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Just a random thought, based on questions I get from time to time from current Android users. Usually goes something like this:

"I'm seriously considering switching to (X) platform. My (ancient Gingerbread device) is horrible."

First, believe me when I say that I am absolutely not one to give a blanket recommendation that folks stay away from any platform that isn't Android. If iOS or Windows Phone or... whatever truly satisfies what you are looking for, then by all means, it's the right choice FOR YOU and that should guide your purchase decision. I will be the first to admit that there are some things that Android does brilliantly, some not so much. Same for iOS and Windows Phone. They all have great qualities, and some of those are enough to make that decision easy for an individual.

But from someone who's used the crap out of every iteration of Android starting with Eclair, I can tell you that considering a switch from Android to another platform based on a 2+year old device that stopped receiving updates, and is by comparison completely antiquated hardware by today's standards, is essentially masking what is a much DIFFERENT Android than anything you've experienced thus far.

The difference between a Thunderbolt running Gingerbread, for example, and HTC's current Android goodness the Droid DNA, is pretty much night and day. Not to mention devices two years ago sported hardware that was QUICKLY outspec'd mere weeks after release in some cases.

Nowadays, for the same price as that Thunderbolt was, you get quad-core, 2GB memory, full HD screen, crazy battery capacity.... and on and on. It's going to be more and more difficult for hardware manufacturers to outspec their devices at the rate we've seen in the past. More incremental, but nothing that will push your device out of being "current" nearly as fast as in the past.

But beyond just the specs, the big thing you get with new devices right now, is a completely improved experience in Jelly Bean. It's the kind of thing that you don't know how much better it's gotten until you actually experience it for yourself.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is using your two year old broken ass device running Gingerbread as a reason to eliminate Android from your next purchase decision is really sheltering yourself from what is an incredibly matured platform. Two years has done A LOT to Android. And I say that with pride. I've always seen flaws in Android, but JB has done SO MUCH to address much of my past complaints. Many of those complaints are, I'm pretty sure, reasons why you might consider overlooking Android for your next device.

I realize I do an Android show, which by most accounts would lead people to believe that I'm a follower in blind faith. I'm not. But I do see Android as being about as powerful of a competitor from a UX perspective AND a hardware perspective, than we've ever seen before. And not considering that for your next device is quite frankly shooting yourself in the foot.
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32 comments
 
+Jason Howell Well said! I'm using an iPhone 4S now, and I'll be switching to a Galaxy Note 2 soon. iOS is just starting to look boring and outdated to me. The 4S will do for now though.
 
A few people I know had the ORIGINAL EVO or the Galaxy S and they said, Android stinks, forget Android, etc. They want iPhones now. That's fine, but you are right, they are missing out on all the great stuff!
 
+Jason Howell Say I use Downcast to generate an OPML of all the podcasts I subscribe to. I can then choose to send that to another app like BOX to upload it directly from Downcast. Can you do that in JB?
 
I still wish that Android phone manufacturers would do the following: Spec a phone for the current OS release, and double those specs.

That said, the difference between Froyo and Gingerbread is nearly night and day, at least to me. There is Motoblur bloat in my case with the latter, but the beauty of being able to replace built-in apps to do certain jobs has mostly hidden it from my eyes.
 
Well said. Couldn't agree more. It would be like someone who owns a 3G iPhone saying iOS sucks. 
 
My first Android phone was the Samsung Galaxy S, running Eclair and shortly after Froyo. A great phone, and was probably the best Android had to offer at the time. Well, it was laggy as all hell and would freeze constantly. The only way I was able to deal with it, as the Gingerbread update was FAR away, was to flash a custom ROM, which made a massive difference.

That said, I know people that had the same phone but would not be so inclined as to flash a custom ROM. One friend, in particular, had the Galaxy S and within a year had switched to the iPhone 4. I wonder if he will ever give Android another chance. 
 
+John Blanton Thats the same exact reason I switched from iPhone 4 to my Galaxy S3. I rooted my phone with in a week and have CM10 installed and not looking back.
 
Well play, Mauer, er, Jason. By the way, on november 27th, I shot myself on the foot. After my horrible experience ordering the Nexus 7 from Google Play Store, I decided to order the Nexus 4 thru Google Play Store. What do you think about that? 
 
