I’ve been an Android user for the last five years. While my first attempt with the My Touch 3G in the fall of 2009 only lasted two weeks, I haven’t looked back since getting a Nexus One at the beginning of 2010. I’ve had numerous Android devices since then and have been happier with each new device I’ve owned.
However, for testing purposes, we needed to purchase an iPhone 6 for the office. I decided this would be a good time to try out the iPhone and see what all the fuss was about. For years now, loyal Apple users told me I was missing out no matter how much I protested. I was told the iPhone experience was amazing and that it just worked better than an Android phone. If I used one, I’d never go back to Android, or so I was told. It was time to find out for myself.
After spending a frustrating, albeit entertaining, evening trying to buy one, I was excited to receive the device on launch day, September 19. After playing with it for a few days, I figured the best way to try the device would be to go cold turkey and use it as my primary mobile phone for the month of October. Here’s how my month with the iPhone went.
First impressions and setup
I documented my first impressions after receiving the phone here. Below are a few of the highlights from that article:
- Packaging is well done. It’s clear that Apple spends a lot of effort making sure the first impression is positive.
- The hardware is top notch. The fit and finish screams luxury. It’s one of the best phones I’ve used from an aesthetic perspective. I can why people are drawn to the device based upon looks.
- Setup is easy, and transitioning from my Android was dead simple. I was able to install all of my go-to apps like Evernote, Dropbox, Runkeeper, Starbucks, Gmail, Play Music and Youtube. After entering my username and password, all of my data was instantly available. Let me just say that the cloud rocks!
- From a functionality perspective, the two platforms are virtually identical. Everything that I could do on the iPhone could be done on my Android device. I liken it to having someone come in and rearrange your house. You can still live in it, it just takes some time to find everything you’re looking for, but once you do, it all works the same.
I want to reiterate again that the hardware is awesome. The iPhone 6 is the biggest phone I’ve used on a regular basis, but its design makes it feel smaller. The rounded edges, thickness (or lack thereof), and weight make it feel just right. It also helps that Apple has added some nice touches to deal with the increased size. A feature called “reachability” lets you lightly double-tap (not depress) the home button and the top half of the screen slides down. It allows you to reach the top of the screen without having to adjust your hold on the device. Those Apple engineers think of everything!
The screen is also amazing. It’s vibrant and extremely crisp. It’s the best screen I’ve experienced on a mobile device.
Apps, while generally the same as Android, feel a little more polished on the iPhone. I don’t know if it’s real or psychological, but they just seem better thought out. It also helps that Apple stringently curates apps to insure adherence to their design recommendations and guidelines. Therefore, the user experience is very similar when moving between various apps. On Android, the user experience between apps can feel more disjointed.
From a look and feel perspective, I now understand why people are passionate about their iDevices. Apple has done a great job connecting with people emotionally through design.
There were a few things that I wasn’t able to get comfortable with over my month with the phone.
I know that Apple has made a lot of improvements here over the years, but even after using iOS 8, I like the Android way better. iOS notifications try too hard to get your attention. Android notifications are simpler, less intrusive, and easier for me to digest. Throughout the month of October, I longed for the notification center of my Android device.
- Google service integration
The Google apps are good on iOS, but not the same as Android. They just work better on Android and have a few extra features that I’m used to and like better. Again, it’s not that they don’t work on an iPhone, but you can tell that Google is able to do a little more with the apps on Android given their control over the OS.
- The hardware button
The Nexus One was the last phone I owned with a hardware button. I thought I would miss it when I upgraded to a Galaxy Nexus, but I got used to it fast. In fact, I don’t like hardware buttons, particularly on the face of the screen. It takes up room and feels odd. It’s the only part of the iPhone that has a cheap feel in my opinion. I worry about pressing it too many times for fear it will break. Again, it’s probably a psychological thing.
The jury’s out
Unfortunately, there were a couple of features that I didn’t get to spend much time with. One was the camera. I’ve heard many good things about it, but I didn’t spend enough time with it to tell if it was better than the Android alternatives. If I were to believe what I’ve heard, I would have been impressed.
Another feature I would have liked to try was Apple Pay. I believe that we should be spending more effort using our mobile phones as a way to combat credit card fraud. Unfortunately, Apple Pay wasn’t available until the tail end of my trial, so I wasn’t able to formulate an opinion one way or the other.
The force was strong, but not strong enough
Since finishing my trial, I’ve returned to the comfort and familiarity of my Moto X. It’s not that I didn’t like the iPhone, but there wasn’t enough compelling reasons to switch. It’s possible I didn’t give completely in, as I didn’t use the Apple Mail app, iMessage, FaceTime, or the other Apple services. Had I decided to buy all the way in, I may have come away with a different opinion. On the other hand, that’s my biggest beef with Apple. In order to get the most from the experience, you have to completely give in to the Apple way of doing things.
The more things change…
This experience just reinforced what I already thought about choosing between iPhone and Android. Both are great platforms, and the choice between them is a personal one based upon your own preferences. Here’s what I suggest if you’re torn:
- If you are already using one and are comfortable with it, don’t change. You should anticipate 2-4 weeks of decreased productivity switching platforms spent setting the phone up the way you want, resinstalling and repurchasing apps, and getting used to the new settings. So unless you’re just entirely fed up with the platform you are using, it’s not worth changing for the sake of change. There are better ways to spend your time, trust me.
- If you’re life revolves around Apple products and services, you use a Mac and/or an iPad, and you have a heavy investment in iTunes content, then an iPhone is the best choice. The integration with all of your other iDevices is much smoother, more straight forward, and will give you access to some nice features integrated between the iOS and desktop operating systems.
- If you’re life revolves around Google services (like Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, Contacts, Docs, etc.) and you primarily use a PC, then an Android device is the best choice. It’s not that these things don’t work on an iPhone, they just work better on an Android device.
My final words of wisdom are to be careful listening to extremists on either side of the iPhone-Android debate. They will lead you to believe that everyone in the world should use an iPhone or vice-versa. As I mentioned above, both are great platforms no matter what anyone tells you.
While my 31-day iPhone trial was great, it just wasn’t right for me. I use a PC and lots of Google services, so an Android device suits me better. However, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the right answer for everyone.