PhanMail Friday: Your Questions Answered [01/21/2011]

Guess what gals and guys? PhanMail Friday’s back after a month-long hiatus due to hard partying and laziness. No, actually we were just on holiday break and came back to tackle the monster that was CES. But now that all that is out of the way, we’re excited to get back into our normal swing of things. (That is until we’re thrown off by the change in timezones when we head out to Spain next month.)

Anywho, you know the deal: you had questions and we answered them to our best ability. I’ll be selecting the best ones sent in since the middle of December – when we went on break. If you want your question answered in a future edition, don’t be afraid to give us a holler with at the PhanMail contact form. So without further delay…

John Asks “When reviewing a phone, is the call strength measured/compared? Lots of people have issues getting good reception in their home, and the handset may make a difference?”

I can’t speak to anyone else’s methods, but I personally don’t review in-home call strength due to one very annoying reason: I live in a low coverage area. Be it Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular, or T-Mobile, I just don’t get very good signal out here, so it’d be unfair for me to judge a carrier’s or phone’s performance from that alone. In my reviews, I make an effort to go out and use the phones as if they are my daily drivers. Most of the time, I don’t have a problem with call strength or reliability, but I don’t carry out any scientific tests. More than a couple of bars is usually good enough to get the job done. Even after antennagate, extensive attenuation testing for a review isn’t carried out. It consumes far too much time and a number of different variables can cause attenuation issues, if there are any.

Sami says: “Hi am Software tester I want test android applications free of cost so tell me to whom I should contact.”

Hi Sami. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut, surefire way to test applications that you like for free. 9 times out of ten, any applications you have the privilege of testing ahead of launch are public beta tests that may be buggy and not fully featured. If a major application heads into beta and the developer announces it’s public, we usually inform our readers. Other than that, you’d need to ask each developer individually if you could test their applications. My guess is that you won’t get very far doing that.

“I have an account however I cannot log on to your website via tapatalk, I enter the information in the login area but the login prompt keeps poping up” ~Kamal

Unfortunately, our AndroidForums.com are not yet enabled for Tapatalk. In fact, we don’t anticipate they will be anytime in the immediate future. The official Phandroid application is currently in beta and will allow you to browse and post right from your phone, but there’s no release timeline to be had for the time being. We’ll update you guys at Phandroid.com the moment anything changes.

Alex asks: “How to download android applications to Samsung Galaxy 5?”

Hit that cool looking Android market icon in your app drawer and start searching and browsing for apps. And if you’re installing a .APK file from your SD card, finding and selecting the file using any file manager should get you going.

“Have a question about an app. Would you be able to help?” ~V

Sure. But since you didn’t include the question, I can’t answer it for you. I decided to answer this question to let folks know that you don’t need to ask if you can ask a question. If you have something you want or need answered, type your entire question inside the message box of the PhanMail contact form.

Charlie asks: “I would like to become a reviewer for Phandroid. Who would I talk to about such an arrangement?”

There are currently no openings for writers and reviewers on Phandroid, but if something should come up, we’ll announce official details – including how to submit your resume and application – on the front page of the site.

Curtis says: “You know, I’ve been browsing the market recently and realized how many browsers there are out there, I did some searching on Google for feedback, but many of them are too old. So my question is this, what browser do you use, and how does it compare to others?”

I know Kevin and Rob both use the stock browser of their respective phones – the DROID and DROID X. They’re such pansies. I, on the other hand, recognize the value of a good third party browser and I personally use a healthy combination of Dolphin HD and Opera Mini. Opera Mini is at a slight disadvantage if you care about website features and proper formatting, but it’s a lifesaver in those situations where you can’t seem to grab a healthy connection – a situation I often find myself in. Dolphin HD gives me everything I need: tabs, bookmarks, an exhaustive selection of useful plugins, and more. I’ve tried others – such as Xscope, Opera Mobile (one of my favorites, but not ready for primetime), Steel, and Skyfire, but nothing compares to the one-two punch I mentioned.

David asks: “So hard to choose! Which is better? Tegra? 4g? Honeycomb? Any clue as to which will have all 3? Would love to see a post on this!” (Editor’s note: I should mention that this question was submitted before CES, as well as the questions which follow.)

We actually do have a post like that in the works, but CES has come and gone: there are a few options out there. Some have Tegra 2 but no 4G, and Vice Versa. None of the handsets have Honeycomb at this point, though: that’s reserved for tablets only. But I’d have to say AT&T’s Motorola Atrix impressed me the most. Yes, it’s AT&T. But cut them some slack: they just lost exclusive rights to the iPhone. They’re trying!

“When will the G2 get gingerbread? And what are you doing to speed this process up? Hah” ~Nicholas

We don’t know when it’ll get Gingerbread – the Nexus One hasn’t even gotten it yet. Gingerbread on the G2 is all on T-Mobile’s shoulders. As far as what we’re doing? We’re eating bacon and watching football. There’s little we can do to speed this process up except to ask T-Mobile nicely.

Klay says: “Android or Apple? I’ve never seen an article which says BOTH. I am an android Diehard, but I received a wifi only iPad with an engraving making a return impossible. It was a blessing in disguise and I hope others can do it on purpose. Take a rooted android on Tmobile, add Barnacle wifi tether, and buy a wifi only iPad. Now you have an iPad with 3g access without the $130 premium, you avoid an extra $30/month AT&T data plan, and you avoid a $15/month Tmobile wifi tether fee. That is a savings of $360 in the first year. The only example of Apple Android synergy I’ve seen in a while.”

