The trouble with my ex: Does vanilla need more essence?

The trouble with my ex: Does vanilla need more essence?

Having a Nexus is the pinnacle for the purist Android lover, right? Always up to date, always on the cutting edge, never left awaiting features your friends have; what a joy.

That’s an opinion I’d have agreed with two years ago. Owning a Nexus S and a Galaxy Nexus was a fantastic experience. Gingerbread gave way to Ice Cream Sandwich, then Jelly Bean before anyone else, but by the time I’d got my Nexus 4 I was getting a bit bored of stock Android. I’d played around with CyanogenMod 9 on my Nexus S before selling it, and that had made me realise that vanilla was just that – plain. For the first time since I sold my HTC Desire I wanted some chocolate chips. Maybe even raspberry sauce!

I got myself a second hand Samsung Galaxy Note which had the much maligned TouchWiz UI on. I was expecting to have to do away with it on the first day, but, to my surprise, I liked the extra functionality. What was happening to me? My Nexus 4 got relegated to my second phone.

It felt wrong to be a tech blogger who liked TouchWiz. It wasn’t until Mark Peters expressed the same taste on a Coolsmartphone podcast that I felt I could admit it to my fellow team members. Barracking and ribbing ensued!

The trouble with my ex: Does vanilla need more essence?

My Note gave way to a Note II and I still liked TouchWiz/Nature UI, and eventually I jacked the Nexus 4 in, in favour of a Nokia 520. Imagine, an entry level Windows Phone rather than Google’s idea of a perfect phone. What was the world coming to?

My current daily driver – an OPPO Find 5 – is running its own take on Android 4.1.2, which many people would see as outdated. Do I feel the need for a Nexus? Not in the slightest!

Every time there’s an update to either Android or iOS there’s a flurry of graphs, pie charts and angry comments about fragmentation. Whilst I agree, on the whole, with the gripes of HTC One X owners (and the like) who are awaiting even minor updates, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to be a few months behind the latest Android version.

The woes of many Nexus 4 owners suffering the catastrophic crashes 4.3 has brought only goes to illustrate my point.

There’s an argument to say that early adopters should expect the odd bug, but this isn’t a beta testing group, these are people who may well rely on their phones for work or emergencies.

Of course, Google shouldn’t be releasing buggy versions anyway, and that’s the crux of the issue, but surely it’s better to have a stable build with a lower revision number until they get their act together?

It’s not even as if 4.3 gives any significant advantages over 4.2.2. The HTC One X + or Huawei Ascend P6 offer more to the average user than a vanilla Nexus 4; and advanced users can get more features, better performance and longer battery life from custom ROMs on pretty much any hardware these days.

The trouble with my ex: Does vanilla need more essence?

I truly believe that a stable release of an older version of Android is for the best, and if that means manufacturers take a few months to properly test their ROMs with their own skins and modifications, then so be it.

I’m not ruling out buying another Nexus, but I doubt I’ll be sitting by the refresh button, credit card in hand when Nexus time comes around this year. The competition have caught up, and vanilla just just doesn’t spark my excitement any more.

LG Optimus L1 II coming to Three
Acer Liquid E2 is now available on Three
  • ravmania

    Ladies love the Wiz!

  • BrandoHD

    What nonsense did I just read, how do I unread this

  • I have to agree.
    If Android was rolled out properly – in other words TESTED properly, rather than using Nexus users as a guinea pig population, then the latest version of Android should be a must have.
    At the moment it’s a bloomin liability!
    How do they break iPlayer with EVERY release?! It’s one of the most popular UK apps (oh yes, they don’t acknowledge the UK exists!)

  • Kurt House

    Cool story bro

  • the_prof

    I tend to agree too Ronnie. There’s much to be said for a stable platform, and when it works, and you’re not missing out on new Apps because of it, I don’t see the problem. I keep to 4.2.1 for those very reasons. I’m missing out on, as far as I can see, nothing whatsoever, aside from a few extra bugs.

    I’m quite a fan of HTC Sense, actually, and on the HTC One it really seems to add something to the phone. I can’t see that it slows it down much compared to the Google edition, and it has some really nice features which enhance the handset. Not much of an advocate of the Samsung front-end, but then again I’ve never really got on with the Galaxy S range much anyway.