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Droid Life Q&A Sessions: Volume 19 Answers

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On Monday, we asked for readers to send in their questions for Volume 19 of the DL Q&A Sessions. We have gathered our favorites, then let our team have at them.

Questions seems to be quite focused on Motorola and the general state of the hardware/software game for Android. If you were curious for our honest opinions on the Lenovorola deal or which spirit animal our Android device’s would be, then read on. 

Thank you for your fantastic questions, everyone.

Reminder: K is Kellen, T is Tim, R is Ron, and E is Eric.


If every phone manufacturer was running stock vanilla android, what hardware would you choose?

K:  Motorola. I know we talk about our love for the Moto X all of the time, but it is the hardware I would still choose (thankfully it already runs stock Android). It may not carry the premium look of the all-metal HTC one, but it feels so fabulous in hand. I really hope that Motorola doesn’t change the size of the new Moto X, but maybe just upgrades the display and camera. No phone feels better in hand to me than this after all this time. And I’ve gone back and forth between the One, G2, and Nexus 5.

T:  I would choose whichever one had the best camera. If each hardware maker had their typical sensors in there, then I would have to stay away from almost every one of them besides Samsung and HTC. If you were to tell me that each had the same camera, and I had to judge solely on the quality of hardware, then I would lean towards Motorola or HTC. Maybe if HTC lowered the weight on the One, I wouldn’t be so snobby towards it. Metal is heavy, HTC.

R:  I think HTC makes some of the best hardware still, but Sony would be up there as well. It would probably depend on whoever had the best camera.

E:  Probably HTC. The aluminum body of the One just feels too substantial to pass up. It isn’t a perfect design (the big black HTC bar on the bottom, capacitive buttons), but if the software was equal across all the other devices, that would be my choice. If only it were real!

htc logo

Which OEM are you rooting for this year?

K:  Last year I said Motorola, this year I’m probably going to go with HTC. HTC has one hell of an uphill climb if they want to survive. I don’t know if it can be done, but I hope so. They are truly trying to make the most premium smartphones of our time, they just don’t have a marketing budget to let everyone know about them. Hopefully, something changes this year, because I’d hate to see one less Android OEM.

T:  I’m rooting hard for HTC and Motorola. Both of these companies need to hit a couple of homeruns this year, so here’s hoping they come through for consumers. We pretty much know what HTC has in store for us thanks to a ton of leaks, and I’ve gotta say, it’s not looking too good for them. Motorola on the other hand has found some success with the Moto X and Moto G (especially), so let’s see if they can keep it up.

R:  I’m hoping HTC can stay afloat, that Sony will enter the US, and that Motorola will surprise us with a phone that can take pictures.

E:  Everyone! Why wouldn’t you root for an OEM? HTC and Motorola need all the love they can get at this point. Samsung looks like they have disappointed a few people with the S5 so we have to give them some backing too. LG has their constant little brother syndrome and Sony still doesn’t seem to understand how to roll out a phone across the globe. No one benefits from not rooting for all Android OEMs, spread the love man.

What is your phone’s spirit animal?

K:  A koala.

T:  Kevin Bacon or a big ol’ bald eagle. ‘Murica!

R:  Jony Ive.

E:  Grumpy Cat.

motorola

How do you honestly feel about Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola?

K:  Not great. They soon won’t be an American company, they’ll no longer have the freedom that they had when being owned by Google, and their future is a giant question mark. They already lost their CEO. Who knows how many others from their current executive group will leave in the next few months. The Texas MotoMaker plant is almost guaranteed to go away. It all kind of sucks, actually. Moto did some really cool stuff last year, and will likely again this year until the acquisition is official, but after that, who knows what we’ll see.

T:  Another great American company, now owned by a Chinese company. All of the hard work and uphill battles they fought last year might as well have been for nothing, as Lenovo announced they plan on introducing Motorola to emerging markets. Will they focus still on the US? Probably, but not as much as we would like. We probably have a few devices in Motorola’s pipeline to look forward to, but in terms of overall feeling towards the deal, I’m bummed about it.

R:  I don’t know what to think yet. I really like Lenovo’s Yoga Pro 2, but their smartphone software has been sub par so far. I think Lenovo has pretty good design chops, so for me the big thing will be to see if they can continue Motorola’s new-found love of close-to-stock Android with useful, not gimmicky, software enhancements. And a camera that can take pictures.

