I switched out an iPhone 4S for a Galaxy S4 about 4 months ago and I was thrilled about the change. 4 months later, I’m lamenting my switch.
As a Technologist at heart, it felt wrong to have no hands-on experience with the Android operating system. I’m a “no OS left behind” kind of guy: if an OS has solid adoption, I want to know how to use it. So, with my contract on the way out, the iPhone lacking in significant innovation that’d keep me hooked and Android adoption going through the roof, the time felt right.
It wasn’t. Here’s why.
What I Miss About Apple
1. Screen Rotation
Screen rotation is incredibly jumpy on Android. If you turn your body too fast while holding the phone it may randomly rotate. That said, if you want it to rotate, you have to hold the phone at 90 degrees until it decides to comply. I leave screen rotation off on my S4… It drives me crazy.
When you tip an iPhone to the side, the vertical design smoothly transitions into a landscape layout. I’m not well versed on the milliseconds involved here, but it just feels natural. Consistent.
As much as Damn You Autocorrect is grounded in the risk, not having Android Swype automatically fix silly mistakes makes texting and Tweeting a more arduous task. My iPhone fixed some sincerely epic typos with such ease. Now I’m left scrolling through what Swype thought I wrote.
3. Predictable Interactions of Apps
Apps on Android have minds of their own. More technically accurate, they’re given the keys to the operating castle and do some seriously odd things while running.
Example: I wasn’t able to receive picture messages for the first 3 weeks. I was able to receive SMS, but not MMS events. I would get an error saying that I was unable to receive a MMS, but would be left at that… unable to correct it. That said, occasionally other apps that can receive images would even if my main text message app didn’t.
It ended up being an APN configuration issue on the vendor side, but I’ve never had such a messy troubleshooting experience on a smartphone before.
Example 2: I installed Contacts+, which is a great app. Since then, some text messages are received in Contacts+, sometimes they’re received through the native app program and then some other times I get them in Textra. Occasionally they’re in multiple places, occasionally not.
4. Consistently Good Camera
I’m not a big photographer, so the iPhone 4S allowed me to retire from the practice of carrying a Cannon point-and-shoot camera around with me as well. I would snap consistently great pictures if lighting was decent and even doctor them up in Instagram.
I can’t tell you the number of shots that I’ve taken on the Galaxy S4 that are shaky or blurry… but I can tell you that 95% of the time I need to retake a photo. It’s another minor inconvenience that I didn’t even know I surpassed until I regressed with this phone.
5. Consistently Beautiful UIX
The strength and weakness of Android is its ecosystem. Some mainstream apps are well designed and smooth to use. Many others – especially those standardized upon by my employer – are just plain ugly.
No matter what, iPhone apps are beautiful. Period. I cannot say the same for Android.
Bonus: What I Will Miss About Android
1. Universal profiles for my contacts
The way by which Contacts+ collapses my contacts profiles into a single view of them is incredible.
2. Home Screen Layout
It’s nice to have multiple calendars on my home screen, all beautiful and self-updating.
Why I’m Not a Zealot of Either
1. Both Ecosystems are Impressive
Apple owns the walled garden ecosystem. Samsung places nicely in the living room and I live in the Google world as well. I have a great deal of respect for all of these companies.
2. Both Have Useless Laptop Tools
Whether you’re stuck with Kies or iTunes, respectively, they both miss the mark on quality interaction with your main operating system. Android’s use of Google tools makes it better, but the phone is still left out in the cold space beyond the USB ports.
3. Because I don’t care – I Use The Cloud
So much of what both companies try to do is design an ecosystem you never have to leave (or would ever want to leave again). They’ve both missed the mark for me. Here’s why:
These are some of the biggest puzzle pieces on each phone OS, and they all get replaced by cloud-y counterparts.
I still don’t have a good system for Contacts or Calendars… but I’m all ears if you have advise.
The S4 is a sexy beast with a harsh learning curve. Once you’re past it, it’s way more impressive than the iPhone experience. It highlights how Samsung is building an empire similar to Apple. That said, I love the feel of an HTC One way more than the S4.
Either way, I’m still planning to go back to iPhones.
As someone who likes to spend time creating content (blogs / podcasts), I don’t ever want to have to tweak my phone as much as I have in the last few months. It’s a tech I just want to work.
But if you have the time to spend or find that time worthwhile, go forth and conquer the Android-nets.