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Android & mystery battery drains: things we won't miss with Windows Phone 7

 

 [Okay, we're doing it. We're call out Android a bit here to serve as example of why their model can be bad for users.]

Editorial: There's no doubt that Android is kicking butt these days, having ousted RIM for the #1 spot in the U.S. and racing to overpass the iPhone like nobody's business. But it's not all perfect.

Recently, the official Facebook app received a big makeover on Android. Everyone downloaded it and then people started noticing severe battery drain issues. It took forum members to engage in back-and-forth discussions, pseudo-scientific controlled tests and investigating what was the culprit. Why? Because everyone has different devices, setups and have different updated software, so the Facebook connection was not obvious.

And that's the problem. Android's programming schema allows access to power-management features, data, screen, GPS, etc. on the device. A simple coding screw up and you're app is now sucking juice, causing glitches or worse, not working with the latest release of Android OS (whatever this month's silly dessert name is). Who notices this? You, the end user because there is no formal testing system in the Market to prevent this thing from happening in the first place. Then you have those security scares with potentially malicious software.

Recently I upgraded to Android 2.2 'Froyo' (rolls eyes) and now my Gmail on my second account stopped syncing and HTC Sense crashes. Or I upgraded Seesmic to the latest version and its fonts are screwed up. Facebook causes a mystery battery drain. Etc. Don't get me wrong, the HTC EVO is a fun device but Android is very far from a perfect platform (though with 'Froyo' I can at least finally copy text from my own Gmail, weeee!).

Despites all of its limitations (yes, there a lot for v1.0), this is the kind of thing Windows Phone 7 seeks to alleviate and I'm all for it. Listen, I did my time in forums playing "Lets fix the OS!" and "Why does my device suddenly feel laggy?" or "Is it me, or is the latest update to this program terrible?". In WP7, power management is done for developers--they don't touch it because the code itself is managed, so the Facebook situation should never happen. Nor will conflicts between HTC Sense and the OS, or OEM customizations which delay OS updates (and become a source of frustration for users). 

Android may be open, it may be growing exponentially, but its model is something even I want to get away from. Spending time in phone forums playing Sherlock Holmes is not my idea of fun anymore, nor is beta testing software.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

