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Thanks, but I’ll pass

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

* A few years back, I wrote that I was really getting tired of the iPhone. It wasn’t the phone itself that bugged me, it was Apple’s paternalism when it came to their apps that honked me off.

I much preferred Google’s approach with its Android system. You wanna develop an Android app? Go for it. Google won’t stop you. It’s a more open, “Internet” approach, as opposed to Apple’s nearly closed system.

* So, when Amazon announced recently that it had developed a new “Fire” phone based on the Android platform, I was really excited. Some of the bells and whistles, like 3-D imagery, tilt to scroll and easy Amazon purchases looked pretty cool to me. Amazon’s Kindle Fire has received some pretty solid reviews, so I figured the new phone would build on that.

Finally, I thought, a phone that could compete with the iPhone and even best it. I was all set to jump ship.

And since I occasionally write about tech here and have a tech feed on the page, I reached out to AT&T (the sole mobile provider for Amazon’s Fire) and asked if they had a review program. They did, and I received the phone yesterday - several days after the big guys were given their own review phones.

* I like the way the phone feels in my hand. It’s slim and has a bigger screen than my iPhone. The display looks cool, and it doesn’t take long to figure out the mechanical differences between the two phones. The Fire can also display all your apps on a single page, which saves lots of time scrolling through to find the app you want to use.

I use several apps in the course of my days and weeks. And that’s the real problem with Fire. Amazon has walled off their phone from existing apps. Android apps won’t work on it. Google’s YouTube app is locked out, as is the Google maps app. And none of the apps I use the most are currently available, and I’m not sure if they ever will be.

Yes, Apple tightly controls who can make apps for its system, and I don’t like living in that world. But the iPhone is in such wide use that there are quite a lot of apps available. Amazon? Not so much.

* So, I’ll be sending my test phone back to the company. My iPhone screen is badly cracked and my AT&T contract is up, so I gotta find a new phone soon. It won’t be the Fire.

Any suggestions?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


60 Comments
  1. - wndycty - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    Spend $75, get your screen fixed and stay with the iPhone. I know a lot of people who left the iPhone and regret it.


  2. - Lovin' it - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    When it was time for a new smartphone a few months ago, I went with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and got a Gear 2 watch to go with it. Love them both. I lay my phone down and keep it on vibrate at the office & was missing calls and texts. The watch fixes all that, plus it serves as a bluetooth when driving, so no annoying thing sticking in my ear. Very happy with this combo. And, like you, can’t stand Apple’s overbearing attitude. I love the Swype keyboard option on Android.


  3. - MikeMacD - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Blackberry 10 device. Q10 (keyboard), Z10 or Z30 (touchscreens). Advantages are too numerous to list. They aren’t like the old BB’s and are able to run most Android as well as native apps.

    Seriously, you should look into them, especially the Z30.


  4. - Tasty Grouper - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Get a Nexus 5 from the Google Play store. $350 unlocked with no contract, so you can take it to any carrier and get service (except you cant get LTE with Verizon). Great phone!


  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    Go with a galaxy phone. I have the Galaxy Note 3, it’s awesome. It’s a big phone and many people are put off by the size; don’t be. I have never had a problem with putting it in my pocket, and when it is in my pocket I don’t notice it any more than I noticed my iPhone 4. The Galaxy S5 is also good. It’s smaller than the Note but very similar; the S5 is also nice because it is waterproof (if you wait, the Note 4 will be out soon and it is also supposed to be waterproof).

    The phones are fast, reliable, have good battery life, and are a little more user friendly if you are willing to take the time to learn the phone.


  6. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:36 am:

    Apple might be controlling, but their stuff works. (As my son keeps telling me.):0


  7. - Just the Facts - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:42 am:

    Mr. Battery - out by Lowe’s in Springfield will put a new screen on in a couple of hours. I had the same issue a few months ago with one of my iphones.


  8. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    Wait a month or two and there will be two (or three) high-end flagship phones on the market. Apple is set to join the year 2011 with a new, larger iphone (maybe a phablet too) and Samsung is set to release their new Galaxy Note 4. If you cant wait until then there is no doubt, Galaxy S5 is the best phone on the market bar none. Bigger screens are the future (sorry 4inch iphone fanboys).

