Two days ago, I received my new Samsung Galaxy S2, which is a smartphone running Android. Previously, I was using an iPhone 3G but it really started to feel sluggish more and more with time. I was still using iOS 3 since I had no use for version 4 features and was afraid it would just make the phone even slower.
I could have acquired an iPhone 4, which is faster, given that I am also an Objective-C developer and I use a Mac since 1992… But I am not at ease anymore with Apple positioning for the iPhone :
- If you want to develop anything on it, you have to pay some money for XCode
- If you want to distribute anything on it, you have to pay approx. €100 to become an iPhone developer
- You cannot develop your own applications and share them with friends or colleagues, freely
I needed more freedom, so I went with Android.
My phone was locked by a carrier (actually, my wife’s carrier, not mine…), so I had to unlock it, which meant I had to root it first (jailbreak in iPhone terminology…). It took me quite some time, because at first all I had to do it was a Macbook and VMWare Fusion and the Galaxy S2 was not recognized by the OS in download mode, so I had to find a laptop with Windows on it. I borrowed the old laptop of my neighbor which runs Windows XP and I did the following :
- Installed Kies
- Restarted Windows
- Opened Kies and installed the drivers from the menu
- Restarted Windows (I’m probably just being superstitious here
- Installed and launched Odin
- Plug the phone in Download mode
- Started the new kernel upload
I used help from this post and it worked, so my phone was rooted and unlocked, and I could install an app from Android market that tries to discover your unlock code. After a couple of minutes, I had this code, which worked perfectly, and now my phone is rooted and unlocked. Easy when you have the right tools.
The Galaxy S2 itself is really a nice phone. Of course, the iPhone has a better design and iOS is just better looking and feels more stable and engineered than Android. The iPhone interface is still better in my opinion, as well as the feeling it gives in term of hardware robustness.
But the Galaxy S2 is more powerful. It’s fast, it has a beautiful screen and once you get used to Android, it’s nice to use. Android is a lot more flexible than iOS. there are things like widgets that let you organize your info really the way you feel. It feels it is more open to hacking. In terms of interface design, I didn’t have any bad surprises, the kind of surprises I had with Symbian in the past, when you search for hours where they could have put some settings. No such things with Android, I usually find what I am looking for very quickly.
Google apps and tools are of course very well integrated. Android Market works ok, the choice doesn’t seem as rich as what you find on the Apple App store but it is not too disappointing neither. Unfortunately, some apps are still missing (Instapaper for example) and a lot of apps don’t seem to be very well finished. All in all, it seems there is less creativity in Android market than in the App store. But it will probably change soon.
I still haven’t coded anything for the Android phone, but I plan on playing with the SDK and with Lua scripting soon.