Previously, I was a feature phone user. And, I decided to make the plunge into smartphone territory. Now, my feature phone wasn't all that great and left a lot to be desired. Such as:
1) The phone would constantly dismount the memory card every week, and whenever I went to play music, the phone would suddenly reboot.
2) It lacked any way to create homescreen shortcuts to often used applications on the phone.
3) If an MMS was too large, my phone would not download it nor tell me from whom it originally came.
4) The camera lacked auto-focus and rarely ever turned out good pictures.
So, Android definitely covers for these downsides. And of that, I am glad. Though, it itself even lacks some basic functions that should be in Android by default. Even the latest version of Android, ICS, lacks similar basic functions. (Thank goodness for apps. I can only wonder how good Android would be as a phone in comparison to feature phones if it wasn't for the App Market) Here they are:
1) Some form of lockscreen notification. I'm not talking about a status bar notification. But rather, something on the lockscreen that shows what messages there are and whom they are from. It even lacks a simple counter to place on the homescreen that simply shows the missed message or missed call count. Some apps in Google Play replace this functionality but generally come with more flaws than benefits. (Such as being a process hog or taking up exorbitant amounts of RAM or having lock screen lag) And don't worry, a thousand people have suggested "WidgetLocker" but this app has all those downsides.
2) A stopwatch or timer. (Yes, you can get these as apps but it would be nice to have a stock version) My feature phone had this by default.
3) A timer on the camera. My feature phone had this as well.
4) A File Explorer of some kind. My feature phone had this.
5) A note taker application. My feature phone had this.
6) A pop-up notification for incoming messages or a missed call pop-up. (I still haven't found a suitable replacement for a missed call pop-up from Google Play) Also, my feature phone had this.
7) The stock music player cannot play WMA files. Or, at least not all of them. My feature phone supported more audio codecs than Android does.
These are probably a few reasons why OEMs put Android skins such as Touchwiz and Sense onto their Android phones. It is in order to add back in functionality that should already be there and helps to make the Android experience more enjoyable. So, whenever someone badmouths skins, I wonder if they've actually tried out a pure, stock Android device.
All in all though, Android is a big improvement. It could definitely come a ways though in making the stock experience more enjoyable.