After four years of owning an iPhone, I made the switch to Android in June. Overall, I’ve really liked it so far. The 5-inch screen of my Galaxy S4 blows the 4S screen out of the water. I still use my old 4S as an iPod in my car and when I go to the gym, and it freaks me out how tiny it is. How the heck did I use that thing for so long? I have no idea.
Beyond the larger screen, I really like the freedom Android provides. When I click on a hyperlink, I can actually have it open in Chrome by default. Imagine that! And if I don’t like an icon, I can change it (something I have a feeling iOS 7 users will really want to do when it ships). Want to change your lockscreen or keyboard or make a custom homescreen widget? Go right ahead. No need to root or jailbreak your phone to do it.
That said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While Android excels where iOS falls short, it’s not completely perfect. And after using it for a couple of months, a few issues have bugged me (sometimes to the point of wanting to run back to my teeny tiny iPhone).
The first issue is really more of an annoyance than anything. The proximity sensor of the S4 seems to have a mind of its own. When you’re on the phone and need to enter some numbers on the keypad, the screen won’t stay on long enough to enter even one number. The only way to get around the problem is to disable the proximity sensor altogether. Again, that’s really a pretty minor problem since I don’t use the phone that much, but it’s still annoying.
The second issue, though, has been a lot more aggravating. Since day one, I’ve had issues with the camera refusing to focus. (And yes, I did remove the little piece of plastic covering the lens.) The problem is random but fairly consistent, and the only way to fix it is to close and end the app and reopen it. And when it does focus, it takes a few seconds to do so. Not a big deal if you have the time to wait but not acceptible if you have just a brief moment to capture the picture. After the most recent firmware update, the problem seems to have gotten better, but I’d have to say I’m pretty disappointed in the S4 camera compared to what I had been using. The iPhone 4S camera is far superior to the S4′s, no question about it.
As a related issue, photos uploaded to Instagram also look pretty bad compared to those coming from an iPhone, although the quality has been better since the latest Instagram update. Now, a lot of Android fanboys would just say that Instagram’s dumb anyway and why not just use Google+ for all my photos, but that’s not the point. The point is, the app should work just as well for Android users as it does for the iPhone. Because I said so, that’s why.
The third major issue has to do with syncing music from my computer to the phone’s SD card. As with anything else in the Android world, there’s a million ways to do what you want to do. A lot of Android purists say to just upload everything to Google Music and stream it from there (you can upload up to 20,000 of your own songs for free). That, of course, is an easy solution but then you have to stream everything, which eats up your data plan pretty fast. Besides, what’s the point of having a 64 GB SD card if you’re not gonna use it? I’ve been using iSyncr to sync my music and iTunes playlists to the phone, and up until a few days ago everything was working fine. But then then it started freezing up while syncing or syncing empty playlists for no apparent reason. And if it did sync, it took forever. I spent almost my entire vacation day Wednesday trying to get it to work and more time yesterday, and while I’ve found a reasonable workaround, I’m still kinda miffed about it. Something as simple as syncing music to your phone shouldn’t be this difficult. Ever.
Which brings me back to iOS. For all their faults, the greatest selling point of Apple products is their cohesiveness. The Apple OS on the Apple hardware is designed to work seamlessly with Apple software. You don’t need a third-party app, you have iTunes. Plain and simple. And if it’s not working, you only have one company to blame: Apple. With my syncing issue, it’s hard to know if it’s a Google issue, a Samsung issue, or an issue with iSyncr. Or maybe it’s an Apple issue since it’s pulling from iTunes. Who knows? And forget taking it to a “Genius Bar”, your only hope is Google itself. The simplicity, the “it just works” factor of iOS, is very appealing, and while it’s also extremely restrictive, sometimes that’s a fair trade-off to make sure you can actually do what you need to do.
Despite these issues, I think I would still choose Android over iOS, though. No software is perfect, and God knows I fought with my iPhone countless times until I was thisclose to throwing out my car window at 70 mph. (For a while, simply syncing iTunes with my 3GS took over an hour each time, and at one point I had to change settings in my BIOS just to get it to work at all.) At the end of the day, you have to decide for yourself which features are most important and which annoyances you can learn to live with. The issues I’ve run into with my Android have soured my experience a little. We’ll see how well it holds up through the rest of my 2-year contract.