April 2, 2011

HTC Inspire Review (with Android 2.2.1 vs. iPhone 3G with iOS 4.2.1 notes) UPDATED

In this review I will be discussing my birthday present, an HTC Inspire running Android 2.2 (Froyo). I will be comparing it to my previous cellphone, an iPhone 3G running iOS 4.2.1, which most people would say is not a fair comparison considering the age of my iPhone. I'm going to do it anyway, mostly because this is my blog, but I am actually going to talk mostly about the features each phones' software provides, more than the HUGE performance differences. Be prepared to be surprised at my verdict.

Design and Technical Information (and my feelings about them)
First, I want to talk about the design of the HTC Inspire compared to the iPhone 3G (and similarly the iPhone 4).  The first thing you should notice is the screen.  There is so much more "real estate" for buttons and apps and web content AND WIDGETS on the HTC Inspire's 4.3" screen verses that of the iPhone, sporting its smaller 3.5" screen. The Inspire's resolution is; however, lacking a bit behind the iPhone 4, at 800x480 vs. 960x640.  Of course, my iPhone 3G was only at 320x480, so I'm doing better with the new Inspire so far.   Now, the screen truly is something that drew me to the phone, since there were times I found myself frustrated with the iPhone's limits for website rendering, etc., but there are some major draw backs to the larger screen too.  The biggest one is the effect it has on battery life.  I had better battery life on my busted ol' iPhone 3G than I do with this newer "better technologically designed" phone.  I literally can't make it through the day without a recharge.
On the bottom of the Inspire (in the picture above, on the left), you will find the micro-USB connector, used for data transfers from a computer and for power to recharge the phone.  I actually found the micro-USB hard to plug in, especially in the dark when I'm in bed and realizing I still need to plug in my phone before I fall asleep.  Also, the charger interfered with the baby monitor we have in our bedroom, which made me wonder what sort of "killer watts" are entering my brain as I sleep.  Next to the USB port is the standard headphone jack.  This location is a little odd to me, only because I got used to the iPhone's being on the top of the phone, which allows the screen to be right-side-up while sitting in the cup-holder in my car.  There is also a hole for the microphone.
Nothing exciting on the top.  There is the sleep/wake/lock button, which I realized is on the opposite side from where the iPhone's sleep/wake/lock button is, and so far it's felt really awkward; it's almost uncomfortable to try and lock while holding the phone in my right hand.  One thing to note, as a previous iPhone user, I miss the ability to wake my phone with the home button at the bottom of the phone.  With the larger handset and the button being on what I'm considering, "the wrong side" for a right handed cell phone users (I'm left handed, but I'm a righty when it comes to cell phone use) the button is not located well for me.
The volume buttons are in the same location on both phones (the left side) although the Inspire's buttons are too big and too flush, making it easy to accidentally press the volume buttons.  I am constantly turning my phones volume up or down without meaning to do it.  With the after-market case I purchased, that doesn't happen, but I'm not really a case person.

On the back of the Inspire, you can see the HUGE camera lens, a dual LED flash, a speaker hole, and two covers (one cover on the side of the phone accesses the battery, and one cover at the bottom of the phone accesses the SIM and included 8GB micro SD card).  There is a large ring around the camera's lens with, what I'm assuming is a protective ridge for the glass on the lens.  I actually think it looks bulky and I can feel it through my pants when the phone is in my pocket.  Hilariously, the phone has the Dolby Mobile logo and the SRS logo.  I thing the speaker phone/audio quality from this phone is awful compared to the iPhone's.  And I've never been a fan of the iPhone's speaker, so that's saying a lot.  Someone needs to build a phone with high quality speakers at the top and the bottom of the phone, to create true stereo capabilities.  I think it would work.

Android is super customizable.  In the video below, you will see that I have an active wallpaper running, to show off this feature.  This does, however, effect the battery life.  Android lets you put apps in any one of the 12 locations on the screen (which is the same number of apps per screen on the iPhone, if you don't count the docked 4 iPhone offers), plus there is always the phone button, apps button, and a layout/customize button.  AND, all your notices and recent apps can be quickly accessed simply by swiping down from the top of the screen.  My home screen has a large clock, which is an active widget with updated weather and temperature, date and time for your current location.  This is just one of many widgets that can be added to any of the 7 screens (home plus 3 right and 3 left).  The app market is full of apps, many of the same that Apple's App Store offers, and many apps Apple's App Store doesn't allow.  I did find that some of the apps don't work the same way on the two devices.  Twitter, for example, is ones I found frustrating.  The Twitter for Android app doesn't currently support multiple accounts.  Also, the copy & paste feature didn't work well within Twitter.  I actually found that there were several places within the Inspire and apps where copy & paste doesn't work.  Another missing necessity for me is the ability to take a screen capture.  This led me to a very frustrating tweet to create that I posted here.  I had to use my iPhone over wi-fi to send that tweet.  Without screen capture or copy & paste, I was not able to get the Fox 40 mess-up in the above tweet onto my Twitter update.