34 Comments
  • EXACTLY. The days of expecting ordinary users to have the tech-savviness to know how to fix these absurd problems is OVER. Microsoft understand this at last. I can't wait for Windows Phone 7. It promises to be incredible. If Google want Android to stick around, they're eventually going to have to take control of the platform. We've seen it all before with Windows Mobile.
  • i'm sorry but this post and article are terrible. Android gives you power and if it's mismanaged, you're free to contact the dev in a bunch of ways from the market or uninstall. It's worth the annoyance once in a blue moon (and hey, Facebook has ALREADY BEEN FIXED) to get such powerful abilities from devs like putting wifi on/off shortcuts in the notification bar, multitasking, apps opening and carrying out a task by themselves on a schedule and much more. This is not an issue. It's much better to have these things and much like iPhone apps - delete the ones that suck - then not have them at all. Pathetic.
  • Well written article Malatesta. I retired my Touch Pro2 to move to the EVO 4G, so I am quite familiar with both platforms. Personally, I don't have the confidence in Microsoft stepping it up and having success in the mobile market. WinMo was allowed to stagnate, and for the power user sites like xda developers, wmexperts, and ppcgeeks have played a big role in keeping power users happy, and kudos to these sites. However, one could argue that Apple has a tight control over its mobile system, and it ends up being polarizing to a great degree. The diehard Apple fan is going to buy no matter what, but there are many who are more centrist in their mobile platform of choice that are put off by the way Apple controls the environment with little opportunity to personalize, and so they look to platforms like Android. Microsoft is moving in the same direction as Apple and it may end up just entrenching the populace even more rigidly in their personal choice of vendor. I have mixed feelings myself. I like to see the competition as it moves them all to greater achievement, which we as the consumer benefit from. But Microsoft just invested how much time in the Kin in order to kill it off within two months of release? One more point, and that is WP7 may be released to developers, but things have a way of changing when they get into the hands of ordinary, everyday users. WP7 may look good to the lucky ones who are getting to play with it now, but I'll play the wait-and-see game and reserve judgment for its actual release.
  • Great comments and something to consider with WP7, though I sadly doubt that WP7 will run a generally well out of the gate compared to Apple (even though I much prefer to stay away from Apple). I'm assuming that WebOS falls into the Android/WinMo category of being fairly open for power issues?
  • Hey Mitch...you spend a lot of time night putting?
  • Your uncle molests collies.
  • "...this is the kind of thing Windows Phone 7 >seeks
  • Let me get this straight. The problem is "Because everyone has different devices, different setup..." Better check your RAM refresh rate, Malatesta. The jump from the old Microsoft "OS on a variety of devices" paradigm to the Apple "one rule to ring them all" paradigm hasn't even occurred and yet you're ready to criticize the model that Microsoft started to push back in 1995 or earlier. I've seen the alternative. I muddled by with WiMo6.1 for three years because that was what was available for my phone. Finally my options were to continue with a disappointing phone or commit to a different, mediocre WiMo phone for an additional two years, or go to another OS. I felt that I had paid my dues (over and over) and when I heard that WP7 would be modeled after the closed system that Apple had started my choice was easy. Your true-believer readers may be cheering you on, but your use of phrases like "pseudo-scientific" and "silly desert name" make your entire piece an editorial, not just the italicized opening. Tell, you what. I'll wait until WP7 has been out a year (or two or three?) and then I'll stop back and we can see how your criticisms hold up. Assuming it does better than... what was the name of that last Microsoft phone?
  • Wait, you didn't think the post was a editorial from the get go before you started reading at all? I get you don't agree with his opinion but how is it exactly wrong? MS never "pushed" any model with WinMo, it made an OS and just sold it, giving control to the OEMs and carriers to piss away and screw up. The best thing they could do is take that control back which they're finally doing. Maybe you like digging into your mobile OS, and tweaking it and rooting it and doing w/e, but you're part of the shrinking minority here. I also laugh at people who have to charge their phone every day, or at best every other day. I still want a cell PHONE I can take with me on a trip and not have to hope I can find a outlet to charge the damn thing everywhere I go. Shitty battery time takes the "mobile" out of it by forcing you to be close to some power source. No thanks.
  • if you want you smartphone to last 2 or more days either dont use it at all or save yourself the trouble and go get a flip phone bud. name me one high end (snapdragon, wvga etc) phone no matter the os that lasts that long with even moderate use. battery tech isnt progressing as fast as the other internals of the phone, you need to be more realistic. go on ebay and get a couple spares for 15 bucks and be done with it
