On a personal level, what separates the iPhone from Android handsets?

Posted May 01, 2012 at 2:26 am in Threads > Opinions

This is a subjective topic, in many ways. It’s hardly a new one, but I’m curious nonetheless.

Obviously one can argue the technical side of things; Android Handset X offers more power, a larger screen, a slimmer profile, etc.

Android as an OS offers more versatility, more customisability, and so on.

But what about the personal level? Emotion, design preferences both externally and in the OS, and, of course, previous experience and what that does to our perspective of certain brands.

I had an iPhone 3 before I moved to Android. And I loved it. But then, I’d never experienced Android and I knew very little about it.

The HTC Desire was my first Android phone, running 2.1.

Now, more than a year later, I’m onto the GS2 and I love it, but I’m also eagerly awaiting the arrival of the GS3.

Despite my generally pleased experience, I don’t feel any particular brand loyalty, either to Android or to a particular handset makers.

In my opinion, both platforms have offered advantages and disadvantages across the spectrum of the user experience.

I’ve at times found iOS infuriatingly basic, and at other times I’ve been incredibly frustrated at Google for creating an environment that allows handset makers and carriers to have their way with the needs of gadget enthusiasts.

I’ve long hated the flood of very interest apps on iOS that either never come to Android, or take forever to arrive. That situation is improving, but it’s still incredibly frustrating.

So, I got to wondering today; what keeps me with Android? The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 are on the way. If it’s a handsome device and a solidly improved platform, could I go back? Obviously it will never be as ‘open’ as Android, but does it now offer enough to keep me happy?

My only grievances with iOS at this point are;

- I find it much easier and faster to delete individual words or small groups of words with the aftermarket SwiftKey keyboard on Android. Haven’t seen an appealing option on iOS yet, with the default being simply “double tap to select a word, then hit backspace.” – that’s not a slow process, but certainly it’s slower and more steps than with Swiftkey.

- the Gmail app is better on Android, by far (as you’d expect), and both my personal and work email are all done through Gmail, so this is a major factor for me. However, Sparrow now appears to be a very solid alternative on iOS.

- Google Docs is better on Android by far. Incredible features, particularly the collaborative elements. A lot of my personal and work docs are through Google Docs, and I’d rather use the dedicated app than the mobile interface, or any of the third-party apps I’ve seen so far.

- Fast access to controls for wifi, bluetooth, brighteness, etc – but these are all easily achievable on iOS with either that clever bookmarklets workaround, or through jailbreaking.

- Screen size. Any time I pick up my girlfriend’s 4S, I’m annoyed with what now feels like a very small screen. If I had to return to the iPhone, I’d get used to it again, but I certainly do like the larger screen on my GS2. Mind you, the screen on the Galaxy Nexus is too big, IMO.

- File management. This isn’t a major one, but I do love knowing that I’ve got a shitload of ePub files on my phone, and I can simply navigate to any of the files and email them to a friend. “Have you read Book X? No? I’ll email it through now, just a sec.” – that sort of portable computer-like experience is very nice, even if it’s just from a “knowing I can do it but rarely needing it” perspective. Obviously dropbox is one workaround for iOS, but it’s not quite the same.

And that’s about it. I love Android, but I’m not a diehard. I came from iPhone, I could go back to the iPhone, and one day I could just as easily return to Android.