I purchased a second-hand iPhone 3GS for my wife since she needed a smartphone for work, but she ended up not using it at all. It was this event that helped me decide it was finally time to replace my four year old phone with a three year old phone.
After using an iPhone (a version that is three generations old) for a few weeks now, I thought it might be worthwhile to finally compare it to Android and also just talk about what it's like to finally experience using an iPhone for the first time. It's like I'm one of those dinosaurs they resurrected from dinosaur blood in a mosquito trapped in amber. Please be warned that in this post I am comparing an 8GB Android Tablet (See Nexus 7 Review here) to a 32GB third generation Apple phone coming from the perspective of using an ancient Samsung Phone for the past five years. Also, I don't have a data plan so all of my surfing is done through wifi. In short, this comparison will not make much sense to anyone but me and will probably be useless to anyone who is serious about making comparisons.
- Although the iPhone 3GS came out in June 2009, merely a year after the Samsung Omnia, the difference between the two is like night and day. In my professional expert opinion, the iPhone 3GS is still a great smartphone today (which can even have IOS 6 installed on it), while the original Omnia is an abomination of desolation from the time before Samsung adopted Android and dabbled in the dark art of making their own user interfaces.
- After living for five years with Samsung's Frankenstein version of Windows Mobile 6.1 with all of it's quirks (like you had to click the home icon twice to get to your programs. The first time it would try to load up the screen and fail. The second time would always work), getting to use Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7 was like jumping butt-naked into refreshing ice-cold pool of Mountain Dew on a hot summer's day. The user interface on IOS devices is admittedly even smoother than Jelly Bean. Both OS's have their faults and quirks but in my mind they're both very good and pretty close to each other. Even Windows 3.1 would look good after suffering through the Samsung Omnia's dated interface. I hope I'll never have to look at another Windows Mobile 6.x device for the rest of my life. The more recent Windows Phone OS looks kinda cool but haven't had a chance to try that one out yet.
- Having a dedicated Home screen button has both its pros and cons. On the plus side, it doesn't take up any screen space and you can easily access it at any time. On the other hand, the home button is usually the first thing to break on an IOS device. The assistive touch feature on the iPhone (an on-screen home button) works pretty well though and should extend the life of your physical home button.
- Capcom games like Ghost Trick and Phoenix Wright are on IOS, as well as some of Capcom's arcade classics (for $$). This continues to support my theory that portable gaming consoles like the Sony Vita and the Nintendo 3DS may be obsolete in light of freaking powerful smartphones that can run Marvel vs Capcom 2 for under $5.
- The voice recognition on the 3GS is atrocious. I don't know if it's because there's some special hardware required for Siri that the 3GS doesn't have but I tried asking the iPhone to play songs by U2 and it gave me Justin Bieber instead.
- The mophie battery-pack for the 3GS that I got from the iPhone's previous owner is great! It effectively doubles the iPhone's battery life for long trips or marathon diarrhea sessions after eating Tiger Airways' overpriced in-flight dinner.
- Having 32GB of storage is amazing. After having to live with the limitation of my 8GB Nexus 7 and my retarded Omnia which only has 86 MB (yes, megabytes) of main memory storage (it had 8 GB of flash storage and a microSD expansion slot but you had to store the OS, your text messages, fonts, some programs in the main storage so I usually only had about 5 megabytes free at any given time and was constantly searching for text files, pictures, and random useless system files to delete in order to clear space on my Omnia). I went absolutely nuts installing apps, photos, music, and videos on the 32GB iPhone while on the Nexus I'm a lot more picky about what I keep on the system.
- No control over the file system, which means you can't download movies or pictures from the web browser. This is probably the most annoying thing (also see iTunes syncing below)
- Seems like there are more free apps for Android, and some apps that are free on Android cost money on IOS (Like Rovio's Bad Piggies or WhatsApp (free for one year)). Maybe because they think iPhone users are more likely to cough up dough than Android users, who even pirate free games and whose initial response to seeing a price tag is usually -- where else can I download this?
- No public transportation info from Apple's native map application--it directs you to the App store to download or buy a third-party routing tool for public transport. Annoying. Just because I'm using an Apple product does not mean I am frickin' Mr. Moneybags. Not to mention all of the other problems people have noticed with their maps app. Seriously, Tom Tom, your whole business was making GPS maps and they're still this bad? Is this whole fiasco your fault or Apple's?
- Syncing with iTunes is still annoying. Really annoying.
- No custom ringtones/alerts without using a third-party hacky app to do a bunch of complicated voodoo kungfu behind the scenes.
- Playing Words with Friends from an Android device AND IOS can cause corrupt games.. for example if you send a move on IOS while the network is down, then it saves the move to send later. Then you make the same or different move on the Android. When you go back to the iPhone the game will probably be corrupt. Yeah, probably not the iPhone's fault, but... meh.
- Adjusting all of the notification sounds and vibrations is a needlessly complicated before you get the hang of which settings do what.
Tablets vs Phones
Forget for a moment the whole Android vs IOS flaming/raging debate thing. For now I'm just discussing tablets and phones. I'm beginning to see why Steve Jobs felt 7 inch tablets were unnecessary. Now that I have both a phone and a tablet, I feel that it's mostly redundant to be carrying around both devices for everyday use. The tablet would be something that's a lot more useful when traveling abroad without a computer, simply lounging at home watching movies in bed, or engaging in yuppie activities in a coffee shop... basically some place where you're stationary and have two hands free.
For me, even the 7 inch Nexus 7 is a little too big and awkward to be whipping out in public (much less the twice-as-big iPad) while I've found that using my phone for games, videos, or music on a crowded bus or train, or on the toilet (just don't drop it) is a lot more convenient. A smartphone can do pretty much everything a tablet can do if you can live with the smaller screen. Smartphones are actually even better for certain tasks, like taking pictures and video, for instance. Have you ever seen people take pictures with a tablet before? It looks absolutely ridiculous. Samsung's Galaxy Note phones seem like a great compromise between the two (a phone/tablet lovechild, if you will) and if you had a Note, I don't see why you would even need a tablet (maybe you just like burning money?). You'll just need to get over how hilarious it looks holding such a huge phone to your face.
The main problem with using your phone as your all-in-one-do-it-all device is that you're going to run the battery dry pretty quickly and will be perpetually searching for a place to juice up, like a meth addict or something.. Either that or you'll need to buy a Mophie juice pack or some other accessory for increasing battery life. My advice to those of you who already have a Galaxy Note, Galaxy III, or some other high end Android phone? Be happy with what you've got. A 7-inch tablet probably isn't going to do much for you that you can't already do with your current device. I doubt the rumored iPad mini will be of much use to anyone who already owns an iPhone or iPad, but then again, Apple wouldn't be making it if they weren't going to make a ton of money off of it. If you can afford it, be my guest--go frickin' nuts, man.
My Nexus 7 / Android review