Sunday, 3 November 2013

Top 5: How my HTC One X sold me on Android

Thanks for everything buddy. Image: Talk Android
So the Nexus 5 is finally official, and many consumers are already getting their hands on the device, just one day after Google announced the phone. Props to Google for a smooth launch after last year's problems with the Nexus 4. For those of you who don't already know, I'm getting the Nexus 5 when it becomes available in my country to replace my current HTC One X. It'll be my second Android phone and my second Nexus device, after the Nexus 7 (first gen). I recently wrote a post highlighting a few things that excite me about the upgrade, so this time I'm looking back to the past. I'll look back at how I felt when I first made the switch to Android from iOS, how I felt during the first few days and weeks of using my One X. First impressions are important and after 3 years of using iOS, the experience of using my first Android device was important. It would mould my perception of Android and help me determine whether or not my decision to leave iOS was justified. It was. These are the top 5 things about the HTC One X that converted me into an Android enthusiast.


5. Switching from a proprietary connector to the universal microUSB 
This is a very small part of the phone, but to me it was a huge difference. iOS devices all share a proprietary connector, initially the 30-pin connector until Apple replaced it with a smaller Lightning connector on newer iOS devices. These cables only worked with iOS devices, so sharing with users of non-iOS devices was out of the question. If I didn't have an Apple cable with me, there was no way to charge my phone. Once I switched to the One X, I could use my friends' cables with my phone, and I could also lend my cables to friends as well. This is why it's so important that manufacturers abide by industry standards. It makes the life of consumers much easier, which is something I only came to appreciate once switching to Android.
A small, but very important component. Image: GSM Arena
4. Great build quality of the One X
Prior to buying the One X, I was under the impression that Android phones were "cheap". Both in terms of price and quality. I was a victim of Apple's reality distortion field and believed that Apple products were the most premium products in the market. But I can gladly say that to this day, 16 months after using my One X, it is still in perfect condition. Any scratches, dinks or scrapes are microscopic. I just gave my phone a once over and couldn't identify any flaws. 16 months without a case mind you. Something I would never dare do with an iPhone. I was then convinced that while there are "cheap" looking and feeling Android phones in the market, there are also many premium devices as well; the Xperia Z lineup, the Note 3, the Nexus 4, and of course, the One. Whoever says Android phones are all cheap and not premium like the iPhone doesn't know what they are talking about.

3. That beautiful display
Like I said earlier, I was trapped in Apple's reality distortion field. I believed that the Retina display was the best on the market, and Android didn't have an equivalent. I had never heard of any fancy names for displays on Android phones, so they must've been pretty ordinary. Boy was I wrong. The 720p S-LCD2 display on my One X is just beautiful. And Android phones have gone beyond that, with 1080p now the standard on flagship phones. And what about Apple's Retina display? 326 ppi for the past 4 generations of iPhones. The only improvement difference made was the number of vertical pixels. Yeah, I'm fine without a Retina display.
No Retina, no problem. Image: Pocketnow
2. Creating ringtones within the HTC Sense music app
Despite the fact that the iPhone is indeed a phone, it was pretty darn troublesome trying to get a ringtone onto the device. I had to download an app, trim my song of choice into a ringtone, save the clip, connect my phone to my computer (via iTunes), copy the song to my computer, and transfer it into the "ringtones" section of my phone via iTunes. On the One X? Open the song of choice in the Sense music app, trim to the desired ringtone, save, and apply as ringtone. How much easier is that? I can still remember how amazed I was at the ease of creating your own ringtones on Android (Sense) compared to iOS. While my previous three points highlighted the physical side of Android, this was the beginning of my love affair with Android as a mobile platform. 

1. Swipe-to-wake (S2W)
My One X is rooted, running SlimBean and NCX kernel. One of the features of this kernel (and many others) is the S2W functionality. It allows me to wake my device and also lock it by swiping across the capacitive keys. Ever since I've used this feature, I've never had to press my power button. Upon discovering this, I was sold. Android is just so much more powerful than iOS, it's ridiculous. The S2W feature was also what sold me on the power of custom ROMs. I recently wrote a post on Google+ about why I think custom ROMs are better than OEM skins, and I'm saying it again here - custom ROMs are extentions of Android that truly showcase the power of the platform, without completely covering it up. 
More than just navigation buttons thanks to a custom kernel. Image: Droid Dog
When the Nexus 5 becomes available to me, I'm going to start looking to sell my One X, and when that time comes it'll be quite bittersweet. I'll be ecstatic at getting my first Nexus phone, but also a little upset at giving my One X to someone else. It has really served me well (apart from battery life), and opened my eyes to the power of the Android platform. Thanks HTC.