In June of 2010, the iPhone bug bit me hard. I remember reading the live blogs of the keynote, staring at one of the most beautiful pieces of technology I had ever seen. I had to have it.
Unfortunately, Apple’s site was flooded by people trying to pre-order the phone and I was too late. To get my iPhone, I waited in line for 17 hours on launch day, almost losing my sanity. Never again.
The iPhone 4 wasn’t my first smartphone. I was replacing my then ancient T-Mobile G1. I left Android because it just wasn’t polished as iOS and the hardware was uninspired. Today, though, Android has caught up to iOS’s stability and hardware design, which is why I left my iPhone 4 for a Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Direct from Google
One of the biggest reasons why I went for the Galaxy Nexus is because it is available off contract, unlocked, running the latest Android OS (4.0 or “Ice Cream Sandwich”) and direct from Google. I have been an AT&T customer since 2001 and never knew how much I despised the carrier until I got my iPhone. Calls dropped, connections were spotty, speeds were a hit or miss.
With an unlocked phone, I can now move to another carrier or use it overseas without being tied to a contract. Moving to a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) saves a bunch of money in the long run and gives me the flexibility to move to another carrier at any time.
I am a huge fan of Google’s services including Gmail, Calendar, and especially Google Voice. Most people are probably interested in Google Voice to dodge hefty text messaging rates, but Google Voice is so much more than that. Users get a new phone number that they can take to any carrier.
It also transcribes voice mails (terribly and hilariously) and offers an easy way to manage your call history, texts, and voicemails. Although there is a Google Voice app for the iPhone, it doesn’t integrate into the operating system and is extremely buggy.
Speaking of things that irk me in iOS, there is no ability for 3rd party apps to integrate with the operating system. Want to use another browser? Sure, but links from Mail will open Safari anyway. Want to use Sparrow Mail as a default to send email? Too bad. You’re stuck with Mail. Want to open up an address in Waze instead of Google Maps. Nope, you can’t do that. While iOS repeatedly tells me, “No, you can’t do that,” Android asks me, “How would you like to do that?”
I’m a tinkerer
One of the things I like most about Android 4.0 is that you can figure out what’s going on with your phone. You get a task manager that shows memory and disk usage as well as data about your battery use. On the iPhone, if your battery life is suffering, there is no way to understand what’s impacting the battery life. With Android, users are given a graph of usage over time with data about which apps, services, and hardware is sucking up the most juice.
One of the things I missed most about Android after I got my iPhone was the lack of automation. Locale is a favorite app of mine for automating things like toggling Wi-Fi at a certain location, changing the screen brightness when plugged in, and much more.
When I received my Galaxy Nexus one of the first things I did was download Tasker. I now have settings for being at home and work so I will never have to toggle Wi-Fi or my ringer again. Tasker can automate just about ANYTHING on Android. Android’s flexibility and customization options are what attracted the tinkerer in me.
No more jailbreaking/rooting
To me, the iPhone was unusable without being jailbroken. Jailbreaking allowed me to access custom lock screens, settings toggles, gestures, tethering apps, and various interface tweaks, which made living in Apple’s closed ecosystem bearable.
With Android, I no longer need to jailbreak or root to do everything I want to do on my phone. Not rooting means that I no longer have to play a game of cat and mouse with updating and re-rooting. Jailbreaking my iPhone meant waiting weeks or months for someone to find an exploit for the updated operating system. Now I can update as soon as an update comes out without having to wait to enjoy new features.
One of the biggest motivations for going back to Android was the fact that I already had an iPad. I can still have my iOS fix when needed. I can still tether my iPad to my Galaxy Nexus on the go. It is nice to have both operating systems to be able to use applications exclusive to each platform.
Now that I’ve switched to Android, do I hate the iPhone? No, not at all. Quite the contrary. I still love the iPhone and iOS. In terms of stability, intuitiveness, and getting the phone to work right out of the box, the iPhone is still king.
Android, on the other hand, gives its users freedom, for better or worse. There is no more hand holding and you had better know what you’re doing if you’re going to be using Android.
I am glad that Google and Apple are slugging it out. Having more competition leads to innovation, which benefits the consumer in the end. Farewell, iPhone for you have served me loyally but it’s time for me to get back to my tinkering roots.
(Read Tom’s counterpoint about leaving Android for iOS)