Wow... I so
need to make a YouTube video or something. I was reading your post, and had to double check I didn't write it myself! Everything you wrote (except for Holo launcher, I guess) struck a chord with me.
I've come from having a Orange San Francisco as well. It literally lasted about 3 hours before I gave up and put cyanogenmod on it. Even though it was buggy at the time (phone crashed every time it fully charged), it was a major update for speed alone. The OSF was a fantastic phone. I've kept mine, as a backup, and because it's worth bugger all to recyclers and has a scratch and wear marks on the front, so isn't really eBay-able. I did play with ICS and JB on it, but really missed the high quality video support, and it was pretty buggy.
Anyway, moving on:
I've seen various comments regarding stutter or lag due to the Orange Launcher. Presumably if I replace it with Holo Launcher the device is a lot smoother? Any actually owners who can give feedback?
Actually, I didn't really notice. I've just switched back to the Orange Launcher to test now, and it's pretty smooth, but I did try and stick with it, so I don't think I'm using the "default" configuration any more.
I did notice a stutter when I changed to ADW.EX launcher and started going nuts with the widgets. It was doing the "cube" style rotation effect, and the screens with widgets on did make a difference and stuttered a bit. ICS does have much better hardware accelration, so that problem may solve itself in one way (Assuming ADW.EX can make use of it). I solved it by switching to a simple "swipe" effect, and dropping some of the widgets which I found I didn't use anyway. Going back to cube now to test, it's a tiny bit stuttery, but nothing that puts me off.
Don't let reports of stutter put you off. I know a thing or two about the Android system (I code apps, so I know it's weaknesses!), and it's simply not very good at using the graphics chips on anything below 3.x. Games are fine, but Android's built-in UI just isn't very good at hardware accleration until you get to 3.x. It's not really a fault of the phone, other than it's running Gingerbread, of course.
And it's not like how the OSF used to stutter... The homescreen may stutter slightly in some circumstances, but that doesn't mean the rest of the phone is slow. I remember the OSF doing that usually meant it was struggling to cope with background services and the like, which isn't the case here. Using Launcher Pro, or ADW until the ICS upgrade will sort you out nicely.
I'm not concerned with rooting it for the first 12 months at least, are there any viable alternatives within the £200 budget?
Sure there are, but not with these specs. I think the OSD has the best bang/buck ratio. The Galaxy Nexus is still a nice phone. But you won't find it the right side of £200 unless it's used.
I know Orange have announced that it'll get ICS (not a huge deal to me TBH), have Orange kept their promises in the past?
I don't think Intel will let them get away with it if they didn't. The ICS Rom is pretty much ready to go by all accounts, and is just waiting for Orange to add their bits (read "bloatware"). Intel have a massive vested interest here. I would even expect Jelly Bean on this bad boy at some point.
I don't think officially the OSF ever got past 2.1 in the UK for instance?
Some revisions of the phone did, it depended when you brought it, tho there was never any "over the air" upgrades for any of them, what was pre-loaded is all you got. Orange never promised an upgrade for the OSF, to be fair to them.
All USEFUL observations welcome.
Here goes. These points were important to me, and I've just made notes for those not in the know as well.
- Consider your budget and stick to it. As much as I liked the HTC One X, or Samsung Galaxy S3, I couldn't justify the cost. Those phones are not worth the extra £200-£300 to me, and I knew I'd regret buying them. If money were no object, I would've got one of them, but it is, so I didn't.
- Getting the phone sim-unlocked by February, shouldn't be a problem for me by then, Orange would have to willingly give me the code (I'm pretty sure there is a competition law on this, but don't quote me on that), even though I'm happy to stay with them, I'd (probably) have the option to jump ship if needed.
- Best bang for your buck. Intel and Orange have been very competitive here. The OSF was fantastic in this regard, and the OSD is similar. Intel are trying to make a point with this device, and that's a win for us.
- For god's sake, get cashback with topcashback.co.uk or similar.
- I don't play many games on my phone. Consider carefully if you do, as some games (like GTA) are not (yet) compatible (yes, GTA "ran" at first, but Rockstar did pull the game on x86 for a reason!). For me, the odd bit of Angry birds and the like is more than enough. I'm very confident this situation will improve in the next six months. See below for more of a rant on this.
- Do not buy the phone if having root is super-important to you. I must admit, I do not miss root, despite it being a primary reason for me buying the OSF. It would be nice to nuke some of the bloat, but the bloat isn't too bad really, it's not like it was with the OSF. I couldn't live with it on the OSF, I can on the OSD, and it's mostly hidden with how my phone is set up now. If the bloat is unbearable for you, then you can use the Xolo update, but I'm not touching it whilst my phone is in warranty, and I doubt I would really notice the difference. Ask yourself what root apps you have, and if you can live without them. Titanium Backup and ROM Manager don't count ;-) With those two off the list, I was down to SD Card booster, which I didn't notice the difference, a CPU clocking app.... Annnnd, that was about it for me. Assume for now that the phone will not ever be rooted. It might be rooted in the future, but don't bet £200 on it.