    Also, i appreciate your tech feed on the bottom of the blog, I always check it once or twice a week- on top of daily state politics. Talk about killin 2 birds with one stone!


  9. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    I’ve never hated my Samsung Galaxy S5.

    I don’t think I can say that about any other piece of technology that I’ve owned.

    – MrJM


  10. - Norseman - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    Don’t have anything to add about the type of phone - I’ve got a iPhone 5s, but I’d recommend an Otterbox to protect your future phone and it’s screen.


  11. - Come one man! - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    iphone-S4- then back to the iPhone


  12. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Pay for a Groupon to fix your iphone.


  13. - AC - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    I second the Nexus 5. If you truly want a phone that you control, with the added benefit of not having to remove carrier installed, resource hogging “bloat ware” it’s the phone to get. Having had a long series of Android phones, and switching to the Nexus I’ve found that I really like the software. Most of my issues with Android weren’t really with the operating system, they were with Samsung TouchWhiz or Motorola Motoblur and AT&T and Verizon “value added” software. With all of that out of the way, it really makes the phone faster and easier to use. I believe you can also special order a Nexus version of some of the latest Samsung phones too if you prefer their hardware to LG, but my LG Nexus 5 has been the best smart phone I’ve ever owned…and I’ve had smart phones since the Nokia E61. The only disadvantage has been that it doesn’t feel like a premium product, Apple has that part down.


  14. - Tom B. - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    I’ve used Glaxay S4 for a while and Aviva has used the S5. We’re both pretty happy with them and obviously do quite a bit of emailing and browsing. Also, the ability to switch batteries midday and get an instant 100% is really helpful.


  15. - Pat C - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Nexus 5 is only for TMO or ATT. But I have it on TMO and love it. Great antenna so data coverage is better than my old TMO phone. Can’t beat unlimited calls, texts, 2.5 GB data for 50/ month….


  16. - Pat C - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    And AC is totally correct. The lack of bloatware, vendor “skin” and 2GB ram makes it really snappy in response.


  17. - Dee Lay - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    Was an early iPhone adopter - loved it hated and switched to Galaxy S4 - loved it for about 60 days before i started having issues with software stability. Work email and Android don’t play well sometimes.

    Can’t wait to switch back to the iPhone.


  18. - Hon. John Fritchey - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    iPhone6 in


  19. - wayward - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    Like my Samsung Galaxy S4 — only gripe is that the battery life seems a little limited.


  20. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    fix the phone or get another iPhone.

    now go watch Halt and Catch Fire on AMC. it probably won’t get renewed, but it is a great look at the tech world circa 1983.


  21. - Angry Chicagoan - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Keep things as standard and vanilla as possible. Either get your iPhone fixed, or go with an Android phone with the absolute minimum of customization and carrier bloatware — a Nexus or a Moto X.


  22. - anon - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    To get work done. BlackBerry. Two new business phones coming soon, September . Classic and Passport.


  23. - mcb - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    Second on the Moto X, though it’s a year old and a new version is supposed to be coming out. Lot of cool things it does that no other brand offers. Droid Maxx(not razr maxx) is a bigger version with a battery that goes for days.


  24. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:15 am:

    Amalia, thanks for the reminder. I have been meaning to watch that show. It sounds great.

    And Rich — I am a longtime Apple user, but my husband’s Galaxy is making me think twice about which way to go when I replace this latest one.


  25. - Barton Lorimor - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    I have really enjoyed my iPhone 7T, but I might have to upgrade to the 8X when iPhone 6 is announced later this year.

    My (technical) love for Android can only be rivaled by my love for lamp. *rim shot*

    My first Android was a Samsung, which was nice. No complaints. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of my Motorola over the last 18 months. That brand seems to have improved its reliability since the RAZR days.


  26. - RonOglesby - Now in TX - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Rich,
    I run a galaxy Note 2. Yes its like a mini-tablet BUT it is the best phone I have ever used. Big screen and once you are used to holding and having the big screen you will never go back.


