Leaving the iPhone

So from inside the bubble, choices were easy. What will I buy? Answer: the latest iPod/iPhone. Where will I buy music? Answer: the iTunes store. Where will I get this stuff onto my phone/player? Answer: using iTunes. Simple.

Before I go into this, I know this isn’t as much of a music technology post, but seeing as how mobile phones are the next big thing in computing, this isn’t a trivial change for me. I have to get it out somewhere.

So. Why the switch? Simple. Sprint made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. As a teacher, I get a 15% discount with them (not at AT&T) plus they have a very well priced unlimited plan now. I couldn’t resist! We’ll be paying $50 a month less on the new plan than we were on iPhones. Of course, an iPhone won’t work on Sprint’s CDMA-based network, so I chose to go with the next best thing: the Palm Pre.

THINGS THAT ARE DEFINITELY BETTER THAN THE IPHONE
Notifications are a slick little slidy-up thing instead of a modal pop-over. This is very welcome when I’m getting tons of messages and trying to read something at the same time.

Syncing is much better, even coming from MobileMe. Everything hooks into whatever services you belong to, and pools that info together into semantic contact info. Excellent, and they appear to keep adding new supported services with every release.

The integrated Messaging app will be the king of the hill once they get Facebook chat working on it.

Multitasking is nice, though once you have full multitasking you realize that the iPhone *pretty much* has multitasking too (you just don’t always notice it and it’s only available for Apple apps).

The Sudoku game in the App Catalog somehow beats the pants off of every iPhone Sudoku game I tried. Seriously, I know this is tiny, but I love a good Sudoku game.

THINGS THAT ARE DEFINITELY WORSE THAN THE IPHONE
The media player, especially for videos. Slow, and somehow has less feature on screen but with smaller album art. Reminds me of the old Windows Media Center UI. Someone please write a music app that I can replace it with soon.

Lack of apps doesn’t bother me as much as LACK OF OPEN GL. What the heck? The Pre has the same PowerVR graphics chip as the iPhone 3GS. Let’s use the thing!! (This of course will probably be addressed in the future, but for now sheesh).

Lack of low-level hardware support to developers means lack of MUSIC apps. Seriously, finish the SDK Palm.

Lack of video recording: even though I can tell the camera is sampling at 30fps just by looking at it. FINISH THE SOFTWARE PALM!

These are all software issues that can and probably will eventually be fixed, so it’s something to complain about today.

THINGS THAT ARE A DRAW
Build quality of the phone itself. I know that many folks have dissed on the Pre’s build quality for things like Oreo-ing, powering off and such. I’ve had those same issues with Apple products too. In fact, my last two iPhone 3G’s developed hairline cracks within mere days after purchase. The “superior-ness” of Apple’s build quality lies in one key element: always passing the “creak” test. Squeeze a Pre and you’ll know what I mean. Fortunately it can be fixed by stuffing some receipt paper in the case to snug it up, but the engineers should know how much of a psychological difference lack of squeaking means.

Typing. I was worried at first with this – I could hit close to 60 WPM on the iPhone’s soft keyboard, and I’ve always considered the tiny buttons inferior. However, you get used to it. I feel that with real keys you are a bit more accurate, if a bit slower. If WebOS implemented a more aggressive word correction system it would be head and shoulders above the rest. Until then, it’s a draw.

Music store. The Amazon store is every bit as good as the iTunes music store, unless you’re talking about the most obscure bands. Pricing is better for albums too. You have to manually put the tracks back in iTunes though, which is kind of a drag (literally! See what I did there?)

Media sync. I personally can’t wait to see what lawsuits come of this, but today it works, and I like it. Music and Photos work just like an iPod. Videos sometimes don’t work – I’ve had hit-and-miss success with my Handbrake rips.

Sprint. The coverage is a little worse overall, but the 3G coverage is probably a little better than AT&T. Basically, you get AT&T lots of places, but it will often fall back to EDGE mode. On Sprint, you roam more frequently but when you’ve got a Sprint signal, it’s a high quality one. Also, my calls almost always go through now. Thanks, AT&T for inspiring me to put in writing that a clear advantage of your competitor is that CALLS GO THROUGH. Seriously.

Author: Will Kuhn

I teach music technology to high schoolers. I do some other stuff too. @willkuhn on Twitter.