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Carlos Futino said on August 18th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Oh, man… You’te actually asking people to talk about wich is better, the Android or the IPhone? Prepare to some really (and I mean REALLY) passionate arguments around here…

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What are you gonna do with it, and what are you gonna connect it to? Is this about looks, techy fun, social capital?

My favourite apps other than the ubiquitous email/reader/maps/gps/web, are the ‘wifi tether’ and the various ebook readers.

If you’re not jailbreaking or rooting, then you have to compare the default stuff you’re ALLOWED to do by the companies, rather than discuss the hardware capabilities, since ‘they’ will cripple lots of functionality the tiny handheld computer supports. In a case where you’re not doing a shit-ton of multitasking, the new Androids are blazing (the slowdown is, well, if you have only so much cpu, more tasks simultaneously means slower per-task speed. IPhones would exhibit the same, if they could, and yes I know about the new ios ‘multitasking’).

It’s been my experience that my ancient android is more fun and a better smartphone/computer than Boozysmurf’s IPhone, but that his IPhone is a slightly better *phone* for the non tech savvy.

My next phone will also be an android, guaranteed. And I’m told Boozy’s will be too. Take that for what it’s worth.

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FWIW, I don’t have a strong allegiance to the iPhone, although I do own one. Mostly I enjoy the iPhone as a competent phone that happens to include the iPod functionality I’ve enjoyed for years. Plus streaming, plus Monkey Island(s) Special Edition. The somewhat mothering approach Apple takes is, for me, offset by an interface which works well and coherently, for the most part, but I can see how people with tinkering tendencies would be frustrated by it.

Android as an OS seems more full of possibility, but I’ve found that the phones themselves disappoint for several reasons. First, the hardware is clunky and improvised feeling, especially Motorola’s stuff (the original Droid is/was ugly). Second, most of the software seems to have that geeky feeling – it’ll work, but it’s never been exposed to someone whose job it is to make things work smoothly, well, or intuitively. On the third hand, perhaps I’ve been spoiled by using Apple products for too long.

As for websites, Gizmodo has libraries of both iPhone and Android apps that they’ve reviewed. They are also big on comparative reviews that I find slightly more useful than ZDNet and its ilk.

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The thing about the iPhone is that it’s not just a single device. It ties intimately into an entire ecosystem that includes the ITunes Music Store, the App Store, the iBook Store and MobileMe. The benefit from the perspective of a user is that finding and buying music, movies, apps and books is totally and completely mindless. Because it was designed from the ground up to work together, it works really, really well together.

The phone itself (especially the iPhone 4) is great. The screen is bright and easy to read, everything is responsive and works as you’d expect.

There is a reason that people line up overnight and around the block for the iPhone, and that every Android phone ever made is always in stock, and it’s not because Apple users are mindless drones that will buy anything that Apple makes (case in point: AppleTV). It’s because the phones look amazing, feel amazing and perform better than anything else. For $159, the iPhone 4 is a steal. If you can find one, that is, which is really the problem.

This isn’t to say that Android is bad, it’s just no where close to as polished as the iPhone is, and because the phone manufacturer can do what they want with it, often it gets loaded with shit you don’t want and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Android isn’t as “open” as the proponents claim, and ultimately the “openness” means nothing to the consumer. If you get an Android phone, you’ll have a pretty good phone experience, but not a remarkable one.

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The big question isn’t what handset to get, but which carrier you want to tether yourself to for two years. The iPhone is great, and there are great Android handsets too–the critical bit is finding a company with good coverage in your area and an affordable phone plan that won’t fuck you over on data use charges.

Once you’ve found your carrier, THEN start looking at their phone offerings. The new iPhone is gorgeous (and I’ve heard people suggest the antenna problems are less prevalent outside the US, but I take that with a grain of salt), and a lot of the new Android handsets are pretty nice, too. Whichever way you go, you’re likely to be happy, unless you’re *really* nitpicky about UI, in which case you’re unlikely to be happy with any phone on the market before you go in and hack the UI to your personal specifications.

A rooted Android phone will probably be easier to hack yourself, but there’s a huge library of hacks other people have done for jailbroken iPhones, so… that’s probably a wash.

