"Feature Phone" (non-smartphone) users have an advantage: the advantage of ignorance. You get a phone, possibly for free-with-contract. You can use it as long as it lasts; literally until the battery will no longer hold a charge, or until you run over it with your car, or the carrier pries it away from your cold dead hands. When it's time for a new phone, you go into the store, get the cheapest one, they transfer your contacts, and you have another phone. You don't really explore the full extent of what your phone can do; or if you do that, it's about "the phone I have now", and not about the platform it's running on.
iPhone users have an advantage: the advantage of consistency. "The next iPhone" comes out, and you either get it or you don't. iPhone features are predictable and build on each other, and the experience is consistent. (Please note: I'm not trying to start a platform war in this post.)
Android users have an advantage: the advantage of diversity. Each phone has its own hardware advantages/disadvantages, its own take on the operating system, and its own little quirks. But sometimes, diversity is frustrating. And here is the motivation for my post.
I've got my original Motorola Droid, the flagship Android phone for Verizon from early 2010 (ed note: the Droid actually came out in late 2009, but I got mine in Mar '10). I love it, but it is like an elderly grandparent. It's showing its age, it can't keep up with the times.
I've put it on life support (rooted it and installed some helpful apps) to compensate for its weaknesses, but there's only so much you can do.
As luck would have it, my Upgrade Eligibility date is up in a few weeks.
And there are some really exciting phones being announced. The Motorola Droid Razr, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the HTC Rezound right around the corner.
Watching the Razr and Nexus announcement events, it's really difficult to choose between them. The Razr has more physical durability and some cool Motorola-specific features; the Nexus has a bigger screen, an NFC chip, and ships with the latest version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich). The Razr has a removable SDcard, the Nexus (probably?) doesn't. Etc etc.
I'm leaning toward the Nexus, and it will be a HUGE step up for me, but it is not my "perfect" phone.
For one thing, no physical keyboard; this seems to be an unloved feature in newer Android phones, but something I'd actually use.
There are other ways that I'm sure the Nexus isn't "perfect", but I can't verbalize all of them.
But my goal is to get a phone as soon as possible after my Upgrade Eligibility date, so that I have the best phone I can possibly have for the next 18 months. Right?
Well, maybe not.
There are rumors of "the NEXT NEXT BIG THING" coming out later next year.
Of course these rumors are always there. Of course the longer you wait, the better product you'll get. It is the way of tech.
But maybe, just maybe, the NEXT NEXT BIG THING (Quad-core processors, even-HighDefier screens, more gigabytes, whatever) is super-duper enough that it could actually -- *gasp* -- last me more than one Upgrade Cycle, without me feeling left behind in a year and a half.
In the meantime, though, I'd need to continue to limp along with my old Droid, for up to another year, and maybe even fix it up more so I don't keep treating it as low-class. And there's no guarantee of when the next advance in Android Technology will come.
Sigh, this is the dilemma of a gadget geek.