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Michael Wang
An Independent Mind
An Independent Mind


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I guess it was a suicide. :(

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It is really sad to see companies like Samsung cheated on benchmarks. They would be much better of to spend more efforts on improving hardware design (like Apple) and software optimization (like Motorola). +Samsung USA This is shameful.

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I never really like iOS 7. It has many nice new features, but it went too far on basic UI stuff, the font is too thin, the color is too childish, too much/slow animations, low visual contrast. The flat UI looks boring once you are done with the new car smell. As is, it is not even as polished as Android or Windows Phone 8.

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Quick thoughts on current flagship smartphones.

iPhone 5 Great ecosystem, quality, display, camera, battery life, reception, display coating. The design is so so. The aspect ratio is too long with too much bezel. Adding 2mm width would hold 4.3" display. The soft aluminum body can be easily damaged without case.

Galaxy S4 Nearly great spec, display, camera. Replaceable battery and SD card. Bloat and janky software. Cheap plastic body design. Even the very first iPod had much better plastic body design.

HTC One Beautiful design and display. Battery life is always a questionable thing for HTC phones. HTC Sense neutral at best. The ergonomics is pretty bad, too much bezel, strange buttons and logo in the front, sharp edge. iPhone 4/4S/5 like plain edge design would be way more comfortable.

Xperia Z Beautiful design. Poor display and camera quality will ruin the party. Ergonomics is out of window (large rectangle phone won't be comfortable to hold for most people).

Nexus 4 Best Android software experience. Hardware design is average. Display, camera, and signal quality are much worse than iPhone 5. Build quality is not good, especially the back glass is way too easy to break, and very unlikely to match 2-3y life span of iPhone 5.

Moto X Great design, specially for ergonomics. Battery life and signal quality should be very good. The customization is really nice. The spec matches iPhone 5 in general, which should be great for most people. Camera quality is still unknown. Display quality is probably more like S4 (less good than Galaxy S4, iPhone 4, HTC One). If Moto X display and camera can match Galaxy S4, it would be the best Android phone on the market.

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"It's a beautifully engineered product, but with a heart of stone."

Sorry to agree with this statement. This has been demonstrated repeatedly since Google+ launch. There was heated debate on #nymwars  in early days. And recently, Google Hangouts removed presence and status message. This violates the classic UX rule: everyone requires his 20% features to meet his 80% needs. Sadly, Google doesn't care about its users deeply enough (enough joke about Google's customer service).

Google Hangouts is a terrible product design (not product vision though).

I just can't believe #hangouts has such a terrible design. Everyone knows Google has a mess with messaging system with 4 below-average apps: Talk, Messenger, SMS, Google Voice. The first thing Google should do is to combine them together, then improve on it. Google Hangouts unifies Talk and Messenger at the cost of dropping presence, chat status, most of XMPP support while leaving behind SMS and Google Voice. Let's not even talk about email integration. It is such a lame product launch.

The lack of presence and status is just utter stupid, period. While many people don't like it, but Google should make these feature optional so existing Talk users can continue their good old days. There is no need to piss of existing users to attract new users.

On the other hand, Hangouts shows read receipt and other side is typing, which is almost like presence. And there is no way to turn them off, which is a serious privacy violation to users.

Additional Hangouts uses the terrible Roboto font on iOS and web, which you can read +Linus Torvalds posts about it. Plus hundreds of over flashy emoticons, see comments from +Kenton Varda

I am sorry to say Hangouts is such a terrible product design. Google should just combine its existing products together with a persistent storage backend. But there is no need to waste time on Roboto font, hundreds of emoticons, fancy animations. The only good part is Hangouts is not as bad as Nexus Q.

Thoughts on HTC One and Galaxy S4.

I haven't seen a truly exciting smartphone recently. HTC One and Galaxy S4 are probably the best choice so far. I played with them a bit and had some thoughts on them beyond what you already read on reviews:

- S4 is an incremental update to S3. Spec wise, it is a great phone, better display, camera, chipset, battery. Samsung did a great job to put 5" display into the same body size of S3. Design wise, it is almost the same. However, the texture on S4 is incredibly cheap to me, much worse than S3. The camera lens sticks out of body really is annoying. The plastic body feels thinner and cheaper than S3. I don't mind plastic body much if it is a bit stronger and sturdy. S4 just feels too soft and too light.

- HTC One has a pretty good design. However, just like HTC One X, the reviews overrated HTC One design. One uses aluminum plates sandwich some plastic. It is not a full aluminum body like iPhone 5 or even Nexus One. Its body size is about the same as S4, but with much smaller display (4.7" vs 5.0"). I consider it is a huge mistake. The battery size is also smaller than S4. Lacks of micro SD card and replaceable battery. Lack of water proof and dust proof like HTC Butterfly and Xperia Z. The camera is great at low light, but so so during day time. The newly invented buttons are of ultimate stupidity (more latter). The body has too many sharp edges and strange border, so it is lass comfortable to hold for long period of time. It would be much better to use a plain shape like iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10. Overall, HTC would have done better with HTC One design.

NOTE: if HTC One uses on-screen button, it can fit 5" display into the same body size. It would be a significant marketing value. There is absolutely no positive value to reinvent the buttons. Does HTC dare enough to put an ad that claims they have improved the button layout? If not, why bother doing it?

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