Hey, Apple, you have mobile competition…

Last week at the Google IO conference they handed everyone a Sprint 4G EVO phone. It’s the third Android-based device I’ve had in my hands in the past seven months.

The previous two times I quickly went back to the iPhone.

This time the Android is sticking. Why?

Look at this thread of dozens of “pros” and “cons” comparing the iPhone to the Sprint.

But, really, a call I had with my boss said it all. I called him:

“Hello?”
“This is Scoble.”
“You’re not calling me on your iPhone, are you?”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because I can hear you.”

I’ve now done that test with lots of people. Calling them first on my iPhone, then calling them back on my new Sprint phone. Every single one of them says “wow.” The clarity is so much better that it isn’t funny.

OK, that’s really not the reason I switched.

How about this?

Last night we went to a party 45-minutes from my house. Maryam was driving. Patrick was in the back seat with his iPad.

I turned on Sprint’s tethering feature. Easy to do, anyone can figure it out now (huge improvement in tethering UI).

Within a minute we were both surfing the web through the phone with nice speeds. I even watched a video as we drove down Freeway 280. I waved at Steve Jobs’ office as we went by and said “thanks for the iPad dude” but damn, is the Sprint phone cool. Oh, did I tell you we were using Waze while surfing? That we could listen to Pandora too? Multitasking rocks, but we’ve laid it all out in the pros-cons thread.

Apple, you have mobile competition now and it’s serious.

Anyone want to buy a used iPhone?

Comments

  1. Scoble, your complaint is misdirected, tethering has been available since 3.0 was released. AT&T is blocking tethering, the iPhone had the capability a year ago…& yes, if Verizon gets the iPhone & offers tethering, I will switch..

    1. I suppose what Robert wanted to say is not tethering, but turning the phone into portable wifi hotspot. That’s what allows you to browse on iPad then.

    1. Vincent & Ivdjgarcia,

      This is iPhone versus Android — not AT&T/Sprint because it really embodies the iPhone/Android difference. With the iPhone you get one handset choice on one carrier — that is Apple’s design.

      Frankly, if you want the exact Apple form factor, carrier, etcetera then I suspect you will be quite pleased with the iPhone. IMHO Apple has always been the best at what it does. However, if you want a keyboard, or a 4g network, or Verizon’s network, or Tmobile’s no-contract price plan then Android wins. If you want a $100 phone, then you can find Android’s that are like that. I’m not putting down Apple’s decisions, I’m just saying that if you want something different you can’t change it.

      However, as long as Apple chooses to only make the iPhone available on one carrier, then the carrier is part of the iPhone.

      MLH

      1. I don’t entirely agree with you that “One phone one carrier” is Apple’s model. One carrier is their unfortunate predicament in the US, but in several places around the world, the iPhone is available with multiple carriers.

  2. Why does everyone in the US seem to confuse the iPhone with AT&T? The rest of the world doesn’t have call problems!

  3. i love the fanboy commenter…dude, relax man, you are getting a bit hot under that collar :) I use a nexus one exclusively now, and my iphone 3gs is sitting in a drawer like the sad piece of hardware that it is. Android is open, open crushes closed ALWAYS. It is evolving faster than the iphone os ever did…google actually does something novel and unique….THEY LISTEN to what their customers want. Seriously EVERY day i have several updates to various apps or core functions. Android is doing 100mph in the fast lane, while apple is i in the granny lane cruising at a solid 45mph. What was that green streak that just blew by you? Android…and im pretty sure he had his middle finger out the window too. *apple shrinking in the rear view* Apple shot itself in the foot with it’s closed insanity, and we will look back on this war and shake our head at how apple lost it’s significant lead that it enjoyed. This will be PALM #2.

    1. Open crushes closed always? ha. LIke Windows and Linux? Or maybe Ogg and H.264? Or how about GIMP and Photoshop? OpenOffice and MS Office?

      The truth of the matter is Open very rarely trumps closed except in geek land.

      But the point I really want to make is… I don’t understand why people are so bent out of shape over the fact that Apple is not making the same phone that Google is. I would think that they would celebrate the fact that different phone manufacturers have different visions of what a smart phone should be, and the consumer has a choice of which one they want.

  4. I got one HTC EVO at Google I/O too. I doesn’t work here in Brazil (GSM carriers only). I will sell it on ebay for very low $. If anyone wanna buy it, reach me on twitter @diogopx . The package is sealed.

