get. For example, Apple rejected Google Voice -- which many iPhone users wanted -- because it "duplicated the core dialer function of the phone." Perhaps it's just a coincidence that the app provides an alternative way to make voice calls without paying for AT&T's costly minutes.

Android, on the other hand, is an open source operating system based on the Linux kernel. Developers can add extensions, and the Software Development Kit (SDK) is freely available. You can create your own apps for it if you're so inclined, and although Google has an Android Market site where you can download applications, you're not limited to that one source.

6: Multitasking mania

The iPhone has only limited multitasking; you can run its built-in apps in the background, but you can't run third-party apps simultaneously. The Droid allows for multitasking with all of your apps; you can keep one third-party app open while you're running another and use the 6 way application selector to switch between your open apps. (To be fair, there is one type of multitasking that the iPhone does and the Droid doesn't: simultaneous data and voice transmission).

7: Batter(y) up -- and out

Another area in which the Droid outshines the iPhone is in battery life. The iPhone provides about 5 hours of talk time, whereas the Droid gives you around 6.4 hours. This can vary depending on how you adjust the settings (screen brightness, Wi-Fi, etc.). But it's not just the extra capacity of the battery that matters -- with the Droid, you can remove and replace the battery yourself. Not only does that mean you don't have to send or take the phone in to get a new battery installed if it dies permanently, it also means you can buy an extra battery, charge it up, and take it with you to swap out when the one in the phone runs out of juice. Thus, your phone doesn't become a brick until you can charge it again, as the iPhone does.

8: Getting there is half the fun

The iPhone has a GPS and Google Maps + Compass to get you where you're going, but you have to be able to follow the highlighted route on the screen or read a list of text turn-by-turn directions. That may work if you're walking, but if you're trying to drive, not so much.

The Droid with Google Maps navigation comes with voice guidance, just like the dedicated GPS units you're used to. You can also search for a location by voice; just say "Navigate to <address or business name>" instead of typing it in. As with the iPhone, you can view your route overlaid with Street View imagery or with 3D satellite views. There's also a traffic view that alerts you to the traffic on your route in real time. And there's even a car dock that you can place your phone in, and it automatically activates the special mode that makes it easy to use at arm's length.

Summary

Up until now, the iPhone has been the standard by which all smartphones are measured, but the Droid may prove to be a better choice for many users, especially business users and power users. While the Apple device indisputably is a bit prettier and has the advantage in sheer numbers of apps (although many of them are not very useful), and even though the simultaneous voice and data use on the GSM/HSPA network is nice, the better battery life, gorgeous display, physical keyboard, removable memory, application multitasking, and more sophisticated camera of the Droid give you more bang for the buck -- especially considering that the initial cost and the ongoing cost of the voice/data plan for the two phones is virtually identical.

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About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

19 comments
windhoarse00
windhoarse00

I think this is great! I'm always trying to enlighten friends and others even total strangers as to the benifits of Android/Droid. Foolish iphoners always attacking this superior platform concept firmware software etc... Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone in this techno battle to help inform those who know not to not be misled by the rotted Apple.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

For me, a phone is a verbal communication device. A mobile or cell phone is to allow me to do the verbal communication when out and about. I do NOT want to get on the Internet with it, as I need to spend time noticing what's going on around me, not getting run over by a truck because I'm too tied up with some Internet BS on the cell phone. Thus, I'll not buy either, thank you very much.

Lourd
Lourd

Same old story.. one thing is better than the other and the other is better than that one thing. Sorry, i'm not convince with the "Eight Reasons".. Remember that there is no Droid if there is no IPhone., Droid just follow the concept of apple, or you might call it that Droid copy the touch screen feature idea from IPhone.

fdaugherty
fdaugherty

I was re-reading this post and have been using the Droid for several months now. I originally bought the Droid for the QWERTY keyboard, because the Blackberry touch screen was not very good. The QWERTY keyboard on the Droid is far worse than Blackberry's touch screen. However, Droid's touich screen keyboard is better than its own QWERTY keyboard and Blackberry's touch screen

