Favorite quotation: Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. - Jack Handey

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Text entry: This was a big thing for me. I write a lot of messages on forums. I would really like a phone that lets me enter and edit text accurately, easily, and comfortably. After trying this on both phones, I must conclude that they both suck for text entry, and a laptop is infinitely better. For one thing, neither has an Undo feature that works well: the iPhone's is crippled and the Pre's is non-existant. Text selection is a pain in the ass on both: on the Pre, you have to hold the shift key while dragging, but it's tough to get it to line up exactly with whole words; meanwhile on the iPhone text selection involves dragging tiny sign-post icons mere pixels wide that are impossible to grab with my man-fingers. My Apple Newton from 1996 has better text editing than this crap!! Both keyboards suck; my kingdom for a Palm Pre with the keyboard of a Samsung Alias 2! I would not honestly care how thick the thing was. I wear it on my belt anyway. The Pre's keyboard is so damn small that my hands felt arthritic the next day, like I was 90 years old. Meanwhile the iPhone's wide keyboard mode is more comfortable by far, but then you cannot see more than two lines of text in wide mode, scrolling becomes a chore, and you can't rotate the phone without closing out of the keyboard first. And how about arrow keys and page-up/page-down... double-tap to select a word, triple-tap to select a whole paragraph... etc.??? BASIC STUFF GUYS COME ON!

Battery Life: After my initial experience that the Pre's battery sucked... I changed some settings around and it now seems to be great. You have to turn off GPS, "Background Data Processing" (which is what allows Google to constantly spy on you), go offline from your IM accounts, and set your e-mails not to constantly check (every hour works fine for me; anyone that needs to check e-mail more than 24 times per day but can't muster a manual check when they need that 25th time needs to get off their meds). The iPhone 3GS seems to have so-so battery life by comparison; I used 5% of the battery while just typing a message for 30 minutes. Perhaps the larger screen requires more power to backlight? In either case I have not had a chance to do a rigorous, scientific test of a statistically significant sample group of each phone, but I think they will probably both do fine in the battery department. The Pre has the option to wirelessly charge (how cool is that?) and has a user-replaceable battery, so I give it the edge.
Winner: Pre

Included apps

Navigation: Sprint Navigation is great! It's a decent turn-by-turn GPS program with its own searchable phone book inside. It makes finding post offices, movie theaters, etc. very easy. I used it all the time on my last Sprint phone and I find it to be much better implemented on the Pre, of course. It's not as "slick" as Apple's Maps with the compass and all, but I still find the Pre's easier to use and more useful. Being a man I generally do not have trouble determining which direction North is, and if I was going camping, I wouldn't bring my cell phone anyway! Just get a real compass, gosh!
Winner: Pre

Media: Sprint TV is pretty cool, but I think the iTunes Store wins as far as free content goes. I would much rather listen to a podcast from The Economist than whatever Hits of the 80s are streaming on the Pre. Live ABC News on my phone... not bad.. but still, meh, I already watch too much TV, and the major networks basically suck. I already pay too much for Comcast, I'd feel stupid paying AGAIN for the same channels on my phone. Amazon MP3 does not have all the cool free content that iTunes Store has, which you can stream and listen to in real time.
Winner: iPhone

Calculator: iPhone's can do scientific. Nuff said. Neither could do conversions, though, and I thought it was mega-lame not to have that. Even my paper-based Day-Timer has conversions in the back! Gosh!
Winner: iPhone

Calendar: Oh, this one really makes my blood boil. The iPhone's calendar has NO WEEK VIEW...!!!!!!! YOU'RE KIDDING RIGHT APPLE?!?! OMFGBBQADSLQWERTYUIOPMFRWOWURL!!! REALLY?!!?1 0.0; No week view. Sigh. That is the most retarded thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Unbelievably retarded. Insanely stupid. The worst part is, I'm sure it wasn't an oversight; I'm sure someone at Apple thought it would be better that way, and once it was decided thus, then they are too prideful to admit they were wrong. Apple has become the George W. Bush of computer interface design. First it was the iPhoto library hiding all your pictures in its "Library" because they couldn't think of a better way to reference files in their OS than directory paths (how about just making an OS with direct file reference keys so programs don't HAVE to rely on the directory path? Oh yeah, that's right, you DID make an OS like that... it was called Macintosh System 7!). For the iPhone I also had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get my Google Calendars to show up on it, just like I did for iCal on my Mac. Meanwhile the Pre's calendar has a week view, and my Google Calendars showed up with no troubles at all.
Winner: Pre

Tasks/To-Do: I'm not even sure the iPhone has a to-do list.
Winner: Pre

Notes: The iPhone Notes app uses a felt-tip marker font that cannot be changed to another font. Once again, the changing of fonts is a basic feature on all things since 1984. How could you, Apple? HOW COULD YOU?! The Pre can't change fonts either, but at least the notes aren't on ruled paper in a felt-tip marker font.
Winner: Pre

