I have been using Android since it was first launched. My first proper smartphone (if you don’t count Symbian as smartphone operating system) was T-Mobile myTouch 3G, and since then I have used pretty much all the major mobile operating system and have owned a ton of flagship devices. From the legendary HTC HD2 to Motorola Defy to HTC Sensation to Blackberry Z10 to iPhone 6s, I have used it all. And those aren’t all the devices I have used, those are only some I can remember off the top of my head, the whole list would take a blog post of it’s own.
Anyways, I have always been a fan of Android and it’s open nature, open filesystem and non-closed ecosystem. I was a big fan of Nokia’s Symbian OS back in the days and although bulky, the Nokia N95 was one of the favorite phones I have used. I loved how I could use the filesystem, just download and play MP3 files, and do things as if I were doing them on a computer. When Android was released, I was happy to see another mobile operating system backed by tech giant Google, with open file system unlike Apple’s iOS, and full touch screen support.
History aside, Android was always my thing, and as a developer having a whole lot of open API’s that would let you access all of the device’s features unlike iOS was quite awesome. Now, I am not saying I never had issues with Android. There are a lot of downsides of using Android, and I am not going to list them all here. But the biggest issue I belive that Android had was that the operating system was never properly optimized for the hardware it would be deployed in. Most Android phones I have used have had tiny little issues, weather it is little battery drains or lag or random bugs here and there. I am sure you can relate if you have used Android for long enough periods of time.
Another big issue with Android is that most manufacturers that make Android device are not committed to it. We get tons of smartphones every year, but when problems arise after using them for a while, most manufacturers will make you go rounds and pull your hair in order to get the issue resolved. Before I switched to a iPhone recently, I had a Sony Xperia Z3 where the mic would not work when the phone was in speaker mode. The top mic was damaged and I made sure to do every troubleshooting step to make sure it was a hardware issue and not something on the software. Luckily the phone was still under warranty, and I was just hoping to send the phone in and get a replacement.
Then I realized how bad the “support” situation on Android land was. I called Sony and explained the issue, and followed their troubleshooting steps with them over the phone even though I had done them already and told them so. After making sure it was the hardware, they said they would start the RMA process to send the device in for repair or replacement. I was in for a shock once I heard that the only option to get the repair done was to send the device myself to Sony, where I would have to pay for the shipping and everything (which I can understand), and it would take 14 days for them to ship it back. They wanted me to stay without a phone for half a month! This was ridiculous but since I had no choice I sent the phone to them. Usually I have a pretty good backup device laying around in cases like that, but at that time the only other good phone I had around was a Blackberry Z10.
This did make me realize how good Blackberry’s operating system was, and got to appreciate a much underappreciated device that Blackberry launched a couple years ago. After getting no response from Sony after two weeks, I decided to give them a call again and see what was going. They said they had no clue and to keep calling back every few days. This was already frustrating enough, and I did call them every few days and their reponse was pretty much the same. They said that their repair center has not updated anything and to check back later. Then all of a sudden after about 26 days after my device was received by them, I get the device in the mail. I am sure if I had called them right then, they would have told me they had no idea either.
Gladly the phone was working, but I was tired of having to deal with these manufacturers that truly don’t care about their customers after they sell the phones. This was not the first time I had run into similar issues, since I had to deal with similar situations with Motorola, HTC, LG and Sony previously. I realized that if it was with Apple, I would have been able to just walk in to an Apple Store and get the device replaced on the spot. So, I went to the nearest T-Mobile store and got an iPhone 6. Even though it was hard to get used to it at first, I loved how it just worked with my Mac, and also how much more reliably it would work. No more random freezes, no more random reboots, no more phone shutting down when you are using GPS and are in the middle of nowhere. I was quite happy with it which is why I ended up upgrading to the iPhone 6S right as soon as it got released.
