I was more than a full year overdue on my “new every two” contract with Verizon (this option is no longer available, more on this later), and hanging onto a phone that I absolutely hated (the LG Navigator) – hoping for something great to come along.  Nothing did, so instead of putting up with that awful LG phone any longer, I made the plunge.

I had sort of been waiting (and waiting, and waiting some more) for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  But when it finally came out, it was missing a few things that I’ve dearly loved on smart phones ever since I had my Treo by Palm (my most favorite phone – EVER!).  The Nexus didn’t have a physical keyboard, nor did it have an SD  card-reader slot -ugh!  And by the time the Nexus was finally available, the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show was barely a month away – surely something amazing would be show up for CES!?  Nope.

What did show up were a couple re-works of Motorola’s Droid, that actually turned them into serious contenders against the Nexus; the Droid Razr MAXX, and the Droid 4. Neither of which have the latest Android Version, code-named “Ice Cream Sandwich” – which the Nexus does have. But it sounded like it might be “coming soon.”

However, the Droid phones have a few drawbacks themselves, mainly; no way to upgrade/change the battery without shipping the whole thing off to Motorola (same problem with the iPhones), and their own, customized version of the Android operating system that cannot be over-ridden – which in turn includes (A LOT OF) “bloat-ware” from both Motorola and Verizon that cannot be deleted from the phone. And while the droids do allow you to insert microSD cards, you have to remove the back cover from the phone in order to do so – it’s not simply a spring-loaded slot like the old Palm Treo’s and even my nemesis, the LG Navigator had.

The reason I substantially favor the Nexus over the Moto phones, is its “clean” implementation of Android.  I want to learn how to develop for the Android platform, and I think it would be nice to have a phone that has a pristine as possible implementation of the Android OS for testing purposes.

Pros & Cons:  Here are what I think are the biggest pros & cons for each phone;

Samsung Galaxy Nexus:

Pros

  1. Uses latest, “unadulterated” Android Operating System
  2. Has a great Screen/viewport
  3. You can self-update the battery in case of failure, or to upgrade to a longer-life battery

Cons

  1. No memory expansion AT ALL
  2. No physical keyboard
  3. Stock battery pretty much MUST be upgraded to a long-life battery.

Droid Razr MAXX

Pros

  1. Comes with a Large, long-life battery
  2. Memory can be augmented with microSD cards

Cons

  1. Uses a proprietary version of Android which cannot be updated until Motorola & Verizon make their “special version” available to the user.
  2. Cannot update/replace the battery without shipping the whole unit back to Motorola
  3. Even though you can technically use microSD cards in this phone, it’s kind of a pain-in-the-ass (PITA) to do so, since you have to remove the back panel of the phone – using a special tool – in order to switch out the card.

Droid 4

Pros

  1.  Physical Keyboard
  2. You can use microSD cards to augment the memory, with the caveats above.

Cons

  1. Small (short-life) battery that cannot be upgraded period, and can only be replaced by shipping the unit off to Motorola.
  2. All of the other “Cons” listed above for the Droid MAXX

It was a very hard choice, since NONE of the phones on the market meet what I use for a base criteria: easy to use SD (or microSD) slot, non-proprietary up-to-date version of Android, user replaceable/upgradable battery, physical keyboard. I also had to give up my awesome, unlimited data plan – so now I pay significantly MORE per month for very limited bandwidth and text messages. TBH, I’m not entirely pleased, but I hated my old phone and it was in extreme need of being replaced.

In the end, I opted for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.  I hope I’m not too disappointed without the keyboard and SD options.  Honestly, I really miss my Palm Treo – I wish an updated version of that phone were available with its awesome keyboard and standard (full-sized), externally available SD card slot.

But, in ordering a new phone, I had to give up my AMAZING old Verizon contract which not only had plenty of minutes, it also included UNLIMITED bandwidth usage, UNLIMITED text messaging, and the “New every two” clause that basically gave you an additional discount on a new phone every two years.  All that for less than $80/mo!

Now I have (severe) bandwidth & texting limits, no additional phone discount every two years, AND I get to pay ~$20 MORE than I used to!  Yay!  So I’m not too thrilled with Verizon’s new (draconian) contracts, YUCK – I’d be paying up to $60 more to actually get something semi-comparable to what I had before. But for now I’ll just test the waters with what’s supposed to be their “el cheapo” version (even though it’s considerably more than I used to pay, for MUCH more service).

The new phone should arrive later this week.  Hopefully I can do a bit of a “hands-on” review by this time next week.  In the mean time, I hope your work week goes well! Enjoy!

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