Get a iPhone 5s Or Switch to Android?


My iPhone 4s is coming off contract soon and before I replace it with the iPhone 5s / iOS 7, I thought I should do some research on Android-based smartphones (no interest in Windows mobile, sorry Steve).

My good friend Mike Gwaltney had great idea to end the guesswork – try an Android for awhile before I get caught up in next week’s iPhone launch frenzy. So two days ago, I took his advice and bought a Nexus 7 at Best Buy (two week return policy).

What follows is my initial experience with the Android OS. Keep in mind that I’m a Android newbie and I’m not certain how much of the Nexus 7 experience will carry over to an Android smartphone. Nor am I interested in the Nexus 7 hardware – my real goal is a new smartphone not an Android tablet. The superb audio and video Netflix stream on the Nexus 7, doesn’t tell me much about the Android smartphone experience. Android or not, the Nexus 7 goes back to Best Buy next week. (I enjoy creating multi-touch iBooks – can’t view them on a Nexus 7)

I was already using many Google services – Chrome, Gmail, G Drive – all that content was on the Nexus as soon as I logged into Google. But I’ve never used Google for contacts and calendar – they’re hosted on iCloud and synched between my Mac, iPad, iPhone and MacBook Air. My first goal was to get those over to the Nexus 7. I found a very easy (and free) solution for for moving contacts to Google – the (free) Bump app. I loaded Bump on my iPhone and Nexus 7 and did the bump. Selected all contacts and over they went. Looks like Bump can also move photos and audio files. (Though there must be better ways to do that.)

Moving to Google Calendar was much more challenging. I looked online at discussion groups and searched “Help” at Google and none of the solutions seemed to work. Eventually I found the SmoothSync app ($2.86 at Google Play). It moved my calendar to the Nexus 7, but strangely my appointments don’t show up in the desktop versions of Google Calendar. Haven’t fixed that yet, but my iCloud and Nexus 7 calendar are syncing with new updates in both directions.

I downloaded a bunch of my key apps to the Nexus 7 – Dropbox, Evernote, 1Password, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. For the most part they look and behave like their iOS counterparts. LinkedIn somehow manages to have an equally confusing notification system on both platforms. The only app the varied greatly between platforms was 1Password. The Android version does not support selecting specific sections of text for copying to clipboard in the secure notes or attachments – very challenging if you have any important data stored that way,

Finally I tried my hand at customizing the home screen. I’d been impressed with all cool themes, wallpapers and widgets that I had seen online. So many to choose from, though some customizations didn’t function very well. When I tapped on the cool non-skeuomorphic icon for my calendar, I didn’t see my appointments, I was offered more settings for customizing the calendar icon widget. After wasting a few hours trying to trick out my home screen I ended up creating something that in retrospect looks a lot like my iPhone home screen.

So I’m 48 hours into Android. If I had to make a decision right now, I’d stick with the iPhone. So far I haven’t found any big advantages with Android. And getting my wife and I moved over from iOS and still maintaining synch with our Mac desktops seems like far too much work. But I’ll give it a few more days.

Update Sept 20, 2013
Returned my Nexus 7 to Best Buy a few days ago.
Here’s me waiting in line to get the new iPhone 5s 64GB (Black  - No bling for me).
Note: I’m the only Mac FanBoy reading an actual book.

mac fan boy line

Image credit Flickr: George Thomas/ios-android-war-iphoneindia

7 Replies to “Get a iPhone 5s Or Switch to Android?”

  1. Hi Peter,

    SmoothSync for Cloud Calendar won’t sync your events to your Google desktop calendar. That’s not what it’s meant for. The app is meant to synchronize between iCloud and Android, not between iCloud and Google.



  2. Hi Peter,

    Have you made a decision yet? If not, I hope this helps…

    For the most part, you will adjust to the way things “look and feel”. It’s like redesigning your kitchen. You’ll look in the wrong drawer for the utensils for a few days or weeks, and then you’ll get used to where things are.