  5. If you have an AT&T compatible Nexus One you'd like to unload, I would be glad to take it off your hands. :-)

    I have to say though, I think some of the announcements Google made at I/O this week were awesome, especially for Android. Granted Apple's WWDC is coming up and hopefully Mr. Jobs understands that he has real competition with Android and will up the stakes.

    The smartphone market is about to be a war zone and I like it.

  6. I agree that the new Android phones look impressive, but Apple's phone is nearly a year old (which is decades in this business).

    I'm sure the next iPhone will also be very impressive (but for sure, the competition has got a lot closer) – I mean, when they launch the next iPhone it won't be (a) any worse than the current one, nor (b) even the same as the current one. So no doubt, your analysis will need to be repeated/updated.

    What I'm interested to know is whether Apple has been distracted from smartphone development while developing the iPad, or whether they have it in them to wow everyone again (the iPhone leaks would seem to suggest the next iPhone will not allow Apple to regain a position so far ahead of the competition again).

  7. Just wait until sprint bends you over for the roaming charges for that tethering plan. Sprint is notorious for screwing customers and their “UNLIMITED” plan is only 450 minutes and does not include nights and weekends. Additionally the iPhone itself does support tethering, AT&T doesn't. So it's not Apple's deal for not providing it. They did, AT&T is the guilty party for not opening the doors for the service.

    Before bashing Apple so badly, actually learn what the phone does. Multitasking…WOW listening to music and talking on the phone, that's a freaking novel idea. Most people have problems walking and chewing gum at the same time, now you want to distract their driving by giving them a phone that plays music while they talk on it. LOL. Thanks for the insurance rate increase for the morons who'll be using that feature.

    Oh wait this phone uses flash too doesn't it. Guess that got your “thumbs up”, wait till the first time it crashes and wipes out all of your contacts, then logs in, and synchs your other sources to the phone and wipes them out as well.

    Will be awaiting the WAAAAAAA am going back to Apple mail. Media people really crack me up.

    No Apple does not have mobile competition from Google. Google makes an OS. It tried to make a Phone, but failed miserably. they can't even give them away for free to people because the phone sucks so badly.

    Why don't you take your soapbox and write about something that does really mean something and donate your phone along with a year of service to some homeless person so that you're stacking up the karma bucks.

    1. Just to correct a couple of Sprint points about their plan. I converted from AT&T to the Sprint Hero Android phone and have the Simply Everything 450 minute plan (which is the cheapest smartphone plan Sprint offers). You DO get unlimited evening calling and it begins at 7 p.m. which is 2 hours earlier than AT&T. Also, with the plan you DO also get unlimited weekends. The main advantage with Sprint is you DO get unlimited mobile to mobile calling (regardless of what carrier the other person is using). When you throw in that last option, I hardly end up using that many of my original 450 minutes. Finally, I have been a Sprint customer for only 6 months but I have yet to see any additional charges tacked on to my bill. I even get free turn by turn voice navigation.

  8. I would only point to this awesome list of 25 wireless industry charts on http://businessinsider.com Henry and the crew have been watching this closely and I've enjoyed their coverage. http://bit.ly/8XYbPN

    Your point is well made that the competition has arrived for the Iphone (ESPECIALLY re: good voice clarity and avoiding DROPPED PHONE CALLS). AT&T still has tons of network work to do as I notice my coverage slipping on basic phone service in North Dallas, where they are headquartered. Dropped phone calls are increasing despite me travelling the same roads for the last year.

    I will never underestimate those guys at Apple with new product development. They've been kicking everyone else's butt for a solid 5-8 years now. Lets see what Steve Jobs and the crew have up their sleeve in June.

    We've already seen AT&T hike their fees for cancelling an Iphone so at least one Iphone participant is getting spooked about something… It sounds like Google is now activating as many Android phones as Apple. http://bit.ly/cAgtAW

    The second link/chart shows Sprint not spending $$$ on Cap Ex – I know they have an equity position in Clearwire but lets get real here. They haven't even HAD the chance to ramp-up their cap ex since they have been getting SLAUGHTERED by Verizon and AT&T http://bit.ly/dnjBj9 .

    I can't wait til another wireless carrier else actually gets some success with a decent handset and their network crumbles under the weight of data usage :) It is just a matter of time.

    Third Chart – Both TMobile and Sprint have been getting killed on Monthly churn http://bit.ly/b7uq2S . I personally like this chart a bit more showing Sprint's subscriber growth http://bit.ly/bIhOeP

    This is fun to watch for sure!

