Well, my wife finally broke down and ordered an iPhone 5 a few weeks ago and it arrived last week. I finally got to sit down with it over the weekend and do a side by side comparison with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus and in today’s entry I’m going to detail my findings.
Camera: Despite the fact that my Samsung Galaxy Nexus is only a few months old, it came with a 5mp camera. As a result I guess it’s not fair to compare it to the 8mp camera on the iPhone 5 and honestly, it isn’t fair, as there is no comparison. The iPhone phones have always taken better pictures than any droid phone I’ve ever seen and the iPhone 5 is no exception. I take quite a few photos and usually hate taking pictures on anything short of a full size Nikon or Canon camera, but the pictures on the iPhone are not too bad.
Screen: Obviously the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a larger screen than the iPhone since Apple chose to only make their phone slightly taller. But there is more to a screen than its size and the iPhone 5 again comes out well on top in a number of areas. First the brightness of the iPhone 5 makes my Nexus appear to be dimmed to mid level despite it being on full power. The iPhone is much brighter with whites actually being white. When sitting beside the iPhone 5, the Nexus whites are actually grey and dull looking.
The text on both devices are equally clear but the brightness actually helps the iPhone appear clearer to me. When holding both devices side by side I found myself wanting to read the iPhone screen even though it is slightly smaller.
Double Tapping columns: The iPhone 5 seems to zoom in perfectly around columns of text on web pages while the Android OS leaves areas around the area viewable still. Not a big deal but is an effect that I wanted to mention.
Photo Gallery: iOS 6 has a much better photo gallery that even lets you create your own gallery’s and organize your photos on the device to help keep things organized. On Android you only have the option of having all of your photos in one huge gallery and no way on the device to organize them. This brings me to a point I want to make about Android that constantly drives me crazy. There could be a way to create galleries on Android but nothing is intuitive about using it and I’ve never figured it out, if there actually is.
Phone Dialer: As far as I’m concerned the phone dialer on Android is so bad that it barely serves to be called a dialer. I’ve even tried to download 3rd party dialers to see if they could make my phone less frustrating to use, but they all do the same dumb things. What are these dumb things? Well, lets start by explaining how iOS 6 dialer works and keep in mind that NONE of these things work properly on the Android OS. First off, when I open it I can view by groups, favorites, search or add new contacts easily by choosing the appropriate buttons. No long presses or hidden menus needed. If I lookup a contact with 5 phone numbers, instead of displaying all of the numbers on the locate screen, it displays the contact. A second touch gets me to all their numbers along with an Edit button, add to favorites and a few other options. Again, all clearly labeled on the phone with no extra thinking needed.
Now why is taking me to the contact better than just showing the numbers? Because what if the number I choose is not answered and I need to try another one? On the Android device it actually requires me to repeat my entire search in order to get back to the other numbers listed. This happens to me more times than I care to repeat, and is probably my most hated thing about the phone. At no time do I ever have to think about how to use the iOS 6 dialer or for that matter any other version of iOS dialer, since they’ve worked this way forever. Attention to detail is what is completely lacking about Android and I’m not seeing them fixing things. They’re quick to add features to interface to Facebook but the basics are continuously ignored.
Another thing I really like about iOS (any version) is that the dialer and your contact list are both the same app. Why on earth do I need to go to another app to see my contacts when I’m in the phone app already? And while we’re at it, why would we call it “People” instead of “Contacts” like it is everywhere else in the world? Another example of not paying attention to detail and wasting my time having to hunt for things.
As for Android, I’ve already mentioned having to repeat searches over and over but another thing about their dialer is that at no point is anything obvious. There are all sorts of hidden menus that change depending on where you are in the list and it makes figuring out how to use it just stupidly complicated. Apple has done a much better job making the basics work exactly as you’d expect, which makes their phones much easier to navigate and use.
One last thing that stands out is that iPhone has a specific tab for Favorites as does Android, but on Android they’ve added the contact list below your favorites so that if you scroll down far enough, you’ll start to see all of your contacts there. Most people I’ve spoken to didn’t even realize it was there and thought they had to use the other application for Contacts, excuse me “People” in order to see them.
Phone Size: As I mentioned, my Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a good bit wider than the iPhone 5 and at first I liked this. I can see more of a website when browsing among other things. However, there have been numerous occasions that I’ve had to reposition the phone in my hand in order to reach the top or corners of the phone since its larger than my hand can reach. I thought the smaller iPhone 5 wouldn’t be able to compete with the larger screen of my Samsung, but after using it, I have to admit that it does feel more natural to use and requires a lot less movement to deal with. After just a few minutes of it in my hand I started to want one.
App Store: This won’t be as opinionated as the other points I’ve made because to me, if the store allows you to find what you’re looking for and you can easily purchase and download them, then it serves the purpose. There is no argument that the Apple app store has many more high quality apps than Android has and the gap seems to be growing, but Android has come a long way in a very short period of time so I have no complaints on either. I will give Apple the edge though because the apps I download from their store are usually much higher quality than what I get off Android.