Oh–and the iPhone is better for games, if you’re into that kind of thing. Might be better for buying comics on, too, if you think you’d want to read comics on a screen that small. On the other hand, all the Android handsets have free Google Maps-powered turn-by-turn GPS, and the multitasking functionality is a bit better.

Happy phone-hunting!

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As for apps on the iPhone:

Games: The Incident ($2), Plants vs. Zombies ($3), Implode ($2), Words With Friends (Free, or $3)

Utilities: Facebook (Free), Twitter (Free), IM+ (Free, or $10), Ego ($2, essential for bloggers), Flixter (Free), Reeder ($3, best RSS reader available), Instapaper (Free, or $5), CardStar (Free), Shazam (Free).

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Good luck with your search, you’ve opened up a can of worms akin to the old Mac vs Windows debates. Except more rabid. (Can worms be rabid?)

FWIW, I have an HTC Hero running Android and I like it fine for the most part. Battery life’s not great when you’re using 3G, but at least you can swap the battery for a spare unlike the iPhone. Admittedly my last phone was a Blackberry, so I’m probably spoiled on the battery life front.

App-wise, apart from Seesmic’s twitter client and the official Facebook app, I don’t use too many apps. The HTC People app’s pretty good as well, letting you link up your Facebook friends to their phone numebrs and email addresses.

Really though, what do you want/need the phone to do?

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I have an iPhone thanks to work and I’m not liking it, but it’s free so I try not to complain too much.

Let me ask you this: do you like iTunes? Do you like Macintosh computers? An iPhone is like that, only with a cellphone package. Personally I find the iPhone to be a marketing tool first, and a personal electronic device third. I’m not sure what’s second, but it’s something Apple fears to the point that they tried to push Jailbreaking the phones so owners can do whatever they want with it (like using full .mp3s you own outside of itunes as a ring tone or running software that competes with Apple) into something evil and illegal. (Chalk one up for the FCC)

I’d love to try a Droid though.

My knee jerk guess: if you just want something that works as a cell phone, syncs with your mail server, and surfs the net, the iPhone is fine. Then again, so is the Droid at that point. If you want to tinker with things, have a sense that you actually own your phone rather than that you’ve purchased a platform to milk you on microtransactions, and hate iTunes then the iPhone is -not- the way to go. Like others said, find out which carrier you prefer and which smartphone they support.

Also, you might double-check and see which smart phones your IT department supports too; things like two-factor authentication app support, exchange server connectivity, and the like may (or may not) be an issue. Just because your department’s tech -can- support any smart phone doesn’t mean it actually -does-. Of course none of that may matter where you work.

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awa64 is quite correct. What you are going to do is form a business relationship with a carrier – both the handsets that you are considering are more than good enough, each has nice features the other does not, and so forth.

For me, the choice was easy: locally the iPhone is AT&T, and I won’t willingly do business with them, and I have a big service discount from Verizon. So: no iPhone for me, I have a Droid instead. (It was that or a Pre – both of which were tempting choices).

Despite the simple fact that, for an Android phone to work best you have to share a LOT of data with Google (I don’t like that much), I’m quite happy with the result.

It is also the case that I’m not a fan of the Apple closed archology for the use and purchase of media: it’s like they built a mall for shopping, with bars on the doors so you can’t shop elsewhere. The service is good, and the prices are reasonable, but the choice is limited.

Either way you go, you’ll have a good experience, with occasional frustrations. (Oh, and the tech papers I read on the antenna problem for iPhone 4 suggest that the issue is with the physical design, but that any non-conductive case applied to the phone (or even a strategic piece of cellophane tape) will resolve most of it.

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This way too civil. EYEPHONE IS TEH DEBBIIIIL!!!!!11!!evelen!!!

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Well, I just upgraded myself this last month – and am still learning the ropes with mine.

That being said, I did have the advice of the smartphone mavens at my new position – people who use them daily.

First, whatever you do, do NOT choose the ‘$0 cost’ selections from your provider. These are models soon to be discontinued, and are pretty much obsolescent.

Secondly, really, it’s all about the plan – unless you are currently locked in with a provider, shop around to determine what set of functionality you can get for what amount.

