06
Apr
louis_ck_660

In Android Police’s private chat room – deep in the bowels of a place known only to a select few… Android Police writers – conversations are often had over what makes a phone good, and what makes a phone bad.

And, of course, views on this issue vary. Some have a strong preference for stock Android, and anything attempting to subvert or otherwise ‘break’ Android the way Google intended it (unless Google’s intentions sucked) is a waste of time. Others are more concerned with how it works: is it smooth, fluid, and functional? And, of course, there are the typical arguments about SD cards, removable batteries, and plastique.

With any newly-announced phone comes the time for the passing of judgement: is there a dealbreaker? That is, would a particular flaw (or feature, as the case may be) actually be a reason to not buy a phone? As anyone in any tech blog comment section will tell you, literally every single smartphone on the market has dealbreakers. All of them.

That is such a backward-ass way of thinking, and excuse my bluntness for saying it, but it’s utterly counterproductive.

I am not without fault when it comes to this. I’ve reviewed high-end smartphones I simply couldn’t recommend. Most of those reviews I stand by steadfastly, because I honestly believed a phone was not enjoyable to use. That really is my benchmark at the end of the day: did I like using the phone? One or two, though, give me pause.

Since writing for Android Police, I’ve conducted 19 phone reviews. Which seems like a lot, to me at least. And while I may get a reputation as a negative Nancy, I consider 10 of those reviews to land in the “Positive” category pretty definitively. Only 4 are outright “Negative,” and the remaining 5 come down in the sort of “Meh” area. That means I’ve liked more phones than I’ve not liked or been ambivalent about combined! Hard to believe, I know.

And I’ll say that even of those I outright panned (DROID Incredible 4G, Xperia TX, Meizu MX 4-Core, DROID Charge), I really only feel like one, the Xperia TX, might have deserved a slightly easier time. I harped on the build quality pretty hard, but I’ve held worse phones, and now that it has a Jelly Bean update, I’d be curious to see if the experience has improved. I just did not like using it at the time. The app push sync was unreliable, battery life was subpar, and the camera was a total stickler to use.

Anyway, back to dealbreakers. Some of the ones I hear often are SD card or a removable battery. That is, lacking those things is basically smartphone sacrilege. Sometimes, though, they’re a little more… eccentric. Maybe you absolutely 100% need an MHL-compliant phone for HDMI out. Or an unlockable bootloader is necessary. And perhaps you just can’t live without a video app that pops out and floats over the UI.

The thing is, though, none of the aforementioned things (including SD cards and removable batteries) are actually necessary to have a good experience on a modern smartphone. I’m sorry, they just aren’t. They’re only necessary if <insert relatively niche circumstance here.> And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, because there isn’t. Not that many people need an SUV that can go off road with more than 1′ of ground clearance, but there are vehicles out there that will readily meet that specification, and that’s good. But let's be realistic: nearly 40% of all smartphones sold in America have a 4" or smaller display, no expandable storage, and a totally locked down user experience. And, shocker, most of the people living with those products are decidedly happier with them than the industry average.

To put it a little more succinctly: just because a particular phone is the best phone for you, does not make it the best phone for me. Or really anyone else. And just because another phone lacks the things you need doesn’t make it a bad product. It makes it a phone that isn’t good for you specifically. That’s really all you’re saying. They are two very different things. No one reviews a Range Rover and says it’s a terrible car because it gets relatively low gas mileage and doesn’t handle very well – if those are you concerns, why would you even consider it? That’s what really gets my goat: people who know full well they won’t like a phone because it won’t suit their personal needs, but go on ahead and shit all over it anyway like it’s actually objectively terrible. And again, sure, I’m guilty of this as well sometimes.

I’m writing this right now because I’m going to start working on my review of the HTC One this weekend. Spoiler alert: I like it kind of a lot.

But, I can already see the 5-10 comments not simply lamenting the lack of a removable battery, an SD card, or whatever new software features Samsung’s packed into the Galaxy S4, but absolutely blasting the phone because of these things. I’m not trying to stop those comments with this post, because frankly, who could? The internet will be the internet. It’s going to happen. But I’m not going to respond to them, even though in all likelihood one will rise to the top with DISQUS’s wonderful voting system. And feeding that "discussion" (yes, that word needed sarcastic quotes) would be about as useful as debating a moon landing hoaxer.

Fear not, though, SD card enthusiasts – your ire will get to me at least a little bit. And that’s primarily because I take pride in the evaluation I give a phone. I want to convey my feelings accurately and impartially, and issue a relatively definitive judgment on a product. I want to be able to say “This is a good product,” “This is an OK product,” or “This is a bad product.” I find it very disappointing to get to the end of a phone review and discover a non-conclusion. I want to be conclusive.

I’m also not saying there aren’t objective, rational reasons to dislike a phone. Of course there are. No one likes bad battery life, or a display that looks poor. No one likes a camera that takes crappy photos. I can’t think of anyone who yearns for a slow phone, or one which is poorly constructed. But even the Xperia ZL, which I roundly “Meh’d” a couple weeks ago, is still a decent phone. I didn’t hate it! I promise. But I did look at it on the merits, and it was very difficult to understand why it was any better than its competitors when it is clearly inferior to them in some big ways – the screen is worse, the battery life is worse, the camera is worse, the speed is worse, and the build quality wasn’t anything outstanding. And that’s why it got a pretty "meh" review – you have noticeably better options at your disposal, and I can’t go recommending something knowing that those options exist. I want to guide people to the great phones, not the ones that you can live with. People got upset anyway, because, well, internet.