The 6S was great, but did not have a lot more new features. Other than the faster Touch ID, there were not a lot of things that were significantly different from the iPhone 6 I had. But the more I used the iPhone, the more frustrating the experience got. Although it was smooth no matter what I was doing and did what it was supposed to do, there were a lot of things I missed from the Android world. If i got a address for a place via text, unlike Android where I could click on the address and choose what app to navigate on, it would just open the default app. There was no concept of default apps for certain tasks, so you were locked down to whatever Apple gave you for most things. You could not even set default browsers. Sharing data between apps was hard, and in some cases almost impossible, when on Android its as easy as pressing a share button and choosing what application to share to.
After being frustrated with little quirks and limitations of iOS, I finally decided to bite the bullet and order myself a Nexus 6. iPhones have great hardware, and I can tell you right now that there is no other Android phone out there that matches iPhone’s in terms of hardware quality and attention to details. But iOS is so locked down that it really makes using the phone a pain unless you only do basic tasks on your phone. For power users, Android is definitely the better choice. And yes, you read that right. I decided to get a Nexus 6 instead of a 6p because of how bad the build quality on the 6p looks (check the ifixit teardown for more in depth look), and it was also half the price. Well, that was enough rant for the day, cannot wait to see how much Android has improved since I left it and cannot wait to see how good the new Android operating system Marsmallow is.
Update: Back To iOS
Okay, so that did not go well. I got the Nexus 6 ad was really happy, however I could not even stand using it for one full day. Problems started when i tried to turn down the brightness, and the screen went all pink. After looking it up online, turns out its a “feature” and something that happens with all AMOLED displays. Looks like Motorola let people turn their brightness down more than most other phones, which is why you see the pink tint, and I didnt really mind it since it acted like night mode. Then I updated the phone all the way to Android M. Every little incremental upgrade took me like 30 minutes, since it had to “Optimize Apps” every time. Since this was a one time thing, I did not mind it at all.
Then came the annoying part, installing all the necessary apps. The Google Play Store would freeze randomly, and the phone was hot enough that i could cook eggs with it. Again, one time thing so didnt mind much, till the phone started rebooting. It rebooted twice after it got really hot when I was trying to install about 30 or so apps (maybe I should have done them one by one?). Randomly app installations will freeze and i would have to cancel and restart it in order for the whole queue of apps to install. And when apps installed, I was getting random errors like “Google Play Services Not Installed” while trying to open some apps at first.
After all the crazy adventures in play land, the apps finally installed and my phone finally got a chance to cool down. First thing I noticed was “Whoa this is a big screen!”, but I knew I was going to get used to it in no time. Then I watched a couple of episodes of a tv show on Netflix and loved the front facing speakers and AMOLED screens. I was trying to talk to someone on Facebook Messenger while watching Netflix, and trying to go back and forth was not as smooth as I thought it would be. Even though I was on latest version of Android with last year’s flagship device, it was still lagging a bit and jittery. The lag and jitters seemed to be consistent throughout the operating system, and sometimes even little things like going back to the home screen would lag. Coming back from iOS, this felt really uncomfortable in a way.
I started missing TouchID after I started using the bank apps. Having to go to my password manager, copying the password, going back to bank app and pasting it just to log in every time was a pain. I know I could have gotten one of the newer Nexus phones with fingerprint sensors, but my quick research showed that none of the bank apps I used supported fingerprint scanners on Android, but all of them did on iOS. Then came the camera, although it was not the worst I have seen, there was a lot left to be desired, mostly on the software side. AOSP Android and specially Nexus phones were never too good about camera, but after 6 major revisions to the OS, it still boggled my mind that Google could not get the camera app right.
After having to deal with one after another issue, I realised how much compromises I was making by switching to the Nexus. Sure, on paper it might be more powerful and could do more, but practically it felt years behind Apple’s offerings. So far, it still feels like no Android manufacturer beats or even comes close to Apple in terms of stability and quality of both hardware and software, and same applies for Mac computers as well (although Microsoft’s Surface Book is starting to look better every day). I decided to return my new phone and keep using my 6S. Hopefully one day I can switch back to Android again and not have to deal with those issues.