For the last two and a half years, I have been an avid iPhone 3G user. I’ve probably spent upwards of $80 on various apps and just as much on random accessories. Once iOS 4 came out I really started to hate my iPhone. The new OS made my 3G ridiculously slow to the point where I would be waiting 1.5 seconds or more for the touchscreen to actually respond to any actions I was making. I contemplated going with the iPhone 4 but I honestly wanted to break free from the iPhone. I didn’t care about the front-facing camera which meant that the Galaxy S series phones would be the next best thing for me.
So in November I finally decided to make the switch to an Android based phone. I went with the Samsung Galaxy-S Vibrant. It is an amazing phone! The Vibrant has a 4″ WVGA Super AMOLED screen with Gorilla Glass, 5MP Camera, supports 720p recording, 1GHz Humingbird processor and has 16GB of built-in storage with support for up to 32GB more with a microSDHC card.
The learning curve was pretty easy going from iOS to Android. The one thing I was hesitant of before even using the phone was the default Android keyboard but I installed Smart Keyboard Pro so I wouldn’t have to deal with the default. Other then that I was able to jump straight into the Android OS with little issues. In fact, some of the default UI was SO much better than on the iPhone it really made it’s usage much more efficient. No longer did I have to jailbreak the phone to have a springboard; I can just drag down my status bar on Android to access quick on/off functionalities for certain features and of course being able to see all notifications.
It’s been over two months since I’ve gone Android and it’s definitely the best choice I could have made. I lucked out on my timing for switching to Android. Majority of the applications I used on iOS now have their own Android version in the App Market. Perhaps this was another reason why I held off on changing my phone for so long and not switching to Android earlier–I just didn’t want to have inferior Android apps and/or not have any alternative. Sure, there are some apps that I will no longer ever see on Android (TapTapTap, I’m looking at you!) but when I look at how often I’ve utilized them on iOS after purchasing, it’s not really a con for me. You can check out what apps I’m using on my AppBrain.com profile. It may look like a lot but it includes stock apps. I also don’t like utilizing too many apps so I often install/uninstall pending on its usage.
This has honestly been the best phone I’ve been able to use thus far. I tried out the iPhone 4 and a few of the WP7 phones that were out during early November but the Galaxy S series stuck. I think my favorite thing about the phone is the softkeys on the phone. I’ve got a settings key (works in phone itself and for apps that utilize it), home key, back key (works awesome for browser and in apps) and of course the search key. The first day of playing with the Vibrant, I jumped back to my iPhone 3G (since it was still active with old number) I found myself already fumbling to use the home and back button only to be annoyed I had to either tap the screen to go back or just hit the home button. I also love the haptic feedback when pressing the softkeys and various other UI elements that work with it (like the keyboard or clicking links in the browser.)
Since Froyo (Android OS version 2.2) has been delayed on the T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant perhaps until early next year, Steve and I ended up flashing our phones to an unofficial ROM for Froyo thanks to the awesome people over at XDA Forums that have posted up on it. Which, by the way, XDA Developers is probably the best site/forum to be a part of and reference for anything you need to know about your phone. The members there are serious about their phones and anything else related to them (accessories and the like) so it’s where I’ve been referencing for optimizing/updating my phone as well as ensuring I’ve got quality accessories to use with it.
So after a little over two months of usage, I’ve really got the phone optimized for the best battery performance. I have the display brightness dimmed down which is probably the number one reason for extra battery life! I use Advanced Task Manager by Arron La. This app helps me end running processes and/or apps so they’re not sucking the battery juice up. That way if I open up Gowalla, FourSquare, Facebook and Twitter.. they’re all not running which can honestly really drain the battery if I’m off charge for awhile and constantly using the phone. With the slide down status/notification window, I can also turn off wifi easily when I’m out and about. Turning off wifi prevents it from constantly running trying to pick up a signal. It’s just easier for me to stick with 3G data since I’ve got an unlimited data plan. With all of the little tweaks I’ve done, I’ve been able to get to 40 hours of life off of a single charge (from 100%). This includes gMail syncing, minor text messages, minor voice calls, web browsing and app usage. More often I can be found whipping the phone open when I hear my email notification going off.
All-in-all I really love my Samsung Vibrant. The only hard part was having to leave AT&T for T-Mobile. I thought about going for the Samsung Captivate but I was a bit disappointed that AT&T took a nazi approach to locking down the OS. They block 3rd party apps by default and right now there really isn’t a ROM for 2.2 that I’d flash to. I was also really annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to keep my $30/mo unlimited data plan that I’ve had since mid-2008. I’d be going for either 200MB or 2GB, neither of which are suitable for my usage. So I’m with T-Mobile right now and just ported over my number. I tried to get CUP-CAKE but all area codes for the area were taken! Oh well, I don’t mind sticking with a number I’ve been using for 8 years now ;).