Ten years ago I spent seven hours at the front of the queue for the very first iPhone.
I was at the Apple Store in Meadowhell, Sheffield with my friend Jamie. Kitted out with a deckchair and a great deal of patience, I had taken the day off to get one of the new wonder devices.
An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator… Do you get it? These are not three separated devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.
Steve Jobs, 2007.
As luck would have it, we were first in the queue and so when the countdown finished…
I was one of the very first people in the UK to get the iPhone!
Since that day I have been using an iPhone of some description. From the original 8GB model through to my current iPhone 7.
Up to last year it has been smooth sailing. I cannot remember any major issues. I’ve usually upgraded every couple of years (not always), so I had a 3. 3G, 4, 5, 5s, 6 and then then the 7.
I even have my first two iPhones downstairs (in some very dubious rubber cases).
There have always been a dedicated core of apps I’ve used like Tweetbot, Reeder, Instagram, Safari, 2Do, Scanbot, Nest, Casts… I’ve loved using the fingerprint sensor. The restore process from the iCloud backup has been faultless.
The battery life has not been a major issue either and every phone has been carefully looked after with a case and often, a case for the case.
(Yes, I really do look after my tech).
See? It’s pretty darn good.
I was content.
Until December last year.
May I introduce the OnePlus 3T. For those of you with eagle eyes, yes, this is an Android device.
An Android device. Oh yes. A slight departure from my iPhone fandom. So how did this happen?
As mentioned previously, I look after stuff. I am also a little OCD… ahem. I hate having things cracked, scuffed, broken or scratched. People are very happy when they buy things from me. They know they will be in minty condition!
I wanted to start taking a phone with me when I go cycling. So, having a £700 iPhone 7 in my pocket didn’t feel quite right (to me anyway) and with my butter fingers, was risky.
Also, I had started to have a nagging feeling that iOS felt, well, tired. Not in a catastrophic way mind, but I did feel slightly bored with it.
Investigating Android and especially a nice clean version which runs on the 3T (Oxygen OS) seemed appealing. As did the price.
Almost half the cost of the iPhone. I purchased a grey 64Gb OnePlus 3T for £399.
Honestly, it is bl**dy good.
Four months of usage later, I’m still very, very pleased. For those of you who are sitting on the fence about whether to try an Android device, here are my top six reasons to encourage you to try the 3T.
No question. Smartphone pricing is getting serious.
That my friends is a whole boat load of cash. Ok, less a phone, more a serious computing device these days, but still.
My current iPhone 7 was £699. That’s the normal model and NOT the plus. That would be £919 for the 256Gb model.
The 3T at £399 feels a more sensible price point and if I drop it, leave it somwehere or damage it, the outlay is less than the iPhone.
2. How it feels in your hand
My iPhone has an Apple leather case protecting it. I’ve had these for a few years now on the previous versions. This one is slippery and not actually that pleasant to hold.
The 3T however is much better.
Yes, it is a bigger phone (a few mm smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus) but it just feels right. I have the 3T carbon case on it which is reassuringly solid and also made of a material which allows you to hold it without worry of slipping.
The side profile of the 3T also makes a difference — it is more square and less round so again providing a better grip.
I realise this is subjective, but hey, I’m writing this and I much prefer the feel of the 3T.
3. The LED
I’ve never considered having a LED on a phone. It’s actually very useful.
It can be configured to flash different colours for different things. So for example, if it is charging (and charging is pretty special on the 3T — see next point) it is blue. If fully charged it’s green.
If you have a message, it could be white or red, depending what you have set up.
I like this. A simple way to see at a glance what is going on or has happened.
4. Dash charging
Dash charging is specific to OnePlus.
Dash Charge carries more current than other fast charging solutions, and at lower temperatures. Normally, heat generated through charging is dissipated in the phone itself causing performance issues during active charging and throttling CPU and GPU speeds. By shifting the power management system and heat dispersion elements to our Dash Power Adapter, very little heat ever reaches your OnePlus 3T.
How dos a full charge in about 35 minutes grab you?
You have to use the special power adaptor outlined above and when you do, it charges very, very quickly. The actual battery life of the 3T is also excellent. I’ve seen nearly three days of moderate use on one charge and you get a lot of infromation via the OS on what on power dependency.
5. The Oxygen OS (or now Nougat)
Coming from iOS, Android can be a bewildering experience. It was a learning curve (but not a steep one) to get to know the ins and outs of Android.
The actual design is pretty good, almost feeling more modern than iOS. The problem can arise when you start to tinker under the hood in terms of look, feel and just about everything else! Everything can be changed… which suddenly means you can be tinkering away and never quite settle on something you are happy with.
I’m using Nova Launcher which allows a heap of customisation. The device itself has a OnePlus launcher which is good and you can change which one you use easily enough.
Overall, it is a nice change from iOS. Android 7.0 Nougat was released a few months ago and brought some nice features and the actual OS is really quick on the 3T. It flies along.
This seems to be one of the most common areas of friction when people switch from one platform to another.
Apps are the bread and butter of an OS and you use them every day. Some people use them every minute (I’m looking at you Instagram addicts).
I’ve managed to find most of my iOS apps in the Google Play Store. I use Gmail exclusively so that was easy, Instapaper, no problem. Skype. Check. Dark Sky. Yep. Strava — works perfectly.
The two glaring, stand out, I’m really missing them apps are Reeder and Tweetbot. Reeder is the best RSS feed reader on Mac and iOS and there seems to be no real contender on Android. The alternative options are NOT good.
Twitter clients are also a little shoddy. Lots of choice including the official Twitter app, but nothing that is as polished as Tweetbot.
Using cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox mean that opting out of the Apple ecosystem doesn’t cause too many issues. Your content is there if needed.
Ok, no iMessage or FaceTime…
But Signal, Whatsapp and Google Duo work flawlessly.
Pause for thought
Would I buy another iPhone? If the design doesn’t change and it doesn’t bring significant benefits or new features… no, I would not buy one.
Apple’s focus has been on the iPhone for many years. Not surprising when you consider the revenue and profit it brings. The staggering degree of complexity of smartpones now means that the design, hardware and software must be seamless and this is where Apple excels.
My upgrade cycle of every two years feels about right up to now.
What 3T ownership has done has honestly opened my (slightly blinkered?) eyes to an alternative which I have previously never considered.
That’s a good thing and has been interesting and rewarding.
If you have any thoughts, comments or indeed, good Android apps I probably have not found, do pop them below!