Finally, remember that whatever you do buy will be obsolete within 2 years at best, replaced by faster, smaller, lighter and more capable versions. Moore’s law applies even to the Smartphone world. Make that especially in the Smartphone world, as it’s the reason the capabilities have become available for such.

That being said, I ended up going for an HTC Legend – an Android phone, as this was just before the iPhone 4 rollout in Canada, and I didn’t want to be that one step down the obsolescence curve.

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awa64 is quite correct. What you are going to do is form a business relationship with a carrier

I’ll third this. Find the carrier you want to sign a contract with first and then pick your gadget, not the other way around. The service they provide is much, much more important than the toy, and in general you’re going to be happier with good data, voice and customer service and a slightly less capable toy than you will be with a whiz-bang toy tied to a carrier whose service pisses you off every time you use it.

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Tyson of the NW said on August 18th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

As someone who is supporting smart phones in the office here are my thoughts.

The blackberry phones tend to rely on a cheap plastic trackball to indicate focus, they can be a bit dodgy at time, especially if they are not kept impeccably clean. However they tend to be the most secure and as long as what you are trying to access has a decent web front end it will work.

As for the iPhone it just works. There is not a lot you can do to change how it works (I’m looking at you calendar). In most cases that is fine as long as you are willing to be tied to a computer and iTunes, which a lot of my clients are not.

Android can be kinda hit or miss. They seem to be back in the late 90’s early 00’s in terms of crapware that comes preloaded, including some pretty drastic changes to the interface. This really depends on the hardware vendor or the wireless service provider. As far as hardware goes, the more recent HTC phones seem to be the top of the pile, with the new Motorola phones a close second. HTC incredible and the Motorola Droid X seem to be at the top of the list. But the biggest downside of the Android phones is battery life. If you use the phone for anything other than a phone during the day you will probably have to charge at least a little mid-day.

Hope that helps.

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I was quite fond of my iPhone 3G, and have been very happy with my iPhone 4, but I understand the many qualms people have about the closed software ecosystem. I try and support it as little as possible, but there are some apps that are just must haves. Unfortunately, that list of must-haves is going to vary wildly from person to person.

My go-to for app and accessory reviews, though, is iLounge. Very professional, very thorough, and very informative.

Good luck!

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First, will your firm or employer be providing you with a smartphone? If so, you may have less input in the decision that you’d hope.

Second, since you’ve already accepted that your crappy Nokia is just as much of a phone as any of these shiny lifestyle badge phones, it kinda doesn’t matter which one you pick. You should consider coverage, price, and how it will work with your existing tech, but the phone itself is going to accomplish whatever you want, mostly on an equivalent basis with competing phones.

If you have a preferred brand, talk to someone who has that brand, with your service provider, in your area. You’ll get decent real-world feedback that way.

Also, have you heard they started doing laboratory testing on lawyers? (Turns out there’s some things that rats just will not do.)

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I have the (Android) HTC Desire – which is basically a version of the Nexus One. I love it to bits. Got no problems with it, battery is fine, speed is fine, works well with all the services I use. I’d recommend it.

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I will be getting myself a Droid X in a couple months as a birthday present. My advice, drop $15 on a Consumer Reports account. It’s pretty useful for this and other things.

In my research I’ve found the following links helpful.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/190633/android_101_a_guide_to_using_your_android_phone.html

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/184659/master_google_android_40_tips_and_tricks.html

http://www.pcworld.com/article/201244/verizons_droid_x_12_apps_to_get_you_started.html

For your needs (mostly checking and writing emails, reviewing documents and doing research I assume) the Droid 2 may be better, having a hardware keyboard. But I might wait a little longer for more reviews to shake out before signing on the line.

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Good points about the crapware. First thing I did was load up a better OS onto my android, so I didn’t have to deal with that stuff. Check ye phone before ye wreck ye phone, I guess.

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FYI to non-Canadians, in Canada the iPhone is available on something like 4 different carriers, with plans that are largely identical. In Toronto I don’t think signal quality varies much between them, but I don’t really know.

