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6 Months With the iPhone 4S: Android Switcher

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The iPhone 4S is now my primary phone after spending two and a half years as an Android user. Despite my many concerns of switching from Android to iPhone, the iPhone 4S is my primary smartphone, while the Galaxy Nexus is a tool I use in specific cases.

I’ve rooted every Android device I’ve owned, and I wasn’t fed up with Android when I bought the iPhone 4S six months ago. I just wanted to dabble with the iPhone after enjoying my iPad experience. I never Imagined I’d become an iPhone user, but I find myself using my Galaxy Nexus less and less often these days.

Read: iPhone 4S Review

On more than one occasion, I’ve lost my Galaxy Nexus for a few days and didn’t notice until I needed to check something for an article.

This is a major change since I wrote 14 Days with the iPhone 4S in October, but many of the reasons I like the iPhone 4S remain the same. I was surprised to discover that with a few tweaks to my workflow I am able to use the iPhone 4S as my main phone and I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything.

Apps

iPhone appsOne of the primary reasons I love the iPhone is the large selection of high quality apps. Even though more apps come to Android every day, I still prefer to buy most of my apps and games on the iPhone.

Not only do most of these apps look better, but i don’t have the same buyer’s remorse as I do with many Android apps I purchase. When given the choice between the same app on Android and on iPhone, I chose the iPhone app.

This extends out to the entertainment apps like Hulu Plus and HBO Go, which take months to officially support the latest Android devices.

Another great feature is the ability to run Universal apps on my iPhone and on my iPad without purchasing apps twice. Android offers this functionality, but I’ve yet to find an Android tablet that is as good as the iPad.

Keyboard, Dictation and Siri

One of my biggest concerns with the iPhone was the inability to switch keyboards, which meant giving up on the awesome SwiftKey Android keyboard.

This was initially a major issue, but I’ve adapted to the iPhone keyboard well. I still think Apple needs to allow users to long press to enter numbers and punctuation, but it is no longer a deal breaker.

Why?

Because I use Siri and Dictation on a regular basis. Siri is handy for sending quick messages and looking up basic information, but Dictation is the real winner in my book. I use dictation on the iPhone 4S to write entire articles with enough accuracy that only minimal editing needed.

The new Voice Actions in Android 4.0 include many of the same features and work just as well as Siri and Dictation on the iPhone, but it is less polished. There is no use of relationships and Voice Actions doesn’t prompt for the message, requiring taps on-screen instead.

Display

I never thought I would prefer a smaller iPhone display over the Galaxy Nexus’ 4.65″ 720P HD display, but the iPhone’s display is better than the Galaxy Nexus.

On the iPhone, white backgrounds are white, not blue-ish white and the large Retina Display resolution compensates for the smaller physical size of the display.

Left: Galaxy Nexus Display; Right: iPhone 4S Display

Left: Galaxy Nexus Display; Right: iPhone 4S Display

I would like to see a larger 4-inch iPhone 5 this fall, or support for a game controller as the screen gets cramped in games with on-screen controls.

Camera

I rarely used the camera on my HTC ThunderBolt or on my Galaxy Nexus. Thanks to the good sensor and fast access to the camera I’m much more comfortable shooting with my iPhone 4S. I have over 2,000 photos on my iPhone 4S compared to 112 on my Nexus.

Android cameras continue to improve, but I find myself taking and sharing many more photos with the iPhone 4S than I do with my Android or any camera I own.

Email

Email on the iPhone remains one of the weakest points. The Mail app is useless to anyone who receives as much email as I do, but Sparrow helps me answer email on the iPhone.

It’s still not as good as Gmail on Android, and it has no push notifications, but it is good enough for me to use the iPhone as my primary phone.

I only check email at certain intervals, so the lack of notifications is a good thing for me. This may not fit the email needs and habits of everyone.

Productivity

Even though both the iPhone and Android offer apps for productivity, I find myself using iA Writer for the iPhone to write much more than I did with similar office apps for Android.

The availability of specialized apps like Sparrow, iA Writer, IM+ Pro and others make it easy to email, write and use Google Talk on the iPhone, without compromising significantly.

No 4G LTE

As much as I want a 4G LTE iPhone 5, I don’t notice the lack fo 4G LTE much on the iPhone 4S day-to-day.

I desperately miss 4G LTE when I am traveling and it’s the reason I have never used my iPhone 4S as a personal hotspot.

While there are many streaming apps I would love to use on the iPhone over 4G LTE, the 2GB limit would result in extra fees. Couple that with the inability to use FaceTime over 4G LTE, and you’ll understand why I like to use my Galaxy Nexus as a 4G LTE hotspot or the MiFI 4620L.