The fact is, I like the HTC One. I very much predict that I will like the Galaxy S4. I also like the Optimus G Pro, which I’m currently testing out as well. Every single one of these phones has / will have flaws – objective ones. I will probably like one of them more than the others, and I already have a good idea which one it’s probably going to be. But please, don’t tell me I'm wrong for liking something because I can’t use both of the cameras to record video at once, store all 50GB of my pirated movies, or flash a ROM to stock. You're perfectly welcome not to buy it for any of those reasons, but claiming that makes it ‘bad’ is hyperbole, plain and simple, and I'm getting a little tired of it.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Phil Nolan

    We can't even hate iphones?

    • mikeGsays

      Oh no, those are okay - he said SMARTphones

      • crankyd00d

        Best comment ever sir

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001201863483 FurBy SastrÉe

        LMAO

      • http://twitter.com/Itr0ll Pat Patterson

        i say you need to jailbreak and stop using this argument. cydia is on-par with an android root type of ecosystem

        • mikeGsays

          That is too adorable.... an iThing "hacker" on an Android tech site! Save your hipster propaganda for the sheep, pal, no one's buying that nonsense about a hacked version of iOS coming anywhere close to what the stock Android experience is like

          • invinciblegod

            well now I know whos an arrogant prick. And 10 upvotes for basically insulting an iphone user as a "hipster...sheep"? Nice to see that people support assholes. Sorry, but besides from apps like tasker and titanium backup and sharing between apps, there is little difference between ios and android. And what nonsense? In a hacked ios experience, you can share between apps, change the homescreen, change the lockscreen, change multitasking, pretty much everything. Somehow you believe you're a superior person for choosing android? No wonder people hate us. They look at you. You are a pitiful example of a human being.

          • mikeGsays

            User "invinciblegod" says to me "well now I know whos an arrogant prick."

            IRONY, much? Your point is invalid, hypocrites don't have voices, I'm done

          • invinciblegod

            Apparently you can only argue in straw mans because you have no valid point.

        • ickkii

          no it isn't cydia is just a package manager, aosp has dozens of those in addition to full os access and usually bootloader access as well. Even with cydia almost all iphones still have app drawers as homescreens because the platform is missing A L O T of customization over android. It's too wide of a gap at this point, and apple has done everything they can to make it harder for users to hack their phones. Why even waste your time with that?

        • auraseale

          my neighbor's aunt makes $80 every hour on the laptop. She has been fired from work for seven months but last month her income was $19097 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on  Fab99.c­om

          • Justin Swanson

            We're talking about phones here, not laptops.

        • Wam31

          My guess is that you have no idea how much jailbreak and rooting are very different things...
          Jailbreak is hacking/modifying a closed source OS while rooting is being granted a root access by mainly hacking the bootloader (a "manufacturer thing") which has nothing to do with the OS...

    • flippingthecoins

      Now please don't start that again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/j3ff.reyC Jeff Carson

      no no no... only the typical iPhone user :) uhh.... i don't know my Apple ID... uhhhhh.... what's iTunes? How do I transfer my stuff to my new Apple "4gs"..... AHHHHHHH!

  • ProductFRED

    So you like the HTC One then (in a neutral tone).

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      He does.

  • flippingthecoins

    Even the experience is fluid, fast I don't think I can live with Touchwiz which is still lost into Gingerbread.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I thought I'd feel the same way, but to be honest I'm quite happy with TouchWiz on the Note II. Though, it's probably because the device is just so good and has such good battery life, despite TouchWiz not because of it. But due to this much better experience compared to HTC phones, I just don't have negative feelings about TouchWiz like I do about Sense 4.5 and below, especially if you run a custom launcher.

      • flippingthecoins

        Maybe you are happier with the performance of Touchwiz. But at some point aesthetics do matter. Many people love ICS because of cleaner looks which is much better than GB. I think its time they should give their launcher a modern look.

      • JonJJon

        I look forward to your review on the Note III/3 and potential comparisons from whatever TouchWiz that runs to the Sense 5 that the One is running. I went from Sense to TouchWiz to stock Android and I've arrived at my most favoured place (being stock Android) but I'm still interested as to the comparisons between the top end Sense and TouchWiz running handsets, merely out of curiosity. My next big craving is what Key Lime Pie is going to bring to the table in anyway shape or form.

        • http://www.facebook.com/ShinobiPhoenix Cody Shiranai

          To be honest, I've still never touched a tablet with anything other than stock or near-Stock Android (my first and currently only tablet is an ASUS Transformer TF101), so I do wonder how my experience would be trying to use a Samsung or HTC tablet (who uses HTC tablets though?). Are they really THAT different from using Phone Touchwiz or Phone Sense?

          • JonJJon

            Do HTC even make any tablets since the Jetstream or Flyer? I suppose they might make a Windows 8 RT one soon but that will be a failure from the get go because it will be priced too highly and no one wants Windows RT (no significant number of people in the tech consumer world anyway).

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          My favorite addition to TouchWiz right now is actually a feature not many notice - the ability to bring up and then swipe down the notification bar from full screen apps. Just gesture down from the outside of the screen quickly and voila. Super useful.

