Switch from iOS to Android for a week


apple-vs-android

Hello World.

We came to a point in time where the war and hate between iOS and Android users is mostly at rest. And likely this is due to the fact that there are more similarities between the two than ever before. To a point where you can actually achieve exactly the same on both platforms – albeit in slightly different ways. While (arguably) there was a lack of quality apps on Android for a good while – this is close to a non issue nowadays, if you believe what people say.

So my story is – an iOS user since day 1 it became available (when it was called iPhone OS). I have not been a huge fan of Android in the early days due to security concerns and the horrible interfaces in the early versions. I hated the horrible scrolling delays, and the overall touchscreen unresponsiveness – which I’ve never experienced on iOS. The app design was also an issue as most applications just didn’t seem to be even close to what they were on iOS. I believe strongly that good design contributes to functionality and actually makes users want to use the device more.

As I often like to verify my hate, I’d always test Android to validate my concerns. In the early days it was just using friends phones for a bit to get a feel of it. In 2013 the Moto G was released and I went ahead to buy the phone. The decision came after I lost my iPhone (plus broke my ankle on the same night, yeh it was a good time) and had to wait for a replacement and use a horrible old Samsung phone running Android 2.0. I figured I need a better spare phone in case something ever happens to my iPhone in future. So there came Moto G. I have stuck with the phone for a week to get a feel for the software and while initially impressed I eventually was rather disappointed and came back to iOS with joy.

So I am doing it again – this time around I got a work phone which happens to be a Nexus 5XA phone that will receive timely Google updates and while is not a flagship – is not a bad phone all in all. So I decided to swap the sims around and make my iPhone the work phone for a week, and employ the Nexus 5X as my main smartphone for everything I do in the personal life with a smartphone.

Treat this writing as you like, but I want it to come across as honest as possible and may it help anyone thinking of making a switch from iOS to Android.

nexus

To start with – I logged in with my Google account and the phone magically became personal to my needs. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, and attempting to move to Google Photos so all of that was instantly available with no hassle. All of the apps I needed as essentials were available from the Play Store. I’ve heard good things about the Ok Google business but boy I underestimated its power.

To the locked phone, I say “Ok Google start navigation to home” – the phone recognises my voice (secure) and opens Google Maps / starts the navigation instantly. We’re talking seconds and I’m ready to go. As this is happening – “Ok Google – open spotify and play my “Favourite” Playlist” – Spotify opens and while I have a playlist called Favourite it doesn’t play that but rather searches for “favourite” and plays the first public playlist called “Favourite”. In iOS9 you can do similar stuff but only with an iPhone 6S and Apple Music / Apple Maps. Note I do not use either of the two on my iPhone. And even when I plug my iPhone 6 Plus in the car and try to do the same commands with the Apple services – it takes ages. Siri seems to be absolutely useless in recognising my commands over cars bluetooth stereo while the Nexus 5X seems to happily get it all. The Apple “just works” just doesn’t work in this case while Google’s version does. Google also figures out the basics like setting alarms and reminders just as well as Siri does. This story is due to change with Siri opening up to devs in iOS 10. However at least an iPhone 6S is required to make use of it without a push of the home button, and I don’t know if I am going to be upgrading my phone this year.

The social network apps are as good on Android as they are on iOS. Banking stuff is great, apart from the fact that one of my card issuers doesn’t support Android Pay while they are happy with Apple Pay. Happens to be my main card so it’s a bummer at least for now.

Things are going down hill from here.

The Nexus 5X speaker while is front facing is honestly the worst speaker I had on a phone since Moto G. iPhone 6 Plus has a bottom mounted speaker but hell, who cares where it is when it sounds better.

It is funny but it feels like most Apps on Android today are what they used to be on iOS 1-2 years ago. Honestly even design wise I noticed this to be the case. But in the instance of SleepCycle the Android version still works in the same way it did when I first got it on my iPhone 3G in… 2010 – you have to put the phone into bed with you, while the current iOS version uses mics and the phone can stay where it should be – on the bedside cabinet. It’s not a lie developers prioritise iOS Apps then?

Now then, – the worst of it is battery life. My target was to move to Android for a week but this issue made me have to switch back to iPhone after 2.5 days. An example:

If I drive to work [1hr journey one way] and have Google Maps on for traffic, and spotify playing in the background streaming music [not offline stored] – I come into work with around 87-89% battery left on my iPhone 6 Plus down from 100%.

I did the same on the Nexus 5X and I had 62% battery left down from 100%. So the next day I used the same port in the car – and was charging the Nexus as I was doing the same thing as usual with maps and music. To my surprise when I arrived to work I had 89% – down from 100%. So even when the phone was getting charged it lost charge. On the way back, as I had 7% battery left at the end of that day [watched 30 minutes of Netflix at lunch + 20 minutes of streaming a podcast so that killed it] – I plugged the phone into what one would call a fast charger – 2.4 AMP adapter. Even said “charging rapidly” on the phone. To my disappointment I had 6% when I came home. Meaning that there actually is no way for me to go on a long journey with the Nexus 5X as the phone will die before I reach my destination even if I use the fastest charging method available to me. Mind the fact if I use the car connection and the iPhone [slow charge] – it doesn’t lose battery and I can gain about 15% on the way back when having Google Maps and Spotify running.

The port in the car which should facilitate music playback to the car via the usb cable from the phone doesn’t work at all on Nexus no matter what mode [on the phone] I choose, while it works on the iPhone with no modes to be selected. I used two different USB-C cables, and this made no difference. The car just tells me to check the USB device. For the record I drive a 2013 Honda Civic.

So in a nutshell, – I had to quit early as I cannot go through a day with the Nexus 5X without charging it in the middle of the day. And that to me is unacceptable.

Other annoying things:

  • Car holder pushing the volume buttons on the side – honestly they are just in the wrong place for any car holder
  • USB-C while reversible is not as cool as lightning – it’s a cable / connector that I’d say is fit for purpose in laptops but not phones. It’s harder to plug it in and to unplug it. I cannot do it with one hand, which is not a problem with Lightning.
  • Ambient Display is unpredictable – I’m told Motorola does that well though. When I say unpredictable – it doesn’t work everytime and works when I don’t need it to.
  • I miss the home button as there is no way to check the time on the phone in the middle of the night by just pushing the button on the front, you have to reach the side or hope the ambient display will do the job. But because you don’t lift the phone upright and rather lift it to the side, it doesn’t seem to catch on. Same goes for when your phone is on the desk.
  • Fingerprint sensor on the back is nonsense if you want to unlock the phone while it’s flat on the desk without having to pick it up – I seem to do that a lot when at a desk and it’s just an inconvenience.
  • The step counters on android seem to rely on accelerometer and it means it keeps counting steps even when I’m not walking. The iPhone benefits from the M8 co-processor here and I honestly don’t think it can be beaten with accuracy by the Nexus. To compare – I sat on the couch and moving as far as to and from the kitchen with the Nexus and it counted 3000 steps in the evening. While the iPhone would count about 200.

So at the end of this all – I could label my experience as a “disappointment”. I understand I have been using one particular Android phone, but as it stands there is no iPhone that performs this badly and has such issues. So it’s worrying that one of the “pure android” phones that are sold directly by Google [they make Android, right?] results in such poor experience. If there are people still hating Android and stick with iOS – one would hope they actually tried it. As if they didn’t – maybe they should. And maybe other phones don’t have such bad design / battery life issues. But one I had did. And it will keep serving me well as a work phone, which is where I got it from in the first place.