Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Android Smartphones

Google launched the Android operating system in 2008 and it has remained a consistent competitor in the mobile landscape since.  In fact, NPD reports that Android captured 52% of smartphone sales in Q2 2011.  Compare that to Apple’s 29% and RIM’s 11% and it’s clear that Android dominates.  To help you decide if and Android powered smartphone is right for you, we wanted to look at some of the reasons it is so popular and some of it’s shortcomings as well.

HTC EVO 4G supports V2.3 with a
4.3" screen and 4G network service.
The pros of the Android operating system on the Smartphone are what made it such a serious force in the Smartphone market. One of those pros is the power of Google behind Android. Google is a tremendously innovative company with lots of staying power and desire to dominate the market. That means that the Android operating is going to be supported and developed from years to come. It is dependable and Google will continue to give it more features and power as time goes by.  Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility is a testament to their commitment to the mobile space.

Also because Android is an open operating system, it is sold on a wide variety of makes and models. The multitude of hardware manufacturers gives you lots of options when are shopping for your Android phone.  You can choose a large screen with front and rear cameras or find a more compact phone with a slide out keyboard.  Many of the Android phones come with Gorilla Glass as well, making them more durable than early iPhone models (iPhone 4 is built with Gorilla Glass). There are even 4G models, something that Apple does not offer as of this writing (iPhone 5 will probably support 4G).  Either way, Android phones offer a much greater array of phones than Apple or Research in Motion.  All of these different manufacturers also gives you a greater selection of carriers to choose from--AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and more!

Google Maps is one of the must have
apps.  It's a free voice guided GPS.
As with any smartphone, app development is a major advantage and Android is competitive in this area.  While their app store is not as large as iTunes, they do offer an equally compelling app store with games, productivity software, and entertainment. You can get lost browsing the app store and you can find an app for so many functions that it will blow you away. It actually can be so overwhelming that it may be hard at times to find specific apps that fit how you want to use your Smartphone. But that is a nice problem to have.

The size of the community of app developers is actually one of the negatives about the popularity of the Android operating system. Because Android is an open development system, Google has not enforced the same type of quality control standards that Apple has.  Any registered developer can upload an app to the Android app store without any testing on Google’s part whereas all iPhone apps must be tested and approved by Apple before publication.  While lots of quality apps are produced by responsible developers, there is a lot of junk in the app store as well. You do have to be careful and read reviews before you download and pay for an App that can turn out to be a disappointment or a rip off.  And, with the introduction of the Amazon Android store, you may have to search several marketplaces to find the app you want.  Not all app stores offer the same software.

Another con for Android is that not all older hardware supports new updates, which means you won’t be able to access some new apps.  For example, if you bought a phone that was designed for Android 2.2, you might not be able to run 2.3.  That’s a frustrating find for some.  Just make sure whatever phone you purchase supports the Android version you want access to.

Android is also a demanding operating system and many people who buy Smartphones sold to exploit the strengths of Android find their battery life not holding up as well as it used to. That is a trade off to be aware of so you keep your Smartphone charged up regularly.

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