It seems like most newspaper "tech" review writers will recommend iDevices over anything else. Rob P. formerly with the Washington Post lost his credibility with me when he said that a major flaw with the Motorola XOOM was the proprietary charger. He was comparing the XOOM to the iPad 2; these were the only two large tablets out at that point in 2011. The iPad 2 has a proprietary charger as well, if I'm not mistaken, so that comment didn't make sense to me. I think that he figured that "everybody" already had an iPhone, so you already have the cord for the iPad 2...
I understand that regular newspapers write to the masses, and even I wouldn't recommend Android phones for "the masses". However, I would do a review to point out the features and maybe even perceived shortcomings of each device, without a recommendation. I would leave it to the reader to assess the phone, assess his own needs and wants, then pick his phone without my influence. But, that's just me.
The masses comment was not meant to put down any group of people. Even in a perfect form, Android gives users many options as far as customization, to the point where even without rooting, one can change the fuctionality of the phone. It's just my guess, but most people don't want to have to figure stuff out with a cell phone; they just want it to work. It's cool if the phone can do other things such as check email, update Facebook, or find your car if you forget where you parked, but most people don't want to do work to get the phone to do these things.
This is understandable. I've heard about "smart refrigerators". I don't want one. I don't need my refrigerator to play music, give me recipes and allow me to keep the shopping list right there, even though I can agree that those are neat things. I'm not willing to do the "work" necessary for my refrigerator to do all of those things. I'm quite content with just having a place to keep my food cold. My lack of desire doesn't mean that I'm not smart enough; it just means that I lack that desire. I think that "the masses" lack the desire to take advantage of all of the things that even a perfect Android phone would offer. Given that we don't have perfect Android phones, I am even more firm in not recommending an Android phone to people I don't know, even though Android is my favorite phone OS by far.
I haven't read your links yet, but tech sites show bias, as well. That's why I look at forums to get real users' experience with phones, rather than an opinion based on 48 hours with a review model. I look at tech sites for the videos, which are usually informative. But the bloggers' opinions don't have a strong influence on my decision on whether or not to buy a phone.
I will say that I consider phonedog to be the exception, simply because there are multiple writers on that blog. Eventually (but while the phone is still new), more than one will write about the same phone, and usually any bias is negated that way. Plus, they do a pretty good job when they initially review phones not to let their personal preferences come out. Those writers will let their personal opinions be known once the device has been out for a month or so.
I prefer their actual reviews, rather than their dogfights, for various reasons that would take a long time for me to type out!
Why isn't it possible to have a phone on the Android platform, with all it has to offer, that does "just work"?
I could argue that I'm sure that there are Android phones that "just work". The openness of the platform will lend itself to problems. However, there have to be some positive experiences out there. Forums are where people come to complain, not sing the praises of phones.
My Nexus S was the best Android phone that I have had, and is another reason why I knew that I wanted the Galaxy Nexus. I already know that I want the next Nexus phone, too. Was the Nexus S perfect out of the box? No. At first, the Nexus S had a problem with rebooting during phone calls. I had heard about the problem and forgotten about it. About three months into ownership, I experienced it for myself. I assume that the problem was present from the start, but I didn't notice it because I rarely used that phone as a phone. Google did an update that solved that problem, and I had no problems after that.
For most people, that would have been a major problem. With my usage patterns, I was content to wait for an update to fix it, and I'm glad that I did.
I have noticed some problems with the Galaxy Nexus. I will post them on the Google forum, now that I have done some troubleshooting and isolation actions to determine that the problem is with the phone, and not the network. I trust Google to do an update to fix the problems. My thing is that for me, the problems don't inhibit my use of the phone to a great extent. For the normal user, some of the problems may be deal breakers. But I'm not a normal user (most consider me to be crazy when it comes to phones), and I have the ability to wait for the fixes.