I’d go with the iPhone 4. Better design, great for music and games, better app selection, any and all problems and potential tweaks have been vetted by millions upon millions of users, and there is always huge demand for such tweaks to be made. iTunes isn’t super awesome, but it’s not bad. I really like the virtual keyboard, and as with all such things you tend to get used to it if you’re not already; I do like the light touch, so if you prefer a heavy touch maybe a physical keyboard is better suited. Go to a store and try it out.

BTW the calendar app can be synced to Google Calendar if you use that. Also, the mobile web Gmail client is excellent, if you want to keep it separate from the iPhone’s Mail app.

You can buy an unlocked version from Apple that you can use with any carrier, but of course that depends on what plan you end up getting. It does let you avoid the 3 year contracts (which is the real cost of the phone). Who knows maybe the 3 year thing will go away one day…

I’m not sure if the Droid or HTC phones only let you install as much stuff as they have internal memory, did they fix that? They have a small amount of internal memory, plus a MicroSD slot for up to 32GB last I checked, which may or may not be used for app installation.

You can check the Wikipedia pages for the various phones to get the specs in an easily comparable format.

For apps, just look for “top apps of 2009”, etc. Some of my favourites:

Simplenote
Zenbe Lists
WeatherEye
What’s On? (TV listings)
Inrix Traffic
iSip (Voip phone app)
Flixster Movies app
Stanza ebook reader
Shazam
iProrecorder
QuickOffice
Hacker News
Reddit Free
Star Walk

Games:
Meteor Blitz
Flight Control
Boost 3D
Harbor Master
MazeFinger
Zagg Trains
iBomber and iBomber 2
GeoDefense Swarm
Spirit
Fruit Ninja
Dropship
Galaxy On Fire
GTA: Chinatown
Plants vs Zombies
Lux DLX
iNetHack

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Gustopher said on August 18th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

The iPhone has visual voicemail, so you don’t have to navigate voice menus to get to your voicemail. This is lovely.

With Android, see if you can sign up for Google Voice, and have it do the voicemail. It will transcribe things badly and email you near complete gibberish, which is often good enough that you don’t need to listen to the message (Bill called, either lost his wife or his wife lost her life… Not going to be fun, don’t call back)

But mostly, see what gets good reception at the office. Ask around. IPhone is more polished, Android more capable.

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I’m not sure what your network situation is up there but the iPhone here is tethered to AT&T which pretty much made it a non-starter for me. I am very happy with my Nexus One. The battery lasts all day, I have all of my songs on it, I can get my work e-mail sent to it and it has yet to glitch. I haven’t yet had a problem with reception.

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My wife’s been rocking the iPhone 3GS for a while. Her next phone’s going to be an Android. Putting up with iTunes to do anything sync-wise is painful, and she’s tired of dealing with their closed universe (seriously, you have to send it back to Apple to replace the effing battery).

I’m thinking HTC EVO, but a couple of the Motorola Droids look awesome too.

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Gustopher:

Google Voice makes up for its inaccuracy in its speech to text in entertainment value. One of my friends uses it regularly for such purposes, and he can drop a room pretty quickly due to laughter when doing so.

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Google Voice is not available in Canada.

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squishydish said on August 18th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Hey, congratulations (knock on wood) on your prospective job! I hope it doesn’t limit your blogging, though.
Sadly, my own part-time job means that I can’t afford a smartphone, especially the data plan contract. All I can contribute to the discussion is that I long for a Palm Pre Plus (mostly because of my sister’s cool Pre, which she loves).

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My wife and I finally caved and got smartphones when the iPhone 4 came out. Honestly, I think at this point it’s just a question of coverage. We stuck with AT&T and the iPhone partially because we’re both lifelong Mac users, partially because AT&T’s coverage around here is perfectly good, and partially because my wife vowed never to do business with Verizon ever again after a particularly acrimonious customer service incident.

I do, however, have a few app recommendations should you end up popping for an iPhone:
Flashlight (you laugh, but it’s free and it’s handy)
Google Earth
Pandora
Skype
Camera+ (some really nice features, including a lack-of-motion-triggered shutter for non-blurry pics in low light)
GPS Drive Motion X, which is all of a buck. The catch is that after 30 days, you have to pay for the voice navigation feature, but the un-catch is that it’s like $3 for 30 days and it’s non-recurring, so if you, like me, don’t make many long trips, it’s nicely inexpensive. Beats the crap out of paying $50 for a TomTom app.