          • zookee

            Could you explain this in more detail? Is this feature with the S-Pen?
            Also if you could write an article of your daily use of the Note II, that would be super neat (what apps do you use, what shortcuts, what kind of notes you jot down etc.)

          • David Z

            There's an app for that. Smart Statusbar (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kiumiu.ca.statusbar.free&hl=en) does the same.

          • http://www.facebook.com/abhikurve Abhi Kurve

            Yep,true that and I appreciate it.
            (There's also an App called Smart Status bar which does the same on pretty much any phone.)
            I like such small features ..but hey why waste human resources,money and time on making a beautiful UI look stupid?

          • JonJJon

            That is really the only feature I used and miss from my SGS3, might give this app people are posting a look to see if it works anywhere near as well.

      • Rob Mahon

        Aye. Touchwiz on the NoteII, for me was /almost/ bearable. Nova Launcher I think I used, rooted for full functionality, and it wasn't too bad at all. Still ended up flashing Cyanogenmod and finding it even smoother. Thought I'd miss the dual window thing, but turns out not. The S-Pen works great still, and battery life great too. It wasn't that I hated it, it... just didn't seem as smooth/logical as CM feels to me.

  • BrianLipp

    can i hate HTC Sense? 'Cause i hate HTC Sense.

    • SK

      How long have you own a phone with HTC Sense? Just curious. What phone was it?

      • BrianLipp

        never have, but my dad had a thunderbolt and i had to help him with stuff all the time. It was really difficult to navigate and find anything. Plus, when it was on GB, the persistent "customize" button on the dock was a stupid idea. I watched Droid-Lifes hands on with the One and if its true that you cant remove/move phone, messaging, internet and camera from the dock, then thats just another terrible thing about Sense

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000003849428 Matt Holbrook

          Give Sense 5 a chance. If anything, it looks pretty :P

          • BrianLipp

            ive been spoiled by stock android for too long, i dont think i can go back to a skin (maybe Motos since its light), plus i dont think i could deal with HTCs slow updates, especially on Verizon. I like HTCs hardware (front facing speakers are a great idea and should have been done a long time ago) so if they made a Nexus or like device i would consider it. Thats in addition to the already mentioned bloat that Sense brings (if i got a 16GB One and i only had 8GBs to use b/c Sense took up half i would be pissed) and just other things i saw in Droid-Lifes first impressions (cant remove stock items from dock, small grid in app drawer, cant remove the new live tile-y homescren) i know a custom launcher would fix those problems, but the memory hogginess of it is bad

          • Rollin Ronemus

            They don't make a 16 GB HTC One only 32 and 64 GB options:-)

          • BrianLipp

            o, thought i saw something about there being 16/32 variants on other carriers since at&t has the exclusive on the 64 one. Still, 8GBs used out of the box is a lot

          • yllk

            Stop spreading lies plz.
            My HTC One S 16GB has 10GB for media storage and 2.34GB for app storage. Sense are bloater than Asop for sure but the system only uses up 800MB to 1GB at most. The rest are used in a lot of different partitions and wasted space

          • yllk

            Sense UIs* are

          • BrianLipp

            go watch this video. This is right after he takes it out of the box and does the setup, no other apps installed. http://www.droid-life.com/2013/04/05/video-htc-one-software-first-impressions/

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I do too, went from liking it back in the EVO days to absolutely despising it with Sense 4 and 4.5, but I'm willing to re-evaluate with Sense 5, considering it's probably HTC's biggest leap in the right direction in a while.

    • http://www.techthirst.com/ Anuj Ahooja

      HTC Sense has a lot of good ideas, even from early on (pinch to see all screens). It was always a little heavy, however, and from what I understand they've improved that as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ShinobiPhoenix Cody Shiranai

      You can hate Sense, but that doesn't make the PHONE bad, things you can change don't add to the phone itself being bad. A Custom Launcher makes you at least forget Sense is there (speaking as a person who still has a HTC Rezound unless his next purchase).

      The point is, there's actually very little "wrong" with the coming phone or even some that have already been out. I can easily get a S3, Galaxy Note II, or Nexus 4 now, wait for a S4 or One and all of those will honestly make me happy OUTSIDE of the SD expandable storage issue. Though, really, I should call it the "being able to spend cheaply to switch storage on the go rather than have to download and upload from my computer" problem.

      Expandable storage via SD is a personal dealbreaker for it, but otherwise, I could easily have The One or S4 or Nexus Whatever.

      • BrianLipp

        the only thing i hate about the One IS Sense. I like the hardware (prefer metal or at least metallic feeling phones over plastic) and the front facing speakers should have been done a long time ago. Good on HTC for being the first (as far as i know) to do it. I hope everyone else "steals" this from them. Ive come to terms with the lack of SD storage on phones since i got the GNex (32GB and barely use 1/4 of it) and Nexus tablets. The only thing is that it looks like Sense 5.0 takes up 8GBs on the One, which is terrible (thats going off the Droid-Life video i watched)

        • nhizzat

          HTC has been first with a lot of features: LTE with the Tbolt, 720p with the Rezound, 1080p with the DNA, front facing speakers on the One, FB home with the First.

          Unfortunately, those are the only features worth a damn on each point respectively.

