Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Why didn't you buy that phone?

Why would you reject a phone? Image: BGR
Everyone talks about the phone(s) they own. Why they bought it, what they love about it, how it fits nicely into their daily routines etc. But as we all know, choice is one of the many strengths of the Android ecosystem. You have several OEMs to choose from, each with their own hardware and software features that make their devices stand out. HTC has BoomSound, Samsung has removable batteries, Sony has water resistance, LG has rear-mounted buttons, Motorola has Touchless Controls and so on. There is something for everyone, and that's why I love the Android ecosystem. While everyone has a favourite OEM, I'm sure they would've been tempted to try out something from another manufacturer. Or maybe you are not loyal to any particular OEM, and so you regularly switch between them. In any case, we all have a list of phones that we almost bought. Or phones that we short-listed but ultimately went with something else, and that is what this post is about. I am still using my first Android device, the HTC One X, and will soon upgrade to the Nexus 5. But along the way, there were 5 phones that I seriously considered at one time or another, but they all had something that just didn't sit nicely with me.

Samsung Galaxy SIII
Lets start from the beginning, even before I had joined the Android community. Coming from the iPhone 4, I was of course a bit confused about which phone should be my first Android device. The choice for me, was either the HTC One X or the Galaxy SIII. Luckily for me, the HTC One X was a great device that successfully converted me to Android. So what was it about the SIII that didn't appeal to me? Several things actually. I had held both devices at the same time while doing my research at a retail outlet, and I just didn't like how the SIII felt. It wasn't "cheap", I just didn't like it. The AMOLED screen was another factor. The S-LCD of the One X just looked much nicer to me. And TouchWiz. Yup, not a fan. The fonts, the icons, the colours, didn't really appeal to me. Looking back, I think this decision is more significant than it initially was, because I have never wanted any Samsung device since then. Galaxy devices are great for what they offer, especially the Note line, but they just don't appeal to me.

ASUS PadFone 2
Yes, I seriously considered getting this device. Tablet and all, the whole package. The form factor was really intriguing to me. At the time, I was already considering buying a tablet. I didn't really want to have to carry around two devices with me, which is why the PadFone form factor appealed to me. But after watching and reading reviews, and discovering the Nexus 7, I decided against it. I already had a great Android phone, and couldn't justify spending the money for another phone and a tablet, which wouldn't work without the phone in it. So instead, I spent significantly less money on the Nexus 7, and to this day I'm happy with my decision.
Cool form factor, but not really what I wanted. Image: Engadget
Nexus 4
Once I had a taste of stock Android on my Nexus 7 I was hooked. I flashed an AOSP ROM on my One X and said goodbye to Sense. Naturally, I was interested in the Nexus 4. Even more so after both my dad and brother got a Nexus 4 each. And it was cheap! I could get a brand new Nexus 4 for RM1000 ($300+) less compared to other flagships. But I didn't. Having just bought a Nexus 7, and with my One X still less than a year old, I decided to save my money and wait for the next Nexus smartphone. Which after looking at the Nexus 5, seems to be a great decision.

HTC One
With a One X in my possession, the HTC One was naturally going to have my attention. And it did. Reviewers raved about the design of the phone, in addition of course to the front facing BoomSound speakers. The One was even awarded the European Advanced Smartphone award by EISA. Sense had gotten a makeover which many people say is the best version of Sense ever. So why didn't I get it? Nexus 5 aside, there was one tiny detail about the One that proved a deal-breaker for me - the navigation buttons. Using the One X and Nexus 7 had gotten me used to the stock layout of Android - back, home, recent apps. Having the home button on the right, and no recent apps button really pushed me away from the phone. Sure it's a small issue and I could've gotten used to it, but inconsistent navigation button layouts within the Android ecosystem is a personal pet peeve of mine, so I wasn't about to get a phone that so drastically deviated from the stock experience.
Yup, deal-breaker for me. Image: CNET
Sony Xperia Z
Lastly, the Xperia Z. The main reason I was interested in this phone was the perceived strong support for the development community shown by Sony. It had on-screen buttons that abided by the stock Android layout, which made me happy. Being water proof was an added bonus. But what stopped me from getting the device was the actual physical device itself. It was very, blockish. I love the rounded edges of my One X. And the Xperia Z didn't have that. It was pretty sharp along the edges, and I just couldn't like it. Every time I saw it in a retail outlet and picked it up, I still didn't like it. It was kinda big too. Other 5" devices don't feel as big in the hand, probably because of the bezels on the Xperia Z. And the screen wasn't really that great. Sure it was 1080p, but for some reason it seemed, unspectacular. 

That's my list of almost devices. Sure some of my reasons might seem petty, but if you're going to spend a lot of money on a phone, you better be sure that you can live with all the quirks that come along with it. No phone is perfect and they all have some compromises to them, but as long as you can live with those compromises you're going to be all right. I couldn't live with some of the quirks of these devices, which is why they never made it into my possession.