Over the last few months, in the course of testing with AppCobra, I’ve been working with three different types of smartphone.
I’ve been an iPhone user for many years. In fact, I had one of the original iPhones. Until, however, I realised my latest iPhone really didn’t look or operate much differently from the very first one I had. Sure, over the years, there have been updates and new features. But these have been rather incremental. Certainly not revolutionary. (I would specifically exclude the App Store and FaceTime from this description).
But, let us not forget that is was the iPhone that created and defined this market. And for several years, it ruled supreme, even after the introduction of Android.
But I thinks the winds of change have started blowing hard.
So – I recently got my hands on a Nokia Windows 8 phone. It looks beautiful. It was inexpensive (25% of the iPhone cost – which in itself is an amazing statistic) . It worked extremely, had enough apps for my needs, and was so much more exciting to look at and use than the iPhone. In fact, the iPhone really started to look old. The Windows Phone screen was alive with information. Constantly changing information.
Best of all – the apps I was creating in AppCobra looked and worked beautifully. It some respects, the quality of the screen was a surprise, as the resolution was lower than the iPhone.
Perhaps the biggest vote of confidence was that my 17 year old son loved it. In his own words, but much like myself, he was ‘sick of the iPhone’ . I can’t get it off him. His iPhone is now on eBay. (Mind you, the fragility of the iPhone helped with his decision. He has managed to smash the glass on to iPhones in the last six months or so). He was able to run Facebook, Skype, Instagram, YouTube, messaging, take photos, and surf the Web – so he was very happy.
The Windows Phone just looks better. Even when it’s not even on. A bright yellow back and sports car like curves reminded me that I’ve wondered many times why the iPhone only comes in black or white.
And so, having lost the Nokia, I started working with the Samsung Galaxy S4. But no one will be taking this from me. I won’t let them.
While for many this may not have any real appeal, I just love the way I can customise the way the phone looks and operates. And, like the Windows Phone, it just looks better. A lot better.
The screen on the S4 is magnificent. It’s big, high resolution, and thanks to widgets, it too looks alive, and by contrast the iPhone looks like it is in a coma.
For casual use – checking and sending messages, phone calls, and email – even reading the headlines – you don’t even need to open an app. It’s all right there in the home screens.
I’m thoroughly impressed with the display and the processor in the Galaxy, having seen and used some hopelessly underpowered Android devices in the past.
Web surfing is quick, and the inbuilt browser (and Chrome) are both great.
The camera ‘can’ be amazing. I say can, as sometimes the photos are a little blurry. Focus is quick, and sharp, but slow shutter speeds pick up every morning shake or movement of the phone. But there is so much customisation available with the camera – so many different modes, even with the default camera, that it is just fun doing the experimentation. And although megapixels are hardly everything, the Galaxy camera at 13 megapixels trounces the 8Mb iPhone camera. Especially when you get the focus right.
Android also allows you to set custom default apps. You decide the default web browser, or camera app, or photo editor. And moving content from one app to another is a breeze.
There are plenty of apps. Good apps.
I have to say that the notification system in the iPhone seems to work better than in Android. It just seems harder to determine what apps can provide notifications, and how, and when. I still haven’t worked this part out to my satisfaction.
And so, my awards go to the Galaxy, the Nokia, and the iPhone, in that order. I’m not sure this necessarily means Android itself in the lead, however, but certainly the Android based Galaxy is the best smart phone I’ve seen.
Maybe I’ve just looked at the iPhone for too long. I have two younger high school kids – and both swear by the iPhones. In their case, the collection of apps they’ve amassed would make it difficult to switch to another platform. I suspect a lot of people stick with their iPhone for just that reason.