    Hope everyone has a great week

    Dan

  9. For listing pros/cons, you should check out a debate engine like convinceme, createdebate, or debatepedia.

  10. Robert – I think I am in the same boat. I played with a friends Evo for a hot minute and I have been lusting after it ever since. For me the built-in 4G tethering for up to 8 devices (well, when SF gets 4G next quarter according to Sprint) and 8MP camera is a huge deal. Also the front-facing camera should bring out some interesting video chat apps. I’m going to wait until WWDC to see what Steve has up his sleeve then I’ll be running to the nearest Sprint store I think.

  11. sorry Robert, no on the iPhone. I'll wait for when my VZW plan reups next year and I'm sure there will be an even more awesome Android smartphone then.

  12. I think it is absolutely ridiculous to say that the iPhone has had tethering for a year. Apple’s fault, AT&T’s fault, it doesn’t matter to me: it doesn’t work, so it is entirely fair to complain about it relative to Android phone offerings. When I can push a button on my iPhone and enable tethering and it works, then the iPhone will have tethering.

    Android phones and the iPhone have their pluses and minuses. 4G could be an advantage that tips the scales if they have it in your neighborhood. Or maybe the relative open-ness of the Android operating system. Or multi-tasking. Or perhaps you really want the iTunes marketplace, and music integration. Perhaps you want an iPad, and to transfer data back and forth. Or you appreciate the relatively mature and refined interface elements of the iPhone.

    Pick the phone you like. I love the competition. It can only be good for consumers. I currently have an iPhone, but I bet you that the iPhone will be better in a year if only to keep pace with the changes that Android is bringing to the marketplace.

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  14. It strikes me that you are not really comparing the iPhone and the EVO4G – you are comparing the network and rules surrounding data usage on AT&T and Sprint in the USA. The iPhone – while it can't do a hotspot, has had tethering for over a year. In many countries there are multiple carriers that support its use and have competitive (or free) rates for its use.

    I know many people in NY and CA complain about AT&T, but in other areas of the country people don't have the issues you guys do. I look forward to your comments on comparing the actual feature sets of both phones (hopefully with the iPhone 4 comes out), not the terms of the networks.

  15. Emallaich – you're basing that on the US market. I'm in Australia and I Think it's up to 5 carriers I can choose from. Plus I can buy unlocked iPhones directly from Apple.

    Once Apple US gets up to speed with Apple in the rest of the world, then many of the arguments won't hold up in the US either.

    If Apple continues with AT&T only into the future – well, then everything you say is spot on (for the US market) and Apple will be doing themselves a great disservice.

    My iPhone in Australia has no call issues on the Telstra network.

    The issue IS the network, not the iPhone vs Android.

    Down here all our carriers support tethering. It'll be very interesting to see if they support it with the iPhone and iPad because it sounds like a carrier issue again unless the iPad itself specifically blocks itself from tethering to an iPhone.

    This is an AT&T vs Sprint argument, else it would hold up in every market.

  16. Hmmm, am I the only one, when considering a smart phone, that’s concerned about the SAR rating? C’mon Scoble, you’ve got a kid, your married. I’d love it if you added that into your thought process when determining the pros and cons of a wireless device.

    Yeah, the reports on cell phone radiation and brain tumors hasn’t conclusively said there’s a problem, but those reports have also said there needs to be more and better testing. (Sort of like when we all wondered about cigarettes back in the 50’s)

  17. This is a great post. For a lot of reasons. I have been wanting to switch (back) to Sprint for some time for a lot of reasons. But my wife refuses to go back. They made her so mad, that she might not ever forgive them. Everyone knows (okay, almost everyone) knows that Apple going with AT&T was a poor choice for the end user. Where I spend most of my time might not ever see 3G from them… and while it may be years before I see Sprint's 4G, at least I would instantly have access to 3G from Sprint. But it is the tethering that motivates me the most… for my iTouch today and the iPad just as soon as my next big deal goes through. While Verizon may have great cell phone coverage (I was on Alltel until they got bought), they seem clueless when it comes to the devices people want to use today.

  18. Scoble:

    I have been saying this since the Evo and Ipad were released: EVO + Ipod touch, or Ipad = Iphone and maybe better due to the potential cost savings and increased freedom and functions.

    Apple may have gone a little 'too closed system'.

