As an iPhone owner for the last 5 years (gosh has it been that long?), I’ve owned every iPhone, including the first one, used every version of iOS so far and have been a well documented Apple fanboy. But what I need to empahsize is, I’m not just an Apple fanboy, but a fanboy of good products.
Admittedly, I’ve grown a little bored of the iOS interface and the features for iOS 6 announced at WWDC didn’t really excite me as much was what was announced at Google I/O for Jelly Bean, the next version of Google’s Android OS.
In a moment of unspoken madness, I laid down the coin for a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the only phone that’s guaranteed the Jelly Bean update alongside the newly announced Nexus 7 tablet.
My first impressions of the phone was that it was extremely light and the beautiful large screen, a sight to behold. I was taken aback when unboxing the Nexus. I picked up the battery and it took my brain a minute to process that I have to remove the back cover of the Galaxy Nexus to put the battery in, something that I’ve never done for the last 5 years with my iPhones.
I played with the phone for a little, connecting it to all of my Google services, started downloading apps and see if the Galaxy Nexus and Android OS have enough pull to ditch make me ditch my iPhone altogether.
The first hurdle I encountered was my Galaxy Nexus came with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich and not the latest Jelly Bean version. There have been reports on prominent tech blogs that Google would be pushing Jelly Bean OTA updates to Galaxy Nexus devices and I waited patiently for it to happen in the days that follow after I purchased the phone. When news started to spread on Whirlpool forums that Australian Galaxy Nexus devices were starting to get OTA updates, it just didn’t happen to mine no matter how many times I tapped on the “Check For Updates” button on my Nexus.
It turns out, there are version different OS images for Galaxy devices even if they’re on the same version of firmware(wtf?). The American ones had a “takju” image that came with Google wallet, the Australian ones were named “yakju” and there were carrier variants like the “yakjudv” ones which I had. The OTA updates were only for the ones with the takju and yakju images and that means even though I had a Galaxy Nexus, I wouldn’t get the Jelly Bean update like the rest of Galaxy Nexus owners.
I never had this issue with my iPhones before. You either get the updates or if your iPhone was an older model and Apple clearly stated that it wasn’t supported, you wouldn’t get the update. Simple as that.
There was no dicking around with different images and don’t get me started on OEMs like Samsung and HTC with their Android skins meaning those with devices with these OEMs will have to wait much longer before getting their devices updated which in some cases, could take up to 9 months in previous cases.
And to add to all that complexity, I found out that I could get the OTA updates from Google if I unlocked my bootloader, download the takju or yakju images from the XDA forums and install them on my Nexus and THEN wait for the OTA update from Google, an exercise that took about 3 hours because I made some mistakes along the way and had to redo some of the time consuming steps.
I would love to see folks like my parents using Android devices and trying to get updates because as much as Google likes to tout the features of Android, it’s not the easiest OS to use or update.
After finally getting Jelly Bean on the Nexus, I started downloading all of the usual apps I used on my iPhone but I was starting to realize apps on Android is just not as polished as on iOS. Simple things like dragging a list to refresh doesn’t exist on Android and it was just so hard to get over for me personally. Apps on Android looked uglier than it’s iOS counterparts and was just clunky to use.
I used Tweetbot on my iPhone and couldn’t find anything as good on Android.
I used Reeder for my RSS feeds on iOS and the RSS reader app I downloaded for Android (it was so terrible I didn’t even bother to remember the app’s name.) was slow and unresponsive and it was one of the higher rated RSS reader app that doesn’t make it’s stories look like gay magazine stories.
I used Instacast for podcasts management on my iPhone and it was a breeze and joy to use. The Android app I downloaded was clunky and it made me miss heaps of my podcast episodes because I was trying to putt off using the app as much as possible.
It’s evident how the fragmentation of the Android devices led to the lack of polish of apps. Buttons on apps look like they’re either too big or too small and there are heaps of white space on app screens which could be utilized better for other features.
It’s getting frustrating using the apps I downloaded because they’re just not as good and for some reason, are priced much higher than iOS apps. I regularly see Android apps priced at $7-$10 dollars and apps that have similar functions on iOS would normally cost $0.99-$2.99. Apps with less polish and costs more? It just doesn’t make sense to me and just puts me off Android even more.
The final nail in the coffin for me with the Galaxy Nexus was that the screen was too big for my liking. Yes, photos look gorgeous on the screen, videos look mesmerising and browsing the web with a screen that huge on a mobile device was a joy. What I didn’t enjoy was it was IMPOSSIBLE to use the phone with one hand without always almost having the phone slip out of my hands and Stephen Shankland from CNET certainly shared my sentiments.
I thought the advantages of having a big screen would negate how hard it would be to use in one hand but I was wrong. It was a cumbersome to have to use both hands on my phone all the time for every little thing I did but the phone was just so wide even for my big hands my fingers barely wrapped around the phone when I was holding it.
By now, I was questioning myself as to why did I even think that an Android device could come between my love affair with Apple in the first place. I was glad that I managed to find someone to purchase the Galaxy Nexus and take it off my hands without suffering a loss. Don’t get me wrong though, the Galaxy Nexus was a fantastic mobile device but it just wasn’t the device for me that could take me to the next level after my experiences with iOS.
And I believe nothing in the market right now will come close to doing better for me than iOS. Android fanboys will think otherwise and I respect that. I’ll have to see how I feel about iOS 6 and the rumoured iPhone 5 when they become available in a couple of months and for now, I’m enjoying the new warm fuzzy feeling I’m getting with my iPhone 4S.
Absence DOES makes the heart fonder.