My carrier contract was recently up and I had to chose a new device to crown as my daily driver (aka main everyday phone). Although my last device was an iPhone 4s, I have used most Android devices released in the last 12 months and was fond of the features they provided to a tech geek like me.
After considering all my options, 3 phones made it to the Edward smartphone finals:
- Apple iPhone 5s
- Motorola Moto X
- Google Nexus 5
Here is why I chose the iPhone
- Consistent Functionality - The iPhone may not have as many bells and whistles as an Android device but you can be 100% certain most features work as you'd expect. Case in point is device rotation detection. On the iPhone, device orientation is detected perfectly every time and changes are almost instant. Most android devices take a while to detect any change in orientation (sometimes up to a couple seconds) and otherwise rotate when you don't want it to.
- Keyboard - I love Swiftkey on Android and install it on every Android device I buy. I make sure that it goes through my GMAIL, Tweets and blog to customize its auto-correct database specifically to my writing style. But it still makes mistakes. Lots of mistakes (same thing with the default Android keyboard and Swype). These replacement keyboard really speed up text entry when they work but are a pain when they keep getting the predictive auto-correct wrong. In my testing, I've found that the iPhone provides consistently better auto-correction.
- App Sandboxing - Android is such a great environment because apps can go in and make changes to the operating system default configurations. This is what allows apps to take-over default functionality from built in apps. And then once in a while something goes wrong and the only way to fix your device is to restore to factory default and restart from scratch. I have had apps "break" SMS/MMS functionality. One app broken my APN config which stopped all data functionality (until I finally figured out what had happened).
- The Camera - Even hardcore android fans admit the iPhone camera is superior to every Android device. Android devices have fantastic hardware so the culprit is likely the Android camera software functionality and we have heard rumors that Google is working to release an all new improved camera sub-system (which may even have RAW support). I'm hoping this finally closes the imaging gap with the iPhone but for now, the iPhone's camera reigns supreme.
- Quality of apps - Android has an incredibly healthy ecosystem of apps and the top-tier ones are beautiful, well designed and superbly functional. Then you have everything else. Many of the apps on Android feel unfinished with ugly UI and operational issues. I own Pocket Casts on IOS and Android. The one for IOS works perfectly every time, refreshes the catalog quickly and downloads automatically. The Android one has a design that is close but not as beautiful. It doesn't always automatically download my podcasts (even though it is configured to do so) and just doesn't feel as good. This is the same experience I have with other cross platform apps.
- Accessory compatibility - Samsung has done an excellent job bringing cool new accessories to its devices but there are simply more add-ons for the IOS platform. Many fitness trackers (like Nike Plus) are iPhone only. The amazing Bluetooth enabled Jot Script stylus works with IOS and brings the one feature that makes handwriting notes on Android impossible (palm rejection) to the IPad.
- No maintenance - My Android device requires constant maintenance to keep it humming. As an example when you uninstall an Android app, it often leaves behind orphaned files (which have to be cleaned up). There is no maintenance required on an iPhone, IOS takes care of everything in the back end for you automatically.
- Support - Android has a fantastic online community full of people ready to help you but Apple has hundreds of stores staffed with employees who can help me with almost any issue. I can walk into an Apple store anywhere in the world and without an appointment an Apple "Genius" will fix my issue within minutes and send me on my way
My issues with the iPhone
Even though I chose an iPhone, its not all rosy and perfect.
- I love the customizable "home screen" and replacement launchers on Android
- I love the tight OS integration of Google Now. Sure most Google apps seem to work as good or better on an iPhone than on most Android devices but the one think I love right now is Google Now integration into the OS (especially on the always listening Moto X).
I really wanted to justify getting an Android instead of an iPhone. As a tinkerer, there is so much more that I could do with an Android device but at the end of the day, I wanted a device with minimal fuss, with a great camera and apps that would simplify my life. Apple won this round again but I remain incredibly interested in the Android community. If I had to pick one android device that really excited me, it has to be the Motorola Moto X. It is the one Android phone where the designers wanted to create something that augmented your life through simple and clean features. I love it and that would be the Android phone I would buy today if I decided to switch.