iPhone vs Android

android vs iphoneIf you have read any of my other posts, you’ll know I’m an Apple kool-aid drinker. Card carrying and proud.

Recently, I ran across a new phone service called Solavei. It’s an interesting service, based on the T-Mobile network. It’s only $49 monthly for unlimited voice, text and data. Plus, if you sign up other people, Solavei pays you back. There’s a very real chance to have a completely free phone service and even make some money back on top. You can read more about it here.

But I digress. Solavei is still integrating iPhones into the service. They work, but not at full capacity. Consequently, I thought I’d give an Android phone a try. My son has a Galaxy SII Skyrocket and I’ve been watching him play with it. Then, my father-in-law upgraded to a Motorola Droid Razr M and I helped him set it up. These two events combined whetted my appetite to try the dark side. I bought a Skyrocket like my son’s phone.

The rest of this little article is about what a die-hard iPhone guy thinks of the Android operating system. If you want to skip on elsewhere, the short version is that I like it. If an iPhone is a 9 on a 10-point scale, I’d give Android a 7.759.

Want more info. Okay.

I bought the Skyrocket as a locked AT&T phone. The previous owner had no idea how to unlock it before he sold it. It’s pretty easy to do, but I imagine he didn’t want to spend the time or money to get it done. That’s okay, it made it cheaper on eBay. No one likes to buy a locked phone. I had it unlocked within 10 minutes after I turned it on by using cellunlocker.net. It only costs $25 and worked immediately (once I had the unlock code).

One of the things I like about it is probably not so much a function of Android as it is the phone itself. The Skyrocket is about 30% bigger than the iPhone and it makes a huge difference. I love the extra space and larger fonts. These eyes are getting old.

Version?

When I cranked up the phone, the first thing I checked was the version of Android installed. I found it was running Gingerbread, so I upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich immediately. For my level of use, it didn’t make a ton of difference. At least I think it didn’t. I didn’t get too deeply into Gingerbread, so I’m actually not sure if I’m using features that are ICS specific.

Screens and Pages

The first hurdle was simply figuring out how to navigate and what app did what. It has the same swipe functionality as iPhone, although where the iPhone stops when you reach the last page, Android will wrap and keep going. I like that a lot.

The layout of the apps is very similar to iOS, so I felt comfortable immediately. One positive difference is the availability of widgets on the screen. In my case, I have a weather widget that takes up about 40% of one page. It gives me instant info and no need to open a weather app. I also have a widget for time and date on one page, about 20% of the screen.

The bottom row of apps is static, no matter how much you swipe, just like the iPhone. On my setup, these four buttons are Phone, Email, Web and Apps. That brings up another positive difference. The Apps button opens up a completely new set of pages that hold every app you have installed. If you wish to move some of those to your main pages, simply press and hold, then drag… just as you would an iPhone. I like that functionality. I’ve learned that of all the apps on my iPhone, 20% might get used consistently. But they are ALL there, even if they are stuck in a folder. On the Android, I only pull out the stuff that I use often. The rest stay hidden away for when I might need them.

The similarities between the two systems is remarkable. I guess that’s why the lawsuits are flying back and forth between Apple and Samsung. You have the same syncing capabilities as you would with an iPhone, only with Android everything is synced through Google instead of Apple. No differences otherwise. That’s actually good for me since I use Gmail almost exclusively.

Voice Recognition and Power Handling

Android’s version of Siri is, I believe, much better. I am constantly getting wrong transcription from Siri, and sometimes it’s not even available. Android has yet to make a mistake with my dictation, even with long passages.

The one thing I have not really liked is Android’s handling of app termination. I have a widget on one window that tells me how many apps are open and draining power in the background. I have to open up that window and shut them down. So far, it’s not been a problem. None of my processing power has been affected. I tend to shut them down anyway just because I’m anal about it. I expect it handles power distribution just as well as an iPhone does, but iPhone hides it whereas Android sticks it out there for you to see. And if I see it, I must press the button. Must.

Apps and the App Store

One of the things I heard often about Android was its lack of apps. I think that must have been an issue in the past, but it seems to have been dealt with. I quickly was able to install Linked In, TweetCast, Chrome, Flipboard, Netflix, SpeedTest, Angry Bird Star Wars, Agent Dash, Plague Inc, Bad Piggie, YouTube and Evernote. Facebook came pre-installed. Everything else I’ve thought I might need, I’ve found in Google Play, which is Android’s version of the App Store. All the other usual suspects were also pre-installed, such as Google Maps, Photo Gallery, Gmail, Music Player, Contacts, Calendar, etc.

One function I really like is the quick settings widget on one of my pages. I can easily turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and Sync. No need to pull up a menu. That same widget also gives me immediate access to brightness settings, screen timeout, general settings and power saving tips.

Conclusion

All in all, if I had to make the switch from an iPhone to an Android phone, I think I could do so comfortably without any loss of functionality. I hate to say that, but it’s true.

Fortunately, I don’t have to make that decision for a while. AT&T has me comfortably locked in for another year or so.

What phone do you use? Which side of the fence do you fall? Hater? Kool-aid drinker. Let me know your experience with Android. I’m still learning.

