Looking at the alternatives: Android

And so that time of year rolls around where the major vendors come out and offer refreshes of their Android product line ups – be it Samsung with the Note 9, Google with its Pixel 3, Huawei with the Mate 20. As I’ve said in the past, I always like to have a look at what the alternatives have to offer but each time I’m routinely disappointed in what is on offer. For me I place a huge importance on the software because at the end of the day it is the software that makes the hardware usable, it is the the software that integrates (or doesn’t) the device not only into the cloud but also the other devices I have around the house.

When it comes to Samsung, their abysmal track record of updates – months behind on Google security updates and even worse when it comes to software upgrades between major releases which can span up to 6 months result in a device that quickly becomes dated very quickly and with each update and upgrade the performance keeps getting worse and worse as Samsung is adamant that end users just love ‘Touch Wiz’ even though I’ve never heard anyone say, “yeah, I’d love to get an iPhone but it really lacks Touch Wiz…that is a must have feature for me which is why I buy Samsung”.

Is Huawei any better? Past behaviour predict future behaviour and in the case of the Huawei P9 they’ve demonstrated their willingness to throw their customers under the bus. For example in the case of the EMUI 9.0 release (which will come with the Huawei Mate 20 by default and the Huawei P20) won’t be coming to the Huawei P9 – in slightly over 2 years since it’s launch and things aren’t all that much better for the Huawei P10 either which is slightly over a year old and that too has been thrown under the bus – not a good way to treat your loyal customer base.

The Pixel 3 appears to be a great phone but it is hobbled with 4GB RAM which wouldn’t be so bad if if Android weren’t so inefficient but unfortunately the net result is that 4GB is the absolute bare minimum. The 4GB wouldn’t be so bad if this was on an entry level device but we’re talking about a NZ$1799 including GST for the Pixel 3XL which is the same price of the Samsung S9 Plus 256Gb when it was on sale 4-5 months ago. Then there is the biggest problem which is, once again, Google refusing to sell it in New Zealand – sure, I could go out of way to buy it overseas then bring it to New Zealand but then I’d be stuck with a device with no after market support not to mention the drama of getting it to New Zealand through a remailer.

Something that all the devices fall down is when it comes to integration with macOS, the Chrome browser still isn’t as optimised for macOS and one can’t help but get the feeling (as seen with the UI refresh not coming to macOS until version 70) that macOS is an after thought for Google. Then couple that with the half assed synchronisation tool known as ‘Android File Transfer’ – really, if you’re going to sell a phone for $1800 the least you can do is buy out Mac Sync so then it is possible to synchronise my iTunes music library to my phone rather than having to manually drag and drop it across. There is also the lack of integration when it comes to services with iMessage, answering phone calls on my Mac and sending messages from my computer – I can’t expect iMessage integration but it would be nice if Google got their act together and at least merged Allo with Messages so then out of the box customers would be automatically signed up for Allo thus making it as wide spread as iMessage.

Having have a look at the iPhone XS Max, it is very tempting but I’ll see how it all pans out but so far I’m pretty happy with the iPhone X and hopefully the launch of iOS 12.1 soon will smooth the rough edges.

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