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I’ll say what everyone else has said. Choose the carrier first.

Check with people in Toronto who use AT&T, and see how they feel about it. I know cities like Chicago, San Francisco and New York have serious AT&T problems, but I haven’t heard anything about Toronto because it’s so far away from the American News Media and stuff. So check around your local connections.

If AT&T turns out to be fine (And Verizon, Sprint, Etc. turn out to be fine as well), then start researching contracts.

Only turn this into an iPhone v Droid debate if the carrier debate comes up a too-close-to-call.

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Also for apps: My wife uses One Bus Away on the iPhone all the time- an absolutely wonderful app, although I think there are equivalents on the other platforms. Tells you exactly when a bus will get to your (or any other location). It’s a godsend for getting around Seattle.

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No, seriously, Canada has its own cell phone providers and everything. 😉

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_mobile_phone_companies

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Which is to say, no AT&T, no Verizon, no Sprint, etc…

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David Gian-Cursio said on August 18th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Re: dirge93

It’s pretty easy to make your own ringtone for free for the iPhone, using things around the house, with no jailbreak required. Just slice out a <40 second section of a song or audio file, either using your favorite audio editor or the "Begin at/End at" options in iTunes's "Get Info" dialog, convert the file to .m4a in iTunes, change the extension of the filename to .m4r, and drop it back into iTunes. There are freeware programs that'll automate even that much, and I think the newer versions of Garageband have a feature to do it in one shot as well, but it's really not that hard. I have 50-odd custom ringtones that didn't cost me a dime.

(It's not just because I'm indecisive or a packrat; I like applying custom ringtones for different people so I can tell who's calling instantly)

Depending on your definition of "competes with Apple," there are a host of non-jailbreak apps for that, as well. I've seen plenty of dialers, calendars, address books, music players, and whatnot. Yeah, you can't have a browser that doesn't run on Webkit, but half the phone uses Webkit, so that makes sense.

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Dilettante said on August 18th, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I’m a former law firm slave. As HZA notes above, the first question is whether your firm provides you with a device, and if so, whether you have a choice. Then you can get into what the coverage is like for different carriers and so on. My old firm provided an allowance for buying tech (related to work), and something like that is pretty standard.

My firm did not support the iPhone (at least at the time) – that is, the IT dept. had concluded that it didn’t want to deal with email integration with the iPhone. So, most of us had Blackberries; I had a supported Windows Smartphone.

Once I left that firm, I got an iPhone. I’m very happy with it; it’s intuitive and the aps cover most things I would want a phone to do. Still, I’m sure Android users are happy with their phones as well. However, you should find out whether your firm will integrate with iPhone/Android/etc – as an associate, you really need to have your device be able to talk to your desktop email & calendar & contacts. And personally, I think it’s a pain to carry 2 devices (e.g., smartphone plus blackberry).

So talk to your firm’s IT dept, and take it from there.

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ScentOfViolets said on August 18th, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Since you display some interest in the whole lawyer package, let me share that thoughts of my 16-year-old daughter on the subject of phones: Everyone who’s anyone uses a Droid. People who think they’re cool, but they’re not, only everyone who’s really cool are to polite to let them in on this cosmically devastating fact? They use an iPhone.

And as for Blackberrys? They’re what your parents use.

A word to the wise, MGK :-)

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True fact:

I have a Palm Treo Pro, running windows mobile.

I LOVE IT.

Unlike the other os’, you can use a stylus or a fingernail, instead of being as tactile. Web pages look great.

Comes with Word, Excel, Outlook, and sync’s to corporate networks.

I’ve got google maps, I’ve got a couple of games and a media player.

I heart this thing.

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I was faced with a similar question at the end of July when it was ‘upgrade’ time for my UK mobile account. To be honest I came to the conclusion that between the Android range and the iPhone there’s not going to be a massive amount of difference if all you are looking for is a decent phone that handles email and the internet well.

I was very very tempted by the Desire, particularly due to its low initial price point, but in the the end the iPhone upgrade factor won out, in the sense that I felt it would be a ‘waste’ to ditch all the apps I have bought from iTunes.