E:  I think we all shared our feelings on a Droid Life show a couple weeks ago, but to sum it up: I’m disappointed. It seemed that we were just getting a new Motorola who was on the right track to do some really cool things and now we can’t be sure of that now. I know Lenovo has the manufacturing prowess to boost Motorola, but it takes more than that. You have to have an idea and vision, and I think we fell in love with the vision that Moto had under Google. I highly doubt that it will be the same under new management.

Do you think Nokia has a chance in the Android market?

K:  Go away, Nokia. Go away.

T:  It’s Nokia. I don’t really care quite yet. When I see an awesome flagship with crazy specs and a good camera, I might turn my head to re-acknowledge their existence.

R:  I don’t think that question makes sense. Nokia is using Android to push Microsoft services on the low end, but the experience is far worse than a low-end Windows Phone, so I don’t see Nokia’s line of Android phones taking off any time soon. If Nokia went all in with Android and made something akin to the Lumia 1020 then I think they might have a shot, but that ship has long sailed for Nokia. Microsoft will undoubtedly shut down any Android-related projects once the acquisition is complete.

E:  If they keep scraping the bottom barrel of the market, probably not.

Why do you guys prefer stock Android so much?

K:  I think partly because I know it so well and am so used to it because we pushed so hard for it to be the standard over skins. I can get down with TouchWiz and Sense, but they just seem to carry this extra layer or three of fluff that I don’t need. Stock Android is simple, but lets me add what I want to it. There isn’t extra garbage. Plus, it has really matured over the last two years to become a beautiful OS that has all of the stuff you need to survive.

T:  I enjoy stock Android because Google is my overlord, and if this is how they intended me to enjoy their mobile OS, then this is how I will keep it. On a more serious note, I think the problem with skins is that they add in too much. They go past the point of useful and just add in gigs worth of crap I will never touch. When you buy a phone with 16GB of storage, then only 8GB are useable thanks to a skin and crapware, then we have a problem. That’s some scam/false advertisement right there. Motorola is on the right track – stock Android, but with hints of proprietary goodness. Good on you, Moto.

R:  I personally prefer stock Android because I like consistency. I want all of my apps and the OS to look like they match each other. Stock Android tends to be able to meet that aesthetic much better than the skins. That said, most stock Android icons are garbage.

E:  For people just coming into the Android scene, it may seem a little weird to have this obsession with stock Android. You have to look at it from where we have been. Android skins like TouchWiz and Motoblur used to be god-awful. Absolutely killed your phone. Putting some kind of stock ROM on it or having a Nexus device was almost like night and day. OEMs have done a lot to make skins a lot less intrusive and a lot more functional, but some of that preference for stock still comes from that. Another big group of thinking is that stock Android makes it easy to ROM, root and hack their device. Something that other mobile OS’s don’t offer so easily. And then personally, I like minimal. Stock Android is slim, sleek and runs fast. Why wouldn’t I love it?

motorola moto x

What are you expecting from a new Moto X device?

K:  More of the same, at least that’s what Motorola told us in an interview. I’d imagine they’ll continue to add features to Active Display and Touchless Control. They’ll then upgrade to a 1080p display, find ways to extend battery life further, and hopefully keep MotoMaker on some level. I’m sure there will be some sort of new surprise to help sell the phone, I just have no idea what that’ll be. I really just wish they’d put the best possible camera sensor for mobile on Earth in that thing. PLEASE, Moto.

T:  “Better” specs and a MUCH better camera sensor. Good lord, Moto, did you even open the camera app before releasing the Moto X? If you tell me you did, I’m going to call you a big fat liar! Regardless, I have high hopes for a 2014 Moto X. Last year’s had the perfect mix of stock Android and helpful software/hardware features like Touchless Control and Active Display. Don’t over do it, Moto.

R:  I would love to have a Moto X with a fantastic camera, but I am absolutely not expecting that from Motorola. I’m expecting a slightly spec bumped Moto X with a very similar chassis, a disappointing camera, decent battery life, and a low price.

E:  Better camera, better processor, more MotoMaker options and a few other snazzy improvements along the line of Touchless Control and Active Display.

If you had to live with one for the rest of your life, would it be HTC’s Sense UI or Samsung’s TouchWiz UI?

