Please Note: Blog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors.

Bye, Bye iPhone - Not So Fast!

|Includes: Apple Inc. (AAPL), BB, GOOG, T, VZ
I wanted to follow up on my article, Bye, Bye Love: Leaving my Apple (AAPL) iPhone for Verizon's Droid. My main point of contention at the time I wrote the posting - AT&T (T) abysmal wireless coverage. And not just 3G coverage - I have never possessed a mobile phone that drops as many calls as my beloved iPhone (we are going back to 1991 and the OKI 900!). I wish I was kidding, but too many important dropped calls led me to experiment with another wireless device. As for the commentary, please hold all fire when it comes to Apple Fanatics - I am tapping this posting on an Airbook, I have the Apple TV, three iPhones, and multiple MacBooks and one iMac. I am with you, my peeps. But I also run a very service-intense sales and marketing business, where a dropped call can literally mean life or death for a large deal. So, how can I justify keeping as my main phone the single best device I have ever owned - outside of the fact I cannot complete 38% of my phone calls without either a drop, or a long moment of dead silence (I have been keeping careful track over the past month, hence the 38% figure)?
Well, I have tried the Droid. It is a fantastic device, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the Android operating system. It has a long ways to go in terms of the seamless feel the iPhone OS has, but it's a given Google is addressing that quickly. I can happily report I dropped 21% of my calls on the Droid - still a high figure, but as you can see, it heartily beats the iPhone. I do want to note I live in Los Angeles, and I did eliminate any dropped calls that are in obvious dead zones, like the canyon passes.
Here are some of my initial experiences with both phones:

1. I had used BlackBerry (RIMM) for years and years, and I could blow out huge emails on the physical keyboards. It took a while, but I can throw down on the iPhone - especially since the last upgrade to the OS allows my to utilize the larger horizontal touchscreen keyboard. To my disappointment, Droid's keyboard leaves much to be desired. The physical feedback feels clunky, the keyboard itself is bit crowded (even for my small fingers), and actually feels fairly fragile - not impressed with the fit and finish of the keyboard at all. That said, again I am an Apple fan, and not much beats their fit and finish, to be fair. However, Droid and Verizon have been touting their product as a direct competitor to the iPhone, so let's subtract points on the physical keyboard. Most BlackBerry models have far superior keyboards, and even the Palm Pre beats out the Droid when compared directly. In summary, the keyboard, while not horrid by any standard, nevertheless is lacking when compared to the competition. Final note: I have spoken to many who simply prefer a physical keyboard to the touchscreen keyboard iPhone employs. If you find yourself in that category, I would recommend either dealing with the Droid's keyboard until the next upgrade, or waiting for that upgrade, simply because the Android operating system is fantastic. Bypass RIM and Palm - they will be small potatoes in the mobile market share game. 

2. No multi-touch makes a big difference in day-to-day usage. I have had this argument 100 times with even Google execs - bottom line, multi-touch on the iPhone makes the overall user experience much more seamless and fluid. Google and Android has a ways to go to match ease-of-use for the average user.

3. I have 95+ applications on my iPhone, and they all work wonderfully, and update fairly well, with only the occasional hiccup. Android really needs to focus on this part of the experience - I have had nothing but trouble with many applications on my Droid. Open Source is fantastic - but there is something to be said for the Apple model of melding hardware and software. Most average users don't have the technical ability to navigate the application issues. Add to that, I cannot get nearly as many Android application on my Droid - they simply don't have nearly the number of applications, and the incredible variety. This leads into my next, critical point for Droid and Android...

4. It is CRITICAL for Android to step up and create a much more cohesive, user-friendly mobile application procurement environment. Long term, their open strategy (which right now is all the vogue with pundits but, as I wrote in another posting, they are way off mark on this) will lead to a lot of applications that are sub-par in performance, or worse, are net-negative on the base operating system. This is a huge issue for Google and it needs to be addressed. I am not advocating Apple is 100% right - but as of right now, their strategy kills Androids. My Android application experience has been confusing and downright awful, to be frank. And if it is for me, many other users are even more frustrated. Their base set of applications are fantastic, but iPhone users smugly look down at their Android counterparts, with dozens and dozens of fantastic, user-friendly and stable applications, easily procured from one easy source. 

5. Web browsing speeds - here we give Droid and Verizon an important win, which goes back to AT&T - good old AT&T simply needs to step it up with their coverage. It's great that I am zipping faster than my Droid on Safari at times, but when I move seven paces to the left and the data stream wanes, what is the point of a faster browsing experience? The 3G coverage is frustrating, period, and it needs to be addressed or AT&T will lose iPhone in 2011.

6. I have been speaking with several Droid users having issues with their cameras in certain situations. I have not had the chance to really dive into the camera, but intend to over the Thanksgiving holiday, and post some results for comparative purposes. I WILL say iPhone's camera has never been my favorite, but actually works just fine for the casual well-lit snapshot. Even utilizing third-party apps, any iPhone pic taken in a dimly-lit setting is an act of redundancy - here's hoping what I hear is true, and 2010's update brings us not just a flash, but a fairly revolutionary upgrade to the camera (both hardware and rendering software - my sources say early tests are VERY exciting).

Summary: The iPhone remains first-in-class, but I see a tremendous future for the Android mobile operating system. And the factor that has driven me to carry two phones this month - Droid doesn't drop my calls nearly as much as the iPhone. I don't care about blaming hardware, the carrier, what geographic locale I happen to be in...consumers don't care. It is a phone after all, and my dropped-call percentage of 38% (almost four in every ten calls!) is unacceptable. AT&T and Apple need to address this issue, because if I am pitching a Fortune 100 client, I simply cannot have the phone blank on me if I move three steps top the left. My beloved iPhone is still in the lead over Android's latest and greatest offering, but AT&T and Apple must get the coverage problem solved and reassure their customer base (so incredibly loyal to begin with - as a former advertising executive, this should be an easy public relations fix once the actual coverage problem is addressed and rectified) that they can complete phone calls and have ready and stable access to their data streams without worry. 
I will be checking back in with a further update after the holidays, and I would very much enjoy feedback on anyone's experiences with either device!
Disclosure: No holdings in any of the companies referenced in this article.