Clock: I'm not even sure why the Pre has this... the time is already displayed in the top of the screen; why do you need a clock? Also, why do you need an alarm clock since the Calendar already does this? The iPhone's clock is much better, with a World Clock, Stopwatch, and Timer built-in -- all useful things that ANY cellphone should have.
Winner: iPhone

Weather: The Pre's AccuWeather gives you much more information than Apple's Weather, which basically is identical to the Dashboard app of the same name. The Pre's has hour-by-hour display as well as doppler radar, humidity display, dew point, and wind speed/direction. I didn't care for the ads though, but still, it's just a better app.
Winner: Pre

Some may say that the included apps aren't worth reviewing because you'll just end up downloading better, third-party ones. Well, frankly, I already pay damn near $100 per month for this thing, it should shine my shoes and make my coffee! I am a believer in, "Do it right or don't do it at all." Apple has typically lived by this philosophy. I think that for 2007, the iPhone's built-in apps were great, but Apple has some more updating to do. I thought OS 3.0 would be more of a full revamp, but frankly, I hope it's because they were spending so much effort on OS X 10.6 that they did not get around to updating the dinky phone apps.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Camera: Pre has an extremely bright LED flash, definitely the best LED flash I've seen on a phone. iPhone does not have any sort of flash. iPhone 3GS has the movie mode but, honestly, the movies look like utter crap. I can just use my Canon SD890is for video and it will come out a million times better. Also, I have an Olympus E-3 for any serious photography, and I carry it everywhere with me; camera is just not something that I care about on my phone. But if it's going to have it, then it needs to definitely have a flash (screw autofocus, it's a joke). [[UPDATE 6/23/09: After further testing, the iPhone's color accuracy and noise levels on its camera do seem to be better than the Pre's, which has trouble with white balance and noise indoors in low light even with its flash. So I changed the vote to iPhone; I'd rather have decent color than a flash.]]
Winner: Pre Neither

Voice recording:
This was actually a very important feature to me. I wanted to have Voice Recording, with no limits, and good sound quality. Apple obviously caters to its musician and media customers, of which I am one; so, the sound quality of the recordings is phenomenal! I love it! Meanwhile the Pre does not have any sort of voice recording application. Major drawback, but not a dealbreaker.
Winner: iPhone

Voice dialing: The iPhone 3GS has it. It works well. It recognized all of the names I said to it, flawlessly. I was very impressed. If you are driving and need to dial, this would be an awesome feature. Of course, I am fairly adept at dialing with my hand while driving... this could kill me someday but... it could also kill you. Still, not a deal-breaker, but it definitely makes me wish that the iPhone was on a decent network.
Winner: iPhone

E-Mail: This is a major thing to me, and I do a lot of it. At first I thought the iPhone would kick the Pre's ass (at least for me), because I have a Mac, and I use OS X Mail. I imagined the iPhone would import all my mail exactly as it is organized in my OS X Mail program with all my rules and folders intact. But it doesn't! Actually, the Pre wins here because on the Pre it shows me convenient pop-up notifications whenever new e-mails arrive, lets me open multiple e-mails at the same time, I can switch between an e-mail I'm replying to and an e-mail I'm writing to reference text; there are smart-folders that let me see all my inboxes grouped together (I have five, so that is nice). Overall the Pre is a MUCH better e-mail utility.
Winner: Pre

Web browsing: The Pre is faster at loading pages both on 3G... by far. AT&T in my area sucks! On WiFi, they are both about the same. Both can have multiple browser pages open; the Pre wins in this though due to the quick switching between pages with a simple gesture. The iPhone browser however has better text rendering often times, but not consistently. Text entry in fields is much better in the iPhone browser, due to auto-scrolling and the wide keyboard, and since I do a lot of that, this actually makes up for the other aspects. Still, even though it's better, there are annoying issues with text entry on the iPhone during the wide keyboard mode because the keyboard takes up 85% of the screen leaving such a small area for text that it's difficult to select large blocks without rotating (which requires hiding the keyboard again). Ultimately neither has a superior browser software-wise, but due to the network superiority of Sprint then I give the edge to the Pre. Otherwise it would be a tie.
Winner: Pre

I will post more comparisons as they come...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I'm getting between 700 kb/sec-1.5 mb/sec with the Pre .. over the EV network. My best was 1.47 mb/sec and that was while receiving a text message! Usually it was in the 900 kb/sec - 1.3 mb/sec range... very respectable for a cell network if you ask me. More importantly the ping seems very quick; clicking through links on websites is rather snappy and the whole thing just seems to work quite well, other than the fact that the auto-rotation is really sub-par and often it gets stuck and I have to shake the unit. But this does not happen super often.