After watching the video again, I realized the part where I load the website is not an accurate comparison of the Inspire's capabilities because the Inspire, even though it was still clearly faster, loaded www.jimmythegun.com over 3G, while the iPhone loaded it over WiFi.  I'm sure the webpage would have loaded even faster if the Inspire was on my WiFi network.

I've been working on a PROS vs CONS list for the Inspire.  I created this list on the notes program on my iPhone 3G because there is not a native notes program that I've found.  And because I take a lot of notes and write down a lot of my ideas in the notes program, this is a vital app to me.  I'd like one that integrates with a "Google Notes" program for ease of back-up, but I don't see one on the phone.  The Google Notebook web-based app requires connecting through a browser, and it's not easily found on a PC.  There is a Voice Action for sending yourself an email.  You simply say "note to self" and speak what you want sent.  It's fairly accurate, but I'm not always in a position to speak a note.  Anyway, here is the list:

Inspire PROS
1.  Voice Actions - this is almost worth keeping the phone over.
2.  Huge screen - so easy to see everything.
3.  Expandable memory - mirco SD cards are nice for replacing and transferring information.  Also, easy to expand capacity when you want more room.
4.  Customizable layout -  I can place the apps I want where I want them.  I can choose themes and widgets and make this phone MY phone.
5.  Widgets - there are so many helpful widgets that allow access to desired info or functionality instantly.
6.  Google Voice Integration - this phone can become a Google Voice phone, allowing your outgoing calls/texts to show up from your Google Voice number, and access to Google Voicemail as your primary voice-mail.
7.  Google Navigation - free navigation using Google Maps.  Easy to use with voice actions.

Inspire CONS
1.  Battery life - too short.
2.  Ease of use - setting, functions, features are hidden, hard to find, or don't exist.  There is a different set of rules for every application and how it is controlled.
3.  Apps features - apps are not the same on Android vs iPhone.  Twitter, for example, doesn't support multiple accounts.
4.  No screen capture - for me, this is huge.  I often take screen captures of what I'm looking at on my phone, to share on my blog or Twitter account.
5.  No iTunes like management software - although I'm not a huge fan of iTunes, the role it plays in managing music, pictures, and other content, plus apps and backing up the phone, is a huge miss for Android.
6.  No integrated notes app - yes you can get one off the Android Market, but I want an integrated one; one that works with my Gmail account.
7.  No visual voicemail - this can be fixed, sort of, by Google Voice, but I found that if I don't have a good signal, the voicemail can't be downloaded.
8.  Cut, Copy, and Paste - this is really a big issue for me.  It works similarly to the iPhone in some places, but in other places it either doesn't work at all, or it works completely differently, asking if I want to copy the entire text of a given screen.
9.  Cursor placement - in some apps and locations, you have to use arrow buttons to move the cursor to where you want to type or add words or corrections.  Other times it will work like the iPhone with touch and hold functions.
10. Sensitive volume buttons and lock button location - these are because of my way of holding the phone, but this is my cons list.

So what do I do?  I have a list of issues with iPhone too.  I've talked a lot about those issues on this blog.  I'm frustrated with Apple's business plan.  Here we are only one generation away from the iPhone 3GS, and iOS 4.3 doesn't support the model.  Is Apple going to continue to forget their prior products so quickly?  I mean, I understand with updates to software and features comes higher demands on processor speed and memory, but Apple has completely left iPhone 3G users in the dust.  And now, with the announcement that iOS 4.3 is not going to be available for 3GS users, it seems like Apple is already making changes to the software quicker than what the hardware is able to keep up with.  How about building a phone with the MOST CURRENT hardware specs available.  Push the envelope a little to produce phones that can keep up with the software changes for a few years.  I say 3 years.  I'm fine buying a new phone every 3 years.  But, I'm so desperate right now because my iPhone 3G is crippled. It is barely usable.  And mine works amazingly compared to a co-workers.  She waited almost a full minute to exit the Facebook app and retrieve an incoming text.  That is NOT acceptable.  And back to the latest updates, not much has been added that impresses anyone.  Where are the giant leaps forward that could be made?  Where is Apple's Voice Actions?  Where is the customizable iPhone?  Where are the widgets?  Where are the advances to the badge system to upgrade the notification system for the users?  Why are notifications, texts, and other information given in such a limited manner when the phone is locked?  Where are the lists of upgrades tech nerds and blogs and even simple users are  asking begging for?  WHAT ABOUT FLASH?  I KNOW it is the older software, but the Internet is NOT DONE WITH IT!  There are still so many sites that use it.

