I had a lot of people ask for updates after I wrote last week’s story on switching from an iPhone to an Android device. I’ve used both the 4S and the Atrix 2 with some regularity and had an iPhone 4 jailbroken for a long time so I am pretty familiar with both phones and their evolution. I am still fairly new to the Atrix 2, but I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on the phone by now. So here are a few brief thoughts:
Overall, I have no real complaints about the Atrix 2. As far as the basics go (hardware, ease of use, etc) it’s an excellent product. The real power in the phone is in the Android software though. First of all, Google Music is awesome. If you’re a heavy music user you’ll love Google Music. Once you get an account (it’s in beta and still requires an invite) you can upload up to 20GB of music online. It sucks it right out of iTunes or your computer and puts it all online. Yep, online. That means it’s synced to your Google account. You can walk into an internet cafe in Zimbabwe and listen to your entire music library. The great thing about the Google Music app is that you download the app and the music is all there and you haven’t used any memory on your phone. This is one of the powers of Android. It seamlessly links everything through your Google account.
Web surfing on Android has the potential to be a total game changer. I now realize that I was totally brainwashed into thinking that not having Flash on my iPhone and iPad wasn’t a big deal. Boy was I wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I have been surfing the web on my iPad when I ran into a site that didn’t load completely and I took out my Atrix to view the site. It’s a huge difference maker. To the point where I am wondering why the heck I have an iPad and not a XOOM. I know, you probably think I am crazy, but I use the iPad almost exclusively for web surfing and reading. The lack of Flash is a huge problem for Apple and once you own both devices side by side the issue is magnified 10 fold. Apple needs to resolve this issue sooner rather than later. I will not buy another iPad or iPhone without Flash. It’s that simple and yes, it’s that important.
The only gripes I have at this point are minor. The battery on the Atrix 2 is not good. But you can manage it in a way that it’s not a big deal. The great thing is the phone charges up in no time. We’re talking 10-15 minutes for a full charge (rough estimate). The email interface is not great. I definitely liked the Apple interface better. But that’s not a huge deal. I don’t need email to be pretty. The camera is excellent on the Atrix, but the 4S definitely has a better camera. The 2GB memory card that comes with the Atrix is totally inadequate. I bought a 32GB card for $35 which was annoying. I have no idea why they’re sending these things out of the stores with anything less than 10GB. Especially since Google Music isn’t for everyone yet. The interface and touchscreen is excellent. No big differences there. One thing I love about the Atrix is the notifications. Your toolbar on top of the screen can be loaded with important info. Time, weather, RSS, email, battery, etc. It’s super convenient and with a swipe of the finger you can immediately access all of this. It’s like one big app. Call quality has been good, but that depends on your location. Siri on the iPhone is incredible. Google Voice has a ways to go before it’s as dynamic. But I just don’t use it that much. I say “call so and so” and “directions here” throughout the day. But it’s not like I am having conversations with my phone all day long so I don’t need it to be my personal assistant. So, I think the power of Siri is a little overhyped. The actual phone itself has a huge screen, but it’s sleek, thin and I can’t say I notice much of a difference from the iPhone.
All in all I am happy I made the switch. It depends on the user, but if you’re like me and you use the phone moderately, text moderately, heavy email, heavy internet and heavy music then it’s really hard to beat the Atrix 2. Google Music and the Dolphin Web browser with Flash makes a huge difference. But again, you need to be a heavy internet and music user for those to pay off. If Apple were to fix the Flash issue then I’d be tempted to lean back towards the iPhone, but having had so many annoyances with my iPad since buying the Android, I have to say that this is really a huge problem for Apple going forward. With the way the Android system is evolving by leaps and bounds and finally combining it with decent hardware it’s hard to imagine that they won’t hit a price point with their phones where consumers begin to say “eh, I really don’t need to pay more for an iPhone do I?” I am not sure if consumers know it yet, but that time is here. Apple can’t afford to be so closed off anymore. Fix the Adobe problem first and foremost! The competition might not be all the way there yet, but it’s getting to the point where it doesn’t need to be. And Apple needs to evolve if they’re going to stay on top….
* I have no interest or ownership in any companies mentioned above.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.