Nsaf
Nsaf

If you are looking for a phone, I suggest you just ignore articles as such, and go try them for yourself. After my company decided to pay for my cell phone, I decided to give them all a try. Storm 9530 is what I had, then tried HTC Touch Pro 2..as a Microsoft worshipper, I really wanted this phone to be good , but this phone was a total disappointment as it had a mind of its own. Lag was so noticeable, and from time to time it would reboot itself. TouchFLO didn?t help either to make the phone use friendly either. Then tried Droid, and it failed to impress. Keyboard is a total waste even though I have small fingers, totally flat and choppy. Touch display was not as responsive to touch as iPhone, multitasking has been totally exaggerated since there is not much memory on board and it slows down the phone drastically, didn't care about its voice turn by turn NAV since I have one in my car, browser is good but not awesome, it lags at times, but display was great and I love the free apps . One other note about Droid that I liked was its application independency (iTunes). I never thought I would by an Apple product but decided to give the iPhone a try. Have been using it for about a week, and I am totally impressed (sorry Microsoft..LOL). I got used to the virtual keyboard pretty quickly as it is very accurate. Love the Exchange SYNC since it allows me access to calendar as well as contacts. Do not care about Apps a lot, but have downloaded a few that are useful so far. All and all, I think I would keep this until WINMO 7 comes out, and if it impresses me, then would go to Windows based mobile, otherwise I am pretty happy and impressed with this phone. As of right now under the new company plan to pay for our phones, we have 29 iPhones, 3 Droids chosen by our staff, and only 11 undecided people. Good luck everyone.

toxic psychotic avenger
toxic psychotic avenger

9th reason. My Wife loves it. !st phone she actually likes. Very versatile, intuitive. Love the voice navigation. The sat photos/street view let you know what your destination looks like. Scary cool.

robertog169
robertog169

I love my Droid, its inability to use Flash isn't a deal breaker in any way and I suspect Flash will soon be viewable on Android. I have yet to have a need to use the Web while on the phone though I can see its value. My thumbs are "fat" and onscreen keyboards dont cut it. Did I mention I LOVE MY DROID!?

gwhenning
gwhenning

I love the GPS functionality on the droid, but other features leave me wishing the iPhone had a map for my area. Camera: Yes, it is a 5MP camera, and yes it has a flash, but if there is any movement whatsoever in the picture you will get a blur. Also, you have to either a)open the camera app manually, or b) press and hold the camera button for several seconds. keyboard: No touch typing on this one, the only thing it does is move away from the soft keyboard on the screen. It's completely flat so unless you watch your fingers you will wind up pressing a) the wrong keys or b)several keys. Apps: Hardly a day goes by without one of the apps I downloaded having an update. I have also had several apps require a force quit. Battery: Maybe you get decent battery life in a bigger city, but I bought the droid because I live in a rural area. My battery dies daily without making a single call. I've tried turning off GPS & WiFi and uninstalling 3rd party apps, but it doesn't help much. Crashes: In addition to 3rd party apps crashing the phone, I found that if your battery drains too far it will turn off the external speaker. No problem, simply plug in and recharge right? Wrong, even after a full charge any sounds to the external speaker go to the earpiece speaker including the ring tones. If your battery goes low, power off and back on again before using your phone. That being said, integration with Google's services is superb as are Google's apps. I'll stick with it until Apple releases an iPhone for Verizon.

jay
jay

Is there a solution you've had good fortune with, in syncing the Droid to Outlook 2003?

FAST!!!
FAST!!!

At least that is what my 14 year old son said last night on the hour+ ride home in the car that he spent goofing with mine. Before that he told me the iPhone was the best. Now keep in mind that this is a kid that has just fooled with other kids iPhones or seen them in action. But a lot can be learned from those who view things completely different from the rest of us. Anyway I put off getting a BlackBerry and iPhone because I wanted a device with some power and a lot of functionality on top of being a cell phone. I can get whatever I want from work and at last I broke down and got the Droid. So far so good! Very powerful and having all this in my pocket is quite cool. I do not like on screen keyboards and my old eyes need a large screen so that combo was definitely a deciding factor for the Droid.