Working With the Store: This is one of the only areas that Apple looses completely with me. I absolutely hate their “better than thou” attitude towards applications developed for their platform. I have no problem with them wanting the experience to be high, the quality to be high and them reviewing the apps to make sure this is maintained. In fact I think Android suffers from a complete lack of this. However, Apple is turning more and more into something I despise and the time it takes to turn around updates due to their insane review process makes me hate them even more. There currently is only one app that I can run on my Android device that I can not even obtain on iOS (any version) and that is a network viewer that shows me the signals and strength coming from local WIFI networks. Whatever Apple’s claim as to why they won’t allow apps like this, its dumb and because of it it makes me dislike them even more. In fact, Apple pushing their view of the world on everyone else just because you’re using one of their devices is the one thing that makes me not want to purchase any of their products. I really wish that they’d re-evaluate these processes because I think they’d gain a huge fan base they otherwise have no hope of obtaining.
Screen Scrolling: I pulled up the same website on both devices to see which phone displays it best and what the experience was on both devices. I am not going to get into which one has the crisper text because its too much an opinion than an objectionable review, but I can say that when scrolling up and down on both devices, the iPhone 5 scrolls perfectly under your finger and is much smoother as it goes. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus actually jumps as it scrolls down and doesn’t have nearly as nice an experience. Of course, you don’t notice this unless you’re using an iPhone next to it, or have used one in the past, but I have noticed it over the couple of years I’ve been on Android. In the end, they both work so the jumpiness isn’t that big of a deal, but it does show another example of how iOS is a bit more polished than Android.
Memory Expansion: In the beginning the Android phones I was getting had built in memory expansion cards which was nice if you wanted to store more data on the phone. Lately though, I’ve noticed a trend towards what Apples been doing and they’ve stopped providing the slots. My Samsung phone is an example of this and as a result, neither phone gets any points here.
Cable interfaces: While Apples new cable actually can be plugged in either direction and still work, I’m a bit irritated that they’ve changed everything. I see no benefit other than it being a bit smaller and easier to plug in for the change and it bothers me that the new interface cable I just purchased for my iPad 2 that allows using USB with it, won’t work on newer iPads and now I have to purchase even more cables. I’m also bothered that the cables cost an insane amount of money in order to add even the most basic functionality to the system and this includes the new Macbook Pro Retina display I own. Plus I have to keep up with all these extra plugs and cables. The fact that Android phones have all but standardized on the mini USB style cables gives them the edge in my opinion. It’s nice to switch phones and still be able to use your car mount or charging system you already purchased for another phone. The plug is a bit small, difficult to plug in and doesn’t have the smoothness of Apple’s, but some times not having to repurchase cables makes us happy.
Music Player: Again, Apple is so far ahead in this area its hard to even do a comparison. Android does not have a valid music player and Google seems to be pushing Google Music to try to circumvent this. Google Music player has honestly come a long way and isn’t too far off, but the complete lack of current music continues to force you to use other means to purchase the songs you want. As a result Amazon tends to be your fallback, but this just adds to the steps involved in getting your music to your phone and computer. iTunes provides a much more streamlined process for dealing with your music.
Google Music player also suffers from the other problems I’ve mentioned in Android, which is that it’s not obvious how to do the most basic of things and after a while gets a bit frustrating to use. Now having said this, Apple for some reason has made you have to click the time field at the very top of the screen in order to open the music search field which is completely crazy and not at all obvious. I’m sure they’ll fix this as it seems to be a bug instead of a feature.
Apple is also missing a huge opportunity here that they seem incapable of understanding. If they wrote an iTunes app for the droid platform it would pull most people over to it, since there is and has always been a complete lack of any valid competitor on the droid platform. This would also make it indirectly harder for Google to gain a foothold in that area and make it easier to convert to an iPhone later if you wanted. Google seems much smarter than Apple in this area since they already write apps for both platforms.
In Conclusion: The entire Android vs iOS debate tends to be more fueled by who you hate worse than anything objectionable and I try to stay out of love affairs as they always end badly at some point. I could be viewed more as a whore of technology as I’m always in search of something better and could care less about who provides it. Apple honestly “makes” me dislike them because instead of focusing on being the best they focus on petty issues that only serve to limit all of our end results. If they opened up their platform and let Linux users start viewing movies and purchasing music on iTunes for example, or they let those of us that need specific apps to run on our phones because we want to, instead of telling us “as if they were our parents” that we shouldn’t, because they say so, then I might have a different opinion.
But in the end, I am always hunting for the best and will drop you in a second if I think you’re not working hard to provide it. I wouldn’t expect our customers of Lizzy to stay with us if someone else were providing a better solution and as a result we work our butts off to make sure that doesn’t ever happen. Because we work so hard to do this I expect everyone else to.. 🙂
After all, it’s nice to be the customer every now and then.