    The biggest advantage of Android, though, is its openness. I’ve had three android phones (and one tablet) so far and I rooted and installed on all of them. This automatically purges whatever bloatware was installed by the phone company, and whenever the news of an android security flaw surfaces, the community usually manages to release a patch that gets merged into the nightly (optional) updates. For me, being able to regularly update the OS over wifi without having to wait for my phone company to push an update (or ignore the problem) is a big plus.

    Another key difference between the two systems is that the Google Play App Store is not the only options. can safely provides FLOSS app that you can trust, and if you want, you can also install ad-hoc apps that you download from anywhere (simply allow the OS to install apps from “Unknown sources”).

    To use Cory Doctorow’s words, Android has a “yes master” philsophy, while iOS has a “I can’t let you do that Dave” attitude.

    Everything else is just a matter of getting used to where the utensils are…

  3. I had heard so much about Android and what a great phone the Samsung Galaxy S4 was that I bought one and sold my iPhone. I’ve had the phone for roughly 4 months. Yesterday I waited hours in line to pay full retail price for the iPhone 5s. I am not a tech whiz, but I’m not technologically challenged either. The great things about the S4 were its screen size and clarity and that I could put my own memory chip in it and replace the battery. That’s where the greatness ended. The S4 had so much bloatware it was a chore to just navigate to the apps I wanted to use. One poster mentioned rooting and installing software to purge all of this and that’s fine, but I’d much rather put stuff on my phone that I want rather than figuring out the best app to get rid of the majority of the software on the phone. Navigating was simply a pain. It was absolutely ridiculous that I would get a notification on my phone app that I got a call, would open the phone app to be able to see who called, then have to exit the phone app, find the voicemail app and open it to listen to the message.

    Almost every time I touched the phone I would hit something I didn’t mean to and have to backtrack. When I would hand the phone to a friend to show them a picture or something they invariably shut it off because the on/off button is on the side of the phone where it’s natural to hold it. If you wanted to avoid the on/off button and held the phone by the bottom you hit the back button or the menu button. It’s an awkward design.

    The S4 had all kinds of cool gimmicks like hand gestures that worked about as well as voice recognition does on a customer service line. After waiving my hand over my phone to answer it multiple times without success I finally realized that even if by some miracle the call was answered I’d still have to actually pick the phone up at that point anyway unless I wanted to be one of those obnoxious people who shout their conversations over a speaker phone. Other uses of hand gestures were equally annoying and I finally disabled them completely.

    I could continue with everything I didn’t like about the S4 and Android, but what it boils down to is the iPhone is simple, efficient and does the basics really well. I need a phone to do what I want it to do without spending two hours trying to get the widget to work on my home screen and figuring out what software I can hide without losing critical functionality. I spent roughly $1000 between a full retail 64g iPhone 5s, a screen protector and a Mophie Juice Pack, but I left the store with a big grin on my face. I opened up my music app (the only music app on my phone compared to 3 on the S4) and easily navigated to an upbeat song. If customizing and tweaking everything to get your phone to where you want it is your thing then you are probably an Android person. If you prefer it to do what it’s supposed to with a minimal amount of fuss and frustration than go with Apple.

  4. Patrick and Rob,

    Thank you both for taking the time to present your perspectives. Both comments are informative, well written, and effectively captured the Android and iOS ethos.

    In the end, I realized that, like Rob, I preferred the more elegant simplicity of iOS. I activated it over wifi at Stumptown Coffee on my walk home and downloaded all my iCloud data and content.

    The 5s is blazingly fast and I appreciate the increased screen size from the 4s. And my slightly stretched, one-handed thumb typing reminds me that I wouldn’t want to hold a phone that was any bigger.

    PS – I’m getting $235 for my 4s at Gazelle. Done.

  5. I also thought that I would try my luck with an android. I purchased the Samsung Galaxy S4 two months ago and I really liked it at first. Now I’m completely over it. I desperately miss my iPhone. All of the fancy things are great but when it comes down to it the simplicity of the iPhone is so much better. Now I’m having to pay full retail price for an iPhone and sell the galaxy.

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