Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I'm returning my Samsung Galaxy S2 and going back to Blackberry...

So, after 3.5 glorious years of using my Blackberry Bold 9000, it was time for a change... A new battery would only last 6-8 hours of light use; it would run out of application memory every 24 hours and need to be hard rebooted; and there wasn’t enough app memory to have much more than a dozen applications installed...

I decided to switch to Android, picking up a Samsung Galaxy S2 LTE with Rogers.  I really like the Google movement, and I already had my blackberry contacts & calendar synced with Google (and Outlook too).  I made the switch at the end of December 2011 and have 15 days to try out the new phone to decide if Android works for me... or whether I should stick with Blackberry.

It’s not the ideal time for the switch, as I’m recovering from a bad concussion, which makes learning new things more difficult and restricts my usage time.  Fortunately I had 3 good days of 2-4 hours use before my migraine kicked in, and then an hour or so in the following days.

Update:  I’ve decided to return the Galaxy S2 and trade in for a newer blackberry.  The Galaxy S2 is way better for surfing the web and viewing html emails; easier to navigate around the main areas; and the bigger display real estate is nice, but the big “first-week-of-use” advantages stop there.  It felt more like a toy than a tool to get things accomplished.  It’s main disadvantages are text editing (copy/cut/paste), streamlining of application interaction (each app seems to want to do its own thing and doesn’t always interact well with jumping back & forth with another app), and limitations of configuration/settings for certain core applications (e.g. contacts, email, etc).

Here are my thoughts:

*** Specifications (Pro) ***
The new Galaxy S2 specs are much better than my 3+ year older Blackberry Bold 9000, so this isn’t a fair comparison...

*** Surfing the web (Pro) ***
Super Pro: This is the Galaxy S2’s bread & butter.  100 times better than blackberry.  Much easier & faster to surf the web, especially with the larger display real estate.
Con:  I couldn’t figure out a quick way to copy the address of the current webpage you’re browsing... I must be missing something.
Con: The data compression is worse than Blackberry, requiring a bigger data plan.

*** Touch Screen (Neutral) ***
Pro: The touch screen saves clicks and makes zooming much easier, and the overall navigation more enjoyable.
Pro: The phone allows you to take a screenshot by holding down the Home Key and Power Key at the same time.  Very cool.
Pro: Navigating around the main display area and into applications, and is made much easier with the touchscreen.
Pro: Being able to unlock your screen with a pattern is really convenient & quick.
Pro: The slide down status/notification window that consolidates all notifications, and provides the ability to turn wifi/bluetooth/etc on & off is pretty amazing.
Pro: The sticky/sweaty finger effect causes problems for both phones.  I often have sweaty hands (embarrassing, I know).  On the blackberry, this causes the trackball to get gummed up every couple weeks resulting in worse performance, and eventually I have to clean it with rubbing alcohol (I’ve heard newer trackballs are better).  However, on the Galaxy S2, sweaty residue on the protective screen cover (gross, eh?) seems to interfere with the phone’s accuracy responding to the touch screen.
Neutral:  Occasionally the touch screen doesn’t respond the way you would expect, e.g. zooming doesn’t work properly. And you have to try a few times before the Galaxy S2 realizes what you’re trying to do.
Con: Text editing is more clunky and difficult at times, for reasons like...
Con: At times it is difficult to click the right place in the text where you want the cursor to appear
Con: The difference between single click (selecting a single point in the text) and short-hold click (selecting entire word) seems to be milliseconds, which is frustrating.
Con: Selecting the start & end cursors for highlighted text, is difficult.  It’s hard to get your finger to click on the cursor button, and sometimes it appears as if it can’t detect you pressing at all.

*** Notifications / Sound Profile (Neutral) ***
    Con: On BB, I had 3 notification profiles I frequently used: silent (taking a nap), vibrate (at doctor’s office) and full sound (in general use). On the Galaxy S2, the choices are silent or not silent. You can adjust what "silent" means, i.e. whether it vibrates or not, but that requires digging several layers deep into the settings, which is less convenient.
Pro: The slide down status/notification window that consolidates all notifications is pretty amazing.

*** Multitasking / Task Manager (Neutral) ***
Neutral: The Galaxy S2, allows you to jump back & forth between the last 5 apps that have been used, by holding down the home key (it brings up a task manager window).  This is similar to Blackberry’s task manager, however, blackberry will show all running apps, not just the last 5.
    Con: With blackberry, if you’re making changes in an app (e.g. editing a contact), you can jump to another app (e.g. Email), and when you come back to the original app (e.g. contacts), the original app is still waiting for you to complete your action.  With the Galaxy S2, when you jump from one app to another and back, you’ll sometimes lose your place/work in the original app, which is frustrating.
    Pro:  The built in Task Manager of the Galaxy S2 is great as it allows you to view & exit active apps, and clear memory.  The active apps isn’t a true reflection of what’s running, so on the advice of a friend, I downloaded “Advanced Task Killer”, which lets you kill all active applications. With the Blackberry, there was nothing built in, so I purchased “Memory Booster”, which provides a similar clear memory function, but I still don’t have a clear way to see which applications are active and to force-exit them.  Since my Blackberry Bold 9000 was limited to 120 MB of application memory, which left only 12 MB after a fresh reboot, I was constantly having to select “Close” for each app to keep memory use to a minimum.  I’m sure newer Bold’s must have much more app memory!