Currently I have both the Pre and the iPhone 3GS. Browsing websites is MUCH MUCH faster on the Pre... it's not even close. CNET's test proved this as well. The voice quality on Pre is excellent too.. and once I followed the steps recommended by other posters, my battery life is MUCH better than at first when I had five e-mail accounts checking constantly and background data collection going.

I did the same tests on the 3GS and here was the results I got (with 5 bars of 3G in Portland, OR): 237 kb/sec, 165 kb/sec, 292 kb/sec, 143 kb/sec... crappy!! WTH? The Pre kicks its butt... bad!

ESPN for example loads much quicker on the Pre.

Also I get MUCH better reception inside of buildings.. where I work, the iPhone does not get ANY reception (can't even make a phone call!). AT&T's network is just crappy, it seems; I don't think it's the iPhone's fault.

What about Wi-Fi? The Pre is giving me between 5 - 8 mb/sec over wifi on the 3MB test on (and I liked that i was able to turn wifi on without exiting the browser or even minimizing the browser window, and it automatically recognized and connected to my home network once I had turned it on... nice!). Meanwhile the iPhone 3GS is giving me only around 400-2500 kb/sec over the exact same wifi connection... horrible!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I am trying out the iPhone 3GS. I currently have both the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3GS. I bought the Pre when it came out then I bought the iPhone when it came out. I'm going to return whichever one is crappier and keep the better one at the end of my 2-week test, that ends on July 4, upon which date I will declare independence from one of these two cellphone companies: Sprint, or AT&T.

For round one of Fone Wars, I tested the speed of downloading an image while getting 4-5 bars of 3G service. In this test, the Palm Pre running on the Sprint EVDO network kicked the iPhone 3GS's ass severely:
in this YouTube video

Other notes:
I really like the Palm Pre's ubiquitous back gesture, and multi-tasking. Also its screen has much better color representation; looks like the gamut is as good as my MacBook Pro's screen. Meanwhile the iPhone 3GS screen does not look as good as the iPhone 3G or iPod Touch (2nd gen) screens... it just has faded-looking colors and the text and edges aren't as sharp and nice as I've come to expect. The touch sensitivity and scrolling works much better on the iPhone however, and scrolling through long lists of e-mails or contacts is much smoother as well -- the Pre can be kind of jerky when scrolling a long list of e-mail, and its responsiveness to touches and drags sometimes seems somewhat laggy or like you have to press twice (generally though, the Pre's interface is quite nice, it's just that Apple's is VERY polished and ULTRA smooth).

I found myself wishing that the iPhone had the pop-up notifications and ability to change settings (like turning WiFi on or off, changing app preferences) without leaving the current app. I must say that once you get used to the Pre's multi-tasking and quick menus, the iPhone seems rather limited on a functional level.

Keyboard wise they are both crappy. The Pre's is too small; the iPhone's is non-physical. They both have advantages & disadvantages. The Pre's cannot be used in landscape mode -- a major downfall. The iPhone's is just kind of tricky to get used to; I'm still adjusting.

Call quality is good on the iPhone 3GS, better than I expected having used AT&T phones before. But the Pre still seems to have a richer sound quality to the calls, whereas the iPhone's is a bit tinny. But neither is bad enough to make your decision based just on that.

iPhone has Voice Memos... that's a major plus for me. I also like the Compass and all the apps, especially MIDI and music apps. Although I'm sure apps will be forthcoming for Pre, I just don't know how many music-type apps will be, since I presume that the musicians of this planet primarily use Apple. I certainly do.

The Pre's auto-rotation feature definitely needs bug-fixing (as of 1.0.2.. haven't thoroughly used 1.0.3 yet). It often gets stuck and you have to jank with it a bit to get it to rotate the right way.

For Navigation, Sprint Navigation definitely wins... it's much better than iPhone's, though not as good as a TomTom. It's very good though.

They seem about the same for battery life... the Pre had gotten a bad rap but once you change the settings to turn off the GPS, instant messaging apps, turn off Background Data Collection (which basically lets Google constantly spy on you, YAY), check your e-mail once per hour instead of every second, sync to the cloud less often, etc... then Pre's battery lasts just fine.

The iPhone has much more memory .. one major advantage.

Hmm But once again, if they can't clear up the actual service... AT&T right now seems pretty darn bad in comparison with Sprint for 3G speed of data, and coverage. If I can't even get a signal INSIDE THE APPLE STORE ITSELF, something is really, really wrong.

To be fair, the AT&T tech support guy did tell me that they are working on getting new towers put in near where I work, but that does not explain the dog-slow 3G speeds I experienced at my house.