Android Kinda’ Sucks

Full disclosure: I bought a Samsung Galaxy Axiom at a garage sale for about $20 for the sole purpose of using it as a music player for my 5 year old daughter. Funny thing about buying a phone at a garage sale, the guy selling it to me only remembered to wipe the phone after I gave him the money. Also, he had a

Huawei phone for sale that he called a Hawaii phone (The official pronunciation is “wah-way”). All of the opinions expressed herein were formed while setting up the device for use by my daughter and made in comparison to my iPhone 4S running iOS 6. The Galaxy Axiom is running Android 4.1.2, the most up to date version available for the Galaxy Axiom.

Android Phones Are Terrible for Children

There is no way to control the content on the Galaxy Axiom. Is this true of all Android phones? I hope not, but probably yes. On the iPhone, I can turn off any app I like, set content restrictions for apps, music, and videos, and limit contacts who can communicate with e-mail. The Galaxy Axiom has none of this. The only way I can control content on the Galaxy Axiom is by turning off Wi-Fi and loading all of the content over USB. 

Android Phones Are Loaded with Crap

The Galaxy Axiom came pre-loaded with about a dozen apps that cannot be removed. These include Zappos for buying shoes and three virtual storefronts for buying Android apps. You can disable the apps, but they will remain, using up storage and reminding you how much you hate crapware. 

Android Phones Are Tedious to Configure

To turn off notifications, you have to open the settings for each app. Compare this to the iPhone, where all applications with notifications can be found together. Other settings, such as the ability to side-loadapplications , are found in odd places. Worse, the default settings are user unfriendly. This could be a case of my lack of familiarity with the Android OS, but when I looked for help on the internet, none of the screenshots I saw looked like the settings screen on the Galaxy Axiom. On a side note, the Google Play Store does not show whether Android applications include in-app purchases and plenty of application developers are abusing this lack of disclosure.

Android Has a Pretty Cool Home Screen

What makes the home screen on Android work is the customization options. For my daughter, I tailored a home screen based on the intended use of the Galaxy Axiom as a glorified MP3 player. The background I used is a self rotating slide-show of photos, and even though a majority of the screen is taken up by icons and widgets, the effect is cool. If this phone were for me, I would probably focus on having easy access to my most used applications and ape the traditional iPhone home screen. Confusingly though, the Android home screen has a link for an iPhone like icon view of all applications and a configurable page for an iPhone like icon view of all apps. For the sake of my daughter, I placed all of the she will likely use on both the applications link page and the configurable page. 

Android Rooting Is Not All It Is Cracked up to Be

Most of my quibbles with Android could be solved if I could root the Galaxy Axiom and load custom software. Unfortunately, whether an Android phone can be rooted depends on the phone. As far as I could find, a Galaxy Axiom running Android 4.1.2 cannot be rooted. Technically, it can be rooted, but no one with the programming knowledge to do it has made a root kit for it. That means I cannot install a newer version of Android, I cannot install custom ROMs with performance improvements. I cannot remove the crapware that came with it. And I cannot implement any kind of parental controls. For phones like the Galaxy Axiom, rooting is neither a feature of Android nor a cure-all for Android’s problems. 

You Get the Android Phone You Pay for

The Galaxy Axiom was obviously made to be provided free to new subscribers of wireless data plans. The phone has all the stuff my iPhone 4S has and everything works. Yet, the screen is lower resolution and rather dim, the speaker is barely loud enough to hear an audiobook, the back pops off and the battery flies out if you set the phone down to hard, the default storage is a laughable 2GB with any additional storage provided by a separately purchased micro-SD card, and the phone is subsidized by non-removable bloatware. All of these deficiencies are actually trade-offs made to cut down on the cost of the phone to the point where it looks like a free phone in the eyes of consumers. Then there is, of course, the Android OS which would be absolutely free if not for licensing fees Microsoft charges to avoid patent infringement lawsuits. Thus, an Android phone such as the Galaxy Axiom is such a cheap phone because it is an Android phone. Then again, there is my old saying, “cheapness is as cheapness does.”

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