Well the last few weeks have been very informative and exciting time for me as a mobile phone user. I’ve been itching to try some of the latest phones coming from iOS since the iPhone 4 first arrived on. A brief history before that, I had been a pretty hard core windows mobile user with Sprint. I then got my hands on a Sprint EVO which was not a great experience, mostly due to it’s poor battery life and slow charge times. What pushed me over to AT&T and iOS though was the realization that any work for hire opportunities we’d find would be for iOS. Android was still coming of age at that time and iPhone was the dominant platform.
That was an age ago though and today, iOS is no longer an undisputed champion and seeing the new things coming from everyone, iOS was starting to look like it’s falling behind the curb. The iPhone 5 was not really appealing to me for several reasons. the first was the new screen shape. frankly I had no interest in reworking my old games to support the new and other than that offered no real new hardware to need to test with. Additionally I’m disappointed with the new “lighting” cable. So I figured my iPhone 4s is doing just fine overall, so maybe it’s time to look at all the other cool phones coming out and see what they have going on. The other big reason that drove me to be willing to turn my back on Apple is their terrible map app. While it’s amazing to ask siri to find / direct me to some place, it’s mind boggling that even today it’s unreliable. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave right now with such an epic failure. I don’t mind it had a rough launch but the fact that it hasn’t been fixed by now is terribly disappointing.
I have two lines with my AT&T account and both were due for an upgrade. So my first upgrade was to get a Lumia 920. It looked like an interesting new OS and having Windows 8 experience with the Samsung Slate I won from the initial Windows 8 App store launch, I thought I’d see what the phone version of it was like. I was also very impressed with the support I had received from Microsoft with the launch of Windows 8. Microsoft should be commended for their efforts and I hope that they paid off because at least for me, it left a very good impression and I intend to continue to support Windows 8 whenever possible. However, when I tried to make the Lumia my actual phone, I realized very quickly that while I really liked the OS, it lacked too many things I took for granted. All of those things pretty much revolved around Siri. Voice command in my day to day life has just become too important to compromise. I could live with less games and apps although the lack of Dropbox was a hard pill to swallow. I’m sure it will come out in time, but I wasn’t here to wait. The Lumia was a great device though overall, but me being an Mac user at this time and my reliance on full featured voice command required this device to be a test device that sits in my drawer.
Then I decided to take a stab at Android with my other line. I started with the HTC One. I liked the metal design better and I have a soft spot for HTC having been makers of my earlier windows mobile phones, even in spite of the disappointment I had with the EVO. Android has come a long way since my HTC Evo. I found that many apps I had assumed were iOS only were right there on google play. This was great to see. I loved that google maps was integrated (something i actually really enjoyed even with the old EVO, but even better today) fully. Now with with the HTC One I did a fair amount of bumbling. I’m sure I didn’t do everything right but overall i found myself looking over at the Galaxy S4 and wondering if it might be a better device. The reviews were pretty much an even split saying they were essentially two sides of the same coin.. power.. graphics.. etc.. regardless the big things I didn’t like with the HTC One is that it could only be turned on by touching the on button on top of it.. a big phone with my not so long fingers often felt awkward to do with one hand. It also got very warm when using it much. Lastly I thought about things missing like removable battery and lack of an MicroSD slot. So I decided to take a chance and exchange it.
Right away I could tell this (for me) was a clear winner and not a close tie. The physical home button would turn the device on (no such button on the One) meaning my short fingers would not be so stressed. I also enjoyed the widgets more than HTC’s more straight forward iOS feeling icon system. I never found out how too do voice command with a button till after I had exchanged it, nor had I found how to do split screen. That is something I found android also was prone too.. having too many features and abilities that you have to discover or stumble on. Sometimes there is something to be said about simplicity. Also anything I ever thought about iOS being confusing has been given grand perspective after using Android. The biggest problem for me for both though was the basics. Contacts, Calendar and Reminders. These are things that of course android can do, but not in a way that worked well with iOS. I tried wunderlist, but since it’s not voice supported that’s not really useful. I could never really figure out where my tasks were being saved. they were not showing up in my Gmail account so where did they go? I could ask the phone to show me them, but that’s no good really. Then the last big issue was the memory. I got the 16gb s4 because i didn’t want to pay $50 for 32gb. I had a 16gb MicroSD card which was intended for music and pictures, but i ran into trouble getting all of my music over there was was another sore point. There was space for what it wouldn’t allow me to move over, so this too was just not cool in my book. However I think that this one more than the HTC One at least had me think twice before reverting back to my iPhone. Maybe if it were brought down to the size of the iPhone 4s making one hand operation much easier, I might have even stuck it out.
So after numerous trips to the AT&T store I am back to my iPhone 4s with a couple of new toys in my drawer to develop with. I’m sure that at some point, my iPhone 4s will die and maybe it will be an iPhone 6. Everything just works and this is really what it comes down too. Apple does feel a little behind the times in terms of whistles and bells, but I have also come to be reminded how important it is to just have things be integrated even at the expense of the latest technological novelty. I’ll just have to remember not to ask Siri to take me anywhere.. Google Maps it is.