I'm not a smartphone geek, but I am more than just a casual user. I enjoy technology for its own sake, and I do like to sometimes play around with my smartphone and try to figure out how I can get the most out of it. On October 14th I made the big transition from a phone using the Android operating system to an iPhone using iOS5. Here's what I have discovered.
My Android phone was a Droid X. Overall, I was not that unhappy with it. I liked the large screen, the customizable nature of the Android that lets you change things to your taste, the multitude of available apps, and the close integration with Google products, especially Google maps with turn-by-turn directions.
But there were a few things I really didn't like. The phone needed almost daily rebooting, and often froze for no apparent reason. The calendar didn't synch very well with my iPad calendar, and the phone was just a little too big to be comfortable in a tight jeans pocket. My first Droid X developed terrible battery issues when it was about a year old. (The phone would get really hot and the battery would only last two hours.) Verizon replaced it, and the new one was much better, usually giving a long days usage before needing a recharge. I couldn't tell if the improvement came from the hardware replacement or from the fact that the new phone was a virgin that hadn't been defiled by misbehaving software.
My new phone is an iPhone 4s. I really like it, but, it's not perfect. Here's what I like best:
From the hardware perspective: The screen has much higher resolution and is a little brighter. The case is a piece of art and is of exceptional quality. The speaker, ringtones and alarms are louder, and the sound quality is better. The camera is WAY better, making it redundant to ever carry a point-and-shoot camera. (More about the camera in another post.) The physical size of the case is less cumbersome. The phone is much quicker, with web pages loading much faster, screens refreshing faster, and transitions being much smoother. The battery charges much faster (about one percent per minute.) It's much cooler looking. But I wish the screen were a little bigger (without the case being bigger.) And I sometimes miss the search, back and menu buttons.
There's been a lot of complaints on the Internet about iPhone 4s battery life being poor. I haven't had any problems with this. Using the phone the same way I used the Droid, I'm getting at least 20 percent better battery life with the iPhone. (I have turned off a few features like automatic time zone changing) that others had suspected might cause unusual batter drain.)
Now, let's compare Android (Froyo in my case) to iOS5. Android reminds me a lot of Windows. There is an almost unlimited assortment of software available, but the software doesn't always play nice with other apps or the operating system. So, it's very possible to end up loading programs that interact badly and end up making the phone much less usable. You can always blitz the phone and start over, but it's a tedious process and you may lose some data that isn't backed up properly.
iOS is a closed system with Apple being the gate keeper, the protector, and maybe even the censor. So far, in three weeks of use, I haven't had even one lock-up or needed even one reboot. I really like that. The iOS is easier to learn and you don't have to remember much. It doesn't work quite as well with Google products (I really miss Google Maps' turn-by-turn directions) but it works lots better with Apple products on my iPad and Mac. iCloud is well designed and works well for a 1.0 product. Future updates should smooth out some of the rough spots.
Siri, the digital assistant, is everything it's hyped up to be. It's amazing and I use it many times each day. "Set an alarm for 8:00 tomorrow" or "remind me take a camera when I leave home tomorrow" would be tedious multiple taps without Siri. But with "her," it takes only one tap and a few second. Siri will eventually change the way we interface with phones, computers, our TV, almost everything. It's that good.
So, what's the verdict? For me, the iPhone better meets my needs. I like things that "just work" when I'm trying to get something done.