  19. Robert : either you're mislead, either you're misleading. The voice quality isn't the matter of the iPhone OS or Android, nor it is those days the matter of the phones themselves, iPhone 3GS or EVO. It's a matter of the cellular network itself, i.e. in your case Sprint vs. AT&T.
    Same with tethering : here in France, we've got it on the iPhone since two years or so, thanks to Orange.
    Wait a couple of weeks still, before Apple unveils its plans with Verizon and/or Sprint…

  20. I use Sprint Hero Android phone also, it's a good phone, but alot of the apps crash on android v 1.5 unlike my iPhone version 1. I've even lost signal service, caused by an android app, was that fun to find ……..

    The main reason I use Sprint is that AT&T has no 3G for 60 miles here ( http://maps.google.com/maps?q=36.0,-85.0 ) and a poor signal on 2G and I'm only 1 mile from the city limits. SO … as it goes for service, Sprint. AS for the phone apps that don't lock up the phone or crash, iPhone

  21. Did you ever use the Nexus One on T-Mobile, or did you just swap in an AT&T SIM card?

    The noise cancelling on the N1 never ceases to amaze me — I have to tell people that I'm in a loud environment because they usually cannot tell.

    As of this past weekend, Nexus Ones run FroYo, which has tethering without needing root.

    I've shared my signal at a major LA intersection (sitting outside a restaurant) with an iPhone friend who couldn't get any signal at all for voice or data. Tethering rocks. And T-Mobile doesn't charge for it; Spring charges $30 a month, which is what your son would pay for an unlimited AT&T plan for his iPad.

  22. There is no 4G service in the Bay Area. I have the EVO 4G phone as well from Google I/O and have noticed better speeds, lots has to do with how overloaded their towers are.

  23. But this is my exact point. Apple could release the phone for multiple U.S. carriers. It is Apple's decision to only use one U.S. carrier. Therefore, the network characteristics are ultimately Apple's choice. It's like saying the iPhone isn't available in white yet because Foxconn doesn't make it that way. No, its because Apple hasn't ordered it in white yet.

    When Apple finally releases it on another US carrier then it will be possible to distinguish the carrier from the phone. Hopefully this will happen soon (June???). But today, the only choice is to AT&T.

    Meanwhile, congrats to those of you outside the U.S. . It sounds like you have a much better situation.

  24. Look at Windows and Mac. Windows was open; Jobs' Mac was closed. He had a huge opportunity to make the Mac bigger and he squandered it. Windows won out with over 90% worldwide market share. They then had antitrust issues due to their ever-expanding reach beyond just the basis OS, so they reaped huge problems as a result. Hey, wait, Apple is now being looked at for its iTunes for possible antitrust issues. Wow. I see a trend here. Get big, get greedy, get split up by DOJ.

  25. Fanboisezwut? You are such a huge tech guru that your website has bad links. Well done.

    Yes, the plan does include nights and weekends that start at 7pm. It also includes all calls to any mobile phone regardless of network. Those 450 mins are for non-cells. Get your facts straight.

    Now you're making excuses for the lack of multi-tasking when I've seen you bad mouth the Droid because you couldn't talk on the phone while surfing the web. Hint, that was also a network issue and not the phone.

    Hmm…my contacts are in the cloud so even if Flash magically somehow wiped my phone, they're saved. Apple is getting smoked by Android. They've lost marketshare over the past 6 months to Android and BB devices. They didn't fail with the N1. The N1 failed in the US because the US market isn't like the rest of the world where they purchase unlocked devices and then choose a carrier. We want the expensive, high tech device, at zero cost, thus we sign contracts. Sales model does not equal failure of the device.

    Why don't you get a soapbox if you want to be a fanboi? But first, fix your website Sir Failsalot.

  26. Not really, not as long as sprint is in the picture. You thought AT&T was bad , sprint is the worst in customer support. You'd like to be charged twice? Charged for an account that wasn't active? Double charged? Take months to resolve the issues they created?
    Oh no that couldn't happen? Wrong! Happened to me…
    I will never ever ever use sprint….ever.
    And I'm not the only one with such tales….
    Goodluck to those on sprint …you'll need it

  27. If you remove sprint from the picture… The android platform has been making dramatic improvements and is or perhaps has become a true competitor to the iPhone os even the forth coming 4.0 BUT google still needs to work out an upgrade process. I don't want to have to buy a new cell every time a new android os version is released. The phone hard ward os should be upgradable for at lease one whole version if not 2, which the iPhone has accomplished.. I started with 2.2 and can get 4.0.