CONVBMW
CONVBMW

Great article and many relevant points. I have had the Android and the iPhone 3GS side by side for testing and here my reasons to trade the Droid for the iPhone. I however do believe that with development the Andriod COULD surpass the iPhone 1) Pinch Zoom in and Zoom out. ( + and - on a phone is so old school 2) Buggy buggy, lag lag. After installing apps, phone started to lagggggg BIG TIME. 3) Force close. I had it happen to me way to many times. (Google Force close) 4) Jailbreaking. Until you know about what it REALLY is AND,AND have experienced it. Dont knock it. The entire world of customization and user interface opens up. 5) IPhone OS is not an open platform. Yeah yeah, I dislike the app store process and the hands of Steve Jobs around my neck but the open platform seems to lead to more issues in the apps. I am a die hard Windows user but I know that the Appls OS's are far superior. 6) Smooth interface and SPEED. I am sorry but one of my BIGGEST pet peeves is when a phone is released and its just not user friendly and its slow in comparison to the rest of the pack. Nothing can compare to the 3GS and the user friendliness of the iPhone 7) Apps. Yeah, the cost money and yeah, the reports are that only 20% of all apps actually get used from the app store. More choices, more functionality = easier way of doing things and accomplishing tasks. 8) Jailbreaking....heh heh. I love anarchy. Once again, I am not saying that the android is junk. In no way it is. Side by side the iPhone STILL reigns supreme in my opinion. Give it a few years and will the Android surpass ? Could very well be.

ttcrossover
ttcrossover

First off, I am not disputing your claims. I just think maybe you have a defective unit. At my wife's Christmas party, everyone at our table took pictures in low-light conditions. Our Droids took very good pictures, as did a few others. The person with the iPhone tried, but was unsuccessful at getting a decent picture. (BTW, I haven't seen a picture from ANY phone that I would take over a "real" camera.) My battery life is exceptional; I initially thought I would get a spare battery (another plus), but haven't really had the need. And even when my phone runs completely down I haven't experienced the speaker volume issues you had. Everyone has there needs; Droid & Verizon works for me. Get what works for you.

mindilator
mindilator

I use Outlook 2003 at work, and setting it up on my Droid took all of 20 seconds. I chose Microsoft Exchange in the Mail program and just entered the creds. The last phone I had wouldn't update the read status of my emails in Outlook, but Droid does. It even auto-populates my Outlook calendar to the Corporate Calendar app. I didn't have to set anything up for that to work. Freakin awesome.

glieberg
glieberg

I agree with the above, but there is one more important feature; the iPhone is accessible to blind and low vision users -- out of the box. There are no additional software or installation requirements, just turn on VoiceOver and you are set to use all the features available to sighted users. Yes, other phones have accessibility built-in, but they are severely limited by what features they access in the phone. And yes, if you buy certain phones and then add third party software to them they will run fairly well. That said, the iPhone is ready as is, with fast, bullet proof performance.

RipVan
RipVan

Only TMobile had a phone with Android when I went looking. Their coverage SUX big time, but I would never even consider buying anything Applocked (that is Apple + locked). I love my phone and wouldn't consider an iAnything, so I'm biased.

Komplex
Komplex

I'm debating between iphone and droid, I really like the iphone but the service just isn't as good as verizon. But what I don't like about verizon is they'll cripple the phones, so I currently have a GPS enabled moto Q from verizon but it won't work with anything because of their verizon navigator service. In addition, verizon screwed around with my hompage. Do they do the same thing with the Droid?

raven8409
raven8409

Verizon did not lock down the droid, you are free to do whatever you wish with it also you are not required to use their navigation which is a plus .

jkb458
jkb458

Just got my Droid last Wednesday and I love it!!! I was debating between Droid and iPhone and am so glad that I chose the Droid. One of my biggest concerns was Verizon's GPS lock-down. It has been removed and GPS works great with Google maps and other apps.

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