K:  TouchWiz. While I like the overall look of Sense, I really hate the way HTC changes basic actions in Android. Samsung may skin the hell out of everything, but general Android concepts are there. For example, to share photos from your gallery in Sense, you have to tap the “share” button first, then select which app, and then select the photos. On every other Android device on the planet, you select the photos first, and then tap share. Or how about their dock/app/folder situation in the Sense launcher? Or their terrible management of contacts? Or the insanely long process they have implemented for changing a wallpaper? Ugh. Things like that drive me nuts.

T:  So blowing my brains out isn’t an option? I would go with the new TouchWiz that we saw on the Galaxy S5. It’s actually not that bad. Is it just me, or does Kit Kat make everything better? The unification of colors on the notification bar (and the translucency) has been one of my favorite changes to Android since I have been using this OS. I think it’s extremely hot. So, to answer the question, TouchWiz!

R:  HTC Sense would absolutely be my choice. Samsung has always been bad at software design (look at the old Omnia line of Windows Mobile phones versus HTC’s Windows Mobile phones with TouchFlo), whereas HTC has usually been able to design things that look nice. It’s not always my favorite design aesthetic (I’m not in love with the latest versions of Sense), but it looks nice.

E:  Both of these skins have a pretty bad history, but I think they’ve both come a long way. I have a slight preference for Sense though. I don’t need birds chirping at me for the rest of my life whenever I get a text message.

  • Hamforce

    So I picked up LG G2…love it but the wireless storage feature I am having an issue with. I can connect fine but the pics I take with the phone do not show up in any folders? Any thoughts? ty

  • Brandon Dean

    Q: what is your favorite non Motorola OEM?

    A: Motorola Motorola MOTO Motorola Moto X Motorola Motorola Verizon Motorola moto moto motorola MOTO Verizon Motorola moto X. The moto x is so amazing. Moto motorola. The best midrange phone ever conceived by mankind. Moto.

    Verizon
    /s

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    if HTC created something like active display, i’d consider it. It’s still a tad bit larger than i’d like.

    • LionStone

      It looks like they have with that lite brite case that was leaked? And I’ve been using that DynamicNotification app, works really well.

  • hebrewHAMMER

    Is Ron unaware about the existence of icon packs @

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      I’m very aware of the existence of icon packs (Lumos is my favorite), but that doesn’t excuse lousy design or lax standard from Google.

      • hebrewHAMMER

        Point taken.

  • sski66

    Question One; If every phone manufacturer was running stock vanilla android, what hardware would you choose? All there answers, That’s a Big reason why I come here, they get “It”.

  • Josh Rahn

    I’m with you, Was rooting for moto last year, but now that its lenovo… meh.
    This year undecided, definitely not Samsung/touch wiz. Yuck.
    will be getting a Nexus 6 if that drops this summer. I wish HTC would release a phone with stock android, just to test the waters and see how it sells. (NOT GPE!)

    • JMonkeYJ

      What’s wrong with GPE?

      • Josh Rahn

        Nothing, I support GPE, but I think it would just be interesting if HTC would put out a stock android phone. I know its the reason I haven’t bought one. Just saying.

      • Josh Rahn

        Not sure where my first reply went. It would just be interesting to see how HTC fairs with a stock android device. The average consumer isn’t buying A phone from Google play. I’ve tried both sense and touchwiz and its the reason I will be going nexus from now on, not htc or Samsung.

        • JMonkeYJ

          Looks like a Disqus glitch posted them both at the same time.

  • Daistaar

    Still no mention of the YotaPhone from Yota Devices but we can see an article on a hideous dual screen flip phone from Samsung? No Bueno DL. Me’s a sad Panda…

  • Kal5el

    “Good on you, Moto.”

    I read that in Tim’s voice.

  • Ryan

    Why no LG? They are coming out with great phones and fast updates. I feel that LG is treated like a red headed step child.

    • Josh Rahn

      HAHA so true XD

    • Tim242

      They use poisonous lead in their cords.

      • Pdiddy187

        Source?

        • Tim242

          In every user manual. See below. Calling them confirmed lead.

          • Pdiddy187

            Virtually every apartment building in Los Angeles has a sign that says roughly the exact same thing. (sans the the hand washing bit)

          • Tim242

            Probably lead paint or something. Regardless, it should not be used in something you have to touch every day. The worst part is that most people don’t know, and don’t wash their hands. It is banned in most products. I’m not sure why it is still allowed in cords.

          • Pdiddy187

            Well I guess it’s a good thing I’m OCD and wash my hands about 37 times a day. Oh and Franco kernel. I don’t have to charge my phone everyday.