Notifications

I thought I would miss the notification LED on my Galaxy Nexus and most Android devices when I switched to iPhone, but I don’t miss it at all.

Read: Can You Live Without Email Notifications?

With notification center the iPhone I can set specific notifications to turn on the screen for a visual notification, but it doesn’t keep flashing, begging me to look at the device later. I can see the notification and decide to deal with it when I want.

In App Purchases

Kindle iPhone in app purchasesI hate trying to buy content on the iPhone that isn’t sold from Apple. On Android, i can open up the Kindle app or the Audible app and buy a book, but on the iPhone I need to go to a web browser, log in again, make a purchase and head back to my app.

It’s annoying for me, and confusing for users who are just picking up the iPhone for the first time.

I know that Apple can charge what they want, and that they are pushing iBooks and iTunes, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Settings

I’m still coming to grips with the annoying way that Apple hides basic settings like Bluetooth.

On most Android phones, users can turn WiFi and Bluetooth off with a widget or a toggle in the notification drawer, but on the iPhone, Bluetooth is hidden away behind general settings.

The ability to add quick settings to the iPhone Notification Center is one of the biggest reasons I am looking forward to the iOS 5.1 iPhone 4S Jailbreak. I can instal IntelliscreenX or SBSettings on a jailbroken iPhone 4S to add fast access to settings.

Navigation

Despite the usable Telenav GPS app, I still prefer Google Maps on Android for Navigation. There is a rumor that Apple will include a better maps app in iOS 6, but until Apple steps up, Android rules the mobile maps category with the best GPS navigation on any platform.

Accessories

Because the iPhone is popular it has many more accessories than any Android phone I’ve owned. Accessories alone aren’t a reason to buy the iPhone, but it is nice to never worry about finding a great iPhone case or whether an accessory like the Nike Fuelband is compatible with my phone.

Jailbreak

I still don’t like that I need to jailbreak the iPhone 4S to set a default browser, gain quick access to settings and install third-party apps, but it’s an aspect of the iPhone I’ve come to live with.

I decided to un-jailbreak the iPhone 4S when iOS 5.1 came out because it was not stable, but I will jailbreak again when the iPhone 4S jailbreak for iOS 5.1.1 is out to install a few tweaks.

What I Miss Most

I still miss the back button, a universal way to go back one screen in almost any app. I wish Apple would add a back gesture, or that all iOS app developers would embrace this.

Android back button

Another feature I miss is access to the file system, if only for the ability to download music and video from the web and enjoy them on the device right away.

Tighter Google Voice integration would be a huge plus for the iPhone, but for now I’ve made better use of Quick Dial shortcuts in the Google Voice iPhone app to call users I frequently contact and I’ve saved separate Google Voice numbers for users who I often call with Siri.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

21 Comments

  1. Harry

    05/15/2012 at 12:04 pm

    Josh, great article. Thank you for your thorough comparison of iOS and Android.
    After painful encounters with Symbian years ago I bought the iPhone when it first came out 2007 and never used another phone. As you stated there are a few advantages for Android, but overall in my situation not significant to switch. However as you mentioned there is room for Apple to get better and I hope they will with iOs6!

  2. terry

    05/15/2012 at 2:27 pm

    I phone 4s drops call while mobile.

  3. falconoble

    05/15/2012 at 3:18 pm

    Great read. It’s rare and refreshing to see articles like this that aren’t fueled by brand bias. Very informative.

  4. Dave

    05/15/2012 at 7:45 pm

    Josh,

    Good write up and I agree with most of your points except the one regarding the displays. I feel that if you are going to knock points off of the Nexus’ display for its “bluish-whites” than you should also knock points off of the iPhone’s display for its contrast ratio. Blacks are only a dark grey on iPhones as well as all LCD/IPS displays but are true black on AMOLED displays.

    • Dave

      05/15/2012 at 7:46 pm

      then*

  5. Big R

    05/16/2012 at 10:35 am

    Some people prefer a more confined and COSTLY experience. I was a 3 year iphone veteran and i regret NOT switching to android sooner. Better hardware, more customization / flexibility, insanely large number of apps that grow everyday.

    I think you are wrong on every level with regards to the screen. Galaxy note packs a whopping 285ppi, which when spread across a 5.3″ Super AMOLED display there is ABSOLUTELY NO COMPARISON in color saturation. Iphone is simply too small a screen… eSPECIALLY for a phone that focuses a lot on gaming. I don’t enjoy squinting personally. EVEN IF the iphone 5 has 4-inch screen, it’s rather minute. IT WONT MAKE A DRAMATIC Difference.