        • AppleMinions,☞,BowDown

          The deal breaker for me, is the button placement on the HTC One.

          • BrianLipp

            HTC needs to get over capacitive buttons and switch to software buttons. They had the placement right on the One X and now theyve screwed it all up by taking away multitasking, moving home and putting the logo where a button should be and where people will think its a button. Plus, like on the One X and everything after it, they probably will still have a giant black bar with the legacy menu button show up in apps without overflow

      • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael
  • Anthony Restaino

    Excellent article. The last paragraph especially was good.

    • RitishOemraw

      It was good, but since this article doesn't have an SD card slot it totally blows!
      Waste of time reading through this!

      :P

  • SK

    Really? Xperia ZL is not good build quality? The Z looks amazing and looks well build. And I thought the ZL was just Z - waterproof. No?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I held it, it felt cheap to me. Like budget cheap.

  • Dane Walton, Jr.

    "People got upset anyway, because, well, internet."

    well then, i guess we didn't need this article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

    My buying decisions revolve around a smartphone's/tablet's ability to run 3rd party firmware such as CyanogenMod and Ubuntu Touch. As long as the device isn't too pricy and has good specs. I am down!

    • Rob Mahon

      Yup, that's pretty much it for me. Don't care about what else they chuck on it as long as I can flash a CM rom and configure how I want it to be. Though of course the hardware needs to be up to snuff.

    • Sootie

      And this I think was part of David's point, this is actually (despite CM's install numbers, myself included) a very niche use for a device so screaming bloody murder when a reviewer fails to note that it has a locked boot loader because it will effect the 1% of customers who want to do this.

      I do agree with you though and I'm looking at the sony Xperia Z for much this reason, can run cm and is water proof

  • efan

    this is why i like reviews with more facts than opinions. let me make an informed decision on what i prefer in a smart phone. show me that the screen is better or worse and let me decide if that's a "dealbreaker". show me battery tests that prove the battery is "bad". a phone should not instantly be reviewed as bad because it has sense or touchwiz that supposedly everyone hates even though they sell really well. does it work well? is it smooth? maybe i'll change my mind and think it's not so bad.

  • Gwen Steerani

    Head into a variety of stores that sell phones, most of the time people don't give a crap about 90% of the things people on the internet care about. They just want a phone that looks good, works well (has the apps they want, smooth performance), and a good battery life. Everything else is just bonus/doesn't affect them. It's so immature when people on the internet are having arguments about missing SD slots, removable battery, screen viewing angles, etc. Phones these days have become so powerful meanwhile the software department is lagging tremendously, so everything else at this point should just come secondary to actual software performance and variety.

    • Gwen Steerani

      Forgot to add that the only people on the internet who should be discussing things like viewing angles, missing slots, etc. are reviewers who, as part of their job is to, inform readers on what the phone's strengths and weaknesses are.

      • nhizzat

        So we should just not say anything about our personal experiences and take a reviewer's word as the absolute and indisputable truth? What's the point in having a commenting system? So only those with positive things to say can join in on the circle jerk?

        And these reviewers only reach, at most, 10% of users which happen to be the overly vocal minority.

        • http://profiles.google.com/olavamjelde Olav Alexander Mjelde

          word...
          The review should be objective and it should deduct for missing options, missing hardware and sub par components.

          There should also be mentioned positive things like waterproof, active pen, high resolution, memory card, hml, usb2go, etc.

          If the reviewer says that all this is bs and the only thing that matters, is what ever he prefers, the review is pure bs.

          • Isaac

            Then you shouldn't look past the spec sheet. Of course the review will be opinionated, I hardly expect a reviewer to tell me how it's going to feel in MY hand. If a review states it felt cheap, then it tells me "hmm, I should try and get one in my hand to check how it feels for me." And when there are so many reviews about how great the HTC One feels, I am confident I will appreciate the feel without needing to check first.

        • Gwen Steerani

          No you're missing my point. I'm saying the Reviewers should look at the phone from every angle, and offer their opinion as clearly their opinion but those reading and commenting should refrain from actually trying to be the reviewers and just stick to what they like/dislike.

          People can talk about personal experiences all they want, but offer it in a way that doesn't peg the phone as a complete disaster. Usually comments would be structured in a way like "well this phone doesn't have removable battery that sucks like why can't phones have that, who even buys these shitty phones!?" When it could easily be a comment that says "good phone, not for me. Does anybody know why so many companies are not offering removable battery?"

          So yes, I definitely agree we should be discussing these things, but in a different manner than our current "fuck this phone its so stupid no SD slot wow lame is this an iPhone or what".

          • nhizzat

            What makes any reviewer more capable than any of us? Is there something they know that we don't?

            "Bro, you don't write for a blog. You don't know what you're talking about bro. Your opinion and personal experience mean less than this other random person's because he writes for a blog. Sorry, you're just not qualified."

    • http://profiles.google.com/olavamjelde Olav Alexander Mjelde

      So you are saying that people who walk in stores dont go on the Internet? hahaha, you are quite funny!

      BTW! I know a lot of "normal" people (non nerds) that dont want the nexus 4, due to missing memory card slot.. So how can you say what "Normal people" want? There is nothing "normal", nobody is "Normal".

      Dont think that what the nerds think dont matter, the nerds recommend the "non nerds" what to buy or what not to buy... The non nerds do a lot of the time not trust the people in the shop, so they ask the nerds and then the nerds will lay it out.