*** Network/Wifi ***
    On the Galaxy S2, I haven’t been able to figure out how to turn off the connection to my wireless network (Rogers), and use just wifi.  There must be a way to do it... On Blackberry, it’s under “Manage Connections”, right beside ‘wi-fi’ and ‘bluetooth’, so I would have expected this option to be on the slide down status/notification window.

*** Documents (Con) ***
    What do People use for editing documents? I've tried google docs and it's pretty flakey. is quick office the solution?  To give it a fair trial, I’ve written 1/3 of this summary in Google Docs on the Galaxy S2 phone, but it was taking way too long, so I switch to PC.
Update: Some friends have recommended alternatives of notational acceleration and Office Suite Pro 5, but unfortunately I didn’t have time to check them out. Also, the Google Docs reviews are pretty scathing and share my sentiments.

Frustrations with Google docs:
    Text editing. On my BB I had around 100 simple text memo pad entries that I edited multiple times per day. I converted them over to google docs to use on my Android phone. I've been finding the following to be more difficult (note that i'm using the Swype keyboard):
    cutting/copying/pasting is frustrating for several reasons.
    there doesn't seem to be a way to select multiple paragraphs? Am I missing a trick?
    It's difficult to get the start and end cursors where you want them. without a trackball you have to drag your finger to where you want the cursor to go, but sometimes your finger is covering the location where you want the cursor to go, making it impossible to see & select the correct location.
    Update: on Swype keyboard, swiping from Swype key to SYM key, brings up a navigation keyboard, which helps a lot, but sometimes it gets confused and won't let you move around within the paragraph. Also, it only works for current paragraph.

    there also doesn't appear to be an undo function for edits to google docs, whereas blackberry prompted you.
    getting into a document is slower than BB. Require multiple clicks and wait while loading.
    any interruption and you lose the spot where you're editing. Eg calendar pop up notification.
    Documents can’t be accessed without wifi or network connection, which is not convenient and seems to be one of the main complaints with the app.
    difference between touching screen to select word vs select a single spot seems to be milliseconds difference and difficult to get right. Is there a trick?
    the long press menu appears, but doesn't work very well.  It typically causes you to lose the spot where you're editing.

Pro:     much easier to scroll to bottom of document.
    Automatic sync with Google, so the docs can be seen/edited on a computer.

*** Keyboard / Typing (Neutral/Con) ***
Typing is slower. Note that I typed 1/3 of this on the Galaxy S2 to give it a fair chance (it ended up being too slow, so I switched to PC).  This could just require some time to adjust, but here are some initial thoughts.
    Con: with the Samsung keyboard, typing was seemed slower as it can be challenging to hit the right key, which might just require more time to adjust, but regardless...
    Pro: I switched to the Swype keyboard, which allows me to type words almost as fast as with my BB, sentences are still slower because...
    Con: with my BB, I didn't have to look at the keyboard to type (like with a real keyboard, my fingers had learned where the keys were without looking), so with my BB, my focus was fully on the display screen, so I could more quickly identify mistakes and fix them. With the Android keypad, i'm constantly having to look back and forth from keyboard to the text on the screen, which is slower and more mentally exhausting. Maybe with time I'll learn how to type without looking at the keyboard? Anyone out there mastered that? I expect so...
    Con: A slight grazing of the screen causes an unwanted character to appear, which requires backspacing or multiple clicks to fix up (a limitation of the touch screen).
    Con:  for the symbol keyboard, I can't figure out a way to lock the shift key. This would come in handy to type multiple special chars in a row. E.g. ***~»><  instead, I have to hit the shift key once per character.
    Con:  Sometimes the blue cursor doesn’t match where the editing bar is located, making it sometimes impossible to glide your finger to the place where you actually want the cursor to be, because it would require the cursor to be off the screen.
    Pro: The Swype keyboard is really neat, and fun, but only using 1 of finger to type (or in this case swype) isn’t as productive as using 2.
    Neutral: The voice to text function is also really neat, but I found I wasted too much time editing the mistakes to really make it worthwhile.  I’ve been meaning to try out Dragon, which I hear is more accurate.