Just had a gentleman 10 minutes ago showing me his new Droid Razr he upgraded to from an old Droid X. He said the ICS software was night and day from his old Gingerbread device. I deal with smartphones all day in my job and get asked questions all the time about what device they should get. I ask them what they do in the regular computer world (Windows fans, Mac users, Google services?) before steering them towards any platform because nowadays the hardware and OSes are more or less even in speed and functionality.
 
Jason, you make good points - however the real issue is that we get 9 month old devices that stop getting updates. Yes, I am stuck on Gingerbread. So, I decided to end the manufacturer and carrier tyranny. I'll pay the ETF to Verizon and I have ordered a Nexus 4 so it will get updates for at least 2 years.
 
+Shawn Dreelin Along those same lines, I had a relative ask me yesterday if I recommended she get a Chromebook or a regular laptop. The gist of my response was "Well, it depends."
 
+Jason Howell I'm considering to Mac since my Win 3.0 computer is just too slow >_<
 
+Jason Howell Hardware specs aside, the coolest Android phone today becomes immediately outdated as soon as Google announces a new version of the OS.  Now we're at the mercy of manufacturer and carrier to roll out the updates.  And if you're unfortunate enough to have selected a device that was not ultimately a huge success, you're pushed to the bottom for getting updates.  AT&T is just now rolling out Android 4.1 for GS3!  I'll never buy a non-Nexus device again.  Side note - not impressed by LG Nexus, but at least they're getting updates!
 
Running Gingerbread?  If my phone was only to be so honoured, but it's stuck on Froyo, and I am waiting only one more month to be able to get out of my contract and get something new running JellyBean on a better carrier.
 
+Jason Howell Though I do love Android, but like you am not a follower in 'blind faith'.  I have tried (most) of the other smartphones operating systems and found Android the best for me. 

However one complaint with Android (and this has been talked about ad nauseum) is the fragmentation.  I realize Google can not have full control over this, but I can't deny that it is disappointing that a year old phone with great specs is still running Gingerbread when it easily could be running Jelly Bean. (It would even be an improvement with Ice Cream Sandwich.)  

I know this is more a manufacture and carrier issue.  That most times manufactures/carriers want to add their own skin to the phone.  However, it does feel like manufactures/carries drag out the release because they know they are putting out a brand new phone with all the bells and whistles with the newest operating system to lure you to drop your year old phone for the shinny new one.    I think with the right pressure, Google could correct this.  I do know Google has said they are trying to end the fragmentation, but at almost 2 years later, I almost see it as worse than better.

In the end, I still love Android and would not switch.  I just hope one day the fragmentation will finally end.
 
One of my coworkers was recently up for their contract renewal. They had a Motorola Flip Out. It was still stuck on Eclair, obviously with no update in sight. They were deadset on getting an iPhone 5. I told them to at least take a look at the Android offerings before deciding. I also said to go with a high end device versus low end as they did previously. They are now rocking a Samsung Galaxy S III, and couldn't be happier.

I am now on the Verizon Galaxy Note 2 fron the Galaxy Nexus, and loving it. The GNex is so small in comparison. Now, I'm waiting for the bootloader to be unlocked so I can put CM10/10.1 on it.
 
+alec iles,

   I suggest any one of them, as they each have strengths, but I would also suggest the Galaxy Note 2.  It has LTE, awesome battery life, great screen size, and it's already rooted for AT&T.

Good luck.
 
+John Blanton I haven't yet used the functionality, but I know of at least one podcatcher (BeyondPod) that imports/exports OPML files, so I'm pretty sure the answer to your question is yes.
 
I have an N7, and I have a Sprint Epic4g I'm resigned to holding onto until Sprint lights up LTE here, so I'm presented with the differences between GB and JB on a constant basis. I agree that Android has taken quantum leaps in terms of usability since GB, but I still find TouchWiz on GB to be perfectly serviceable. It still does almost everything I want/need it to do, just not as nicely as my N7. Though I will admit that it would be really nice to have Google Now on my handset.

I would certainly like to upgrade my phone, but being stuck on Sprint I'd have to give up a useful WiMax device for one that has not-yet-useful LTE capability, and it's not worth it to me.
 
+John Blanton Yes, you can send OPML files to an android device and most podcast apps will import it. You might need a file explorer to move the file to a specific folder, but the specific podcast app will have instructions.
 