      I always say it very objective what I would recommend and I say the weakness and strength of all the models (no handset is perfect for everyone)

      • Fawoo

        I think you misinterpreted the comment. They did not say it was about normal v. nerds, they just said most often people don't care about a majority of the things android users on the internet care about and just want a solid phone that'll work for their situation.

        People want phones that fit their situation so they either go into the shop to look for one, ask advice from a friend, or even read some reviews on the internet to see what phone suits them best. It's not about nerds or normals or whatever you were ranting about.

        The person you're replying to was most likely trying to get the idea across that people need to stop being so judgemental with phones on the internet and treat them like every other consumer device. You don't see people arguing about TV's or PC's. Just enjoy your device and who cares about the rest.

  • Jack

    So basically he is saying if you like the features that Samsung provide with their flagships and would prefer them over HTC Ones offering, dont bother to comment on his review. And then goes onto to try to disregard that opinion as those of trolls. What a terrible article.

    • Kenneth Porter

      I didn't take it that way. If you know you don't like touchwiz don't go to a samsung article bashing it saying it is terrible. Things like custom UI are really subjective. Now if a OEM makes a phone with a bad screen with bad viewing angles that is something that is less subjective and more fact. Saying a phone has a bad screen is more of a "fact"

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.noel.5055 Michael Noel

    Maybe someday, people making comments in this section that I see for EVERY phone that comes out will be a bit less dense and negative. I see the dumbest comments of all time related specifically to phone wars and fanboys. It's like arguing which 4WD SUV is better in the snow. 5-10 years ago, there was no such thing as a super smartphone and yet people argue about the smallest things like upgrades to UI, and the like.

    • nhizzat

      The SUV with snow tires is better, much like the phone with the bigger battery is better. Having the wrong tires is like having a small battery, they both render your device useless.

  • Jack

    The author of this article seems to have an issue with the "smart" part of smartphones. ExtSD, mhl out etc are not niche parts, these are features which make the phone smart. It is ludicrous to suggest these sort of features do not count towards what makes a phone good, of course they do. Being able to store data or use your phone as an HDMI out are very much an attribute of what would make a smartphone smart. Why doesnt he just ran an old Nokia if he is so against technology being in phones? This article is complete folly, a thinly veiled, almost jealously fuelled, rant at Samsung who provide all the features he claimed dont count towards a phone being good. Incredibly pathetic.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      You know, you're welcome to put all of these increasingly negative rants into a single comment thread. Disqus does allow for editing / in-line responses.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      "Why doesnt he just ran an old Nokia if he is so against technology being in phones?" Which Nokias you talking about? My Symbian phones from 2007/2008 had TV-out, expandable storage, etc (and great true multitasking on the OS, better than Android's, but that's nothing to do with hardware). Or are you referring to their feature phones? :P

      • Jack

        I was referring to the era of 3310's. According to the article above would be great smartphone today. Great battery life, smooth as silk. Obviously I am adding more than a touch of salt to what the author is suggesting but its equally ridiculous to say than a person who believes features such a extSD & MHL are positive attributes worthy of attributing to the overall quality of a phone are trolls or simply the "internet", these are great features to have on a smartphone, that is a fact.

  • Robert

    The only thing you are wrong about is battery life/accessibility. To many OEMs have ignored the fact that are phones are supposed to be wireless. I'm not necessarily saying it has to be removable, but it damn sure has to be as large a possible without sacrificing the overall design. Samsung seems to get this...now. Motorola seems to have gotten it first. HTC doesn't seem to give a shit whatsoever. The proved it with the HTC one. They take all kinds of abuse last year and their followup flagship is only 9.5% bigger than the year's biggest success? Way to get the FN point!

    Now aside from my personal perspective, it's important to note our phones are almost always most important in an emergency. Any other time, they are a luxury, but on those few times when they are actually vital, we are most likely detached from any other modern convenience. A phone that doesn't power on is a brick, and there's no way you want your wife or kids running around with a device that disconnects them when they need it most because the OEM didn't feel like a removable or giant battery was all that big of a deal.

    • nhizzat

      Battery life is easily the most important "feature" of a phone. What good is a phone if it has to be tethered to a wall? Or if it's dead?

      Too many people get caught up in the spec war.

  • Jonathan Roman

    why im allowed to argue with people who like an inferior product :

    1. htc one took everyone's suggestions on making a good android phone and threw them out the window.

    2. they released it on a dated android version.

    3. they screwed up the navigation buttons

    4. gave it an inferior camera but claim its better (going on tests done by others)

    5. battery closed in and no micro sd slot

    6. screen is small

    7. htc sense still exists

    8. they plan on saving their entire company on this one inferior phone

    annnnnnnnnnnnndddd im done.

    one last thing, htc sucks at updates so have fun being on 4.1.2 or whatever while everyone else is on 5 when it comes out

    Kbye

    • AA

      You are a troll for having this opinion.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Man, I was interested to see what you'd say, but most of those turned out to be useless points. Y U DISAPPOINT, unknown comment-or on interweb?!

    • Kenny Chung

      Right, I'm going to answer some of these, because I've actually got one and I have a hatred of pure speculation.

