Carrying two phones isn't ideal, but I do it anyway

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: March 28, 2012

People call me crazy and give me all sorts of weird looks when I'm texting or doing something with one phone and I pull out another and start tapping away at it. The truth, though, is that I don't even give it second thought anymore. I can't remember the last time I left my house with only one phone in my pocket or backpack.

I guess part of it is that a lot of my friends and family aren't very tech-savvy. A lot of them still use feature phones. And some of them are just now opening up to the world of iPhones, BlackBerrys and "Droids."

But in the words of Al Sacco of CIO.com, "I'm a two-smartphone man. And I wouldn't have it any other way."

It all started for me when I was working at Best Buy Mobile as a wireless sales consultant. There were a few perks that came with being an associate for a company that sells wireless devices, especially when that company is partnered with three or more wireless providers. One of those perks is being able to play with every new device that comes out, and carrying an armory of phones on you when you're on the sales floor. But there are also concession lines for employees, which make carrying two or more personal work phones entirely too easy.

Back then, I was probably carrying three phones at any given time, whether I was at work or not. And you better believe I loved every minute of it. But let's be honest, three phones is a bit excessive. Two, however, is not. For me, it's perfect.

I've tried cutting back to a single line, and I have no doubt I would like not having to pay for a second line. But it just doesn't seem to work out. I always start wanting to use a different phone and a different operating system.

Al Sacco's reasoning behind carrying two phones is that the two he carries perfectly compliment each other (I've been there, and I totally agree with his sentiments). He carries a BlackBerry Bold 9900 on AT&T and a Motorola DROID 4 on Verizon Wireless. In short, the long battery life, beefy security and awesome keyboard of the Bold offset the shortcomings of the DROID 4. Likewise, the large display, great multimedia experience, blazing fast LTE and great camera more than make up for the areas where the BlackBerry is lacking. He also notes that work pays for his second line, so it's far more justifiable.

I, on the other hand, carry two devices that are quite similar and they are both personal lines – I pay for both. Currently, I carry an iPhone 4S on Verizon and the AT&T Galaxy Note hacked onto T-Mobile. While the size difference between the two is about as far apart as phone sizes can possibly get, the rest is largely the same. Both phones are chock-full of games and apps, both have great cameras and both offer smooth performance and decent battery life. So why carry two? Why not save myself an extra wireless bill every month and the hassle of carrying a second device everywhere I go?

Unlike Sacco, my reasons for carrying two devices don't stem from hardware – it's mainly about the software. If I had to choose (and I'm glad I don't), I would choose Android. Plain and simple. I rely so heavily on Google Apps for work and personal reasons that trying to find iOS alternatives to Google's own software just isn't worth the struggle. Gmail on Android is second to none, and I use Gtalk, Google Voice and Google Docs religiously. Like I said, there are relatively simple ways to get a similar experience on iOS. And I've tried them. It's just not the same.

One key feature of Android that I'm finding harder and harder to live without, though, is bookmark sync in Chrome. All of my bookmarks are synchronized between the stock Android browser and the desktop version of Chrome. Also, using Chrome for Android, I can easily pull up any open tabs I have on my MacBook. And, as I've explained before, I simply like Web browsing on Android better. The tiny display of the iPhone is restricting and requires a lot of panning and zooming when casually browsing the Web. It's much more comfortable to browse on a large device like the Note, or any 4-inch or larger Android phone.

So why carry an iPhone, too? Multimedia and social media.

I still use the Galaxy Note for any type of videos (Netflix, YouTube, etc.). Its 5.3-inch HD display is second to none for that type of stuff. But, as many of you know, I stream music and take pictures like a fiend. The Galaxy Note's camera is good – not great. The level of detail leaves much to be desired and shutter lag is atrocious. The iPhone's camera is fantastic and super quick. But the real difference that, in my opinion, is largely overlooked is multimedia performance. Android devices work just fine for streaming music or playing locally stored music. But from the minute you hit the play button, you can watch your battery life trickle away. The iPhone can stream Spotify or play my downloaded tracks for hours on end without really affecting the battery life too bad. Plus, I can pocket my iPhone with a headset that has play/pause/skip controls and control my flow of music without ever pulling it out of my pocket. I cannot do that with the Note unless I use a Bluetooth headset.

I also have an addiction to social media. I tweet a lot and am constantly checking Facebook, sending pictures to Path and Instagram and playing social games. I like to do all of this from the iPhone, as the applications seem more well-rounded. (Commence the flame war!) Path, for instance, has an application for both Android and iOS. However, when you post a picture to Path from Android, you do not have the option to apply a filter to your picture like you can with the iOS version. TweetBot and Twitter for iOS have solid push notifications. Push notifications on Twitter for Android are laughable at best, though I regularly use the Plume Twitter client. And Instagram hasn't even made its way to Android yet. That said, there is no comparison between Draw Something on the miniature display on the iPhone and using it on the Galaxy Note with the S Pen.

As you can see, every little thing is a trade-off. But I can neither sacrifice such an integrated, synchronized Google Apps experience for a better multimedia or social experience, or the other way around. Both the Galaxy Note and the iPhone – Android and iOS – are perfectly capable of handling all of these tasks alone, I would simply rather have a great experience all-around through carrying two devices over settling with one.

That's not all, though. Carrying two devices, while it's sometimes a bit nerve-wracking (there isn't always enough pocket space or enough hands to carry everything), comes with its own set of benefits. Like I said before, battery life is decent on both the Note and iPhone. Individually, I would struggle to make it through an entire day. If I carried only the iPhone, it would probably die around 7 or 8 PM. If I carried just the Note, it would likely die a couple hours before then. But since I carry both, I use them less and they last all day. Plus, if one were to die, I wouldn't be totally disconnected from the online world. (We all know how scary that is.)

Being on two different carriers (who use different wireless technologies, nonetheless), chances are pretty high that I will always have coverage on at least one line. It's very seldom that I lose coverage on both T-Mobile and Verizon at the same time.

Am I crazy? Probably. Al Sacco definitely has a more justifiable reason for carrying two phones than I do – there's no denying that. But I have found the perfect combination of devices that works best for me, and it's hard to go back to the way it was before. I have an extremely hard time choosing just one platform. By carrying two different operating systems at all times, if a new app or service launches solely on iOS, I can still use it. Likewise, if Google launches a new Android-only app, I can still access it. It's sort of like my own checks and balances system for mobile devices. I never have to go without ... anything.