Having been an avid user of the iPhone 3GS for over two years I was all set to continue my allegiance by upgrading to an iPhone 4s. However, it turned out that my provider had a severe lack of them. Not a problem, they said, we’ll take your details and contact you when they come in. I waited 7 weeks, checking the website religiously. In the end I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, so I decided to have a look around at the Android market.
I ended up choosing the HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio. I found a number of good reviews for the phone and was drawn by its dual-core processor and large screen. So I did the deed and ordered it. I can confirm that the Beats headphones that come with the phone are awesome. I was quite sceptical but it really does improve the sound. I also got a 16GB mini-SD card in the deal, which I was quite pleased with.
Was it the right choice? Well, considering that a week after I got the phone the iPhone 4s became available again (although I’m still waiting on that phone call!) I initially wasn’t too pleased!
However, after using it for four weeks I have to say that I’m actually quite happy with the HTC.
One of my major gripes with the iPhone was the restriction on using iTunes and the Apple audio format rather than MP3.
I am now free of this and I am extremely happy about that. I can now upload my music directly instead of feeding it into iTunes first. Downloading of new apps or upgrades to existing ones is extremely quick , doesn’t cause any slowing down of other apps that are running whilst the downloads are going on.
These things are a nice touch. For those who don’t know they are little mini-versions of apps that run on your home screens and display information, to save you actually opening the app itself.. For example you can see all your appointments using the Agenda from the calendar app continually displayed on the screen. If you have one or more Google calendars you can add these too.
Some people don’t like the weather / clock widget on the main screen but I quite like it. I find myself actually looking forward to the rain just to see the wiper going when I unlock the screen!
The iPhone wins this one. The HTC only has 7 screens, but for me this is more than enough so it’s not a major issue. You can always group related apps into their own folders to free up space. As I mentioned the animated weather app is a nice feature
In the first week or so the phone crashed twice, going into an automatic reboot both times. I did some checking online and found a number of people having the same issues. It seems that it’s either certain apps or possible something connected to HTC Sense that can cause catastrophic failures. I seem to have cleared my particular issue (touch wood) without resorting to switching off sense (I quite like the animated weather and wallpapers) by removing the Friend Stream widget , which basically co-ordinates your friends’ Facebook and Twitter feeds into one list. You don’t really need it because the notifications on the actual Facebook app work well enough.
Another minor annoyance is that some of the settings could do with being re-jigged. For example, you would assume that to change the various notification tones for e-mail, text and calendar that you’d go to the sound settings. Not here you don’t. All you can set there is the default notification tone. Instead you need to go to the Notification Sound option of the personalisation menu.
So far the HTC has been cheaper to run than the iPhone. In the first month of having the iPhone, and over the following couple of years I paid for a number of apps. So far, I’ve only paid for one on the Android and that was out of respect for the developer doing a damned good job of the car management app (aCar). This is probably a good thing because I’ve noticed that a lot of Android apps appear to cost more than the iPhone equivalents. Thankfully, though, with a bit of searching I’ve found free versions of all the app I need.
Costs are also reduced in the actual contract because I managed to get a lower tariff than I would have had if I’d held out for the iPhone 4s. I think I’m actually saving myself around £15 a month.
Well an app is an app, right? There’s nothing really different to the apps on Android other than speed. I mentioned the fact that apps download a lot quicker, well they also run a lot quicker as you’d expect from a gadget running dual-core processors.
The major apps that I use (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, MLB At Bat, YouTube and Yahoo messenger ) are all supported on Android, so for the most part the phone looks familiar. I’ve had to find some different apps for some other things such as logging my headaches, car management and diary.
I’m currently running:
- Facebook for Android (free)
- Twitter for Android (free)
- Seesmic (free) – Twitter client allowing TwitLonger tweets and other features
- aCar (initially free) – car management app. Allows you to track services, fill-ups, trips and other expenses such as parking. For a $5 minimum payment you can get an unlock key which will allow full data export and full-screen graphs. The free version is more than useable in its own right, though.
- Any.DO (free) – find of the year, this one. I seriously can’t believe the developer isn’t charging for this. It’s a really nice, simple and clean, task manager.
- At Bat Lite (free) – baseball app for all the latest news and up-to-date live scores on gameday.
- ESPN Score Centre (free) – app for following your favourite teams in most sports.
- My Headache Log (free) – strangely enough, this app is for logging headaches!
- WordPress (free) – blogging client for blogging on-the-go
- Memoires (free) – diary app
- Foursquare (free) – location tracking app
- LloydsTSB (free) – mobile banking app
- Yahoo Messenger (free) – only really got this so that my mum didn’t have to pay for texting me. Now I don’t have an iPhone I don’t have iMessenger!
Overall I’m pleased with the HTC, although I’ll probably always have that “what if” nagging in the back of my mind.