What Apple Needs to Lure Me Back to an iPhone

As a long time iPhone user, I jumped ship to Android. I see a stagnating platform in iOS versus Android’s faster development of key features. I’m not a particularly platform loyal person. I’ve owned Palm, Windows Mobile, iPhone and now Android. In each case I jumped to the next platform because I saw the move as a step up to a better experience. So I’m willing step again, if Apple can catch up to Android in a few key areas.

Hardware

When I hold my wife’s iPhone 3Gs or my son’s iPhone 4, which I used for a year, they feel so small. I have a Samsung Infuse 4G with a comparatively enormous screen – 4.5″. The retina display’s high-resolution on the iPhone 4 looks great, but on a display that size the resolution difference between the iPhone 4 and my Samsung Infuse 4 phones doesn’t matter due to the limited size of the iPhone’s display. Apple has to make a bigger display if I’m going to get excited about jumping back on the bandwagon. This is a deal breaker for me!

Possible iPhone 5 Mockup1 167x3001

Our roundup of rumors claims this one looks like to have a better than average chance of being true of the new iPhone, which should come out next month. If so, I will be thinking seriously about going back to Apple. Not only is this a deal breaker if Apple doesn’t add a larger display, it is also a compelling enough feature that it alone may be enough to make me seriously think about going back.

How big does the new display have to be? Anything close to 4 inches will be enough for me.

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Even though it will have me thinking, the display alone probably won’t be enough. I want a better antenna that I don’t have to house in a case. I’ve tested a lot of cases in my time here with GottaBeMobile and our sister site Notebooks.com. But I always take them off and carry my phone naked. With the iPhone 4 you couldn’t do this without contorting your hand to hold the phone just so.

4G isn’t a deal breaker, but I’d like to have it. I don’t live in a 4G area or I would require it. Since I have a 4G mobile hotspot from Verizon, this ranks at the bottom of my iPhone wish-list. If I get everything else on my list, I can live without 4G because my local Verizon store believes 4G is more than a year away. For those of you who live in 4G areas, I can’t imagine why you would want a smartphone without it.

Let me say a word about GPS. This isn’t an Android versus iPhone issue, but a Samsung Infuse 4G weakness. My Infuse 4G’s GPS radio fails me often. I have to wait about ten minutes to get a signal lock and it loses signal often. I use GPS on my phone a lot so this alone might entice me to switch phones anyway. Since getting my iPhone I’ve had to use my 3G iPad 2 for GPS, which isn’t bad but kills the battery.

In every other way the Samsung Infuse 4G satisfies my needs, but without reliable GPS I’m frustrated. So Apple, if you give me what I want in the other categories, I can be poached.

Software

Related to GPS, I loved the integrated turn-by-turn directions on the Android platform. I also love seeing my destination in the Android Navigation app. When you get very close to your destination and don’t have to make another turn, the picture that Google Maps has in its database shows up so you know what your destination looks like. Having something similar on the iPhone would be a huge plus.Samsung Infuse 4G with Android Navigation

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Speaking of your phone speaking to you, I’d love to be able to speak to my phone and have it actually do what I say. The iPhone has this feature, but in my experience it’s worthless. Our rumor roundup suggested that Apple will include a new Assistant feature using the technology they bought from Siri. I’ve used Siri and, if true, I’ll take a serious look at the iPhone again.

I’d describe the iOS keyboard as adequate at best. I use the FlexT9 keyboard on Android, which offers basic typing, swype-like entry, graffiti style writing input and excellent voice recognition all in one keyboard. The last feature might be taken care of with iPhone 5 if the new Assistant feature shows up. Apple needs something like swype-style input. It’s fantastic and makes data entry so much faster when you learn to trust it.

Prediction

Of all of my features, I expect the following and would be surprised if Apple doesn’t integrate them:

  • Larger display – hopefully 4 inches
  • Better antenna
  • Same quality GPS radio – surely it won’t get worse
  • Better navigation app
  • Voice integration from Siri

I doubt I will see 4G and a swype-style keyboard. If I get everything on the first list, not getting these last two features won’t bother me too much. I will seriously consider going back to the iPhone because I’m in the market for a phone with a better GPS radio anyway. If not, I will likely be looking at a new Android phone soon.

All of this aside, I’m a sucker for new technology. I also like Apple’s customer service, so don’t be surprised if I get caught up in the hype and take the leap anyway.