  27. - Concerned Voter - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    Don’t waste the $$$ to fix the screen. In October the new iPhone6 comes out. It will be worth the wait and you will love.


  28. - Go with Galaxy S5 - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    Never had an iPhone. I had the Samsung galaxy s3 for 2 years and just switched to the S5. I love it! It charges super fast, only taking about an hour to fully charge. The battery life is great. There is a feature to turn off some apps that keeps your charge if the battery is getting low and you’re not near a power source. I’ve never had a problem finding apps.


  29. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    As others have noted, other companies have already done enough to match I-phones various innovations (And Apple would argue that’s because they stole their technology by infringing their patents). I’m tempted by Samsung (who make my 7-inch tablet) but my HTC EVO-Shift still does 95% of what I want.

    Also, geezer that I am, I need the slide-out keyboard…


  30. - Sausage - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Galaxy S5. Much better than iPhone - although I think Apple gets the message that they’re being leapfrogged by high-end Androids, so the next iPhone might be something worth waiting for, especially if you use a Mac/iPad as well and like having them all synched up


  31. - Toure's Latte - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:27 am:

    Had a BB forever, switched out to a Note 3 and highly recommend it. Not too big, not too small, the Goldilocks of phones. Rarely use my laptop anymore, and the pics are very good.


  32. - Phenomynous - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    As far as mobile phones go, you can’t beat the Nokia 6310. I’ll set my watch and warrant on it.


  33. - RonOglesby - Now in TX - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Oh… and on the Note.. I can run 2 or sometimes 3 days without a recharge….


  34. - How Ironic - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    Galaxy Note 3. Best. Phone. Ever. Great apps, works very well and I love the size.


  35. - The Heavy Metal Murrows - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    The LG G2 - Android phone. I love it more than most members of my extended family.


  36. - LINK - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:39 am:

    The new Samsung NOTE 4 should be announced in September. Fix the iphone screen wait 7 weeks…

    I just updated to a S5 but will use another line upgrade and buy the Note 4. The Note 3 was on sale till last Sunday at Verizon for $149.99…


  37. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    My contract is up and I’m waiting to see the iPhone 6 in the larger sizes (some of your tech feeds have had pics-thanks) before swapping out of a well-used iPhone 4.
    Agree with Norseman that you may want to buy an Otterbox-Lifeproof; not really.


  38. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    @ Soccermom, this blog is often “stop and catch soccer mom.”


  39. - Steve - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    Try the Sony Xperia , you can take a shower with it : it’s waterproof.


  40. - Jake From Elwood - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 12:24 pm:

    I dumped the iPhone for the Samsung Galaxy S5. Wonderful display and camera, access to all Google Play apps. Purports to be water resistant but I am not prepared to test that out. Battery stays charged longer than iPhone. I am happy for now.


  41. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 12:33 pm:

    I switched carriers. AT&T does have great coverage in rural areas, but if you rarely if ever find yourself in the sticks, Verizon is great, with fewer dropped calls…a real problem for AT&T still in Chicago during peak usage hours.


  42. - K3 - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    An HTC phone on Verizon. All the Android benefits but on a phone that’s light years ahead of Samsung


  43. - WilCo23 - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    Samsung line.


  44. - RetiredStateEmployee - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Another vote for the Nexus 5, or wait until fall for the rumored 6. Pure Android, first to get system updates. no bloatware.


  45. - le geek - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    If you’re looking for a large screen phone, take a look at the Nokia Lumia 1520 (Windows Phone 8). Beautiful screen, really good camera, MS Office apps included.


  46. - Jeanne Dough - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    We like to upgrade devices more frequently, so the Edge program through Verizon is a good fit for us. I will be able to upgrade my iPhone 5 when the 6 as soon as it’s available. The larger screen and the front/back screen feature of iPhone 6 (if sneak peaks are true) looks iintriguing for multi-taskers.


  47. - Mittuns - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    You could mod/root the Fire phone and put a clean, stock version of android on it, if you wanted to keep it. It’s not too difficult. Search xda-developers.

