Ovi's Blog on technology and the web

My switch from Android to iPhone

A few months I made a list of what I wanted in a new phone as my two-year contract with my Droid was almost up. Last week I looked at the options available and went back to my original list. I mainly looked at what Apple announced for its iPhone 4S and what Android announced for its upcoming Android 4 device, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

  • Good web browser – responsive and doesn’t crash like it does on my Droid; both iPhone and Android look to have done a good job with the latest versions
  • Fast internet – 4G sounded like the way to go at this point, but after seeing what problems my brother has had with the 4G phone he got a few months ago, it doesn’t seem to me like the network’s ready
  • Good music player – the Android music player I’ve been using leaves much to be desired and the new one does look better, but still limited; having iTunes to sync music from my computer seems like a better approach, especially now that it’s via wifi
  • Space for music – I originally wanted to be able to fit all the music I had on my computer, but I’ve realized that I don’t listen to all of it and find myself having to skip through songs a lot on my phone, so as long as I can easily sync, I’m okay with picking and choosing music I’ll actually listen to
  • Syncing for Gmail – this includes Calendar and Contacts; Gmail makes it more seamless on Android for obvious reasons, but I can get the same capabilities on the iPhone too
  • Reasonable screen size – I’m tired of so many phones that are supposed to be portable coming out with bigger and bigger screens; my brother has one that’s 4.3 inches and it just looks ridiculous; having an iPod Touch for almost a year now, I like its screen size and am glad the iPhone 4S decided to stick to the same size
  • Great camera – the one on my Droid has been disappointing and I wanted something that would be good enough to replace my digital camera; as I’ve been keeping my eye on reviews that compare phone cameras, all the ones I’ve read come to the conclusion that for overall photo and video quality, there is no better option than the iPhone

You can probably tell by my responses that I’m leaning towards the iPhone. And it is in fact what I went with. It wasn’t an easy decision since I’ve had a pretty decent Android device for the last two years and the latest Android update looks promising. But besides the features above, there are two main reasons why I ultimately decided to go with the iPhone:

Android’s philosophy doesn’t seem to work

The philosophy of ’openness’ and ‘choice’ was the first thing I bought into when getting the Droid. After two years, while it still sounds like a nice idea, it doesn’t seem to actually work when put into action and instead seems to have caused an unintended consequence, fragmentation: devices are not getting the updates needed, showing a lack of support for customers but also slowing down improvements for the platform as developers turn away because they don’t want to deal with making their apps compatible for so many different versions. I’m not saying the open concept doesn’t work, it’s just that at it’s not showing any real benefits over the alternatives.

Better apps are on the platform that has incentives to create better apps

Android being open source doesn’t make a difference when developing apps since it’s ultimately just another platform to develop on. However, when you look at compare iPhone apps with Android, it’s clear that developers prefer to develop on the iPhone. Besides the fragmentation issue with Android, innovation seems to spur further innovation and the iPhone continues to keep that momentum going for its developers.

On a related note, I designed my own app for Android that kept track of pages I wanted to look at a later time. I outsourced a developer to program it and the experience didn’t go so well. Besides the fact that it took two months to get its basic functionality working correctly, it only lasted for another two months before something changed in the way it tied into Google Bookmarks and is now completely broken.

I have hope for the Android platform, but I’m willing to wait and see where things are two years from now when I look for my next phone. The phone and mobile device market is a very interesting point, who knows how things will be two years from now.

Originally published October 27th, 2011