And today is my first full week with an Android device - and the first time in years I spent away from a Windows Phone device (not counting the week I tried really hard to use a BlackBerry) without really wanting to go back. Except for a couple of things I will explain later.
I like the Motorola Milestone. The screen is really beautiful, but perhaps not as responsive as the iPhone. still, heaps better than the old touchscreens. Even though it's not the fastest of the Android hardware around, it's quite responsive. I mean, try opening WinMoSquare on a 1GHz Windows Phone 6.5 (sorry, no Windows Phone 7 here) and you might as well wait a bit, while on the Motorola Milestone it's instant - and the GPS is pretty quick too.
I can't complain about voice calls. And the overall device build is very good - if a bit too heavy. But the keyboard is responsive and the slide mechanism feels firm and really keeps the whole package together.
The Motorola Milestone is running Android 2.1, and seriously it's a much better experience than I recall from my previous use of LG (Android 1.5) and Sony Ericsson (1.6) handsets.
The Email at last supports Exchange (in addition to POP3 and IMAP), it synchronises your contacts from the server to the device's own contacts database, and calendar as well.
I opened the box during the Telecom launch event, inserted a SIM card and less than five minutes later I had the Motorola Milestone synchronising with my Exchange server.
Since I live inside an email application, this was a very welcome "fix" to the broken experience in previous devices.
Other "important" applications are either ready to use, or just a couple of clicks away in the Market - including the official Twitter and Facebook applications.
As part of the package we get Motonav trial, a navigation GPS application that works in New Zealand, with voice directions. It works out of the box for 60 days in trial mode, but if you want to keep using it then you need to buy a US$60 license online. Not bad, comparing at similarly priced packages like CoPilot.
But not everything is beautiful. There are some small problems that annoy me at the moment:
- There is no way to empty the Trash folder in the standard Email app. If you use the email in your hand as a triage tool, you will soon find a Trash folder with hundreds of emails - and no option to empty it. Interesting because one would have thought of emptying the Trash folder after each sucessful synchronisation, but perhaps not the developers in charge of this app. You will have to manually select each email and delete them all in bulk. I found it the hard way when I found out a couple of days of clearing up email on the device left behind about 300 emails in that folder.
- There's no simple email filter. I got this from my Windows Phone years: open the email app, start typing a word, and only emails with that word in the subject or sender's name will show up. Not here.
- There's no simple dial contact using the dialpad. Again another one from my Windows Phone years: open the phone dialler, start spelling a name using the numbers, and you see a filtered list of contacts that match the spelling. Apparently there is an app for that (as usual), but not out of the box.
- Voice commands don't quite work well (perhaps my accent?). Every time I tried it by saying "Call [name]" it came back with three names on the screen, asking "Call [name 1], yes or no?" and a few times the name I wanted wasn't even there.
- Motonav seems to have wrong speeds all over it. Not something like 50km in a 70km zone, but showing 50km in a motorway. Both State Highway 1 and State Highway 2 show 50km around Wellington, when the limit is actually 100km/h. I had to turn off the speed alarm because of that.
- Picture quality is not the greatest, even in the highest settings.
- Multitasking is the curse of everything. Or not. When Apple launched the iPhone without multitask the company reportedly said it was a move to save battery power. A lot of people started talking how multitask was important and obciously saying Apple didn't listen to customers. Then Apple launched a limited multitask, and everyone now talks about Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 being crippled because it "freezes" apps in background instead of keeping them running. Android provides full multitask, and it may suck. An example: out of the box there was an update for the Facebook app. I installed it and went to bed. In six hours the Motorola Milestone went from 100% to 5% battery. Strange... Two days later there was another Facebook app update. This one to fix a battery usage problem introduced by the previous update. And then you realise that code can suck so much that impacts in your device's battery life - and your overall experience.
I could easily live with all items in this list, except for the first one. As the most used application in my mobile device is the email app, I can't really bother having to empty the Trash folder... Can imagine if you don't babysit it every day and find out at the end of the month you are sitting on a giant pile of trash emails?