Over the last two years I’ve found myself with a few different phones, most notably I began with an iPhone and was a proud Apple fan boy, now however I found myself using an Android, and somewhat enjoying the experience.
Just a disclaimer before I begin so I do not receive a whole bunch of rage from both Apple and Android fan boys and girls in the comments below. This is an opinion piece and by no means am I trying to say that my experience with these different OS’ and handsets is by any means transferrable to every phone running the software.
So let me begin a few years back when I received a shiny white iPhone as a birthday present and instantly fell in love. The interface was easy to use, it did everything I needed and never lagged or crashed.
Owning an iPhone was, for me, a natural extension of other bits of tech in my possession, with my dad being one of the more small-minded Apple fans I was raised to distrust anything but the California based giants.
This got out of hand fast, PC’s were pretty much banned from my house, this meant that when I was considering a tablet to help with my studies at university the budget Android options I considered were blasphemous and I just had to get an iPad.
So for a while I was a fully kitted out Apple fan boy, tablet, phone and computer. As embarrassing as I find this now at the time it was brilliant and the three bits of tech complimented each other fantastically.
Then I encountered what almost every iPhone user will face at one point in their life, the dreaded phone drop (in fact as a rather clumsy man I experienced this heart-stopping moment a few times).
Initially the iPhone surprised me and took the occassional fall well, one day however I wasn’t so lucky and ironically a rather short fall onto a carpet ended with one of those iPhone fashion must haves, one hell of a crack across the screen.
This was irritating and gradually began to disrupt the user experience, don’t get me wrong the software still ran a treat, no lag or random crashes, but tiny bits of glass slowly detaching themselves from the screen wasn’t exactly ideal.
So hindered but still useable my iPhone struggled on, until a fateful trip to a small theme park. Initially I wrestled with leaving my phone at home but as many users now do I relied on my phone to perform as a camera so it came with me.
It would appear that this was a mistake however, as everyone should apparently know that when an iPhone goes to a theme park there is only one winner, and that is the latter. My iPhone didn’t seem to enjoy a certain rollercoaster as much as I did, it must have been the pressure of the safety bar on the phone, which was resting in my pocket, that frazzled the iPhone as it gave me an interesting light show before shutting off and never turning on again.
This kind of epitomises the biggest problem with iPhone, it’s fragility. It’s the only phone I’ve ever owned that I had to treat with a ridiculous amount of care.
I know there are two obvious responses to this qualm, firstly you could say “you’re complaining that you have to treat what is essentially a piece of glass with extra caution” but in reality with the amount of use we get out of our phones today I do believe this is pretty impossible.
Secondly if my biggest problem with the iPhone was its fragility why didn’t I buy a case right? This is a pretty fair complaint but I still feel my phone would have broken even with the case on.
Of course I say my biggest problem was the hardware but there were certain times that the rigid nature that Apple placed on its marketplace and iOS as a whole annoyed me, for example the lack of built in flash support was perplexing to me and the fact Apple ensured other browsers can not run as fast as the native Safari browser caused problems when I looked for third party alternatives.
Anyway with my phone broken I ventured to my local phone shop to find an alternative. I did have the option to replace my iPhone on a like for like basis but my clumsy nature would undoubtedly lead to another broken handset, so I decided to experiment and was talked into a HTC HD7.
Originally I believed that this was an Android device, indeed an employee claimed ‘these have a lot more free apps on the marketplace than iPhones’ after I told her that I’d never had an Android device and that I was used to iOS.
Soon it became apparent this was not a device running Android, it was in fact a Windows phone, the hilarity of the look of shock and disappointment on my dad’s face when I told him actually negated my annoyance at being missold.
My experience with Windows phone was surprisingly good. The lay out and design was visually pleasing and personally I felt the live tiles were a genius piece of innovation. Generally the way the whole OS was laid out really pleased me, the ability to ‘pin’ anything from apps, to contacts, to webpages or simple reminders was useful and something I took full advantage of.