I’m not altogether sure that you will be able to pick your preferred carrier if you’re getting the phone through work though – I certainly would have been locked in with Orange had I not bought my own.

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In a choice between the Android and the iPhone I’d go with the Android because of the attenuation problem caused by the antenna design on the latest iPhone.

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I think reception is good enough in Toronto that the antenna issue isn’t a real drawback. It’s also solvable by a piece of Scotch tape. I tried it inside the Apple store, managed to drop the signal from 4 to 2 on my best effort (only to 3 all the other times I tried), but the iPhone 4 does very well with low signal quality compared to almost any other phone.

You can always return the phone for a refund I believe, if it turns out to be a real problem.

I’m not down on the Android phones though. Would love to explore one sometime.

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As someone who’s also making this decision- can I add the question, can you use android phones as mp3 players that work with itunes?

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hawkorhandsaw said on August 19th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

@dev: i just upgraded to the droid x, and i used the programs that are supposed to sync with itunes. personally, i wasn’t a fan. I still use itunes to organize my music, but i usually just drop in new files directly onto the phone. its a lot faster.

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A vote for an iPhone. It’s just got an elegance and grace and aesthetic that makes it a regular small pleasure to interact with.

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As long as the iPhone is a possibility, you might as well start stocking up on free apps- http://www.dealnews.com usually has a daily list of price drops.

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Lister (not that one) said on August 20th, 2010 at 7:56 pm

To add another voice – pick the network/plan first, then your phone. Get friends with various networks to come to where you expect to use the phone (your home, your work) and see how the reception is. Once you know which networks are acceptable, pick the data plan you like and then pick from the best phones they have.

If you like Apple products and/or use iTunes, go with an iPhone. It offers the best integration with those platforms, and overall the smoothest user experience. It’s also got the most successful app store, so interesting new things (like the comic book apps, various web streaming apps, etc) tend to come out for iOS first and android later.

The android OS is more open but less polished. It’s easy to kill your battery if you run too much at once. Android phones tend to have removable batteries and storage. Anything running Android 2.0 or later will be able to use the full SD card for apps as well as storage.

One problem I’ve found is that neither the iPhone or Android works as well as my old phone for making phone calls. You can’t dial by feel or answer without looking at the phone.

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Not especially worth worrying about since any smartphone you get is going to be a million times better than anything you’ve previously used.

Go to a Verizon / Apple / Sprint store, play around with whichever phones look promising, pick the one you’re comfortable with.

Once you’ve had one for a year or two you’ll know enough about your preferences to worry about whichever particular model. And at that point you’ll be making those cash-money lawbuckz so just go buy whatev, waiting for the contract-renewal discount is for chumps.

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Anticorium said on August 21st, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Since you’re in the GTA, any of the three providers that carry the iPhone will also have Android devices, and inside the GTA all of them have a decent network. Do you plan to roam? If so, keep in mind that Rogers’ service map is pretty much nothing but drawings of dragons and mermaids the moment you get more than an hour away from a large city. (I learned this the hard way while traveling in both Nova Scotia and Alberta.)

The easiest thing to do if you’re worried about lock-in would be to buy an unlocked phone. Here’s how you get an unlocked iPhone that works with any carrier in the world:

1. Go to the Apple store and buy one.

Then, if you actually hate the phone, you can just go over to eBay and sell it at a 20% markup.

Getting a similar Android device (unlocked from day one with the blessing of the manufacturer) isn’t quite as easy. Google used to sell the Nexus One, but now call it the Android Developer Phone or something like that, and you can only buy it online after you join the Android Developer Program, or maybe it’s not even on sale anymore, depending on exactly which part of Google’s vast web empire you look at.

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I agree and summarize several earlier comments: If you are with a firm that has an IT group, touch base with them to see whether there’s anything they recommend or that they don’t want to support. After that, base your next consideration on the carrier that you want to work with. Anecdotal information from people you trust has always been a good gauge for me.

After that, if you don’t know… flip a coin! Obviously you’re not a fanboy or attenuated to a particular style or out for particular app/game offerings. Both are serviceable smartphones. Due to age, you might find that iPhone data sync apps are further along than Droid, but that is bootless speculation.

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