From iPhone to Droid – six months later

I used to get a new unsubsidized cell phone every year. That’s right, every year I’d save up around $400 and dish it out for a shiny new gadget. You can say that I had a mild obsession with cell phones but that addiction was strangely curbed when I bought my first smartphone, the iPhone 3G. Up until that point, I was an Ericsson/Sony Ericsson fanboy. I had tasted other flavors of the rainbow, including Nokia, Samsung, and LG, but Sony Ericsson had won me over in the dumbphone/featurephone era. So on that summery July 11 morning I arrived at the nearest AT&T store at 5am and walked out with a white 32GB iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3GS was released a year later and I didn’t upgrade. The iPhone 4 two years later and still no upgrade. My iPhone lasted me an entire two-and-a-half years before I finally decommissioned it. By that point it had become an absolute pain to use due to its outdated hardware running iOS 4. Oh yeah, and AT&T was dropping 40% of all my calls. It pained me to have to switch to a carrier that didn’t have the iPhone, but I did some very heavy research and in November 2010 I switched to Verizon and joined the Android bandwagon with my Motorola Droid 2 Global. Would my new phone match up to my iPhone and rid me of unnecessary gadget expenditures for another two-and-a-half years? Would Android’s open and powerful OS make me wonder how I ever was able to stay with iOS for so long?

The Transition

For me, going from iOS 4 to Android 2.2 was a small learning experience. Last summer I had bought a T-Mobile MyTouch 3G for my then-girlfriend during our anniversary week. Of course, it was a little bit of a gift to myself as much as it was to my significant other because I totally nerdraged over it when I was setting it up for her. Oh the shiny Android goodness! For a brief time I was able to explore the system and get a basic overview of how Android worked, so when I bought my Droid 2 Global I had a rough idea of what the operating system was like.

Getting around in Android was a bit difficult at first. I had been more or less brainwashed by the iPhone UI so I would get extremely frustrated when trying to find a simple setting like setting up my screen lock. “Let’s see, screen lock deals with the display so let me go to Display Settings…OK there’s Screen Timeout, so if I go in there it should let me adjust the password…wait, what the hell, where is it. Location and Security? What the hell?”

I never really got to hate Motoblur’s look because Motoblur was my first thorough Android experience. I found it more shiny and refreshing than iOS. The home screen widgets were also super-convenient, such as buttons that let me toggle my WiFi or GPS without digging through the settings. On my iPhone, I had to jailbreak in order to be able to do something similar, and jailbreaking iOS4 simply wasn’t an option because it bogged my phone down tremendously. So Motoblur wasn’t as off-putting to me as it was to other Android users. After a few days I managed to get the hang of things.

The Good

The Motorola Droid 2 Global is a one solid phone when it comes to hardware. It is a thicker than the iPhone due to it’s slide-out keyboard (in fact, the iPhone 3G fits snugly underneath the phone’s display when the keyboard is pulled out) and therefore heavier but it isn’t thicker and heavier to the point of discomfort. Never have I felt like I was carrying a brick around with my D2G. The feel of the D2G alone is much sturdier than the iPhone. The casing on the iPhone, including the back, felt a bit plasticky compared to the D2G.

The iPhone 3G underneath the Motorola Droid 2 Global screen

Clocking in at 1.2 Ghz stock, the Droid 2 Global is blazingly fast. Touch response is amazing, although sometimes too amazing. One issue on the iPhone that made me particularly grumpy was the time it took to switch between programs or perform simple tasks, like loading up the email client. On the D2G it is almost instantaneous. You can tell that Android is specifically tailored for power users, people who want to do a lot of things at once on their phones while flipping back and forth between programs. Even with iOS 4’s faux-multitasking it still doesn’t compare to the optimization Android has for this stuff, especially when partnered with a beefy processor. Apple’s once-a-year release schedule is no longer enough to keep up with trends that are now changing on a bi-yearly basis. Android on the other hand, is perfectly suited for this fast paced environment.

In particular, Google integration with the iPhone sucks big time. Of course, Android was made for Google integration so it is a bit of an unfair comparison. However, Google’s services are increasingly becoming a necessity instead of a commodity. Apple’s grudge against Google is prevalent in its half-assed integration into iOS. Sometimes you got to give a little instead of taking your ball and going home, and Apple is refusing to do that.