  • @mostlydigital The *whole piece* is editorial--it's listed under editorials near the top, I didn't mean just the beginning ;-) I have to disagree a bit--I don't see WP7 as closed as Apple, but rather in between Apple and Android. For instance, I think Microsoft will be a lot more lenient on what can go in the store or won't be afraid to allow competeting applications. Also, there will be hardware variation and they hope to leverage OEM creativity/innovation to make their phones better. It's true though that this is closer to Apple than to the wild west that is Android, but after seeing Windows Mobile languish for years (despite all its openness) and using Android daily, I just think for the everyday consumer, the WP7 model will be better. Don't get me wrong, I like Android, but I even have to manage the memory on the thing! It really feels like Windows Mobile updated and on steroids. For some that's a *good* thing and for those I happily recommend the EVO or Droid X, etc. The free market here is a good thing as it will allow these different platforms to flourish and compete. Thanks for your input though, I don't claim my views are absolute, they're just my views.
  • if WP7s is so modeled after iPhone why on earth would anyone buy it instead of the real iPhone, I just don't understand why MS wants to become a cheap Chinese rip-off of something.
    An ideal situation would be if they had taken the best of WiMo (openness, ease of programming, Windows integration, Outlook, diversity of handsets ...) and added robustness, ease of use, eye candy, central app store ...
    When I first heard the reports of WP7s I was ecstatic having been with WiMo for 4 years, after reading what it would be I bought an Android straight away, it is the best move I've ever made!
  • AH HA!! So that is what has been killing my Droid X battery! Die new facebook app! DIE! :)
  • In fairness, within 72 hours Facebook did a *mea culpa*, accepted the blame and fixed the issue. But that also meant for 3 days people were frustrated and cursing their device. This actually seems to happen a lot in the forums, with people having to figure out why their battery is draining, or why such and such app is accessing GPS in the background, etc.
  • i'm not even a android fanboy, i've owned nothing but WM phones for the past 5 years, and i'm planning on doing a WP7 device, but please...use a bit of editorial restraint when writing your articles. I've already noticed myself coming to this site less and less overtime as less and less WM news has come forth, but if there's one thing that i think most people will say they dont like its biased and fanboy slanted articles. You say that you have an Evo 4G and that sense is freezing for you since your froyo update (i for one don't find the dessert names "silly" like you do), but have you ever thought that it may not be a problem with the version 2.2 of froyo, but rather HTCs skinning on top of froyo. i mean, i dont hear about any nexus one owners complaining about their interfaces freezing, mainly because they're STOCK.
  • Eh, it **is** an editorial piece. I think I'm allowed and it's okay if once in awhile I'm just frank with people on this site on what my opinion on current devices/OSs are out there. I write both *pro* and *con* articles on WP7 all the time to show both sides, so I think I'm even handed--for instance just below this post is one highlighting a critique of Microsoft and WP7. Going further, I wrote 2 other pieces no on the front page (no hidden Wifi networks, market share) which also paint a negative picture. That's the problem though, I'm only judged on whatever the latest thing I wrote, not collectively *all* things I've written or said (on the podcast). Because of this I'm accused of both bashing and being a fanboy on the same day. If you knew me, you'd know I'm far from a fanboy--everything I do here at WMExperts is part-time/hobby as I have another career. I use the EVO as my daily phone and in general I *do* like it (otherwise I would have returned it). My point here was to show that Android isn't 100% the solution for many either and that it's not the panacea that some make it out to be e.g. no copy paste in some apps, managing memory, battery drains, inconsistent UX, fragmented ecosystem, etc. And yes, blame it on HTC Sense crashing (not freezing, things 'force close' on Android, not really freeze too much) but that's my point--WP7 won't have any OEM layers on top to crash and I'm okay with that.
  • Malatesta, I have the EVO 4G and updated the first night I could. I just don't see these force closes or freeze ups you are experiencing, nor does my wife with her EVO. Nor for that matter does my nephew with his. I've read that for some people after applying this update, they've experienced things you seem to be, and a hard reset resolved all of the issues. I'd heartily recommend a hard reset at this point, because your experience isn't comparable to what I'm finding. And Sense works great for the 3 EVO's I've mentioned as well. Now, I love my switch to Android, but I'm an admitted cell phone junkie, so if Microsoft brings their A game, I could see myself buying into the WP7 world next year. But they would have to bring it all, because the EVO with Android does everything really well that I need it to.
  • Oops, I wish you had an edit button. I meant to say I updated to Froyo 2.2 the first night I could.
  • If you register you get an edit button ;-) Yeah, I'll probably hard-reset though in theory, I shouldn't have to. Here is a running list of issues people are experiencing on the EVO after 2.2. It's nothing trivial... 2.2 Froyo Update - Report & Find Solutions to Issues Here
  • Thank you. I'll look the list over. I wish there was a such thing as the perfect mobile OS, but I don't see it out there. My EVO is as close as I've gotten, for my experience. Talk about battery life, I could go back to my Treo 800w. Remember the complaints with that one? lol
