Tuesday, 18 September 2012

High time for a new Android phone

. . . but not an HTC One S (at least not in Europe).

It's now over two years since I bought my HTC Desire. It hasn't broken or malfunctioned, and I still use it intensively every day. But as my 'essential' apps swell with every automatic update, the phone's limited internal memory is becoming a real constraint too often. (Google Maps now hogs 19.25Mb and still cannot be moved to the SD card!) Processes slow right down or simply stop, and software cannot be updated until I uninstall another app to free up space. And of course my unrooted phone is stuck on Android 2.2 (Froyo) while the operating system has progressed through Honeycomb and Gingerbread to the gorgeous-looking Jellybean.

So I figured the time had come to pass the perfectly serviceable Desire on to another member of the family and choose myself a new Android device.

I do feel some loyalty to HTC, and I like the solid build of their phones, so my first choice was the HTC One S. The black carbonised metal finish sounded cool, the 4.3-inch screen and slim profile were perfect for me, and I liked what I read about the fast 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor. Possible downsides were the pentile AMOLED display, which some reviewers found 'jaggy', and the lack of an SD Card slot to supplement the 16Gb of internal memory, which is shared between internal memory and data storage. But the pros outweighed the cons, and I shopped around for the best price on an unlocked phone.

I found a great price at Pixmania.be (I live in Belgium). The €424.99 deal came from a third-party vendor, Expansys, and announced the processor as the 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 that I wanted. But I had read that HTC was having difficulty sourcing the S4, and that in some European markets the One S was being sold with the older 1.7GHz S3 processor, with inferior performance and battery life and some overheating problems. I had no way of checking if these rumours were true, but I decided that the S3 was not for me. So I emailed Pixmania, asking for confirmation that the model advertised really was fitted with the 1.5GHz S4 processor. Yes, I was assured, it was the 1.5GHz S4, as advertised. Okay then! I placed the order.

Two days later, the package arrived, but the model number on the outside of the phone's packaging worried me. I checked with HTC itself, and quickly got a polite reply: "The code Z560e on the box indicates that you have received the 1.7GHz version of the device. This is an enhanced version of the dual-core Snapdragon processor, running at 1.7GHz to provide a comparable user experience to the 1.5GHz S4 chip. There will be no discernible difference between the user experience supported by the two processors, with both delivering a premium experience." But that was not what I had ordered!

Pixmania referred me to Expansys, who did not respond to my message demanding that they refund the full price and cover the cost of returning the device. But with support from the European Consumer Centre Belgium I insisted, and the phone was finally picked up by a courier today. I trust my credit card will be recredited as soon as the phone arrives back at Expansys, and then I'll be looking around for another new Android phone once more.

Does anyone have any advice? The Samsung Galaxy S III looks great, but Samsung's phones always seem a bit flimsy to me. And of course, I'd really like Jellybean pre-installed.

Next post: App review: EUssentials