When I started my new job I got a new phone. To my great surprise it was an iPhone 4. This was fairly awkward for me, because I have been using an Android phone (HTC Desire) for the past year and I have been very satisfied. (Perhaps this would be a good time to state, that I am not particularly religious in the whole Android vs. Apple discussion, although some parts of the Apple way of doing business bothers me a bit).
So now I have been using the iPhone for two weeks and feel like it would be a good time to note down a few observations. Bear in mind that I am a very inexperienced iPhone user, and some of my issues may simply be due to the fact that I am not yet used to the phone.
Quite unexpectedly there are a number of features that the Android phone has, that I find myself really missing on the iPhone:
- Notifications – let’s get the major one out the way first: I really miss the pull-down notification window in Android, where I can see all Twitter mentions, Exchange and Gmail, calendar appointments, SMS messages etc. in one glance. On the iPhone I find myself scrolling around a lot, navigating back to apps that have displayed a pop-up notification.
- Multitasking – there does not seem to be proper multitasking on the iPhone, or at least it does not feel that way. When I access apps like Twitter, Google Latitude or FourSquare, the data in the apps is not updated and won’t update until I do some kind of reload. Compare this to Android, where updating takes place in the background most of the time.
- User interface – surprisingly I really miss the hardware buttons on the Desire, for navigating back, searching and bringing up a context menu. On the iPhone each program has its own interface for searching, for going back and for accessing things like settings. It’s confusing and inconsistent. (On a related note I actually also miss the little notification light that the Desire has for showing me that I have a notification, when the screen is off)
- Google integration – this is a no-brainer of course. I am a heavy user of all major Google services and on the iPhone the Google Apps are really lacking. No Google chat (which had almost replaced SMS for certain contacts), less advanced version of Latitude and Maps, only access to ones own Google Calendar etc. I find myself using the mobile web interface to Gmail instead of the built-in e-mail functionality on the iPhone, but it is not quite the same…
- Keyboard – earlier I thought that DamnYouAutoCorrect.com was funny. Now I know that it is tragically true. Shortly before switching to iPhone, I installed Swiftkey on my HTC Desire. It predicts words as I type them and it works great. It feels like a huge step back to be stuck with tapping out each character on iPhone and correcting the auto-correct all the time.
- App selection and stability – an common critique of Android used to be the selection and stability of the apps. Coming from Android to iPhone, the selection seems to be about the same, maybe even slightly in Android’s favour, since I can replace things like the keyboard with other apps on Android (as mentioned above). The apps on Android seem to be more powerful, for example letting me sync my call log with Google Calendar or scrobbling tracks from the built-in player to last.fm, things that I don’t think iPhone will let me. With regards to stability, I think I have had just as many app crashes on iPhone as I have had on Android.
- No widgets – another thing I did not expect to miss. But it turns out that having access to quickly turning off wifi or adjusting screen brightness is really practical. On the iPhone I have to dig (deep) in to the settings menu every time
But it is not all bad, there are a few important places where the iPhone 4 currently kicks the ass of the HTC Desire:
- Battery life – probably related to the multitasking mentioned above, the iPhone conserves its battery a lot better than the HTC Desire and lasts a whole day of normal use for me without problems. With the Desire I was always looking for an outlet to charge my phone.
- Camera – the camera on the HTC Desire is close to being unusable in anything but broad daylight. The iPhone camera takes pictures that feel as good as a compact camera. There is also a front-facing camera, and it works great for a Skype video conversation. Very nice!
- Internal storage – the HTC Desire has too little internal storage, which means that it is often necessary to move applications to the SD card. This is not specifically an Android problem, more hardware-related, but really annoying nevertheless. iPhone obviously doesn’t have these kind of problems.
So the question is: do I switch back or do I keep using the iPhone? For the moment I have no choice, since the MicroSIM of the iPhone is not compatible with the HTC Desire, but I have ordered an adapter, so I can switch between the two. Going forward I think I may just alternate a little between the two phones, but for various reasons related to my work I will probably stick with the iPhone. The choice will become more difficult as newer Android models come out with better cameras and better battery life.Tags: android, ios, iphone