  • Some interesting thoughts, Malatesta. But, as you've said, the Facebook app was fixed in 72 hours. And I'd bet that we can both easily find WM apps that it took months (if ever) to fix issues. It's not just Android. And it's an app issue, not an OS issue. Your comments about Sense were interesting. But why blame the OS for what a UI overlayed on the OS is doing? Especially since most commentary I've seen seems to indicate that Sense runs better in Androind than with WM. And no one tries laying the blame on WM for Sense's issues. I agree with you that a lot of us are looking forward to some of the possibilities of WP7. But it's also a step backward in functionality from the last several iterations of WM. Everything I read of what it can do takes the "smart" out of smartphone for the business user. It seems like it ought to be a great consumer OS. But will that be enough of a marketshare to compete with Apple, Android & Nokia (#1 worldwide until very recently)? But what it comes down to is that phones, OSes, UIs, apps, etc are created by men. None of whom are perfect. So, in all cases, the results are imperfect. And we all have our idiosyncracies & our likes & dislikes. So, I truly hope you get the enjoyment you're hoping for out of WP7. I'm looking forward (in a couple of months) to molding A Galaxy S phone & Android to my needs.
  • I agree that WP7 looks like it can be a great general consumer OS. However, I have developed IT products for 30 years, and every new OS on every platform (from phones to PCs to mainframes) has problems. After using WM phones for 5 years, I recently switched to Android, and I have no regrets. Yes, Android has glitches (still on 2.1 with a Captivate) and some funny force closes (i.e., the browser with some web sites). But overall, today's Android is a good intermediate step for someone like me. I don't have to go mucking around in something like a WM registry, but I can change enough things to personalize like I want. If WP7 gains traction, I will evaluate it on the 2nd or 3rd iteration.
  • This editorial is eerily close to my thoughts since I switched to Android a couple weeks ago with the Samsung Captivate. As cool as Android is, there's issues like apps randomly freezing while doing simple things like typing or Gmail crashing that annoy the hell out of me. Is it the fault of Samsung's customizations, a rogue app, or Android itself? Does it even matter at this point? Why am I asking myself these questions two weeks into owning the phone? Sure, I'll have stock Froyo on this as soon as possible but Joe Averageuser will likely just blame the OS. That's the thing that Microsoft wants to avoid. Yes, I'm well aware of the limitations of Windows Phone 7. Among others, I read Paul Thurrott's impressions and listen to him on Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte. But i really believe in the hubs concept, love the UI, want Zune and Xbox Live compatibility, and perhaps most important, want a smartphone that reminds me of my old Palms in terms of reliability. That's essentially what Microsoft is shooting for with Windows Phone 7.
  • I'll probably move to Android in an year or two (with 3.0 probably), but I find it interesting how people forget how good it is WM 6.5.x running on an HTC HD2. It is as top end as any Android recent handset and has about everything an Android has (except few stuff or games, perhaps), and has no more many of the limitations Android still has: no really great video player like Core (I know it is coming, but not yet, and who knows how many months more) or an amazing player like Pocket Player (with its many options is the one to use for Audio Books, Lectures and still pretty good with MP3). Totally finger friendly like any newer OS. Never (ever) missed my stylus of course, even deep inside WM or in any applications (you can even manage through old applications). I know development will suck (it is already VERY slow), but Android still has some catching up to do in terms of features. If only MS had given WM 6.5.x and its eventual successors its due time, it could have been what Android is now, and many steps ahead. It's a pity. WP7...too much like iPhone for my taste. Looks to me it will take some time to become really functional and interesting. My 2cents.
  • Looking at WP7, I will have to say that IMO, the HTC HD2 will be the last great WinMo phone. I do not care for the WP7 UI at all, I love the HTC Sense UI. And thus why I have moved on to the EVO on Android. I really loved my HD2, but it was crippled by the extremely poor signal strength of T-MOBILE!!!!! If only HTC did not make the HD2 an exclusive for T-mobile, I would still be using it. I tried the Samsung Galaxy S phones, but their TouchWiz UI was horrible. The only way to get a Sense UI phone with a better signal was to buy the Sprint EVO. So for me, it was not so much a preference of Android over WinMo, it was my preference of Sense UI over all other UI's but also wanting a strong signal on a phone similar to my beloved HD2! I simply do not like, or want the WP7 UI, so was left with no other option than the EVO. But now that I have gone over to Android and the EVO, I love the EVO and most likely won't go back to WinMo. And this is coming from an avid Windows fan since the old 3.0 desktop days! For all its faults and bugs, I have always had a Windows PC. I will NEVER buy anything Apple, ever. But WinMo 6.5 is sadly the last I will use on a phone :(
  • This may be an editorial, but it's an uninformed one. You're guessing about what WP7 is going to be like, and you even admit as much in one of your response comments. Editorials like this are useless and only serve to polarize readers. Write an editorial comparing WP7 to Android after you've actually experienced both OSes. And, by the way, why the sarcastic excitement about being able to copy text from gmail? WP7 1.0 won't have that capability.
  • "(though with 'Froyo' I can at least finally copy text from my own Gmail, weeee!)" Um...something like 8 months after W7 is shown and we know for a fact it won't be able to copy and paste ANYWHERE when it's released in a couple more months. You're a horrible writer lacking logic or humor and I'm not going to come back to this site again. These troll articles are not what I come to a Windows Phone 7 website for.
  • Their reasoning for not having copy and paste during release seems logical to me; it'll be there when it's ready and, as Android apparently has shown us, there is a wrong way to do it. You need to look up the definition of "trolling." You're doing it wrong. Besides, he's not wrong. Openness has its price; it's not perfectly featured or for everyone otherwise people wouldn't pay for proprietary software and just run Linux all day long instead.