*** Emails (Neutral/Con) ***
    Pro: HTML email are displayed much much better and are easier to view & navigate.
    Con:  The HTML emails are always zoomed in too far, and with every one, the first thing I have to do is zoom out.
Con: When deleting email, the Galaxy S2 doesn’t allow me to decide at deletion time whether to (1) Keep on server or (2) delete from server.  Instead, in the sync setting for my Pop email account, I have to make an overall decision there as to which action to take upon email deletion.  Making a change requires going into settings.  I liked that Blackberry’s would allow you to choose which of those 2 options to do every time you delete an email.  That way emails I want to keep around for historical reasons can stay on the server, but not clutter up the inbox on my phone.
    Con: if you're typing near the bottom of your email, the text you're typing sometimes gets covered over with either the cut/copy/paste menu or word suggestions. I find it frustrating trying to edit text when I can't see it. It also makes it impossible to cut/copy/paste.
    Con: Adding a new contact from an email is quite frustrating if you want to add anything more than an email address.  You can’t toggle back & forth from the contact to the email to copy/paste info from the email because (a) the contact has to be saved first and (b) …
    Con: Copy text from an email is extremely frustrating.  There doesn’t appear to be a consistent way to make the selection pane appear... just hit in different random place a bunch of times, and eventually it will highlight a word.  Then you can tap the highlighted word to make the selection pane appear, but getting the start & end points to move over the text that you are interested in is quite difficult.  Especially for copying info from someone’s signature.  Then sometimes when you get the text selected that you want to copy, the “Copy/Search/Share” pop up menu will refuse to appear.  Then you have to exit the email and come back, or wait a little while and select the text again... then the “copy/search/share” pop up menu will appear properly.
    Con: I can’t find a way to easily copy a person’s name or email address from the “To” field of a received email.  To do so, I have to tap the contact name and (1) “Add Contact” > “Add” > Go to email field > Bring up the Select Word menu > highlight the word > “Cut” name or email > Click “Cancel” button for contact > Navigate to place to paste > “Paste”  OR (2) “Send Email” > Tap Email address > “Edit” > Tap email > Bring up the Select Word menu > highlight the word > “Cut” name or email > Navigate to place to paste > “Paste”
    Con: For emails with large attachments, it appears that the email has to wait for the attachment to fully download before the email can be displayed, resulting in annoying lag and unnecessary bandwidth being used. Blackberry on the other hand doesn't automatically download attachments, and displays the txt immediately.   

*** Calendar (Neutral/Con) ***
    Pro:  I like the “List” option to easily view what’s on your agenda for the next few days.
Con: An accepted Facebook event doesn't get added to my calendar.
    Con: There doesn’t appear to be a setting for calendar events to automatically have a reminder by default.  If I want a reminder, I have to manually add it each time, which is annoying since I want a reminder for all my calendar events.
    Con: There also doesn’t appear to be a way to adjust the increments for the time of an event.  If it’s set to 1 pm and I want to change it to 12:30 pm, I have to click 30 times (or hold & wait for it to scroll through 30 numbers).  I like how Blackberry does 15 minute increments, making changes much quicker.
    Con: When I receive a pop up notification for an event, and I edit the time of the event to be in the future (e.g. phone Mom), the pop up notification takes 10-15 seconds to realize that it’s no longer relevant and to disappear.

*** Contacts (Con) ***
    Pro:  For a contact, I can store more than 2 of a particular type of contact field (e.g. 3 email addresses).  This can’t be done on blackberry, they limit you to 2, which is almost always enough.
    Con: When you have multiple entries for a particular field (e.g. 2 work phone numbers, 2 email addresses), there doesn’t appear to be a way to distinguish one as being primary and the other secondary.  On blackberry, one is labelled “Work” and the other “Work 2”.  Perhaps the top-most one is the primary?
    Con: There is no easy way to copy the info from a single field of a Contact.  Let’s say I want to copy a phone number from a contact to a calendar event.  In Blackberry, I highlight the text, right-click and select “copy”.  On the Galaxy S2, I have 2 options: (1) Right-click (More options button) > Edit the contact > Click field > Click field & hold down to bring up menu > Select Word > Move the start & end cursors over text > Select “Copy” from popup menu > Click “Cancel” button.  OR (2) Long-press on field > Send Contact Info > Click field > Select Word > Move the start & end cursors over text > Select “Copy” from popup menu > Click back button a couple times > Discard changes.
Con: When I selected “Add Contact” from somewhere (e.g. an email), it takes me to the Contacts App, but doesn’t automatically launch the “Add Contact” interface.  I have to click the “Add” button again, which at first is confusing.
Con: After saving a new contact, that contact isn’t display in the Contact App.  Instead, you have search for the contact to view it.

*** Facebook (Pro) ***
Facebook is easier to use.
I can post a status to my artist page as an artist (www.facebook.com/brockwaybiggs), but that’s all I can do.  I can’t edit the status, delete it, or change any details/setting/info for my artist page.
I cannot seem to get facebook events, that I accept, to be added to my Calendar, which is annoying.  Does anyone know how to do that?  Blackberry did that, which is nice.

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