Farhad Manjoo gave up his iPhone for a couple of high-end Android devices from Samsung and HTC. Here’s what happened:
Altogether I experienced the best and worst of Android—and I saw, up close, Android’s basic problem. I’d sum it up as follows. Google makes a fine mobile operating system. Some phone manufacturers make attractive, powerful Android handsets. These phones have the potential to be really wonderful machines, even as great as Apple’s flagship phone. But then, at the last second, the phone makers and the world’s cellular carriers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They ruin the phones’ potential with unnecessary features and apps that lower the devices’ battery life, uglify their home screens, and make everything you want to do extra annoying.
This is one of the most important advantages Apple has over Android devices. When you buy an iPhone, it works exactly as Apple intended; it’s never adulterated by “features” that the company didn’t approve. But when you buy an Android phone, even a really great one, you’re not getting the device that Google’s designers had in mind when they created the OS. You’re not even getting the device that the phone manufacturer—Samsung and HTC, in this case—had in mind. Instead you’re getting a bastardized version, a phone replete with software that has been altered by many players along the way, usually in a clumsy, money-grubbing fashion.
He’s going back to his iPhone.
It really does pay to control the whole widget. And that’s more than just the hardware and software, that control should also extend from the manufacturing floor all the way into the customer’s hands. Google does indeed make a fine mobile OS. But as soon as it leaves Mountain View, Google’s loses any control over what happens to it.