  • i will be getting a wp7 phone but i gotta say, this kind of foolish writing is one of the reasons i visit this site perhaps once a week instead of once a day like i used to. sorry malatesta but this one is pretty bad! cant wait for November!!
  • Nothing from Microsoft has ever been a little buggy has it? Great to know we will never see another Vista, Win me, or wm6. And you know, I have never seen ANYTHING crash on ANYTHING from Microsoft so its good to know that your argument for wp7 over android is that " It's impossible to ever have any kind of bug on wp7" Is THAT Microsoft's reason we should pick wp7 over android? They already lost again if it is.
  • I agree with the article but understand where my fellow Droid users are coming from. Past Android phone - Sprint Hero running 2.1 rooted.
    Current Android phone - Sprint Evo I was a Berry Head before jumping to Android. I loved the simplistic nature of BB's and how they got my emails, text messages and phone calls to me with no problem and in a straight forward design. The UI experience was as simplistic as could be and at the same time very effective. It delivered what it promised for the most part. In regards to Android phones,it takes a bit of time to understand all of the possibilities offered to you when coming from a BB UI. If you've never pimped a WinMo phone you really have no idea the amount of options and overall level of customization an open platform offers until you try it out. However, you also have to understand with options and openness usually comes instability issues and overall lack of accountability from manufactures and developers. This is very similar to the problems the older Windows OS's had. At this point, I realize I am no longer a "power user" (at least I don't think I qualify as one). I usually find the few apps I like (some must haves)put it in drive and that's how I'm rolling. I struggled with my former Sprint Hero as it was laggy to say the least but the OS obviously ran smoother on the Evo. Maybe 2.1 should never have been put on the Hero? Who's idea was that anyway? Who is responsible? MS is trying to make sure that won't happen with their new offering by having hardware minimums in place. MS and iOS are trying to sell a user experience that is exclusive to their brand so that when you purchase one of their phones, you can expect it to run as advertised for the most part. The battery issues on the Evo is my main problem and once I had to start disabling features to maintain battery life I just shook my head and realized I was going to have to start burying my head into these forums for a fix and I really didn't wanna have to do that. I found it disappointing to have to shut off some features in order to maintain battery life beyond 6 hours. We can fault battery technology etc but that is the point of iOS and to a degree WP7's approach. Provide a great user experience for the average Joe with minimal and reasonable sacrifice to advertised features and performance. They feel they can manage the overall user experience better than most users. Well most here beg to differ. The battle lines have been drawn! I guess if you are high on customizing (tweaking, maintenance) and don't mind the battery issues and/or app management then I can see where the Evo phones and the like could be worth it. However, if you just wanna use the phone and it's advertised features out the box then maybe the iphone or WP7 (as it looks like it's going to be)may be more for you. To the iphones credit, generally their phones work as advertised and work very well and despite their lack of customization and openness, they usually have the most important features their competitors offer and when they do, they usually do it better or more seamlessly. (Put's flame suit on) I think MS is following Apple's blue print. OS lag, bugs, reboots, tweaking and freezing can't be associated with the next MS mobile offering because despite their impressive past with customization and openness, it is the overall average Joe's user experience that has contributed heavily to them losing any market and mind share they once enjoyed. I guess the short definition of the "perfect" OS is one that is considered open, customizable and works efficiently and reliably out the box. Honestly I don't think we are there yet. At this point in time, it appears MS have made the choice as to whom their target audience is going to be for their initial release and it appears to be the Joe's! I apologize for being long winded.
  • Average joe, general consumers... these words have been thrown out many times in these comments. I want to remind people that when Microsoft started making their Mobile OS, smartphones weren't used by this group of users. In general, people who navigated toward WM and Palm phones weren't afraid to delve into their OS. For the rest of the population, there were the standard mobile phones. iPhone broke the mold (a little) by making a "dumb-smartphone" and that got the average joe interested. Microsoft made a choice to alienate their core audience and go after the "casual" crowd (as they are doing with Kinect). That may seem like a more lucrative move but remember, "dumb" phones are also getting very powerful which means that Microsoft will be competing with these phones as well. Would you consider the Samsung Behold as a smart phone or a dumb phone? I say dumb, but to the average consumer, will they will see it as very "iPhone" like. Microsoft made their choice and the consumers will have to make theirs. I will personally stay with openness and function (by function, I mean REAL functionality like 3G routing, multitasking, true web browsing with flash support).
  • I hear you spook. It's a tough choice to some and no brainer for others. I really like me EVO but the battery issues turn me off a bit. I bet in about a year or two from now, some kind of battery or software implementation will help with these issues.
  • Windows Mobile compared to Android, no contest!! Android still wins hands down.