    I think it’s funny how they deceive the public calling “the new ipad” (which is a useless hardware update IMO) RETINA DISPLAY. Didn’t jobs himself say the requirements for that were 326ppi??? tell me why the “new ipad” is only sub-par in the 280ppi’s?

    If that is the case i guess the GALAXY NOTE LTE has a “RETINA DISPLAY” as well, amongst other high-res phone – maybe they should market that.

    I think society is coming around to being more “Do it yourself” which is going to reflect deeply on mobile markets, which ARE the next big thing. Apple does not cater to this kind of consumer more so than a droid user (nor does windows phone). That being said, apple and Nokia will soon be on the bottom of the totem poll…. just a matter of Time. I would stay with the times and not get left behind in such a technological world.

    • robert1ee

      06/01/2012 at 7:48 am

      Regards to your “retina” display quote from Steve Jobs… he was talking about the iPhone the distance of like 12 inches compared to holding the iPad at a distance of about 16 inches away from your face. Because of the difference in distance… the PPI’s don’t need to be as high for the iPad. So… your galaxy note… unless you constantly hold it less than 12 inches from your face… would not be considered a true “retina” display.

      Regardless…for sake of arguments… I hope all phone manufactures will embrace higher ppi for all future products. The reading experience is more enjoyable on these higher PPI displays. :-)

    • Ryan

      06/28/2012 at 5:47 am

      I can type in caps too.

    • banksy

      08/15/2012 at 2:07 pm

      someone’s a lil biased and upset that Apple is successful ; )

  6. Brad

    05/16/2012 at 12:40 pm

    Sorry, confused after this article. More than half of the article says you miss all these android features, yet you use the IPHONE. Why. I have had four Android devices. Nexus, HTC Sensation 4G, Samsung Galaxy S2, and now the unlocked GSM Galaxy Nexus.

    I switched from an Iphone 3Gs. And I have to say, I havent missed the iphone at all.

    Now you saying why all these phones. Well, nexus was used for two years, without any issues, upgraded to Sensation 4G, moved to an area that doesnt have TMOBILE. Switched to ATT to a Samsung Galaxy S2. Didnt like the fact I had to wait for ICS updates, and didnt like the carrier control. Wanted to go back to Pure Google. So have had the Galaxy Nexus for 3 weeks now. And its by far, one the best phones for Android.

    I do not like, and cannot see any reason, for anyone to go back to or buy an apple product. Simply for all the reasons you list in your article. Main reason, can you use your iphone for a drive and just pull and put things to it via your computer. Can you do anything without apple, taking control, and saying yes you can do that or no you cant do that. Google phone are not like that. Thats enough of a reason to stay with a google phone. Thats my opinion.

    • Big R

      05/17/2012 at 10:59 am

      yeah he’s sitting he talking about how the iphone is better, and then lists 100 things about why he likes androids better. WOW

      Iphones are cute for anyone around 13yrs of age, but when you grow up you gotta get an “adult phone” LOL

      No iTunes bull$hit here…. no sync crap …. no garbage. just power!

      • Robert

        07/18/2012 at 2:48 pm

        iPhones are good for people who have given up customizing their device, in the same way public transportation is good for people who refuse to learn how to drive. “Easy” is pretty relative.

  7. Klugey1

    05/16/2012 at 5:09 pm

    Dave,
    Good article. I am also an extreme power user that switched from a series of Android phones to the 4S (Moto DroidX, HTC Incredible, HTC Thunderbolt, Moto Bionic), and I also got my wife her Galaxy Nexus LTE. I have rooted or Jailbroken every device that I’ve gotten for my family (all Androids, iPad, iPod, iPhone 4, and my 4S), so I’m with you on most of your forays.

    I had a few questions about the lack of stability that you mentioned in your latest jailbreak on the 4S, because mine has been rock solid with no problems. I have full file access using WinSCP, and I’m running a Dreamboard theme called OS7: revised. This theme alone keeps me on the iPhone 4S, because the Windows UI is just plain awesome. I’ll try and post a pic if possible.

    I agree with all your points on the keyboard being better on the Android, and I really miss SWYPE. I have SWYPE loaded natively on my wife’s Galaxy Nexus, and it rocks. Although, I do think that the iPhone’s word prediction and double space for the period works fantastically.

    • Big R

      05/17/2012 at 11:02 am

      streaming netflix and installing 10 apps a day doesn’t make you a power user.

      my phone is clocked at 1.93 ghz, custom rom+oom grouping+battery hacks+4G data hacks….. I DON’t even call myself a power-user! if you are using an iphone you are obviously not a “Power-User” that is why you are restricted in the first place. hell, all iphones have the same “alpine” passwrd.

