Back in Black

december 31, 2010

A few days ago, I got a Samsung Captivate -- a massive Android phone with a 4" screen, 16GB of storage, 512MB RAM and a speedy 1Ghz processor. Today, I returned the phone and got a Blackberry Torch 9800.

Don't get me wrong, I really like Android, the tight integration with Google services was bloody awesome. The OS is well-thought out and intuitive. The Market was full of apps that could keep me busy for days on end. But, there were things that I just couldn't get used to with Android, they weren't deal-breakers, but they were annoying. Just to make sure, I use my phones mainly for messenging -- a nice webbrowser is a totally good feature for me because I'd love to do some websurfing on my phone. Other than that, media is usually not a thing I do on my phone. Some gaming is nice. But, mainly I want a smartphone for messenging.

To start off, messenging on Android is a mess. With Blackberry, I had push email for all my email accounts and I had the choice of a universal inbox or an inbox per account. With Android, I had push Gmail in the Gmail app. I had push Yahoo! Mail in the Yahoo! Mail app. If I wanted some semblance of push email for my home email, I got it via the IMAP PUSH functionality in the K-9 Mail app.

Sending a picture was a pain, because I either sent a full five megapixel image (2MB+) via email, or I had to lower the resolution of my camera to take smaller pictures if I wanted to send it via MMS. With Blackberry, the system lets me have a choice of full-size image or a shrunken version when I was sending an image. Still, not a deal-breaker.

The onscreen keyboard and predictive text was OK, but worked well. It was not as great as a physical thumbboard. The much hyped Swype worked, but I could not get used to it.

The Samsung Captivate, when you break it out of the box is a fantastic device. It feels like quality -- I loved the metal backplate and the little tiny sliding cover over the microUSB connector. And when you turn on the Captivate, the Super AMOLED screen is...well, captivating. It is bright, clear and has a high density of pixels making everything look sharp and wonderful. As nice as the screen is, whites have a slight tinge of blue, but that's OK. Colors overall are saturated and very pleasing.

So, now to the deal-breakers for the Samsung Captivate. First, the battery life is abysmal. I could barely get a decent days of moderate use out of it. Second, there is a known issue with Samsung Galaxy S GPS receiver -- some work and some...don't. Mine was the later -- it could never get a lock on GPS satellites. And lastly, a lot of Captivates have this nasty tendency to shut themselves off randomly. Reading through forums and blogs, there doesn't seem to be any reason or rhyme to the random shutdowns -- they just happen. Mine shut itself off the first day I had the unit. Then the following days, I would randomly find the unit turned off when I picked it up. This was very annoying.

What about another Android device? Outside of the Captivate, nothing on AT&T's roster is very good.

So, after all of that, every time I picked up the Captivate, I was amazed by the screen. I was amazed by the breadth and depth of the Market. I loved the smooth operations of the Android OS. But, I found myself always having "I really miss..." thoughts. Thoughts like "I miss the blinking red notification LED that tells me I have a new message", "I miss the universal inbox", "I miss being able to skip a night of charging my phone", "I miss the hardware keyboard", "I miss my buddies on Blackberry Messenger" and on and on. And with those thoughts, I found myself carrying a Blackberry again.