- Do not buy the phone if you want a top notch camera. It's better than the OSF camera, but not close to the HTC One X's camera.
- Do not buy the phone if having a unlocked bootloader is super important to you. I've had a brief "poke around" on the software side of the device, as have others if you've read this forum you'll see. The software is well protected, and Intel have done a good job of patching existing vulernabilities. As most of the community focus is on ICS/JB, don't hold your breath on it being rooted anytime by anyone. And yes, the Intel software checks for signing and all sorts before booting. Unless Intel themselves change tack here, don't expect anything.
- Do buy the phone if having ICS is important to you and you can live with Gingerbread for another month or so. I'm confident that Orange will deliver here.
- Do not buy the phone if having a removable battery is super important to you. Yes, you "can take the back cover off", but I wouldn't want to try it. I must admit, this put me off at first, then I asked myself "With all the phones I've had (three Android devices now), and they've all had removeable batteries, how many batteries did I actually replace?" Answer: "None".
- Do not buy the phone if 10gb of "usb storage" (that's how the OSD sees one of the partitons) isn't enough for you, you get 1.9GB for apps on the system partition, but you can always move those to "usb" if it gets full. I run fairly app heavy, and I'm only on 488mb so far. It's nice to not worry about moving things to SD. For now, it cannot be upgraded. Yes there is a SD slot at the back, but it's not easy to get at (see previous point), and we don't have root to mount, and to top it off, it might not actually be wired in for all we know (although it probably is)
- Battery life was a bit crap for me when I first got the device last week. It *just* lasted from 7am to 9pm (2% left), but to be fair to it, I was installing apps like a bastard for two hours in the morning. I've found that when I leave my phone on at work, the battery struggles more than I expected. My OSF did this as well, and I assumed it was just getting old. But today, on a day off, I've noticed the battery life to be much better. And looking at the battery usage, I'm on 7 hours on the battery so far, and I have 73% left. I've left bluetooth on by mistake, that's taken a fair chunk, but the mobile network hasen't used as much as it normally does. I guess my phone is struggling to get a signal at all when I'm at work, and that's eating the battery somewhat.
- Do not get the phone if having a bespoke brodit mount is super-important to you. I am in the process of finding out if brodit are going to make one for us. If they don't, you can use the iPhone 4 or Samsung Galaxy S3 *passive adjustable* mount, but you'll have to use a generic cigeratte lighter charger to get power to it.
- Do read up on NFC tags and look at YouTube videos on what you can do with them. Mine are on order and I'm SO looking forward to having a play. Get to work; scan tag; airport mode activates, bluetooth and wireless off... Get on break, scan same tag; airport mode off. Result: Loads of battery to play with, and I don't have to wait for it to switch on. Looking forward to playing with the API for this, even if none of my apps can really use it.
- Do not let x86 put you off. The vast majority of apps on Android are coded with Google's SDK, which makes them platform agnostic, they'll work on pretty much anything which has the proper Android specific Java environment (so that's ARM, MIPS, x86 etc. covered), and Intel has put a lot of effort into making sure the Android/Java environment is right. Some apps are coded using the NDK which actually compiles the code into native instructions for the CPU for maximum speed, almost bypassing Java completely. These apps will need the CPU they are coded for to be present, or some kind of layer to convert the instructions to the native CPU. The converting process is three things:
- Slow. Very slow unless Intel are using some kind of JIT compiler.
- Battery hungry. This process isn't exact easy on CPU cycles
- Unreliable. Ever used a online translator? The words are often right from language to language, but the meaning is often lost or weird, or just plain wrong, it's a similar thing here. Intel themselves say the process they have in place isn't perfect, and is very hit and miss. I believe 30% was one of the figures they were throwing around. This may improve with time, but I see the biggest improvements coming from app developers themselves. Contrary to popular belief, "editing the manifest in the .apk" is not the solution.
- Apps which will probably be a bit crap on X86:
- Games which are compiled with the NDK for ARM, such as GTA
- Chrome and Firefox. There I said it. Both are compiled for ARM v7, and will suck on x86 unless they port them (which will happen soon-ish, in my view). The whole point (in my view) of using those kind of apps is to browse with speed, so you may as well use the native browser.
- If you hear of any app not running on ARMv6 (such as Google Now), expect that to be a sign that it is compiled natively for ARM and will suck or not work at all.
- All that being said. Expect app developers to be taking x86 very seriously this side of Christmas. Come this time next year, I'm confident it will largely be a moot point. If you ever used 64-bit Windows or Linux about 5 years ago, and compare that to know, you'll get the jist.
I hope this helps. I do really like my new
phone, and don't regret buying it. Android is awesome OS, even Gingerbread (which I think of as Android XP, in a way), and the specs are healthy for the price.