Perhaps you didn’t see my “Galaxy Tab vs iPad” article where I stated an Android phone with an iPad wouldn’t be a bad choice right now. Back then, the Samsung Galaxy Tab was the only tablet in the market, and little was different about it compared to any Android phone out there. Now we’ve seen Honeycomb, we have Tegra 2 – things are looking awesome. But the app market still isn’t there. Thankfully, more developers are starting to approach their engineering cycles with a tablet mindset, and the trend should pick up as the tablet market snowballs in 2011. But at this point in time, the iPad is still the best choice. Kudos to you, Klay.

Matthew asks: “Why haven’t they come out with android accessories that have anti I-phone content. I’d love to have a phone case with the Android man urinating on a apple icon or something like that. Just like how they have the car decals. Not only phone cases/covers, but t-shirts and bumper stickers too!”

Check out DecalGirl. They’ll be able to customize something for you.

“i got the t mobile g2 and i video chat with friends and i was told that there is a piece where i clip onto the top of my phone and i can see myself in the screen how would i get that?” ~Sho

You may be referring to this. That’s only a concept, and if it comes to fruition, it’d only be for the Nexus One. You’ll probably need to build your own mirror-based solution or just go with one of T-Mobile’s phones with a front-facing camera.

“Will you have a section on the website dedicated to tablets when they start coming out in force, like you do for the phones?” ~Charles

Yup, we’re working on that now! Hopefully it’ll be ready by February.

“Will you get the option to pay for apps for my motorola mistrone using paypal cause I don’t have a visa or Mastercard” ~Francis

We’ve heard rumors and seen evidence of Paypal integration in the Android market, but nothing was ever confirmed and we’re not sure if that’s still happening. Hopefully we hear more soon.

Ron asks: “As an android news, app, and forum follower, I run across the word “rooting” constantly. My questions are – what exactly is “rooting?”; and what are the major advantages of doing it given the worst disadvantage is the possibility of rendering your phone useless by “bricking” it?”

In true XDA fashion, I’ll just link you to this. (I lied. True XDA fashion is yelling at you and telling you to use the search button.)

“How can I take advantage of VOIP/SIP on the Nexus S? Google doesnt seem to have dived into much detail about it and I feel as if its a wasted feature on the phone unless I put it to good use. Please let me know. Thanks.” ~Slick

Many third party applications exist in the Android market to afford you this functionality. A simple search of “VOIP” or “SIP” should do the trick. But starting with Gingerbread and Honeycomb, Google’s looking to build those features into Android. You have a Nexus One, so you should get that update. (Whenever that happens.)

[Update]: Why did I answer this question under the impression that you owned a Nexus One instead of a Nexus S when you clearly stated otherwise? Silly me. Anywho, I have yet to spend an extensive amount of time with Gingerbread so I can’t help you myself, but Oscar lends a helping hand in the comments section below:

Just go to settings-call settings-internet calling accounts and set it up. You need a voip account though, google for some.

That’s it! No more questions! Not for this week, anyway ;). As you can see, we received a lot over the holiday break and through CES, and I did my best to answer every (good) question. Remember, hit that PhanMail contact form up if you have any more to send our way. We actually enjoy these things, you know. Until next Friday.

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  • Wello

    I’m gonna answer this question properly:
    How to download android applications to Samsung Galaxy 5?
    If you’re installing an .APK file you need to check “unknown sources” in the settings (under applications).

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    ^How did I not answer it properly? Opening it from a file manager would’ve still taken him to that setting with a prompt letting him know he’d need to do that. It’s meant to be all encompassing.

  • GinoA

    The last question asks about the Nexus S. But, you replied regarding the Nexus One. Could you clarify?

  • JaylanPHNX

    I’m still using the stock browser, but that’s only until Flash support and hardware acceleration get implemented in Opera Mobile. I loved Opera mini on my CliqXT, but now that I have the MT4G with froyo, I’m not going back to Flashless web. Come on, Opera, I’ll pay for your browser if you’ll just finish it!

  • Curry

    Thanks for answering my questions about browsers! Much appreciated!
    -Curtis

  • Matt

    The phandroid/androidforum app beta is available on the market and works great! In fact, I’m swyping this from my phone now!!!

  • Ron

    Hi Quentyn. Thanks for answering my question on Rooting. I did search the web and forums on the topic but what I ran across talked more about the technical means of how to do it and less on the simple explanantion of the good and bad of why to do it. The link you gave me was perfect! Thank you guys for being such a great resource for android knowledge!

  • CTown

    I never really liked Dolphin Browser HD. There was just two many options (like the left and right sidebars) there was just to much of any one color (the green theme was to green, same for the blue, etc).Dolphin Browser Mini seems to be a more condensed, less complicated version of Dolphin Browser HD, though they load pages just as fast!

  • kelvin

    Hello I am using metro pcs as my phone carrier and I would like to know if I could get a highend Android like a Samsung vibrant or anything else like that to work with their cheap network????…………(ps, keep us updated on the Forte and others)

  • oscar

    “None of the handsets have Honeycomb at this point, though: that’s reserved for tablets only.”

    Come on quentyn don’t spread around false information. Honeycomb is the next version of ANDROID, not TABLETDROID. Even Matias Duarte, the lead of android ui, stated that 3.0 is coming to phones. Look up the video on engadget if you don’t believe me.

    Also, for the last question, the nexus s has gingerbread already. Just go to settings-call settings-internet calling accounts and set it up. You need a voip account though, google for some.

    Sent from my 1.7Ghz CM7 G2

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    @Oscar another Android engineer states they haven’t even made that decision yet. And I did muck up that last question, haha. Thaks for the spot.

  • lozerette

    Matthew asks: “Why haven’t they come out with android accessories that have anti I-phone content. I’d love to have a phone case with the Android man urinating on a apple icon or something like that. Just like how they have the car decals. Not only phone cases/covers, but t-shirts and bumper stickers too!”

    …classy.