Comments

  1. Koo-Aid. Delicious. I’m waiting on my 5 to come in the next week or so. Of course now Mashable is reporting rumors of a 5 S in June/July. STILL…I’m an iPhone guy. I’ve dabbled with some Androids and it just doesn’t feel user friendly. I’m sure you can set-up/customize how you want, but even still, felt unnatural.

    Thanks for this though. Helpful info.

    It’s still all better than a Crackberry.

    • garymoyers says:

      Were you are Crackberry guy at one point? I never went that way. I read those articles about the 5S. Most are guessing it’s just an incremental upgrade, maybe power and battery. Not much in the way of functionality. But who knows? It’s Apple after all.

  2. I don’t believe I’m a hater or a kool-aid drinker. I probably fall somewhere in between. I was an iPhone 4 user and really enjoyed the user experience. I switched to an Android phone because I really wanted to exploit the phone to its greatest potential. To me that means installing the latest and greatest OS without waiting for the carrier to “approve” the upgrade. And that also means being able to remove any system app I don’t care for (especially any that are branded AT&T). I’m currently on the Galaxy SIII and really enjoy it. While AT&T is still updating ICS on that phone model, I’m enjoying running Jelly Bean.

    One of the best things (to me anyway) about the Android experience is that if you don’t like something there is most likely an app that can change it. Don’t like the default keyboard? Install a different one (try that on an iPhone). Don’t like the way the home screen works? Install a different launcher (I like Nova Launcher personally). Yes, you can jailbreak an iPhone and change *some* things, but you still don’t have complete control like you do with Android.

    You wouldn’t expect to buy a car and be told you couldn’t add seat covers, custom wheels, etc. So why buy a smartphone and be locked in to what a given vendor or carrier say you can put on your phone?

    • garymoyers says:

      Good points. Almost thou dost persuadest me.

    • garymoyers says:

      So, would you buy an Ipad or a Nexus 7?

      • I suppose it would depend on my intended task. If it’s mostly surfing and video watching, I’d go with the Nexus 7. I know several people that own one and they all rave about it. If I was trying to create presentations (and *had* to do it on a tablet) I would have to go with the iPad. Or if I had to interface with some Apple device in a proprietary manner, the iPad would probably be the only option (btw, there is an app called AirSync for Android that lets you stream to an Apple TV – http://doubletwist.com/airsync/).

        That said, given the Nexus fully decked out is $299, you would have to provide a *really* strong argument that an iPad was the best choice for my money. I’ve considered getting a Nexus 7 for ebooks, but since the screen on the SGS3 is quite large, I’ve found that reading on it isn’t too bad at all.

  3. Tim Castle says:

    Thanks, Gary for this post, it’s just the kind of information I’ve been wondering about. I’ve used iPhones since the first one, and have been quite happy with my 4S. I’ve wanted to check out Android, because I’m a geek and want one of everything, not because I care to switch. The iPhone does everything I want it to do, performs well, and the size seems right to me. My contacts, calendars, and other data sync well using iCloud, Gmail (Google Apps, actually), and Dropbox.

    The one thing that Apple has to figure out how to make better is media synchronization. iTunes Match is not the answer for anyone with a large music library, and who wants to selectively sync specific playlists, artists, etc.

    And don’t get me started on what a pig iTunes is. It’s sluggish, even with a small library, and WiFi Sync has real problems on Windows, where my main iTunes library is.

    Apple does a lot of things really well. For the things that they don’t do well, they assume you’ll come around to their way of thinking with enough kool-aid. But the “reality distortion field” doesn’t make things work better, and I want things to work well all around.

    • garymoyers says:

      Yeah, I don’t use iTunes Match. Too messy. And I agree on iTunes. That’s the main reason my son switched to Android. He could not get his iPhone to sync with his Dell laptop. Ever. ITunes would freeze and cause all kinds of grief.

  4. I’m an open and proud Kool-aid drinker. But I have had some experience with Android, and I feel pretty much the same way you do; if I had to switch, I could, and it wouldn’t be too detrimental to my well-being.

    For me, I tend to lean toward iDevices not because of phone specs or app availability or anything like that. For me, it is the attention to tiny details – the polish. Subtle differences in the way apps scroll. Tiny things that are hard to even describe, but that (to me) make the experience feel a little more natural and comfortable. I can do everything on my iPhone that I need/want, so a little less customizability doesn’t bother me.

    However, I will say that my iPhone was jailbroken for a while (and probably will be again someday), and I honestly could not find one detail of the phone that was not customizable for a jailbroken phone. I don’t NEED that level of customizability to be happy, but it was nice to have. And I will confess that most of that customizability comes more easily with Android.

    Oh, and one of the MAIN reasons I lean toward iDevices is because of my experience regarding longevity. My wife and I have both had Android phones (one Motorola and one HTC), and both had major problems within 2 years of use, while I STILL have my 1st gen iPhone (from 2007), and it works flawlessly as an iPod touch. Longevity goes a long way in my book.

    So there are my two cents. Nice write-up. Thanks, G.

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