As Android has advanced each year, Google fans have constantly accused Apple of failing to innovate. Every time a new iPhone is announced, Android fans cry out, "They copied that from Android! That's not innovation." I'm not here to argue whether Apple has failed to innovate with iOS or iPhone hardware -- that's been overdone and it's getting old -- but I will say, after having been in this business for a really long time, that I've always gone back to the iPhone every time I tried to jump on the Android bandwagon. Until now.
I owned the original Motorola DROID, HTC EVO 4G, HTC One X, and the Samsung Galaxy S3. It's a short list, and none of those phones lasted more than six to eight months for me before I moved back to the iPhone 4, 4S or the iPhone 5. Ultimately, I felt like the iPhone had a better app ecosystem and camera. Its battery life was always excellent, and the OS was familiar and behaved consistently. Every Android phone I'd owned, on the other hand, had poor battery life and more lag and hiccups than I could handle.
This all changed when I bought an HTC One.
For many Android fanatics and purists, Sense UI is a pain in the rear. But when you consider how far it's come in the past year alone, it's actually pretty darn good, or at least good enough for me to tolerate and even enjoy using Android. I don't mind BlinkFeed, although I wish it were faster and that it had more sources than just Facebook, Twitter and a small handful of news outlets. The redesigned phone and messaging apps finally look modern and pretty. Best of all, after two months of solid use, I can't recall one instance when my phone crashed or had any sort of lagged.
That's not to say I hate the iPhone 5. I'm not even bored with it. But since Android apps have gotten better, displays are bigger and sharper, it's really hard for me to find any reason to switch back to my iPhone 5 as my daily driver. I'm really into smartphone photography, and I do think that the iPhone 5 still has the best camera all around, but the HTC One camera is more than good enough for my use. The battery life on the HTC One is nearly as good as the iPhone 5, too, when it comes to how I use my device. In short, this is the first time I've gone this long on an Android device without constantly fighting the temptation to go back to the iPhone, just to give Android another chance.
But why the HTC One instead of a device like the Samsung Galaxy S4, or any of the flagship devices from Motorola or LG? Well, the HTC One is beautiful and it's fast. I reviewed the Galaxy S4, and while it's an excellent smartphone, it is chock full of gimmicks that cause the phone to slow down or freeze. I also hate the plastic construction and feel of the device. It doesn't have the soul and beauty that the HTC One has. In fact, I'd go so far as saying that the HTC One is finally a solid answer to Apple's iPhone 5 in terms of pure beauty when it comes to hardware design.
Because the HTC One works so well, and the hardware is really great, I'm beginning to appreciate more from Android than I ever have before. Again, I've done this for a living for quite some time, so I'm completely familiar with all the intricacies and nuances of Android and iOS, but I've never appreciated customizability and widgets quite like this. Yes, widgets. I never thought I'd say that. Having weather, news, music, power management controls and social network updates without worrying about sacrificing battery life is so great. In the past, I'd shut off all widgets and notifications because it destroyed battery life on most Android devices I owned, but this time that's not the case.
Perhaps some of you are thinking, "What about iOS 7? It looks pretty good and brings new and very welcome features to the platform." Yes, that's true, and maybe it might be enough to sway me some time down the road. But in my experience with it, and from what I've seen so far, it's just more of the same. Sure, there are loads of new features, but part of me feels like it's too little, too late. Some of the design elements within the UI also make me feel infantilized. But perhaps I only feel that way because my life has revolved around this stuff. I'm sure new smartphone users, or perhaps older ones who haven't been as immersed in technology, would really appreciate it.
If you've switched platforms recently, whether Android to iOS or the other way around, or to and from Windows Phone or BlackBerry, I'd love to hear your experiences so far. Oh, and if anyone here thinks I've fully committed to the Android bandwagon and that I'm now a fanboy, I haven't gotten rid of my iPhone 5 yet. I don't think I will any time soon, either.