          • The Narrator

            Fuqin’ lead. Nobody cares.

          • Tim242

            Go poison yourself with it then.

      • Daistaar

        (I want to say stop biting on the cord Tim, but I won’t… Just keep this in my head.)

      • Ryan

        OMG tim you have been saying that for months give it a break.

        • Tim242

          It’s a little known fact. I feel like I should spread the word.

    • mustbepbs

      I hope you’re being sarcastic with “fast updates”. They just barely got around to updating the G2, which came out in September 2013. They haven’t updated their only tablet on the market or even hinted at when it would be updated. The original G Pad 8.3 is a bastard child and it’s obvious to see that LG doesn’t care about it over the GPE.

      • Ryan

        If you want fast updates get the LG Nexus or GPE tablet. If you dont mind that get a G2. Seriously you guys make it sound like the end of the world. LG is making great devices and great software. I would rather have an update take a few extra months that is solid and fully tested rather than a quick update to just say look we did it first but at the expense of user experience. LG isnt like Samsung where they can rush out an update even with some bugs. People will still buy it. But the smaller crowd that buys LG want a great device and experience so LG has to work even harder to keep them on LG devices.

        • Nexoduss

          Well said especially about the part about rushing updates to say they did it. Moto

        • mustbepbs

          Or, if you’re like every early adopter of the G Pad, you get screwed over when companies silently forget about their flagship product in favor of the GPE G Pad. And BS on the “rushed update” nonsense. You know LG is just going to screw it up anyway.

    • Nexoduss

      Because they don’t make the moto x… Therefore they are an inferior oem

      • Kevin

        ^This guy gets it.

        • Nexoduss

          Do you have the g2? I’m thinking about getting it

    • feztheforeigner

      Especially when it didn’t even make the list of good cameras for Tim. I think the G2 might have the best camera out there right now, people need to stop counting it out.

  • Apostrafee

    HTC Sense is borderline unusable in my opinion. I cannot stand it really.

  • T4rd

    Ron: Jony Ive.

    You trollin, Ron. =p

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Eric Rees

      guaranteedreplies.com

  • The Narrator

    Samsung may read this. Don’t say such a thing about choosing touchwiz!

  • Nicholas Ruiz

    Most stock Android icons are garbage? In what universe is that true?

    • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

      Earth-616.

      • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

        That’s the one bash on Android I will give to you every time. They are a jumbled mess.

        • JoshGroff

          This is why my homescreen is just a fullscreen wallpaper with nav buttons and gesture controls to access everything.

        • Orion

          What’s so messy about it?

          • Weber

            Nothing is uniform

          • Raven

            I personally hate boring rounded square uniform icons. I WANT every icon to have a unique shape with a transparent background. Google apps like Play Store, Drive, Gmail, Books, Music, Movies, and Games all have beautifully designed icons with unique silhouettes. 3rd party apps ported over from iOS with the same boring rounded square icons are the ones that I hate.

          • Weber

            Yeah, it’s just one of those “to each his own” things. Best part about Android. Make your phone your own.

          • Kit Chau

            I agree with you there. I like the different shape icons. It is easier to distinguish between them but it doesn’t have that “unified look” I guess. Whatever. I don’t know what the big deal is about hating the icons on Android. I don’t want my phone looking like iOS. Just change them with the icon packs. No need to harp endlessly about them during video chats. Seems more like OCD to me to be annoyed by the icons. But of course I am not a artistic design guy.

          • Orion

            Exactly! Couldn’t agree more.

        • Derek Duncan

          They make icon packs for a reason..

      • Orion

        Marvel huh?

        • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

          Yessir.

          • Tim242

            iOS icons are garbage. The worst part is that you can’t change them!

          • http://ronoffringa.me/ Ron Offringa

            There are definitely some lousy iOS icons out there. It stinks that you have to jailbreak if you want to change things up. That’s a definite advantage of Android.

    • Fozzybare

      have you even looked at the stock icons? they do not match up at all

      • Nicholas Ruiz

        I don’t need them to match up. Actually, I like each one to be distinctive so I can find each one in the app drawer quickly. Although they could be more similar in size. Otherwise, yeah, I really like them. They’re classy.

        • Patrick Smithopolis

          I agree. While icons packs provide a more uniform look it makes it harder to find apps because the icons are too similar. Each icon having their own distinctive look makes it much easier to find an app.