All that to say, I am probably going to return my Android based HTC Inspire, continue to use my busted ol' iPhone 3G, and hope that iPhone 5 is coupled with a HUGE advance in software upgrades for iPhone (and that it comes out sooooooon).  I can't believe that no one can get this stuff right.  I really wish I had some power over at Apple.  I really think they have more opportunities to be great.  I know they already are, but there is more.  Google and Apple could combine their efforts and really make a complete phone.  I can't imagine if my Pros list was on the iPhone.  I literally can't think of anything more I'd want at this point.  And that's what it should be.  If the best is produced, it will push people to find something new and exciting to make it better.  Right now, there are lists on both the Android and iPhone sides of the battle to make the phones better.

Well, this has become the longest blog I've ever written.  The last few paragraphs I'm not even going to go back and read, because I don't want to edit out the passion and frustration I have right now over this decision.  I really wanted the Android phone and Google to just dominate Apple and my previous issues with iPhone.  But, frankly, the phone and software fell short for me.  Don't give me the "nothing is perfect" speech; because I think if the two companies worked together, instead of turning against each other they way they did (I mean, Google's CEO used to be on the board at Apple), the perfect phone for 'right now' could be made.

Last thing quickly, just so it's in this post and I'm not accused of not mentioning some of my "iPhone Needs" List (retrieved from the Notes App on my iPhone):
1.  Date on the info bar at top, not just time.
2.  More info about date and time each text was sent.
3.  Customization - themes, sounds, etc.
4.  Text preview and answer available without unlocking the phone.
5.  App icon placement where ever you desire.
6.  Leap view - so you can jump to what ever home page you want.
8.  Icon or number included with the name of a person, indicating which line a text from them came from. (for people with multiple cell phones or a Google Voice line)
9.  Free Mobile Me.
10. Flash-drive access for storage of files.
11.  Better notification settings and lock screen info.
12.  5x6 icon placement; screen size to fight this. (although 4.3 is too big for a phone.  I say 3.8" to 4" max)
13.  Anything I've said in previous posts about the iPhone's short comings.

Number twelve makes me think of the fact that iPad only has the 4 by 5 icon thing like the iPhone, and it's huge in size comparison.  Okay, GOOD NIGHT!

UPDATE:  I took the Inspire back and I'm back on my iPhone 3G.  I did this the day my Inspire's battering was dead by 1:30pm.  I need a phone that can last all day.  The bad news is the fact that the iPhone 5 is rumored to be coming out much later than the traditional schedule has been.  Usually the iPhones have been updated in late June/early July.  The rumor now is the iPhone 5 is not going to be out until September, or even closer to the anniversary of the Verizon iPhone 4 release.  This means I'm going to have to wait even longer or buy an iPhone 4, which will be outdated within 6 months of purchase.  Argh!!!  Bad timing.  If I get the 4 now, I'll wonder why I didn't get it when it came out.


  1. Ok wow is all I can say with this. I was just looking at the HTC Inspire last night as I am getting tired of my Iphone 3G being slow. Now after reading this I think I am going to join you in the wait for the next Iphone to come out and see if maybe it will dominate. I have had the same 3G for 2.5 years now; it has performed great for me thus far until recently its starting to be come slow. With that said even though I have had the Iphone so long I am not an Iphone only kind of person nor do I push people to go with one. So I am not objective to trying out something new and better but after reading this I think now I am going to wait and see for the Iphone5 has to offer. What’s another couple months right? Again thanks for this information.

  2. Hey Jer, (PART 1)

    Great review; I read the whole thing. I have some thoughts for you and all users after reading it. I was really surprised as I thought you would be a huge proponent of the htc, but your review confirms much of what I've been suspecting.

    First, for you and other 3g owners who are convinced to wait for iphone 5.

