Recycled Computing

Verizon iPhone 4 or an Open Android Smartphone?

- 2011.01.31

We live in a wonderful garden. There are beautiful flowers, scrubs, and trees, and it's all arranged with the same care that Japanese gardeners use. It is almost as if our garden is so thought out and planned that it seems to be a slice of nature contained within the walls of our house.

That's the problem: The walls.

Our perfect little computing universe has walls that limit what we can do with our data, our devices, and the interaction between our devices. I will admit that there are workarounds, hacks, and third party software that will open the garden door to the outside, but it still is limiting - and it kind of chafes at a user.

Don't get me wrong: The garden is a perfect user experience, and I have always enjoyed my Apple experience, but now I am on the horns of a dilemma. My tiny local cell phone provider has gotten around to adding 3G and Android phones, and the iPhone 4 has been added to Verizon. If you recall, I have not been able to buy an iPhone, because AT&T goes not have service in my little slice of frozen tundra.

Do I get an Android phone (most likely the HTC Desire) or an iPhone?

Decisions, decisions - and it takes me forever to make one.

Whatever choice I make, both options offer me something that an AT&T iPhone does not - tethering. With either Android or the Verizon iPhone, I can use the 3G connection to create a mobile "hotspot" for my laptops. Thus I will have Internet access all over the place and can achieve my dream of typing a Low End Mac column from my uncle's cottage at the lake.

The issue goes back to the walls. It's very secure in the Apple garden. At lot of the grunt work of syncing your portable device to your laptop or desktop has been taken care of. Big Daddy Apple makes it very easy to backup, update software, and purchase apps and media. But that comes with a price tag.

Android offers a freedom that Apple doesn't. For example, Mr. Mike, our computer repair maven, has changed his version of Android about three dozen times since he got his Android phone for Christmas. Egads! Android gives you a choice of smartphones, tablets, and electronic devices to choose from (it's even been ported to netbooks) and the freedom to tweak or change your operating system.

I just learned (from the XDA site) that you can port a custom ROM for Gingerbread,the latest Android version, to the HTC Desire that I have been eyeballing at my local cell phone provider's store.

Maybe I could walk through that Garden door after all. LEM

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