History With The iPhone
I have been an iPhone user from the first generation iPhone, you know... Edge network, no cut and paste, need a charger everywhere iPhone. My most recent iPhone was a jailbroken iPhone 4. I resisted jailbreaking for a long time, but when I finally did it, I realized a new world of functionality, Calendar events on the lock screen (Lock Calender), toggles accessible without having to dig through the settings menu (SBSettings) and an SMS Client that interacted with the native client and allowed me to answer text messages directly from the notification window, without having to open the text messaging app (SMSBite). I really had that iPhone setup to do everything and I lived in it every day. From iReconcile to track my spending (sync'd with the wife's phone) and BillMinder to remind me of which bills are due when to HippoRemote that let me sit back and control the media computer I have hooked up to the flat screen in the living room. When it's setup the way you want it, the iPhone 4 is an awesome phone, no doubt. It has a nice balance of speed and battery life, which I believe, are it's two biggest selling points. With all that being said.... why switch?
I am a huge Google user and fan, call it fanboy-ism or whatever, I don't care. They make awesome and extremely affordable products and services. They have a vision of what the future of computing will be and continue to turn out innovative products in advancement towards that vision. I had my iPhone 4 synced up pretty tight to Google's services, with my Mail and Contacts being synced over the MS Exchange protocol and my Calendar being synced via CalDAV (to keep the calendar colors sync'd as well). I also had every Google service app installed and was even using Google Voice. It's a pretty tight setup... but I want more. So I've been waiting for a good Android phone to release on AT&T. A lot of people grumble about AT&T but they have service in all the places I need to be and I have a grandfathered unlimited data plan, so I'm pretty happy with them. The Captivate was almost it, but no front facing camera (yes I use it... lots). So, when the Atrix specs were revealed and it was announced it would be released on AT&T at CES, I was sold...
The Good Things
I already sync'd all my information with Google's services, so simply entering my Google username and password into the Atrix got all my contacts and emails to come over automatically. All of about 5 minutes and all my contacts and emails are on the Atrix and my photos are accessible via Picasa. Cool!!!!
Next I needed to load a bunch of applications that I'm used to working with, LastPass, EverNote, Twitter, etc. This was made EXTREMELY quick and simple by the Android Marketplace web site. Using the website I could sit down at my desktop computer, click install and it would install the App on the phone. As I've said before I've gone through a couple iterations of the iPhone and reinstalling all those apps through the mobile interface was just a pain.
The fingerprint scanner is very good and provides a simple way to secure the phone. There is a backup code that can be used, however, because I don't have to constantly type it in, it's something long and ridiculous. My TabletPC has a fingerprint scanner and I rarely use it, on the phone, however, that's a different story, it's a lot more useful.
Widgets are cool... similar to the Calendar on my iPhone's lock screen, widgets allow quick access to the information I want to see without having to open any applications to get to it. Widgets allow me quick access to much more than just the calendar as well, Google Voice inbox and my social media stream to name a couple. Widgets also give me quick access to setting toggles as well, similar to SBSettings on the iPhone. With a simple tap I can enable or disable location services, WiFi, Data, Airplane mode and much more.
I get the full suite of Google apps, and am now on the front line for any of their new stuff to come out. While most companies release apps on the iPhone first, Google releases on Android first. Being that I'm so interested in what they're doing I can now enjoy being on the front line.
Notification handling!!! How I will never miss having to restart a streaming video and waiting for it to "buffer" because someone sent me a text or my battery is at 20% or there was a calendar event reminder. I will never miss having to dig the phone out of my pocket to clear the notice before the music starts up again. Android's method of dealing with notifications is far superior to the iOS way and is a major plus on the side of Android.
I can declare other apps as the default app. This means I can choose another browser to be my default browser. I've been wanting to do this forever on my iPhone. Safari is OK, but the other browsers have so much more to offer. With Android's Dolphin HD browser I can actually install extensions which is a HUGE plus. I use LastPass to manage all my passwords, in iOS I had the bookmarklets installed but it took a while to load, then it would display and refresh, sometimes causing me to tap the wrong entry. With Dolphin HD browser with the LastPass extension it feels so native. I can also do that with other services, like switch the default text messaging app to chompSMS (sister to biteSMS on iOS), which I had to jailbreak the iPhone to be able to do.
Finally, this thing is FAST. At first I didn't really notice it, because the iPhone 4 is fast itself. After using the Atrix for a few hours, though, I needed to go back to the iPhone 4 to check a few configurations, then it hit me. The iPhone felt a lot slower. Don't get me wrong the iPhone is still a fast phone, which is why I didn't notice at first, but the Atrix is much faster. When I launch apps on the Atrix they open in an instant. I'm on the spoiled side, if you give me more speed I don't notice, but if you take it away, it is very obvious.
The Bad Things
The iPhone still rules the roost in a couple areas.
The power..... ohh the power..... From my early observations, the battery life is comparable to that of the iPhone 4. With the iPhone 4 I could watch 3 almost 4 episodes of "hour long" shows like Law & Order (actually around 40-45 minutes with limited commercials). After watching a single show on the Atrix the power was down to a little over 80%, so it's on par. Where the iPhone comes out far ahead is the recharge time. The iPhone recharges very quickly, the Atrix takes a good while longer to get up to full status.
While the Android market is growing by leaps and bounds, it is still pretty obvious that it has not yet reached the iPhone app store level. I'm hard pressed to find an app as functional as HippoRemote in the Android market. I wish Team Viewer would do an Android app as well. Of course there are other alternative apps, they are not the same "quality" as those in the iPhone App Store.
The It-Doesn't-Matter-To-Me-But-I'll-Mention-It-Anyways Things
There are some things I'm indifferent about with the Atrix. These things don't matter much to me, but I think it's worth mentioning the differences.
The display is a little bigger but it's not as big a deal as I thought it would be. While I do think the retina display is a little crisper the Atrix display is still very good. Then again maybe I need to tweak some display settings or perhaps it could be the matte finish screen protector on the Atrix. Either way, I'm not a videophile in the least, so it's of little interest to me
The "feel" of the Atrix is a little different than the iPhone. The Atrix doesn't seem a "solid" as the iPhone 4, but that's probably because it isn't surrounded in strengthened glass. The Atrix feels lighter, which is a plus for me, others may feel differently. Even though it "feels" lighter it doesn't feel cheaply made to me at all.
Android's app UI, in general, doesn't feel as "polished" as the iOS app UI. It's like going from Windows to Linux. Everything is functional and most of the time it's a lot faster, it just lacks that extra "shine".
There have been reports of the Atrix upload speeds being crippled but I haven't witnessed it. I ran SpeedTest on the Atrix and the iPhone 4 and, while not super amazingly faster, the Atrix was faster than the iPhone, both ways, up and down.
All in all I'm happy with the Atrix and believe it is an amazingly fast, solid phone. It's also the phone that completes my induction into the Google Universe, where I'm happy. I'm sure I'll be learning new things daily as I go along and if anything is uber cool, I'll write more about it here. I'll also do a "month after" post as well.