    I'd really consider Jailbreaking. Before I bought my iphone 4 I had an iphone 2g that has been jailbroken since day one. You have to be careful which apps you install, but I can say with full confidence that on ios 3.1.3 I wasn't experiencing any of the problems that many 3g owners are complaining of. The phone worked perfectly, was snappy enough, and performed day to day functions with ease. In addition, A few weeks before I switched, I went on a week-long vacation to Mexico, and on the trip my 2g was my 2nd best friend. I watched several movies and TV shows, read two full books (kindle/stanza), read through an entire graphic novel (comic zeal), stayed on top of email, made 2 or 3 skype calls, and sent a few texts via Google voice. I was never frustrated. I think the reason is because I was on 3.1.3.

    In addition to running smooth on the older OS, Jailbreaking would address many of your iphone complaints, i.e., from your article:

    1. Date on info bar - sbsettings can fix
    3. Customization - themes, sounds, etc. - winterboard rocks this (although it can slow your phone a tad)
    4. Text preview and answer available without unlocking the phone. (several programs offer this functionality)
    5. App icon placement where ever you desire. (not sure, but I imagine some JB apps do it)
    6. Leap view - so you can jump to what ever home page you want. (there's an expose like app)
    7. Voice actions - possibly
    8. Icon or number included with the name of a person, indicating which line a text from them came from. (for people with multiple cell phones or a Google Voice line) - possibly
    9. Free Mobile Me. - unlikely offered by JB apps
    11. Better notification settings and lock screen info. (unlimited lock screen info possibilities, plus activator will allow for lockscreen controls (ie for me hold home button for play/pause)
    12. 5x6 icon placement; screen size to fight this. (5x5 is an option with a jailbroken phone)

    Keep in mind that a JB phone offers a whole extra app store (the apps that apple denied and others)

    So it's a though. If you're going to stick with your 3g you may have little to lose, and it could make your life less frustrating.


    Your post confirms what I've been feeling for a while now. Many people come to me and ask for phone buying advice (more recently). They are usually open minded and don't necessarily want to be on the iphone, so i usually take them out and we shop through the android phones and the win7 phones and whatever else is avail. After doing this a few times, I realized that in every case we had decided on the iphone 4 and I couldn't in good concience personally recommend any of the other options over the iphone 4 (your point about lack of itunes is especially salient, imagine a non-techy user trying to organize mobile media without it. They'd probably just give up). Anyway, after this I just stopped the going to the store part and started telling people just to buy the stupid iphone. So far I've recommended it to about 8 people and all of them are very happy. This includes my girlfriend, who is very much like you (highly attentive to details and frustrated about obvious things the iphone lacks, i.e., profiles for certain callers like family). Although she has her critcisms. For her the good far outweighs the bad and she's happy with i4 (after coming off of a blackberry, no less).

    Anyway what a tome. I'll stop shortly but I wanted to express that I wonder if the very thing that drives people crazy about iphones is the thing that makes it the best smartphone out there. The upside from my view is that in all the things they leave out, they possibly ensure that the things they leave in work nearly perfectly. Food for though.

    Anyway good luck. If you need help with the jailbreaks lemme know I'm a pro at this point. And if you're feeling spontaneous go get your self an iphone4. It's looking like 5 won't be out until 5 and probably without LTE, so there's a good chance that 4 isn't really that bad of a bet right now. By the time you go for a new one all the other phones will be caught up.


    - Dan

  4. With my history using HTC products, I can that you will not go wrong with the HTC Inspire. Since this phone has the 4G network to back it up, I know it will be perfect for watching TV with the Sling adapter from DISH Network. I actually work at DISH and the Sling adapter allows you to watch live or recorded TV on your phone wherever you have 3G coverage or WiFi. This way in case I need it, I can watch TV wherever I go.

  5. Anonymous12:28 PM

    I'm getting a new phone and after doing a side by side comparison and reading reviews I couldn't decide between the two. Then I Googled iPhone 3GS vs HTC Inspire and your blog post was either third or fourth from the top. This was the most helpful thing I found about each of these phones. Thanks a lot!

  6. I disagree. The battery life sucks, I'll give you that, but you're out of your mind to buy an Iphone 5 as soon as they come out. Has no one noticed that the "newest" one always has A TON of software bugs? Android will easily replace Apple in the future, Apple won't be a competitor for long making only one phone with a few different models.

  7. It was nice to receive many useful facts in this review.