This post was supposed to be short. That didn’t happen. Instead, I wrote a jolly crap ton of words about a phone that’s been out for over seven months. If you’re tired of iPhone chatter, mark this one read and move on. I can’t get an AT&T signal in my office. I can’t get an AT&T signal where I often vacation. I can’t get an AT&T where I often visit family. I’ve seen countless occasions when iPhones became iPods while my Verizon phone just worked.
As much as I wanted an iPhone, buying one would have been an incredibly irrational decision. So I didn’t. Sure, I got to enjoy the iPhone’s greatness indirectly through iPod Touches and the iPad, but I stayed with Verizon for my phone needs and became an early adopter of Android when Motorola released its original Droid in the fall of 2009.
About 63 weeks later, the iPhone finally came to Verizon. The rest is happy history.
- Better battery. The iPhone 4 can go nearly two days with normal use and can easily go a day on heavy use. My Droid typically had 40 percent at the end of a day of light use. Moderate to heavy use, and I had a brick in my pocket. This was most annoying when traveling or anytime I was away from an AC outlet.
- Responsiveness. It’s impossible to overstate how much I appreciate the iPhone’s fast response time. If all you know is the iPhone, then you have no idea. The Droid was generally responsive, but it was jerky at times. I often had to swipe more than once to make home screens move, and if I turned it sideways, all of the objects on my home screen would vanish for about five seconds.1
- Apps. Too many to list here, but a few anyway: Simplenote; TextExpander, or rather Simplenote plus TextExpander; Reeder; Twitter for iPhone; and OmniFocus. These all offer a world class experience that, in my opinion, is unmatched on devices that don’t begin with an “i.”
- Antennas take care of themselves. I can leave the iPhone’s Wi-Fi turned on, and I don’t have to worry about it blowing through the battery. If an iPhone app needs GPS, it flips it on, then quits it when done. On my Droid, I had to actively manage these things. If I didn’t, by by battery.
- Reception. I know not all bars are created equal, but the iPhone 4 consistently gets four to five of them in my home, whereas my Droid usually only had one or two. I never had a dropped called on the Droid, but there were definitely times when the sound got choppy. I’ve already made several calls on the iPhone lasting an hour or more, and it’s been fantastic.
- Media. Having all my music and photos in my pocket is amazing. Getting photos and music onto an Android phone is certainly possible, but it takes steps that I just don’t care to take. With the iPhone, I plug it into iTunes, and it just happens.
- Camera. Oh, the camera. Who needs a point and shoot anymore?
- Selecting text. While you can select text in Android, it’s not nearly as easy as iOS. In Android apps, you often have to navigate to a submenu item, and even then, it’s extremely difficult to be accurate on the first attempt at sliding your fat finger across a tiny line of text. Apple got text selection right with the “drag dots” approach.
- Storage. My Droid only had 256 MB of internal storage for apps. While later versions of the Android OS allowed apps to be stored on the external SD card, I never did that. I like having all local storage. It’s just simpler.
- I love looking at it. The iPhone is a piece of technological art. I buy art for my walls in my home, and I make no apologies for buying e-things that look beautiful, too. If the iPhone weren’t practical or functional, that would be one thing, but that just ain’t the case.
Android things I thought I would miss
- Gmail app. The Android Gmail app may be the best Android app there is. It’s got practically the same capabilities as the full browser version. I thought I would miss that functionality, but now that the iOS Mail app threads messages, it really does everything I need. And surprisingly, certain things like archiving messages take fewer taps in the iOS Mail app.
- Widgets. They’re very cool and very customizer-friendly, but I’m not sure my brain needs to be hit by a fruit slicer every time I turn on my phone. There is something a lot more calming about not being blitzed by my task list, calendar, weather, and news every time I look at my phone’s home screen. Maybe that’s the RDF2 talking, but I like it.
What I like least about the iPhone
- It’s slick. Literally, I mean. The glass back adheres only to aesthetic eyes. If I set it on any surface that isn’t dead level, it’s going on a sleigh ride. I know that if I don’t rubberize the back in some way soon, it’ll meet a concrete end.
Things I will miss about Android, at times
- Google integration. I’m a heavy Google services user. Since Google is the maker of Android, Google services are all baked in making authentication and sync a little more seamless.
- Native Nav. The spoken turn-by-turn directions on Android are really good. Seriously good. I used that feature a bunch, and I know there will be times I wish I had it on the iPhone. In most cases, just having the location-aware Google Maps app will be okay, though.
About the whole Android versus iPhone thing
The comments above are from the perspective one person, me. There’s not a one-size-fits-all phone for everyone, and there's not supposed to be.
Maybe people that are of the "there can only be one right way" mindset were conditioned by the 1990s when there was essentially only one “real” desktop operating system. Or maybe technology stirs some sort of religious-like need to attach one's self to a set of beliefs and then view anyone who doesn’t subscribe to that same set of beliefs as kind of infidel. If I were you, I'd avoid the "one way only" mindset as much as possible when it comes to technology. It just isn't worth the angst.
There was a time in my life when Android probably would have been more appealing. I used to be much more of a taker-aparter of things. For people that like to customize every single nuance of their electronic experience, Android is the way to go.
And if you’re just naturally more of the open source mindset, you’ll never be quite at ease with iOS. Buy an Android phone if you have an insatiable desire to root and control every aspect of the phone. Seriously, just do it. You’ll be happier, and there's nothing wrong with you for being that way.
Me? I’ve made a decision to outsource design decisions to people that do a much better job than I ever could. That’s Apple. I’m okay paying Apple to make decisions about how the phone’s OS should look, how apps should work behind the scenes, and I’m okay paying them to be a gatekeeper to the App Store.
Simply put, I don’t want to make those decisions myself. I’d rather use technology that just works so I can focus on how I work.
But hey, that’s me. Figure out you, then buy accordingly. Oh, and tolerate those than make different decisions.