      1. Mute point... So did Samsung with the whole ditching touchwiz suggestions...

      2. The dated android version actually does nothing bad to the phone. It still runs beautifully. However, it desperately needs a quick settings (either in cm bar form, or 4.2 form), although there are plenty of apps that can be downloaded to fix this, which makes this a mute point.

      3. (HTC take note of this point, you utter idiots!) The lack of a menu button on the phone annoy the heck out of me. When an app requires there to be a menu button, there is a black bar along the bottom just for the menu, which makes no sense! This is a serious problem with the HTC One.

      4. Camera is actually v. v. nice. Very good for action shots and v. quick. It could have something to do with the lower resolution, but a nice little point and click and the results are really good. The ZOE feature was actually nicer than I thought it would be (I'm not going to describe what the feature is itself, because I'm sure you know what it is or at least should know). I just use it for nights out.

      5. The phone lasts really really long in standby mode and I about 6 hours of occasional/heavy usage with games/browsing/messages/skype/chat/etc with it and 3 hours if I was going to turn everyone on and play Gun Bros 2 or some other graphically intensive game. If battery life is a bummer, just get the note and stop complaining. The other half has the note 2 which, although it's not the latest, is amazing!

      6. Screen is 5'', your point is mute. This is better and bigger than my previous phones (HTC Desire, Sensation and Sensation XL). Screen is loads better for surfing the web and reading too. Colours look nicer than the note 2, but then again, so did my previous phones. Haven't had a S4 to compare with though.

      7. So does the VW Camper Van. Although all jokes aside, the blinkfeed is actually quite useful when you're bored and looking for some news. Bit of a shame that you can't add your own feeds though. Not sure I like them changing the settings menu to white, but it just seems purely cosmetic.

      8. HTC First? The facebook phone. It's questionable whether they need to save the company or just need to stay afloat until people are bored of plastic phones. One or the other.

      aaaaaand that's answered.

      Don't be lazy. Just root the phone and put another rom on. Problem solved for all my previous phones when I got bored of waiting. In all honestly, their quick jump to ICS on the Sensation XL really surprised me when I had it.

      k thx bye.

      • nhizzat

        The word you're looking for is moot, not mute.

        • Kenny Chung

          ty :)

  • Adam Fitton

    Functional vs Non-functional. A spec sheet can tell me what it can functionally do. Functionality is more personal on a case by case basis and people can make up there own minds there. But I read reviews to find out about the non-functional aspects. Is it nice to hold, is it fast, is it durable?

  • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

    I kinda get what David's trying to say... and I think he must have had all these on his mind as he was writing the Xperia ZL review. To be honest, that was a very difficult review to comprehend because it was like he couldn't decide whether to outright pan it or to deem it redeemable because of some good points. Even the title of that was ambiguous, for goodness' sake!

    Oh well, at least we roughly know now that he's gonna praise the One. Heh.

  • Gav456

    I enjoyed this article.AP writer's personas are half the reason I enjoy reading you guy's stuff. I must admit, though, I prefer vanilla android nowadays. I used to like sense in the android early days, but now that android is so awesome sense is just surplus to requirements. I do, though, hold to the opinion that HTC build quality is unrivalled. I just wish that they would go software on the standard keys.

    • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

      Or maybe... standard on the software keys? ;)

  • http://shwetank-shukla.blogspot.com/ Shwetank Shukla

    3.2154 stars

    Your article lacks dual sim capabilities which is very important for me, and also the touch experience was abysmal while reading this article on my non-touch Inspiron.

    Fix these issues and I'll give you full 5-stars. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/ShinobiPhoenix Cody Shiranai

      How do you know the American variants (yes, important distinction given most of the patrons of this site) will keep such things? Compare the HTC J Butterfly to the Droid DNA (the American variant of the same phone)... Or just compare the international Galaxy S1 to ALL of the very stripped down American variants.

      • http://shwetank-shukla.blogspot.com/ Shwetank Shukla

        Wha....?

  • Taylor Hunt

    When it comes to SD slots, I don't really care if the storage is removable or not, but I need a lot of room. I spend a great deal of time on airplanes and in places that have no data at all. I'm so grateful that I use Android because I have a choice to buy a phone with lots of storage or not. I think deal-breakers are subjective, individual concerns and never apply to everyone. I am always amazed at people who think everyone needs the same features as they do. If I was always within range of WiFi, I would have bought a Nexus, but I couldn't do it. Luckily I had the option of buying an S3. This is what is so awesome about an OS that runs on so many devices.

  • http://profiles.google.com/olavamjelde Olav Alexander Mjelde

    How come some features are irellevant, while others are relevant?
    I dont get this article and I must say that after reading the first lines, the first thing that struck me, was that this must be some preperation for HTC ONE good review :P

    Not sure why, but I was right.. he he..

    I dont think the HTC one will be a terrible phone - hardware wise, but I doubt that HTC will manage to do the software. They have done a terrible job with this before and I guess they will do it again.

    It's not easy to row a sinking boat and I hope they can make it.. But I am afraid they are the new Nokia. There are of course many issues with HTC, like branding (or the lack of), marketing (the lack of), bad reputation, software problems, short lifespan of highend devices, etc.

    Even if they are to improve with "the one", I dont know if people have forgotten who HTC are. If they have, still HTC has to compete with the top dogs, as well as other handset makers.
    How can HTC compete against Samsung and Apple? I doubt they will outsell even Sony and I personally feel that they dont really have enough to offer.

