Why my next Phone will (probably) be an iPhone 5

I’ve never been an Apple lover. I loathe the bloated pig that is iTunes for Windows, but right now, it looks like my next phone will be an iPhone 5 (on Verizon).

I was a long time Windows Mobile user but when Microsoft decided to take a year off to start over I wasn’t willing to wait. So I bought the hot Android device at the time, the Motorola Droid. I use my phone for email, as my primary music player, secondary movie player, primary ebook reader and for blog reading, Twitter, Facebook, travel you name it. So I’m picky about my phone.

My wife and I had both had build quality issues with HTC WinMo phones and I wasn’t interested in spending the next two years cycling through replacement phones. I’ve had good luck in the past with Motorola so I went that route.

Overall I was thrilled with the Droid until they pushed out the 2.2 (Froyo) update. While Froyo added the ability to run apps from the SD card and live wallpaper it completely broke the launcher. The phone now regularly times out before returning to the home screen. After much pain and Googling I’ve found that this is essentially a lack of memory problem with no real fix. The only consistent resolution seems to be using ADW Launcher with the Keep in Memory setting. Without that, the phone approaches unusable as apps grab memory throughout the day. I’ve seen it take 5 full minutes to return the launch screen.The hardware is still generally good though the headphone jack seems to be getting loose.

So why am I not looking at another Android phone again?

  • The uncontrolled growth in apps bothers me. The Droid is short on memory but it really highlights problems with apps like Google Reader, Twitter and Facebook. These apps store their data in “data” not in cache. Cache clears, data never does. My wife and kids have this same issue on their LG Ally phones. Facebook eats up all available memory and parts of the of phone (like texting) are unusable until you manually clear data.Though it’s fun to see my daughter twitch because she can’t text, this is this a poor design. And it’s a poor design in many Google native apps and official apps. Fail.
  • I don’t like being misled. The size of an app on Google marketplace should reflect the size of the app on the phone, not the download size. I’m looking at you Google +. A 2+ mb download should not balloon into an app 4x that size on the phone. Also, move to SD card should not mean that 90% of the app stays on the phone and 10% moves to the SD card. Again, yes this is more of an issue on phones with smaller amounts of memory but the Android ecosystem is in that stage where software is out pacing hardware. More phones will run into this as apps bloat.
  • Google Bloat.Speaking of bloat, there are two kinds of Google bloat. Apps that I can’t remove, essentially Google crapware and apps that Google  bloats with updates. Both bother me but the updates bother me more. For example, the Google music app doubled in size with the latest update and got less user friendly. Google essentially stole space from me with their update. Sure I could choose to not install it but then the Market just nags me about it regularly. Amazon’s music app does the same thing, cloud and all, it is considerably smaller. The Android Market also ballooned with the last update. 3 of the 4 largest apps on my phone are Google apps, Maps, Music and Market. The fourth item is SlingPlayer which I expect to be large. It brings TV to my phone for heaven’s sake.
  •  Performance. Why can’t the dialer be given priority over all other functions? I should have an option to kill everything else and answer the phone regardless of what is going on the background. Few things are as frustrating as sliding the little bar over and over again and still missing the call because the phone won’t give me back control. Plus, I still have to pull the battery about as much as I did on my old WinMo 6.5 phone.
  • Accessories. Yes it’s trivial but if you want a case for your Android phone you’d better buy it with the phone because next week it won’t be available. Heaven forbid your case breaks while protecting your phone and you need a new one. Even for a hot phone like the Droid it was almost impossible to find a case a few months after release. I can still find 25 different cases for old iPhone 3GP at Wal-Mart today without any effort.

So why not Windows Phone 7?

  • I’m not interested in waiting for Mango to make WinPho7 right. Been there, done that, bought the T-Shirt with too many promises in the past, and not just from MS. Android was the same way promising that 2.2 would make things all better, not. I’ll look at WinPho7 again in a year or two if it’s more mature.
  • Apps. It’s not about having more apps, it’s about having the right apps. There are still apps I can’t get on WinPhone like Square, Audible, Pandora and travel sites from Hilton, Marriott and Gate Guru. I travel, a lot.
  • Accessories. Android problem x 20
  • Strategy. Microsoft should have thrown in the towel and built a Microsoft branded Phone with WinPho7. They are trying to blend the control of Apple with the variety of Android. From a strategy standpoint, you can have apples or you can have fruit salad, Microsoft is trying push irradiated strawberries.

One more reason I’m looking at the iPhone 5 is still the apps. The iPhone gets them first, Android is optional for developers and Windows Phone is afterthought. Examples include WSJ, Suntrust, Marriott, etc. The last reason is that there is little risk in this decision. If I hate the iPhone, my wife is due for a new phone in Feb. and she definitely wants an iPhone 5. We could just swap then and I could get something new.

There is one reason right now that I may not go to an iPhone 5 and that is LTE. If, as the rumors go, the iPhone 5 won’t have LTE I’ll have to think about whether or not I want to spend two more years in slow town.

10 Replies to “Why my next Phone will (probably) be an iPhone 5”

  1. You and me both Madison…lol…besides Mark you forgot to mention that wife has a hard time keeping up with her farm…there is still no app for farmville and I’ve been waiting for that for almost 2 years now…rofl…very important things you know!!!!!!

