quick usability comparisons after switching from the sprint htc hero to the droid

should you switch from hero to droid? yes. some quick usability comparisons after switching from the sprint htc hero to the droid:

where droid’s better (be it the hardware or eclair – i can’t tell)

  • finally, a respectable response speed. (see “hero sucks” below)
  • on a related note – no longer scared of opening full webpages like techcrunch – browser won’t freeze/crawl
  • when wifi is available, it turns off the 3g to switch to something that looks like edge to save batteries.. or maybe it just disconnects data altogether?
  • multiple gmail contacts sync (calendar sync is with only one)
  • unified multiple imap/exchange inbox
  • seems to have a stronger bluetooth receptivity, because with hero, when i placed the phone on the left hand side of my body (i’m left handed, so that’s a better position while i bike) while listening to music, i used to get frequent interruptions and i thought it was the headset’s (blueant x5) fault. turns out i no longer have this issue with the droid.
  • contacts app includes a “join duplicate contacts” feature
  • i am not 100% sure but it seems the design is ambidexterous compatible! i have been instinctively using this with my left hand. (i’m left handed)

where droid sucks

  • non-standard microUSB/charging port. (hero has a standard microusb) moto why did you have to do this to me.. :/
  • the button placement still leads to hitting the wrong ones at the wrong times multiple times a day
  • the tiniest possible power button – it’s hiding behind a small chin and it’s hard to press it without looking at it.


where hero sucks

  • really, really slow. often i click something on screen, nothing happens, i click again, and 1-2 secs later the app starts and my second click triggers something unintended, like calling someone in the phone log. wish i could turn off the sense ui’s graphic effects
  • i don’t foresee too many firmware upgrades forthcoming on the htc hero. for motorola, droid is their flagship product, at least for the next couple months, like the n95 was for nokia in 2007. if they want to keep selling, they’ll need to address some of the issues through patches. (n95 had at least 10 upgrades since their release, some of them including significant performance boosts – the latest being 2009) for htc hero, it’s a mixed issue – for htc hero it’s a good expensive phone but they sell others as well. in any case, it’s the manufacturer, not the provider, who will write the patches. is HTC pushing for the hero? maybe – look at their website – http://www.htc.com/us/ the hero and the g1 get a tiny spot on the bottom, but it will probably be gone in a month or two as they push out their other new and better models.
  • after running a couple of apps (browser with twitter mobile, music, map) the memory runs dry, and the slowness adds up. totally unacceptable when even the n95 didn’t have that issue. and the n95 was released two years ago on a similar price range. ridiculous. have you seen the “solutions” running around, telling folks to run task panel x to run on auto mode killing tasks every 30 minutes? how will that every work, if i have to use apps for longer than 30 min (email, nav, gmaps), then do i have to add them to the ignore list? then how do i kill them when no longer needed?
  • sometimes, you’ll click at the wrong link on the browser. even when you try to click on the right link while the next page loads, it doesn’t trigger the second link – the wrong page will load up fully, and only then can you press the back button and try the right link again. (fixed on droid)
  • sprint doesn’t get evdo signal nor wifi for pandora in the corner of my room where i lie in bed (i’ve been sick lying in bed for the past 5 days), in los angeles koreatown, whereas verizon does
  • no camera button (a lot of moments can be lost while looking for the camera app)
  • youtube uploads limited to 3mb only. (droid will upload larger files only over a wifi connection – hey but that works for me)

where hero’s better

  • native support for flickr uploading, including mass uploads. (droid’s current sole solution – Flickr Droid – uploads only one at a time right now)
  • gmail group function is supported for contacts
  • the sense ui has some really useful & well designed apps & widgets: alarm w/stopwatch and world time, the quick call widget, among others. peep was unimpressive.
  • facebook integration is manual on hero, which improves accuracy. not sure how this works out on droid – i see some facebook people, but it may be of the [sn] tag leftover after the hero synchronization, or it may be doing automatic name match.
  • when holding the phone with one hand, it’s easier to press the buttons using thumbs on the hero than on the droid. on the droid, the buttons are located way to the bottom and physiologically it doesn’t work out since the thumb’s maximum bending angle is 90′

overall impression with the android, or issues with both hero and droid

  • there’s a lot of useless apps in the market. i wonder how the istore is faring on that front. and they MUST introduce compatible model number (or at least compatible android inf) as part of the standard app info grid, or else even good apps will get blasted with negative comments and ratings from users who tried it on incompatible platforms/phones.
  • the voice dial function needs to be able to be voice activated, or through pushing a button on the headset, duh. on the n95, pushing the “play” button while not actively playing music would fire up the voice menu app
  • the photo camera and video camera in both of them are no match to the n95. slow in opening, slow in starting to record, bad image quality.. the only plus is native youtube upload support.
  • why do screenshots require installing the sdk? no wonder why the early reviews include boring promo photos.
  • i’ve been using T9 since 2004, and used it on the n95 and i think it’s the fastest typing method given the os supports easy custom dictionaries (symbian s60 does) – the virtual keyboard is too slow for this. not sure how the physical keyboard will compare to this yet.

i started using cell phones in 2004 with a samsung x30 on t-mobile, then started off with smartphones with a htc cingular 2125 on at&t in 2006, then switched to the nokia n95 in 2007, and just got a htc hero in october 2009 before jumping to the droid last saturday. oh and i don’t drive so navigations is kind of a non-issue for me (unless i get a bike holder)