    Otherwise, the LG G3/Moto X on Verizon or the Nexus 5/Moto X for T-Mobile/AT&T are good choices. You can’t really go wrong with Samsung devices, either.


  48. - Been There - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Tried the Galaxy s5 with Verizon. Nice features, but it is not business friendly. Did not sync with outlook accurately and was messing up up my contacts. Emailing also had issues if you are outlook based.


  49. - siriusly - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    I agree with Anon 10:36 - the Samsung phones are basically iPhone clones but with Android software. They just work really well and the google apps are flawless.


  50. - SlapshotII - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    hold out for the new iphone 6 - it will be availble mid-september.


  51. - northernwatersports - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    I don’t like Apple for the exact same reasons…
    I bought new Motorola Moto X and Moto G for myself and my kids…great phones…primarily for Wi-Fi compatible data usage, but the Republic Wireless plan…$25/mo. How do you beat that. My teen daughter just set a new record….1 guzzzzillion texts in 30 days!!!!!!


  52. - AlabamaShake - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    I’m going to summarize all of the suggestions…

    Get an iPhone, or a Motorola, or a Samsung. And use T-Mobile, or Verizon, or ATT.


  53. - sranderson - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    Look into a Windows Phone. I had one way back in the day and just stepped away from my Iphone to a Nokia Lumia and took the developers preview for WP8.1, which is being released shortly. Cortona is amazing and also has a more open app market than iphone where anyone can develop the apps and Microsoft will provide you with all the tools needed to learn how to develop apps. I couldn’t be happier with my Windows Phone!


  54. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    I’ve got an iPhone 5. Don’t love it but also don’t love android’s instability. I’m waiting to check out the iPhone 6 before deciding next steps. Clearly the iPhone is behind in technology compared to Samsung…by far. But does it matter in daily use or is it just lack of gee whiz? Hard to say.


  55. - James formerly from Wrigley - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 4:55 pm:

    Rich, if sound is important to you, at all, go with the HTC One. It has front facing stereo speakers and beats by Dre amplifier built in. The operating system is simpler than the Galaxy but has all the features of an Android.


  56. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jul 29, 14 @ 5:42 pm:

    Buy yourself a good piece of hardware and just put CyanogenMod on it.


  57. - Goonhammer - Wednesday, Jul 30, 14 @ 2:20 am:

    Rich, you NEED to get the HTC M8. I’ve owned the iPhone up to 4S, the Samsung S2, 3, and 4.The HTC M8 is by far superior to them! Im very pleased with my purchase of it!


  58. - skippy - Wednesday, Jul 30, 14 @ 8:32 am:

    Switched from Iphone to Moto X. Zero regrets.


  59. - Ann - Thursday, Jul 31, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    LGG2 with Verizon. Very pleased. Andorid and not the least bit unstable. Plus a great price with contract. And you can even get it in white if you care about that.


  60. - Lona - Thursday, Aug 14, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    Thanks for your personal marvelous posting!

    I quite enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.
    I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will come back later in life.

    I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great writing, have a nice day!


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        * Report: Higher Minimum Wage Would Help One-in-Five Illinois Kids
        * The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #23: It's All Cutler's Fault
        * Cook County Commissioner Garcia to challenge Emanuel in Chicago mayoral race
        * Illinois Watchdog Radio - Live on IR
        * Op-Ed: The Ups & Downs of Election Laws, Are Voters Being Tricked at the Door?
        * Di Leo: The Ebola Epidemic and the American Election
        * Morning Minute: Chicago makes list of best cities for vampires
        * Clayton, Myers named to panel charting future of area near IAR HQ
        * Seven days left to use your REALTOR® voice


        * Editorial: Rauner best choice as governor to begin to reverse Illinois’ fortunes
        * Quinn to celebrate Rauner’s UI Labs accomplishment
        * Another Democrat Runs Away From Pat Quinn
        * Governor Pat Quinn Statement on Tentative Agreement to End Waukegan Teacher Strike, Return Students to Classrooms - State Education Chief Worked Overnight to Reach Common Ground, Students Heading Back to School on Monday
        * Quinn on buying votes with taxpayer money: “Is that a crime?”




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