Since I couldn't get a Nexus 4, first due to the sell-out, then to the back-order status; I got a left-over Galaxy Nexus that I'm very, very happy with, since I was moving from an HTC Desire with FroYo
 
For those of us who have only ever bought flagship devices (the original Motorola Droid and the HTC Thunderbolt) on or very near release (November 2010 and May 2011, respectively) and were ultimately burned a few months to a few weeks down the road, it's completely logical to consider jumping ship. If you bought a car with constant engine problems that continually got worse no matter what the mechanic tried to fix it, would you buy another car of the same brand? From the same dealership? Or would you change mechanics? 

Each software upgrade and bill for one $600+ phone to the next was supposed to resolve all the problems with the previous generation, but in my experience, only a handful of problems were fixed while other (sometimes significant) ones were introduced. Within months, if not weeks, of getting both my Android smartphones, odd stuff with the OS would crop up, such as shutting off while using navigation in the car, repeatedly rebooting for 15-20 minutes, or randomly playing music/podcasts through the speakerphone long after my headphones had been unplugged. My point is simply that this exact promise has been made before. "Just buy this new phone," will change within a few weeks to, "you've gotta wait for the next software update," and less than a year later I'm carrying a, "'two year old broken ass device running Gingerbread,'" with six months or more remaining on the standard two-year contract cycle. For those of us who want and need a phone that will work reliably (from a software perspective) for at least two years, is our only choice iPhone?
 
If your phone is experiencing serious software malfunctions within weeks of getting it, TAKE IT BACK!  Use the 30 day window to at least get a functioning device.  

Also, you confuse me Chad.  Why are you paying $600 for a phone, but then speaking in terms of 2 year contracts?  And how were you burned by the OG Droid?  That was a pretty great device!

That said, I agree with the premise Jason.  Phones get old, so you can't really compare your current phone with a new one.  It is pretty obvious, but also frequently forgotten.
 
November 2010 I bought the Motorola Droid for $200-$300 with a 2-year contract. I took it back after a few weeks because the battery would run about two hours before dying; they swapped the battery and that resolved the problem. A few months later (after the 30 day window), it was doing goofy things like playing music and podcasts 5-20 minutes after I'd been in a meeting at work without the headphones plugged in, or just shutting down while using navigation in the car. When the screen stopped working in May 2011, I went to the Verizon store and bought the HTC Thunderbolt at full price. A few days later it would start rebooting while sitting, untouched, at least once but sometimes repeatedly for up to 20 minutes. When I went to take it back to Verizon, the gal said that all Thunderbolts were having that problem due to the software upgrade that came out just after I bought it. I asked if I could switch to another 4G phone and she told me I'd have to pay a restocking fee; I briefly considered it, but while I was looking at the only other 4G phone they had at the time, it restarted for no reason as well. The gal said they'd be issuing another software update "soon", so I could just wait for it. Three months later I saw this update was available in various forums. I called Verizon from my VoIP line and refused to get off the phone until they either sent me another phone or forced the software update to push to my phone. After 2.5 hours and talking to multiple people I gave up. Another two weeks after that the update finally came, which resolved most of the issues with restarts. However, problems with the Droid (namely the random music playback and random pausing of music playback) haunt the Thunderbolt, too, although less frequently.

I originally attempted to "do the math" through the contract cycles because, when my Droid died, Verizon wouldn't offer an early upgrade to me so I had to pay full price for a new phone. My original intent was to illustrate that had I actually renewed that day, I'd still be under contract right now with my, "broken ass device running Gingerbread."

At the end of the day, you are completely correct. Phones are little computers, they get old and can't compare to something new. I get that. However, my argument is from the perspective of the experience the Android brand/OS has provided me. From that point of view, I've bought two Android phones, become unhappy with them before the prescribed two-year cycle (regardless of my contract status, I can't afford to buy a new phone at full or discounted price very often) because of different or similar problems across models and manufacturers, after-sale support of the product was horrible, so logically I should consider moving on. Were we talking about any other product (a car, an appliance, laundry soap, etc.) and it didn't live up to your expectations for its usable life (or what was popularly considered its usable life was significantly shorter than a competing product), would you continue buying that brand of product?
 
+Jason Howell I agree with this post completely. I went from a Nexus One to an HTC One X. I never considered leaving Android because I knew that ICS and JB were much improved compared to JB. For me the freedom that Android grants me will keep me on the platform alone. As long as Android is Open Source and hackable I'll stay.
 
Btw I had ran ICS and JB on the Nexus One. The build of ICS I ran was pretty stable.
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