  2. Some good points here, no doubt, especially with space on the phone.

    But the vast majority of apps in the Apple ecosphere, while they may pass Apple’s rigid criteria, aren’t very interesting, fun, or useful, and there’s more of those to sift through.

    While critics disapprove of the “fragmentation” (not a criticism voiced in this article) of the Android ecosystem, I rather like the variety, and know that I’ll have to buy a top of the line phone to get top of the line features.

    The variety has meant that with my old eyes, I can use a device that has a 4.3 inch screen rather than be limited to a 3.5 inch screen. That trumps the additional care I have to take in monitoring space. And I haven’t experienced the phone answering problem, but I believe you that it happens.

  3. bluespapa,

    The Android ecosystem is starting to look like the old PC ecosystem where the hardware keeps getting faster and software keeps getting better. If you don’t have the latest, and by latest I mean 2 weeks old, there may be stuff that can’t run. I just don’t want to deal with that right now.

    Mark

  4. Well flippin said. I can’t believe how many Android users are misled in thinking their device or OS is the best thing since electricity.

    I am using an Galaxy S and I can’t wait to get my hands on an iPhone. I currently use an iPod touch and it’s awesome.

    One thing that wasnt mentioned is the horrible predictive text or texting/writing on your device. The software is just horrible.

    If Google doesnt make things “right” and quickly, the Android OS will end up like many of Google’s failures. We also see what’s going on with RIM, except everyone knows RIM software works, and works well.

    Google should stick to what they do best: search engines and maps. Leave the smartphone market to Apple. They’re the only ones that seem to know what they’re doing. #truth

  5. Seriously, the droid was released in Oct 17 2009, that article was written on Aug 23 2011.

    Android has changed a lot in these years.
    Your problems mainly concern with installed size of the app(ROM usage) and the running space(RAM usage ).
    The ROM on droid was 512 MB and RAM was 256MB.
    Now the ROM avaialable is 512MB minus the size of the android, which I’m guessing is around 100MB. Which is very tight IMO. Most devices nowadays reserve around 2GB ROM.

    About RAM,though android tries to clear out apps from memory when it runs out of RAM it is not as aggressive as ios. And as you mentioned the app developers have to be blamed too for inappropriate usage of data and cache sections. And nowadays most top tier android devices come with 1GB of RAM.

    I haven’t had any issues with low ROM or RAM in all the androids I have owned after nexus one.

    And about the CPU prioritization, I totally agree. I had the same issue with winmo phones. It is sad to see the same issue repeat with android. maybe both take a generic OS building approach to phones and they don’t apply. Both ios and blackberry OS are smart in this arena and they prioritize phone and text functionality over others.

    My biggest concern with android is the lack of hardware accelaration. Scrolling in most places even with dual core SOCs is jittery and hurts my eyes.

    And ofcourse the availabilty of apps, (Ex:onenote from MS)

    But then again I love the gmail and google maps and navigation on an android. And I think Iphone will always lag behind in these two. Plus the lack of widgets and shortcuts on the homescreen in an Iphone troubles me.

  6. I agree with all of your points and I’d like to add some of mine (my experience after using GS2 for a month):

    Inconsistency #1:
    Copy paste and multitouch implementation aren’t done properly in Android. Pinch to zoom is pretty much inconsistent between apps. I can pinch to zoom perfectly in, let’s say, Gallery app, but it can be hairpulling in WhatsApp. Copy paste is also not uniform across all apps. I can’t believe I can’t even copy text in apps like Google Reader and Google+. When I see a text, I want to be able to long-press on it and be able to select the text.

    Inconsistency #2:
    Or should I say fragmentation. This is why Android apps are pretty much lackluster. Developers simply aren’t given enough credit for the effort they put into designing their apps to cater to as much devices as possible. Add that to the fact that Android’s IDE is worse than that of iOS’

    Quantity over quality:
    Google has yet to address the issue of GPU acceleration. I can’t believe it took them a Dual Core Exynos processor to make Android’s experience bearable. Even then, I’m still seeing stutters on some apps for the lack of hardware acceleration. Android might have more features, but iOS simply excels in every feature they provide however lesser. Seldom will you notice your iOS device running less than 60fps.

    I, for one, like choices when it comes to buying gadgets, hence I’d like to see Windows Phone Mango seriously take off, especially with the addition of Nokia to its arsenal. When it does, I’d jump from Android to Mango definitely.

    -Ryan-

  7. DC,

    Yep, the phone is 2 years old. But it’s been a dog since Froyo was released a year ago. With 2 year contracts the norm at Verizon will that new Droid Bionic be a dog in 2 years too?

    Mark

  8. You forgot the main #1 reason why my next phone is going to be an Android (I’m currently an iPhone 3GS user), and that no matter what Apple does they have lost me from their ecosystem for life.

    Finally a smart phone (Samsung Galaxy SII) that does everything my desktop PC does, and does it while walking and chewing gum at the same time). This is a smartphone that replaces, a netbook, a tablet, a phone, a desktop, and does it while not breaking a sweat. I’m sorry Apple, but your iOS software and hardware sucks. You have been left in the dust by Android. Goodbye….

  9. I’m also using 3Gs, but comparing it with Samsung Galaxy SII… it’s like comparing low end Netbook with full sized brand new Alienware laptop.
    Sorry Sir,but you’re comparing socks with trousers.

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