I’ve had an iPhone for many years, and an iPad for not quite as long. People would tell me I should switch to Android. I thought they were crazy. I recently got some Android devices. Now I know they are crazy. Some notes on recent experiences with a Moto G6 and Samsung Tab S5e.
I was looking to get Google Fi’s phone service for when I travel. More on this in a bit. Although it should work with several phones, the website specifically mentions the Moto G6 as a working model, so that’s the one I got. If Google recommends it, what can go wrong?
Physically, the phone is quite nice. Pretty typical all screen slab format. Small bezels. Good quality screen. I was pretty happy with it until I turned it on.
Once it turns on, the screen plays this insane Hello Moto video thing with flashing colors. Possibly the most garish thing I’ve ever seen, without exaggeration. Critics knock Apple products as being designed for people who like shiny things. I do not ever want to meet the people the Moto splash screen appeals to.
After turning on, it starts applying security updates. Good. One month at a time. There are many months. This is bad. Why can’t it install all the updates? Finally it stops, with January’s update. It is no longer January. I’m stuck at Android 8.0 January 2019 Security Patch. I manually check for updates again, and again, but my phone insists it is up to date. I do not like Android. Android is a liar.
Somehow it seems this is related to my phone being set to the retla channel and not the retus channel. I’m not in Latin America, I barely even know Latin, so surely I can switch to the US channel? Haha, of course not. We can’t let the poors get access to the good updates.
I suppose this is really my fault for not spending enough time, not doing enough research, not reading enough forums to buy the correct phone. Maybe some people are just too stupid to deserve a good phone.
On the whole, not impressed.
Update: after several months of lying to me about being up to date, I took my phone to Miami. No sooner did I disable airplane mode, I had a notification telling me a system update was available. Apparently Miami is closer enough to Latin America I’m allowed to get updates there.
This little adventure started because I wanted to use Google’s Fi phone service. There’s a certain appeal. Low monthly base rate, pay as you go data, and international coverage.
First, we need to order a SIM. You can order a sim with a new number, which is what I did, but you must also enter a phone number for the delivery address. If you are trying to sign up for Fi, but do not currently have a phone number, I guess you’re out of luck. Somebody didn’t really work that user story all the way through.
Anyway, the SIM arrives, goes in the phone, and seems to work fine. I take it around town, look at web pages, create a hotspot for my laptop, check my email. All good.
Then I go to Canada. Canada is a country to the north of the US. I’ve even heard it described as a first world country. I wonder if my phone will work. I should hope so, considering I bought it so I would be able to look up transit maps and such. After landing, the Fi app informs me that I am in Canada (nice work) and that my data connection will be established in a few minutes.
I pass through the airport and get to the bus stop. Still no data. Fortunately, I already knew which bus to take. I arrive at my destination downtown. Still no data. I wait a bit longer. I wait a whole fucking week. Still no data. I do not know what Google defines a few minutes to be, but I think reasonable people will agree it’s less than a week. I do not like Google Fi. Google Fi is a liar.
On the whole, not impressed.
Update: I forgot to cancel Fi and went to Spain. Fi never connected to the local network here either. Fortunately I just did a sim swap at the airport, and become a happy (temporary) Vodafone customer.
samsung galaxy tab s5e secured by knox powered by android
Next up, we have a tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e Secured by Knox Powered by Android, or SGTS5eSbKPbA for short. At least when starting it only prints its name in black and white, with no crazy dancing colors, but five different type faces is a bit much. Like stripes and dots.
Hardware wise, this is a very nice tablet. It’s quite thin and fairly light, but with a good sized screen. The tablet just fits in the cargo pocket of some of my shorts, and is about 1mm too wide for another pair.
The signature feature is the screen. It’s an OLED high res screen. This is why I bought it, and I’m happy to say it’s exactly what I was hoping for. With an anti-glare screen protector, it’s very easy to read in dark environments. There’s no backlight bleed whatsoever. Just crisp white letters floating on a black background.
Almost immediately after turning on the SGTS5eSbKPbA, I received an email from Google. Some of my apps were out of date. Never mind that my phone is months behind on security fixes, but the youtube app on my tablet was a week old, and that requires emailing me. Guess I know where the priorities are. Also, kinda creepy they need to spy on my apps like that.
I used the SGTS5eSbKPbA for a few days quite happily. Then after seven days I received a notification that I should restart my device to avoid slowdowns and memory leaks. This is a level of incompetence that should have been eliminated twenty years ago.
The on screen keyboard defaults to shifting the first letter of a sentence, which is helpful. Unless I’m doing something esoteric like entering a username into a website. So then I press the shift key, which... turns on caps lock. Nobody wants that.
The SGTS5eSbKPbA gets updates all the freaking time. I’m in a hotel room, with not great wifi, watching HBO. Or trying to. The video keeps stalling because Android has decided to download and install updates for 26 other apps in the background. Can you not tell I’m already using the network??? Update this crap later, when I’m sleeping.
There’s an Energy Star sticker on the back because that’s important.
On the whole, I rather like it. Android mostly does its best to aggravate me, but fortunately with a tablet I can usually leave it in airplane mode and read or watch preloaded media. For these purposes, it’s excellent.
Update: still using it, still liking it. There’s quirks, but I can live.
If you’re looking for a tablet, the SGTS5eSbKPbA is a good one. I’ve nothing more to add about the other crap.