Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Switching from Android to iPhone 04: Second Impressions

So, yeah... I'm switching from Android to iPhone.  I kind of thought I'd keep a little journal of what the switch is like and whether I'm likely to stick with it.

Second Impressions
And so ends my first day of using the iPhone. I don't think the second day was as revelatory as the first, but here's what I noticed:
  1. Syncing over wifi might actually be easier on iOS after all.  I turned my computer on and started iTunes so that I could listen to music.  With absolutely no prompting from me, iTunes found the iPhone and synced with it.  I don't know how well that will work repeatedly, but that was pretty darned awesome.  Yesterday it seemed buggy.  Who knows?
  2. It seemed like I went through the battery quickly.  I have my brightness turned way down, but I know the iPhone can chew through cellular data very quickly.  I've apparently chewed through 20MB already TODAY.  Well, that's not going to continue.  I've just turned off cellular data.  I can connect when I need to by turning it back on.  Still, that's a bit disturbing, as I have used no more than 100MB per month in the past two years.
  3. I realize that music listening is strongly subjective (which is why HydrogenAudio makes such a big deal of requiring double-blind tests), but I'd swear that my music sounded better in the car.
  4. At the same time, this particular case (the Ballistic one) has a small and inflexible hole over the 3.5mm headphone jack.  I had to buy several cords at both Best Buy and Target before I found one that has a small enough "grip" to fit through the hole.  Now I get to go take the others back tomorrow.  (I use a double-male 3.5mm cord to connect to the AUX jack in my minivan.)
  5. Siri isn't nearly as cool as I thought she would be, even if she does call me "Batman."
  6. I took some photos and videos with the camera, and as I write this I'm realizing I don't know how to get them off the iPhone.  I thought I'd told iTunes to sync photos, but apparently that's not what "syncing photos" means.  I'm off to Google how to do this, since it's not patently obvious to me...

    Oh, well.  I didn't realize that the iPhone would actually deign to show up in Windows Explorer as a camera.  There those photos and videos are.  That took all of thirty seconds to figure out.  Hooray.  Now, let's see how they look...

    Meh.  Blurry despite good lighting and tap-to-focus.  Color still seems washed out.  I guess I won't be replacing my point-and-shoot anytime soon for "important" photos.  What a disappointment.
Well, other than the annoyance of having to redownload all my content for the various apps (Nook, Audible, etc.), it sure seems like I've got a smartphone.  I have to say that it's not as "cool" as I'd hoped it would be.  It's not like I expected an iPhone to solve all my problems and make me popular or anything, but the feeling of "I don't have an iPhone and I'm missing out" that I've had for all this time seems to have been false.  It's a good smartphone, but it's not head-and-shoulders above modern Android, even if it is smoother than my two-year-old Samsung Captivate.

Now, I know some of you are out there reading.  Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

Switching from Android to iPhone 03: First Impressions

So, yeah... I'm switching from Android to iPhone.  I kind of thought I'd keep a little journal of what the switch is like and whether I'm likely to stick with it.

First Impressions
I've never owned an iPhone before, and I've always felt like a have-not because of it.  When they first arrived in 2007, they were WAY too expensive and too small in capacity, and I wasn't on AT&T anyway.  My wife got me an iPod Touch for Christmas that year (best present ever, BTW, because I wanted it so bad and didn't expect it at all), and that mitigated the lack of iPhone in my life.  Then, in 2010, the deal on Android was just too good to pass up, as previously discussed.

So here I am, getting an iPhone, and here's what I did and what I noticed:

  1. I put on a screen-protector and a rather bulky "ballistic" case.  Hey, the case was on clearance for $6 and I didn't have to wait for eBay.  I'm super paranoid about cases, especially after the dire warnings from the guy at AT&T when I didn't buy the insurance.
  2. With the case on, the phone's actually rather bulky.  I prefer the feel of my Galaxy S with its uber-cheap silicone eBay case.
  3. Syncing over wi-fi isn't as easy as it is with iSyncr WiFi.  However, cabled syncing is much easier and faster.  (That's not a knock on iSyncr, as iTunes + iPhone is a native connection.)
  4. I need several fewer icons on my home screen in iOS.  Instead of two browsers, two or three different email icons, an "Apps" button, etc., the iOS screen is far more streamlined.  Of course, that streamlining comes with a corresponding lack of choice, so...  Still, Safari works great.  iOS-native email works great with Yahoo!, which the Gingerbread client doesn't.
  5. Notifications are better on Android.  I can see that already.
  6. There isn't much context-sensitive stuff in iOS.  I miss the menu-button.
  7. I love being able to adjust my home-screen in iTunes so that I can use the mouse.
  8. I dislike having the icons automatically arranged for me.  Why can't I turn that off?  I like my custom-arrangements in Android.
  9. Why no widgets?
And with that, it's late.  #3 and #4 above surprised me the most, while 5-9 aren't particularly shocking.  More to come over the next few days, perhaps...

Switching from Android to iPhone 02: Current Options

So, yeah... I'm switching from Android to iPhone.  I kind of thought I'd keep a little journal of what the switch is like and whether I'm likely to stick with it.

