I lasted 37 hours on Android
Why I retreated back to iPhone with a new found appreciation.
I have had an Apple iPhone since 2008. I am a self-professed Apple fanboy and have been a dedicated follower of the company for the better part of a decade. As a 3x startup guy, my iPhone has been crucial to my productivity. Oh iPhone, building Qwake would be nearly impossible without you as my trusty companion.
I had no intention of jumping ship to Android until recently. I started to see more and more momentum of people switching from iPhone to Android and being pleasantly surprised enough to stick around. Specifically, 2 things pushed me over the edge: The Pressy Button and this post by Paul Stamatiou. I had been scarred from a brief stint with an Android on an extra cell phone a few years ago, but I concluded that by now it was a capable platform even former iOS users could appreciate. I did my research and quickly narrowed down my choices to the HTC One, the Galaxy S4, and the new Motorola Moto X. I eliminated the S4 as a contender, almost exclusively because of the plastic/cheap nature of the hardware. Despite the wonderful capabilities of the touch-less voice recognition of the new Moto X, the subpar hardware elements were enough to turn me away. By process of elimination, the HTC One was to be my new mobile companion. I ordered it from Amazon and spent a whopping $130 (on contract) to get it shipped to my door. I was very excited, to say the least.
3 days later, my package arrived. Even before opening the product, I was already a little bit disheartened. Opening an iPhone had always been an experience unto itslef. Such was not exactly the case with the HTC One. The packaging was cheap, dirty, and seemed to be only an inferior replication of the experience of opening an Apple product. It wasn’t a huge deal, so I pressed on.
The migration process wasn’t easy. For starters, I could only migrate contacts, photos, and text messages via HTC’s Sync Manager. This left me with the tedious task of individually downloading some 200+ apps to replicate the ecoystem I left on my iPhone. The Sync Manager proved to be clunky and troublesome, as well. I persevered and had officially switched by the next morning.
I consider myself a technically capable person and I was excited to explore the customization aspect of the open platform of the Android OS. However, after an hour or so, I felt hopelessly overwhelmed at all of the options at my disposal. Sure, I can customize the keyboard and change it if I don't like the stock one…but why should I have to spend any time doing so? Shouldn't the keyboard be optimium right out of the box? (For the record, I felt very frustrated by unintuitive nature of the keyboard.)
Yes, you can hack into the code and change the location of the commonly accepted awkward lock button…but why should I have to spend a single minute of my time doing that? Is it not HTC’s job to find the best location for the lock button?
Being on an Android device is like being in the Wild Wild West. If I had a problem, who would I turn to? AT&T? HTC? Android/Google? Amazon? There is no [Apple] store to run to when you have an issue. With my phone as the single most important piece of tech in my life, I can’t afford to have downtime. The combination of different carriers, different screen sizes, inconsistent operating systems,different hardware manufacturers, and different retailers means that if something goes awry, I feel like I'm kind of out of my own. Granted,mobile devices rarely malfunction, but I don’t why to be left out in the cold if mine does. I want to walk into a nice shiny store, describe my issue to a friendly employee, and walk out with a working product. I see this as one insurmountable advantage that Apple has over Android devices.
Let me be clear that I found nothing in particluar wrong with the Android device. (Except maybe the keyboard, that really was a pain.) Simply put, it lacked the magic that Apple products are known for. Robust and capable, yes, refined and simple, no. It’s hard to quantify what magic is, but I can decidedly say that Apple has much more of it.
Apple philosophy: It’s only done when you can’t remove anything else. Android philosophy: Every bell and whistle marginally adds value.
The Charger. Ok, it may sound ridiclous to list the charger as one of my main reasons for switching back, but it stands for something so much more. Apple relentleslly cares about every last detail about their products, and it’s easy to take it for granted until you have something to compare it to. The charger itself was absolutely utilitarian. Standard black. The gauge was so thick that it was hard to make entirely straight, or wrap into a perfect circle. It was a stark contrast to Apple’s charger.
I was now 17 hours in, and really missing my iPhone.
Photos. One of the most important aspects of your mobile device is the camera. And why the camera is certainly great on Android devices, nobody has continued to blow us away like Apple does when it comes to camera functionality. The new 5S has monumental improvements over already one of the best cameras in the biz. I noticed that the pictures on my HTC One were not quite as impressive as the iPhone 5S. Semil Shah elaborates more in this TechCrunch article.
After my experience, I now consider Apple my own personal technology consultant. Sure, they do not have the open platform that allows you to customize every single aspect of your phone. But I don’t want to do that. I just want my apps and phone to seamlessly work. I sleep well knowing that Apple has invested thousands of hours fine-tuning my iPhone to a speculation that they have concluded will be the best for me. I don’t want to consistently feel like there is more to do on my phone. I’m busy enough in my life, and having my phone as a constant, instead of a variable, is worth sacrificing the flexibility that Android devices provide. Like never before I have an immense appreciation for the amazing and unparalleled products that Apple builds.
As I'm writing this, I'm boxing up my HTC One to send back to Amazon and will be preordering my iPhone 5S on September 20.
To be fair, I utlize mostly Gmail apps, instead of Apple’s own iOS apps. (Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome, and Google Now replace Mail, Apple Maps, Safari, and Siri, respectively.) Needless to say, I have been consistently impressed by the services of Google. In my opinion, it is a far better experience to have an Apple Device and utilize these Google apps, then to operate an Android device altogether.
Do you disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Follow me on Twitter @gregmuender and get a conversation going on: #androidvsiphone
EDIT: 36 hours after this was published, I have nearly 50,000 views. Want to see how I [think I] did it?