Why I ditched my iPhone for Android...

Cam Bunton
Senior Managing Editor from  Cumbria, UK
| May 8, 2014

For those of you who don't know, I've been running an iOS-centric blog for the past 4 years. As you can imagine, that means being tied to one operating system for my smartphone and tablet needs, at least as my primary device. And that's not really been a problem. It's not like using an iPhone was a chore for 4 years, and I've had flirtations with other devices and operating systems in that time, but never really switched full time to anything other than an iPhone. 

So, I'm no iPhone hater. 

My history with mobile phones extends further, but my relationship with Android has perhaps been the most interesting and varied. You could call it a love-hate relationship. In the past, for all the elements I liked there were a handful I hated. 

I bought the original Android phone, the T-Mobile G1 shortly after it was released, and love it - for the most part - up until I got an iPhone 3GS the next summer. I got it on launch day. I didn't queue up for it. I'd tried a friend's iPhone 3G and fell in love with the operating system and the App Store. Plus, the way it synced with my iTunes library was the bomb back then. This was in the days when MobileMe was the height of cloud syncing, and the choice of apps on Android was terrible. What's more, iPhone was so clearly and obviously better designed. And I stuck with iOS, near enough full-time, from that summer in 2009 until last month. 

Like I say, I've had flirtations with other devices. And not just Android phones either. I've gone through 4 BlackBerry phones, Android phones almost reaching double figures and an HP Pre 3. But they've never quite replaced my iPhone. The closest I came until now was with the HTC One last year. I used it as my main device, but I had so many apps I couldn't live without installed on the iPhone that the thought of giving them up was inconceivable. 

Now that's changed. How I use my phone has changed. 

Truth is, iPhone made me very anti-social. And this is a personal experience entirely. For some of you, the iPhone is the perfect device. For others, the thought of using it makes you weep. For me, it just simply stopped being the device that suited me best. 

Key to this turn in social behavior were two interlinked features: Screen size and keyboard.  Because the screen was so small, replying quickly to messages was just too irritating. I didn't like using it in landscape purely because I couldn't see any of the conversation. As for portrait mode, the keyboard was so cramped that I'd rarely type a sentence without hitting the wrong keys. Not helped by the fact that iOS' method of offering word corrections is about as useful as predictive text on a Nokia 3310. And let's not get started with email. Sometimes felt like a super-human effort just to pick up the phone and respond to anything from my inbox. 

And, if I'm not using my phone for communication, because I hate doing so, it begs the question: Why have I got it in the first place? I can do everything else with an iPod touch.. 

One problem many iOS users face when considering a switch is leaving the Apple ecosystem. If you rely on Apple's iCloud services like Reminders, Notes, Calendar, Mail, Contacts and the App Store it can become almost impossible to switch to anything else. For me, the trick was to purposefully never fully rely on any of those. I made use of iOS' ability to sync calendars, email and contacts with Google, I used third-party apps for task management and making notes like Wunderlist, Simplenote and Evernote. I also used services like Netflix and Spotify for all my media requirements. I tried to rely as little on iCloud and iTunes as was possible. So that wasn't a huge problem. 

"But what about the apps?" 

Here's the thing. Most of the apps I used on a daily basis have Android versions which serve me just as well. Or alternatives. I have to admit, I do miss Tweetbot and Fantastical, but the compromises are worth it for an overall experience I'm far happier with. What's more, for the apps really worth having on iPhone, there are iPad-optimized versions. So I don't miss them, I just use those ones on a tablet instead. 

My other potential stumbling block for switching away was that in almost every generation, it was a case of moving from a really beautiful, well-designed and manufactured piece of hardware, to a collection of parts neatly assembled inside a cheap plastic shell. But for the past couple of years, virtually every manufacturer making Android phones has improved on that front. Even Samsung's "oh no, it's plastic" phones are better made than they used to be. But none quite compare with the HTC One M8. Even last year's One M7 doesn't. 

My M7 came very close to replacing the iPhone 5. But it failed on a couple of details. Firstly, it had some noticeable quality control defects. The plastic binding around the edges didn't quite line up with the metal shell. It was a little sharp to the touch, the Micro USB port was off center and the glass panel on the screen wasn't level with the bezel. At least on my device. 

The M8 shares none of those faults. It's beautifully designed, feels fantastic, and works really well. What's more, there are no production defects. Although the old defects weren't major by any means, I noticed them, and it makes for an even greater sense of pleasure when looking around the M8 to realize they've been ironed out for this generation. 

And then there's the large screen, which makes everything big, crisp and beautiful. Once I'd browsed the web, played a couple of games and caught up with some YouTube subscriptions on the 5-inch 1080p panel, looking at the iPhone's 4-inch Retina display wasn't the same. And of course, that extra real estate makes for more room for a keyboard. When you couple that size with Android's open platform and the countless keyboards on the Google Play Store, finding one I liked really wasn't difficult. 

For those interested, I downloaded the Google keyboard, and now Swype my way through sentences in no time at all. And because it's so easy to type, and quick, I don't think twice about responding to messages, and have even typed up a few emails. All of which I avoid as much as possible with my iPhone. 

Other features in Android have persuaded me to switch too. Like being able to share my photos through any service I want, right from the share menu, without needing to access an app first. Google Now integration is a favorite feature of mine, as is the option to completely change the way my home screen looks. I don't have to stick with a grid of icons. 

But fear not iPhone lovers. It's not a case of the iPhone suddenly having become terrible. It's not. At all. 

It's a case of having finally figured out what matters most to me when it comes to smartphones, and realizing that for what I want, the HTC One does a better job than my iPhone. And my iPhone's still hanging around. I'll still use it for grabbing the odd photo, or when I miss an app or two... But as my daily driver, the One M8 has left it redundant in most aspects. 

What about you guys? Have you switched platforms? Android to iOS, or the other way? Why did you change? Let us know in the comments or grab me on Twitter: @PhoneDog_Cam. 


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