Belated Happy New Year all. This year, I’ve started things differently, as I’ve decided to switch to an Android phone after many years of using an iPhone. I bought my new phone around four weeks ago, so I thought I’d write about my experiences as an iphone loyalist jumping to the other side.
Why the switch?
Why am I doing this? Why the switch away from iOS, which I’ve grown to love over the years?
The first reason is that, as a UX designer, I have zilch experience using Android phone. Which makes it tricky for me to design for Android. I feel as though it’s time to let go of iOS, and see what it’s like to use Android, day-in, day-out.
The second reason is that I’m really excited about the new Android operating system, and Google’s material design principles that they bring with it. I get the feeling that material design and a heightened focus on web animation are going to be among the key trends in 2015.
I have no issues with iOS, per se, but it feels like the right time for me to make the switch.
Which phone did I choose?
I’ve chosen a Sony Xperia Z3 compact as my virgin Android device. Why? Primarily I chose this phone because of size. Most all of the Android handsets are enormous (as are the new iPhone 6 phones, to be fair), and I really didn’t want anything that much bigger than my trusty old iPhone 5.
￼I’ve always had a soft spot for the Sony brand, too. They make good hardware, and over the years I’ve been happy with my sony devices, all the way back to my first cassette tape walkman. One that only had play, stop and fast forward buttons, to show my age.
Anyway, I felt confident that Sony’s background in making cameras, speakers and screens makes them a worthy contender.
I use my mobile camera a lot, so I wanted something that had a comparable camera. And while it gets mixed reviews, I’ve been happy with the Xperia’s camera so far. It has a 20 megapixel camera too, which is pretty extraordinary for a compact sized phone.
The other big drawcard of this phone is the battery. iPhone users are long-suffering slaves to terrible better-life. Android phones and the Sony in particular, have far better success with batteries that last more than a day. So far the Xperia battery-life is holding up very well. I’m told it can handle 3 days of moderate usage before going flat. That’s just unheard of in iPhone land.
Plus it’s waterproof. I’ve dropped my phone in the toilet before. I may do it again. Peace of mind, and all that.
And did I mention it comes in orange?
I have to say – I’ve fallen in love with the Android experience quite quickly.
It just seems to work better, at least for my workflow. One thing that always irked me about iOS was how impossible it was to transfer files. Android makes this a breeze. You have access to the file structure, which means you can easily download and store files from the browser, and move them to wherever you like. It’s easier to share files and save on Dropbox. And with Android, it just feels easier to traverse between apps. Each application communicates with others better. It feels more like browsing the web on a desktop. I like this.
I was expecting the learning curve to Android would be quite high. Turns out it’s not. I was able to set myself up rather quickly. Syncing your iPhone contacts to Google makes it easy to transfer your contact data over, so all of that was much easier than anticipated.
Downloading apps from Google play is straightforward, and almost all apps that I used on iPhone are now available on Android. There are a few missing, but it seems that “app gap” between iPhone and Android is smaller than it has ever been.
Notifications are insanely better on Android. They’re actually useful. I’m not quite sure what to make of Widgets just yet, but they certainly seem to be useful.
There are two apps I’ll dearly miss – Tweetbot and Things, but everything else seems to be comparable. It has taken me the whole month to find the right Twitter app. There’s nothing that quite compares to Tweetbot on Android. But I’m using Falcon 3 for twitter for the moment. It’s very good. Robird is also worthy of a mention. And I’ve managed all my to-do’s using Things for years, so I felt a bit sad to leave this app. It’s helped me keep my shit together far better than I could have on my own. If any one app would drag me back to iOS, it would be this one. But I’m going to finally give Wunderlist a go. Impressed with it so far.
One thing I hadn’t realised with Android phones is that you can extend the memory. It has 16 Gb of internal storage, but I’ve added another 64Gb. That means I have heaps of room to save music and photo files. You can do this on all Androids, not just the Sony. A pleasant surprise.
Speaking of photos, I’ll also be ditching iPhoto as part of this experiment. iPhoto drives me batshit crazy, so I’m happy to be moving my photos off it. Instead, I’m going to transfer all of my photos to dropbox, and view them using Carousel. This is working really well for me, admittedly after just 2 weeks.
I won’t go as far as saying that the Android experience is perfect. There are a few things that I’m not enjoying.
For starters – I can’t play Rdio wirelessly. On my iPhone I played music over airplay via my airport express wifi, but this isn’t possible with Android. I never thought that this would be a problem, but of course it is. (I’m sure there is a way to do this, so if anyone can help me out, I’d appreciate it.
I’m not a massive fan of all the Sony apps and bloatware that come with the Xperia, but it seems they can mostly be hidden, so I guess this is ok.
Somehow, the UI feels a little messier, but I guess that’s the trade-off from having more control.
Admittedly, these are first-world problems. No major complaints, really.
All in all – thumbs up
The word on the streets is that my handset will get Android Lollipop in February, so I’ll probably have more to say then.
But all in all, it’s been a thumbs up experience. I’d recommend you giving Android a go.