Perhaps the most blatant refusal of Apple to bring iOS up to date with the times is Android’s biggest ace: widgets. The days of having to open up an entire program to check a small detail died back in the mid-2000s. Apple actually embraced this with its release of Dashboard for OSX. A simple button brought up an overlay with widgets of your choice that gave you immediate information without needing to take any extra steps or use any additional programs. It’s a bit surprising that six years later Apple hasn’t brought that philosophy to iOS. Perhaps it believes that opening up each app individually doesn’t take too much time, but there were infinite times where I wished that I could see some basic information on my lock screen such as the weather or an RSS feed instead of having to unlock and open up each individual app to do this. Granted, jailbreaking allows you to overcome this obstacle but the point still stands that Android has this functionality stock, whereas iPhone requires an entire jailbreaking process as well as navigating the ridiculously painful Cydia app just to unlock such functionality.

Facebook and Twitter widgets are EXTREMELY useful

Even something as simple as personalization is relatively limited to iOS. You can change the background, but that’s it. The personalization of iOS as a whole is extremely limited, to the point of non-existence. For some reason people were ecstatic when Apple allowed people to use custom backgrounds but that’s nothing more than a bullshit bone thrown your way. The most basic example of Android customization is downloading a widely available program from the Market such as Launcher Pro or ADW. Is there anything that remotely compares to these programs on the App Store? Not a chance, Apple is blatantly enforcing conformity by making sure that all of its devices have some uniformed look. Granted, this is a great brand awareness campaign, but at the same time it takes away the thing that Apple supposedly promotes of its users: individuality.

The biggest advantage Android has over iOS is that it comes so feature-rich from the get-go that iOS users must jailbreak their device to be on an even playing field. And jailbreaking comes with its fair share of disadvantages. I’ve already mentioned how abysmal Cydia is to use. Even with its most recent updates, it still feels like an application created by first year Java students. iPhone users may laugh at Android users because Android users may suffer from random device restarts, but the burden of using Springboard is much heavier. The amount of times Springboard has crashed, gone into “safe mode” (what is this, Windows?), or required a soft reboot on my iPhone dwarfs the amount of times my Droid 2 Global has restarted itself randomly. The clear advantage lies with Android since it can accomplish everything iPhone users need Cydia to do, minus the instability and added steps.

9 thoughts on “From iPhone to Droid – six months later

  1. Great article. I also switched from iOS to Android this year and I guess my transition was a little more positive. I can honestly say there is nothing about iOS that I miss, other than the availability of Apps. I was warned about lack of polish and battery life, but a quick flash to a new rom changed everything for me.

    Also, if you are tired of seeing the bloatware I would suggest using Launcher Pro, it allows you to hide apps in the app tray.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear things are treating you well with it. I’ve been able to hide most bloatware from the tray but for some reason Blockbuster refuses to become hidden. It’s bizarre.

    1. Thanks! Of course, everyone’s experiences will vary depending on their device. Was trying to be as middle-of-the road and subjective as possible with this whole thing.

  2. Great article Steven! I guess one of the downfalls of Android is each individuals experience. Where one iOS user to another can expect the same plus/minus situation, Android users have their own subjective situation based on the handsets they’re using. My nexus One has been, and will continue to be a joy to use up until the day I can get my hands on the Nexus 3.

    1. I completely agree. Not everyone will have the same experience with me. This goes back to the whole iPhone individuality/diversity thing. The great thing about Android in general is that there are so many phones, allowing for a wide array of variations in experience. I’m glad to hear that for you it’s been an enjoyable experience.

  3. I want to start off by saying “Fuck you, Motorola”.

    Your last point about the dirty secret? I can honestly say that since installing 2.3 and using the Amazon store for apps there has not been a single moment where I wasn’t 100% happy with my phone. Up until that point there were several days that seemed like an all-out fight just to get the damned thing to work for me instead of against me, but now it is as close to perfect as it could be, I think. The keyboard is infinitely better than previous iterations along with the cut/copy/paste functionality improvements. It is a lot faster than it used to be, and I don’t have periods of unexplainable sluggishness that would pop up a lot on 2.2.

    Although this is coming from someone that has a phone with a big development community, so fixing my own issues is somewhat easy. 2.3 hasn’t officially been released for my phone, but if not for the dev community I would have agreed with every single thing you said.

    Unfortunately for you, Moto and VZW are probably going to take their sweet-ass time getting 2.3 down the pipe for everyone and with the D2G’s lack of developer community you’re probably going to have to wait.

  4. This is exactly why I have an iPhone and an Android tablet. Need the phone to work but a tablet that I can tinker with.

  5.  Its so hard to find everything you want in one phone. The iPhone was pretty close for me except for that keypad!! It is almost impossible to not hit a wrong letter every other word and it drove me crazy until….. I discovered the  tactile keyboard. It’s just like having a keypad, fits right over my phone and it’s clear just like a screen protector. It’s amazing.Maybe if you had known that Steven, you would have stayed with the iPhone!

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