    Yes, sure, the one is ONE good phone. But it has many features missing, which means they have ONE good phone for a part of the market.

  • http://www.radioshak.co.uk Shakil Shaikh

    Oh look, another patronising article on AP that gives litte credit to it's readership. But hey, I guess without these authoritative navel gazing articles, blogs wouldn't be blogs :).

  • IncCo

    The tag is one of the best parts.. "everything is amazing and nobody's happy"

  • roger

    My Nexus 7 without SD is getting full. Meanwhile, my phone that serves as my Blockbuster-in-a-pocket with external SD is currently storing 25 movies and 4 gig of music with 12gb of space still left - and I'm considering a 64gb card. External SD or GTFO is my feelings on it.

  • Angel Penabad

    I just wonder, how do u AP guys manage to get all that review units?I'm curious.

    On other topic, I like the way David write his reviews because as he said, you can't just ignore that there are better options out there just because you're trying a good device. That would be like paying 600$ for a, Xperia Z without considering a 350$ Nexus 4, or a 600$ Note 2.

    I'm really surprised, if you like the HTC One, as I consider you David a bit of a Samsung fanboy. LOL

  • TechGuy22

    i didnt like the ONE at first then every time i see it now, its just like i have to have it. i will import the china version. because i cant live without SD card. dont care much about removeable battery. i think the developer version shouldve SD card slot. i have a S3 now. and S4 design is a big meh. i love sammy but this year i will move to HTC well until google releases moto x or nexus 5

  • Massi Catizone

    Atta boy. Speak your mind, that's what made American and journalism great.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

    My only gripe about my Nexus 4 is the 16GB memory. Plenty for my apps, little for my music. I have to carry my 32GB Galaxy Nexus for music. I hate streaming from the cloud, too unreliable, lower quality, I need all my 5 geebees from tmobile.

  • RonD45

    The S4 and the ONE have very similar functional specs. So it's the little extra's and gotcha's that will help make a choice between the two. So thought it doesn't seem like much, the features like removeable battery and SD card slot do become the decision makers for many people. The removeable battery and SD

    • yllk

      Good. That means all the form factor, the metal body, dual speaker, camera are so small to have any weights in the comparison. Good.

      • yllk

        too*

      • RonD45

        No, form factor and metal body are for looks and I use a case like most people do so it adds nothing. Can't use the dual speaker if I don't have enough storage to store tunes, and if I really want good sound I use a blue tooth speaker. The jury is still out on the improvements in the camera.

  • faceless128

    Damage control for an upcoming review? Better cash that check from the High Tech Computer Corporation while it can still clear...

  • RonD45

    Seems like rationalizing for a good ONE review.

  • firethorn

    What gets my goat is commenters (and especially reviewers) who place the importance of build materials above all else and seem to hate everything that isn't metal or glass. Exactly the same thing applies here: people's mileage will vary. And yet I see so many good devices blasted because "it's made out of plastic hurr durr".
    And what really enrages me is people who say "build quality" (i.e. how well is a device assembled) when they actually mean build materials (i.e. what is the device's exterior made out of), when there is not nearly a perfect correlation between those two factors.

    Compared to that superficiality, I'm fine with people discussing actual hardware features as personal dealbreakers all day long, honestly.

  • Benitez Burns

    I enjoyed reading this article!! Awesome work!! :-)

  • Bob Allen

    Bravo David! To disagree without being disagreeable is a lost art out here on the wilds of the internet! Thanks again for your help making up my mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pachi72 Fernando Diaz

    The deal breaker for me is 2 big things....1..only 16gb internal and 2..no SD card.
    I need to have at least 32gb internal for apps and games that take alot of space..and I need SD card for rooting, nandroid backups, ROMS and music.

    • yllk

      Good luck finding a 16GB HTC One

      • http://www.facebook.com/pachi72 Fernando Diaz

        WHo say I am getting a HTC ONE?

  • GraveUypo

    "and here's why i'm right and you're all wrong."

    sorry but i hate this kind of article.

  • Bloodflame87

    Great article! Let me start by saying I never make a buying decision based on software. Any phone I get can come pre-loaded with Sense, TouchWiz, don't-call-it-Blur, or whatever else and I simply don't care. This is because my personal preference is an AOSP-based ROM, and because I'm an active XDA user with the ability to use CWM and flash custom ROM's, my objections come straight to the hardware.

    My latest purchase was the Nexus 4, but not just because of the software. Yes, I wish I could have expandable storage. Yes, I wish I could have easy access to the battery. Yes, I realize the camera is sub-par for 8MP. These weren't necessarily dealbreakers for me though, as I was simply able to look past them and onto the good points of the device. There's no denying it's a beautiful phone (some even say it's the best design in Android history). The CPU, GPU, and memory are right up there among the other top dogs. The 4.7" IPS+ display isn't too big or too small, and the colours look great (considering it's calibrated properly - but that's a whole other subject). And most importantly, being a Nexus, developer support is at it's finest. This was more-or-less my criteria while shopping for a new phone, and in my own humble opinion, I couldn't have done any better. In fact, I do like the hardware in the HTC One, Galaxy S4, Xperia Z, and Optimus G Pro, and there are definitely some pros and cons with each one. I'm not saying any of these other phones are good or bad, but the Nexus 4 just comes down to being the right device for me at this time.

