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I took my sweet time joining the smartphone world. I simply couldn't see paying $500 for a pocket computer, and another $100/month to keep it connected. Finally, just over a year ago, a friend informed me it was possible to have a reasonably priced data plan in the U.S., with AT&T, and I decided to give it a try while I was living there.

My first phone was an older Android phone, a second-hand Samsung AT&T Captivate. Yes, it was handy having maps and other info with me on the go, particularly since I'm usually on a bike, but the phone experience was not great. I had heard people talk about how smartphones required a lot of charging, so I thought that it was normal that mine couldn't get through a workday on standby without me charging it. Now, I rather suspect it was a defective battery. Physically, the phone felt a bit clunky, and the data connection was unreliable.

I had some iPhone envy, and when I moved back to Canada, my job supplied me with an iPhone on the Bell network. I don't like Bell overall, but I must say their network was excellent. As expected, the iPhone battery life was excellent. Things looked prettier and of course there are plenty of apps (which, for the most part, I don't use, but I do miss things like RocketMan for TTC). It was back and forth for a while, but in the end I realized I preferred my Android phone.

The first big disappointment was not having gchat. I know that there are theoretically ways to get it to work, but I was never successful. I really missed having that. Also, while setting up my gmail and contacts worked fine, I never was able to search historical emails on the iPhone. If it wasn't in my current inbox, it was gone.

As time went on, I came to really miss the hardware buttons and keyboard layouts on the Android phone. Overall, I think the current Android experience is a lot smoother. You can click a link in an email, take a look, and press the back button to be back in your email. Not having a comma on the main keyboard in iOS drives me insane! It's like they are trying to encourage less literate writing. I also found the keyboards for entering email addresses and URLs to be nicer in Android. There might be something like Swype for iOS, I'm not actually sure. In any case, Swype is pretty cool.

As frustrating as navigation could sometimes be on the Android, it seemed that on iOS it was even worse. Dropping Google maps just added insult to injury. Yes, I know, there is an app now, but it seems to have some issues. I'm sure it'll get there in time, but it was a poor choice to drop it as the default.

The final straw was dropping my iPhone ONCE and having the screen shatter, necessitating an expensive repair. I dropped my Android phone many times, and while it had a few scratches and I knocked the battery out more than once, the screen was intact and it continued to function perfectly. It's not as if the iPhone is a far more lovely tactile and visual experience; if anything, I would say some of the new Android phones are superior. They are thinner, have a bigger screen, and feel sleeker.

One big minus against Android right now is the current impossibility of getting a new Nexus phone. I really wanted one, as one of the huge hassles before was unlocking the phone and upgrading the OS. I can't even really believe that in this day and age, people are expected to get binaries from file sharing sites and run them! (Because I don't really trust these things, I greatly limit the information and actions I take on my phone.) How does anyone who is not highly technical deal with an Android phone? Do they simply never upgrade the OS?

An entertaining aside: while certain simple maintenance tasks are quite difficult and complex, managing your Android OS is far easier. The task manager gives you detailed information on process resource usage. There are multiple apps to monitor battery usage. Installing non-market apps is as simple as a checkbox. If you've ever deployed an app for iOS, you understand why that's so lovely after the agony of provisioning profiles.

Summary:

iPhone pros:
- battery life
- OS upgrades
- apps
- availability of hardware

Android pros:
- durability
- screen size
- hardware buttons
- better keyboard layouts
- navigation
- gchat
- perfect gmail integration
- easier testing of development apps

Only thing I'd add...

Date: 2013-01-24 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Unseelie here...

Yeah, it sounds like the better choice for you. The only thing I'd add as a counterpoint to 'easier testing' is that Android has a much larger hardware AND software footprint for test coverage.

And in regards to your question "How does anyone who is not highly technical deal with an Android phone? Do they simply never upgrade the OS?", the metrics would suggest that no, they do not. Some of that is the pain of doing so, but much of that is the carriers not making it available/not supporting it.

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Jessamyn Smith

November 2016

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