Current Options
As of this writing in late July 2012, there are some super-powerful Android phones out there, and just one top-of-the-line iPhone.  I'm a power-user.  While I'm not as "power" a user as some out there among you internet readers, among my friends and acquaintances, I'm a major one, and for some of my friends, I'm the power-user.  I'm not going to settle for anything less than top-of-the-line to buy on contract, as using up an upgrade is a two-year decision in most cases.

The long and the short of it is this:  Android phones are too damn big.  I need to be able to dial comfortably one-handed.  I don't text-and-drive, but I do talk-and-drive sometimes.  If I can't dial one-handed, the unit fails as a phone.  I'm a very average-sized 5'10" with medium hands.  The Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X are just too big.  Their 4.8" screens do not fit properly in my hands.  If I could get the HTC One S from T-Mobile with its 4.3" screen, I might be in business, but that's as big as I'll go.

Of course, I also need storage, and Android has suddenly gotten weird with it.  I get by with the smallest data plan I can (I'm currently doing 200MB a month!), so streaming all sorts of stuff on HSPA+ just isn't in the cards.  32GB is the minimum.  The SGS3 has a microSD card slot, so that solves that problem, but it's too big.  The HTC One X is too big AND is limited to a strict 16GB.  Sorry.

The Android phones that are smaller and expandable are too old at this point.  I'm not going to stick myself on Gingerbread for another two years, so goodbye SGS2 and all variants.  I don't have much Motorola to go with, as they've been pretty much exclusive to Big Red all along.

So, if I want a current phone with a smooth and responsive OS that's under 4.3" and will be kept reasonably updated over the next two years, what's my option?  iPhone 4S.

Now, I know what some of you are saying:  "Wait for iPhone 5!  It's only two or three months away at this point!  It'll be a major upgrade!"  And you're right.  However, there are two reasons this doesn't convince me to wait:

First, I want an iOS device with the traditional dock-connector.  I have several iOS-compatible devices--soundbars, etc.--that I want to be able to use.  Buying a 4S gets me something that will work with those for years to come.

Second, contract-wise, I'm in a unique situation:  I was able to use another line's upgrade on my account to get my iPhone 4S.  I, personally, can upgrade again any time, so I can switch away from the 4S at any time:  today, tomorrow, or in October.  This is really important for me and (in this one case) for Apple, because here's the deal:

iOS has until Christmas to convince me to stay before I sell the 4S for a little profit and switch back to Android.  Some of the ICS updates will have actually happened by the end of the year, so I suppose it's possible that the Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, for example, will have been upgraded to ICS.  Maybe one of the manufacturers will come to its senses and realize that screens significantly larger than 4" are just too damned big for many people and that by not offering a top-of-the-line model in a smaller form-factor they're throwing customers away.

With all that in mind, I purchased an iPhone 4S tonight.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Switching from Android to iPhone 01: History

So, yeah... I'm switching from Android to iPhone.  I kind of thought I'd keep a little journal of what the switch is like and whether I'm likely to stick with it.

I've had a Samsung (Galaxy S) Captivate for the last two years, and it's served me well.  Before that I used the old combo of random cellphone + iPod Touch to work my digital life.  When I walked in to the AT&T store (AT&T is cheapest for me, believe it or not...) two years ago, I meant to buy a 32GB iPhone 4.  It was going to cost me $300 or more.  Instead, I walked out with a Samsung Captivate 16GB and promptly bought myself a 32GB memory card so that I had 16GB more storage than was available from Apple at the time.  Oh, yeah.  I also got the Samsung for $75 + $75 for the memory card, which was a fantastic deal at the time.

For the last two years, I've lived with a strange sense of iOS-envy.  Two years ago, Android wasn't as polished as it is now.  I currently own an Ice Cream Sandwich (4.01) based tablet, and I like it very much.  However, syncing my music was never nearly as seamless on Android as I'd have liked it to be.  I know many people hate iTunes, but I love it, personally.  I tried Doubletwist and Songbird to get away from it, but I couldn't. 

I eventually settled on a little program called iSyncr to get my Android phone to talk to iTunes.  I can't stress this enough:  JRTStudio, the developer of iSyncr, is a class act.  Considering the fragmentation that Android presents developers, they've never been anything but polite and helpful with any problems I've had, and I complain to those guys for even the smallest issue with iSyncr.  The program has improved by leaps and bounds, and it works just great on my ICS tablet while working quite well on my phone.

At the same time, I just felt out-of-the-loop by not having an iPhone or iPod Touch.  (I'd sold my iPod Touch G1 to a younger cousin of mine.)  It always seemed like iOS was smoother, easier, and all-around more efficient than the Gingerbread (2.3) that I was stuck with.  While Android 3 and 4 promised real improvement, I was stuck with 2.3 and its shortcomings.  I've been telling myself for two years that my next phone would be an iPhone, that I wouldn't skimp again.  I also decided it would be a kind of experiment to honestly compare both OSes.  I'm not a fanboy for either.  Android has some real advantages over iOS.  How would the two compare in my view?  I've been curious to find out.