    I have a lot of friends who know that I'm an Android enthusiast, and they actually come to me to help them choose the best device for them. I ask them what they look for in a phone, and I guide them with information to help with their buying decision. I'd never say something like "Oh, go with the Galaxy S4. Every other phone sucks!" because that's just not true. They know when they ask me, I will make a few different suggestions and explain the differences between each phone and why I selected them. 95% of the time, they actually do buy the device that we narrowed down to through a process of elimination, based on their specific needs. Just because I personally wouldn't buy a specific phone, doesn't mean I don't think it wouldn't suit one of my friends better. Quite often, it's the exact opposite.

  • Gabor Csekey

    Great post.Everyone has a list of preferences and requirements and has a best phone for them, but that doesn't mean it's the best overall. For example I've a Galaxy Nexus that I have to replace soon (few cracks and it behaves very unreliably, it reboots, it won't wake up, it's a faulty unit). I drop my phone constantly so I need to have something that has a strong glass in the front with a plastic removable battery (that way the battery falling out absorbs most of the shock), I need 16 gigs of ram, a descent camera and the ability to install cm on it.

    So while I like the Nexus 4 the most from the current crop the most, I won't get that, because it'd crack within a week badly.

  • Sycobob

    The tag on the article just made my morning.

  • http://twitter.com/Itr0ll Pat Patterson

    i love how you bring up sony then grovel at their software updates. next to Asus, sony hadsome of the worst OTA ICS "updates".

    please go into detail how facebook home is anything hut a keylogging skin that simply changes your U

    this article could have been great

  • Howard Z

    Nice article, but I still will not buy a phone without a microSD card unless it comes with 64gb of internal memory.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1435583131 Joel Trace

    So SD card lovers are pirates now?

  • ickkii

    With android it's not that I can't live without those additional features, it's that those features are big reasons I use android over iOS. You want a phone with good build quality, no sd, no removable battery, and a locked bootloader; why use android? I want a user experience better than the status quo by apple or samsung. It's not like they're big demands either with what's being paid for these devices, for example my transformer still managed to have micro sd, full sized sd, usb, good battery life, an unlockable bootloader, and at a decent price. What is samsung's excuse with a greater R&D budget than that of asus? There isn't anything that innovative about some of these devices on the market, so all the more reason to criticize them more harshly. Removing an SD card isn't so much a lack of a feature considering many phones offer expansion like that, it's straight up worse. That doesn't mean a phone without an SD card can't be better overall than one that does, it just means that the other features need to be an order of magnitude better to compensate for that - and commonly they're not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=596306053 Harry Hawk

    SD card, not because the phone needs it but because I do.. Using 48 GB now.. and while a 64 GB phone with no SD slot would work, I'd rather have a slot so I can just move my data by removing/adding the card, rather than trying to back up and restore 48 GB of data.. Etc.

  • bobbutts

    I'd like a phone just like the VZW Galaxy Nexus with MicroSD added and up to date hardware. IMO all the attempts to differentiate based on software is a total waste of time. In my ideal world there would also be a few extra body choices:

    1. Rugged with upgraded glass and shock resistance.
    2. Hardware keyboard.
    3. Slim version with perma-battery and whatever else needs to be sacrificed to make it sleek.

    It's frustrating to shop when most high end phones are in my 3rd category.

  • Martin Kemp

    I really want a phone with a slide out qwerty keyboard, am I ever going to get one? Extremely unlikely, but I'm not blasting every phone that doesn't have it, I'm just sad there isn't one.

  • Bakaouji

    Does the Optimus G Pro you're reviewing have a locked bootloader?

    Would be great if you could confirm this.

  • Matthew Fry

    Basically, my new criteria for a good phone is "which one will be the most popular with the homebrew development community?" Because when the manufacturer support ends, your only hope of running something current is with the wonderful homebrew community.

    It was great to have the Epic 4G keyboard and I still think a hardware keyboard is way better than a software keyboard but it was bittersweet when the rest of the Galaxy S series was receiving homebrew OS updates while the 4G was left out in the cold (until the awesome Epic 4G CM gents, of course).

  • Matthew Fry

    It's difficult to defend not having a microsd card slot though. You have to work hard to justify not having one. That's because it isn't a design decision or an engineering decision or a cost decision to not have one, it's a stupid executive business decision. It's a decision to stick it to the consumer by selling multiple models leveraging more space for insane profit. It's an Apple move.

  • Mahendra Shah

    I WILL ALWAYS REQUIRE ANY PHONE OR TABLET OR PHABLET THAT I BUY TO HAVE A REMOVABLE BATTERY AND A SLOT FOR AN SD CARD.THESE FOR ME AREAN ESSENTAIL ELEMENT TO THE ABOVE GADGETS.I ALWAYS CHARGE MY BATTERIES OUTSIDE A MACHINE IN A SEPARATE CHARGER...NEVER INSIDE A MACHINE.AFTER THAT. AFTER THAT I WILL APPRECIATE THE OTHER QUALITIES OF THE GADGET.....BUT WITHOUT THE ABOVE TWO REQUIREMENTS THE PRODUCT IS JUST A BEAUTIFUL OBJECT NICE TO LOOK AT BUT NOT WORTH BUYING.