The ‘people’ hub kept me updated with all the social networks, which usefully coincided with me becoming rather addicted to Twitter, without having to wait for an app to open.
Strangely though I found myself praising Internet Explorer, a brand that I enjoyed mocking to no end only a few months earlier, as the built in web app was lightening quick on my HTC, I actually felt it beat the Safari browser on my iPhone hands down.
This appreciation of a product created by what I had been raised to believe were the worst company in the business coincided with Apple royally annoying me when they froze out my aforementioned iPad from iOS 6. They just decided to make a piece of kit that cost £300 a couple of years ago outdated, which I personally saw as kind of a dick move.
All of a sudden I felt myself thinking, maybe Apple aren’t the only company that can make good tech, maybe I was too quick to mock and judge other products that didn’t sport that fruity logo, a thought process which is kind of a prerequisite of being an Apple fanboy.
Windows phone was not perfect however, the fact the software was just getting going meant that the marketplace was scarce. This I kind of accepted due to the circumstances but this didn’t make the situation any less irritating.
What was really disappointing was the live tiles that worked so well to updated with news, social media and the weather at a glance stopped working all together after a little while. This is apparently a common problem on the phones and is a big stumbling block for the OS.
This would have been fine if there was a back-up notifications centre or something similar that gave updates but there wasn’t, Microsoft opted to remove a notifications centre purely because they felt the live tiles would replace any such concept, which they would if they worked for longer than a few months.
In the end a repeated issues with a certain mobile provider’s repair centre, in which I sent off my HTC for a slight networking problem and they continued to replace it with handsets that were more broken than my own, I took an upgrade to a Samsung Galaxy Note.
My first few days with the Android OS were really confusing, which just as a side note was why I enjoyed Windows phone so much so quickly, it had a really small learning curve.
It was the sheer freedom that Android give to users that has struck me, I have so many options and so many things that I can do that I previously couldn’t, which is one of the big reasons I think it was a confusing first exchange.
Features like Google Cards is impressing me thus far, recently after I Googled an organisation on my desktop Chrome browser a Card popped up in my notification center on my phone telling me how long it would take me to drive there in current traffic conditions, without prompting, which I thought was a nice touch.
My biggest gripe with Android before I played with the software myself was its tendency to lag and crash, indeed when having a nerdy Android vs. iPhone conversation down the pub with my buddies I would also cite this issue. It was formed from over the look glances and fleeting experiences when a friend said “check this out” before cursing and telling me to “hold on a minute”, which obviously I enjoyed all the more as my iPhone never experienced this lag.
I’d love to say my perceptions were wrong, I don’t know what was wrong other Android phones I’ve seen but mine runs smooth as a whistle. Unfortunately I can’t say that, my Note has frozen on me, it has been laggy and it has just decided to turn itself off at one point.
So is this just a long-ass post that is glorifying iOS? Not really, as I don’t really mind the lag, sure it’s irritating but it happens pretty rarely and never really lasts very long.
The main reason I don’t really mind putting up with the occasional lag is because of the Android software as a whole, it’s genius in its own way. The freedom of the user experience, the large amounts of free apps that can fundamentally change the way the phone works is something that would strike fear into Apple bosses, an app that can change their perfect creation! Don’t be so silly.
There are a bunch of features exclusive to the Note that also appeal to me very strongly, the S pen is another piece of intuition that I find myself using to extend my smartphone experience, it’s useful and handy and again a concept that I just can’t see Apple ever implementing on their phones.
So my buddies that I once argued with about how shocking Android was as a software in comparison to the almighty iOS have met me with smug grins but this post is not to say I don’t miss my iPhone and it certainly doesn’t mean I side with these guys when the iOS vs Android debate comes up, it just means that I’m more neutral now. I’ve learnt the dangers of tech fandom, it can completely close you off to the wonderful features over options can provide.
Has anyone out there undergone a similar experience to me? Or do any of you have angry words to have with me because I abused your beloved OS, let me know in the comments below.
Header image courtesy of 4D-cores.