      Now, go play with the rest of your iSheep

    • Robert

      07/18/2012 at 2:50 pm

      “I have to make my iPhone look like a Windows Phone to be satisfied” — most modifications people bend over backwards to apply on an iPhone can be applied without rooting on an Android device. Custom launcher? Done. Custom font (I mean you, SGSII)? Done.

      Often unrooted Android phones offer functionality that even jailbroken iPhones cannot: Custom keyboard? Aww, too bad. You only think word prediction is good because you have nothing to compare it with, because you have no choice.

  8. Mr. H.

    05/18/2012 at 11:31 am

    Great article… I agree in many parts. I was an iPhone user, than Android user for almost 3 years now, but now thinking about going back to the iPhone.

    I am no Apple fan boy and I dislike Apple’s extreme lock down of their products – but after 3 years of waiting for Android to “wow” me over, iOS still has better Apps. It’s the same reason why I have never converted over to be an Apple computer user. Why? Microsoft sells near 300 million copies of Windows every year – Any application I could ever want or need, I can find for a Windows PC – whereas the same is not completely likewise for the Macintosh.

    Thus the same is true today with smartphones. By far in my opinion, the Android camp has way better hardware in every respect, but the iOS camp literally has an App for everything. Sure Android has many of the same Apps and they are growing all the time, but in many areas they still lack in the “polished” experience I want from an App on a smart-phone and the sheer numbers of Apps whether it be the 500 Apps of the same thing, or 1 App of something totally bizarre, that choice is still mine to find that 1 bizarre app or that 1 out of 500 Apps that is exactly what I am looking for.

    So until Android or for that matter Windows phones can come to a place where their Apps of worthy of good quality and have just the same sheer numbers, I think Iw ill be sticking with an iPhone.

    Also, the one area where I do respect Apple with, is they control the iOS and updates, something I wish Google would do instead of the phone carriers and the OEMs.

  9. Seth

    06/28/2012 at 11:53 pm

    Great thorough review I’ve been debating wich phone is better for me. I have Been reading countless of articles and by far this is the best one. It shows no rivalry between both great platforms neither as in preference of phones. I will get the iPhone.

  10. Chris burst

    07/07/2012 at 6:23 pm

    iPhone 4s & htc resound owner. Real short I make amazing videos with my iPhone. I only bought my iPhone 4s for the apps and the jailbreak tweaks . My rezound is a better phone(speed,flash,connectivity,power & expandable memory. My ipad2 and 4s are a team, mobile video editing ,video creation iPhone wins in that reguard a fun system with some power. But not in the same class as the high end models of android smart phones, but then again I could run android on my iPhone4s . To each his own.

  11. banksy

    08/15/2012 at 2:15 pm

    Coming from an Android powered device known as the Droid X, I am ready to move on to the Apple iPhone. “Sure” I can’t do all the “cool” things I can with a Droid that to my lifestyle, doesn’t make a huge difference. I would have to root this damn thing and then what, change the font or download a third-party app. Cool story bro. With all this customization comes the increased risk of slowing down the device which happens too often on this phone. Just give me a phone that works smoothly, do I care that I can’t customize my background, no. As long as I can text, tweet, and check up on e-mail effortlessly and smoothly then I do not care. Say what you want but I rather have a plain phone that works 100% of the time, not 85%. There’s a reason why Android users hate Apple so much, envy much?

  12. osamadakhil

    08/30/2012 at 2:23 am

    I agree to most of that but cannot go back to the iphone still !! using dictation might be great but I never use any voice input method on my galaxy nexus in public because it just feels stupid and sometimes breaks privacy :D I still cannot give up swiftkey keyboard, using my phone as a flash memory, flash player, big size screen for video playback and reading rss feeds on flipboard, universal sharing everywhere on device just click share and choose the app to share on, flash light widgets that are useful in the dark, ! quick acess to basic settings, t9 dialer, the ability to change EVERTHING with custom roms like cyanogenmod10 and theme chooser! the lake of physical home button!, the one touch acess to recent apps instead of double clicking a hard home button!, being able to change default apps for everything any time i get bored of the old choice! being able to delete any picture any time i want in the gallery app and ooh yes the gallery app!!! whenever i recieve a pic in whatsapp or viber its kept in a ceparate folder in the gallery app like whatsapp pics, screenshots, downloads !! those are things that made me switch to android and will make me stay there

  13. Tristan Dunlap

    09/16/2012 at 10:10 pm

    The whole my phone is better than your phone thing is really getting out of hand. People need to find things that are worth arguing about, it’s hard to believe people get this obsessive over things. Ah well, it’s a lost cause I guess

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