Is there life past iPhone?
October 12, 2010 10:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering jumping ship from the iPhone. Android is the natural choice, but I'd love to hear from someone who went from iPhone to (gulp) non-smartphone! I'd consider getting a 3G laptop card or a netbook and just a regular phone if there were cost savings in it, but I wonder if I'm too used to the iPhone. Can it be done??? (contains some swearing and anti-Apple rhetoric).

I've had iPhones since a month or so after the original launch and was blown away, of course. I've really liked Apple products for about 20 years now, honestly. But lately, I really hate:

Unchangeable batteries. Mine is almost done.

The whole app-store approval process. What a BAD precedent.

Apps in general. I have no use for most of them after the initial novelty. I have to use my Bank one, that's it.

The 4.0 software that causes more crashes on my iphone than on my Win 7 PC, incidentally.

No flash, and never flash, apparently.

The browser that won't let me switch the user agent and get out of mobile page hell.

So I've already switched back to a PC desktop. I still have a Macbook. My current iPhone has broken screen (usable, but with perma-lines). My girlfriend is a staunch Verizon supporter and wants me to go in on a family plan to perhaps save some money.

Should I:

Wait until Verizon gets the iPhone and switch, now that that's as official as a rumor can be?

Switch to Verizon and get some sort of Droid, maintaining most of what I like about the iPhone/Smartphones and alleviating some of the problems (and it can look like R2D2)?

Trade up to a new iPhone and stay on AT&T, as I can upgrade without penalty, and there's no official word the phone with jump to verizon anytime soon?

Get a 3G card for my laptop and any succeeding laptop and trade additional bulk for the power of real browsing and applications,


Get some netbook and get most of the above in a more portable package,


Get some sort of dumbphone and enjoy actual battery life and probably better call quality and nostalgia for the early 2000s?

A big deciding factor for me is that I'm soon to be a fulltime student. I have less of a need for a pocket sized internet device since I'll either be home or with backpack most of the time. And I already have the laptop I could potentially save the device cost money (and probably some monthly as well).

I know I wrote a novel. If you've done this or contemplated similar please help!
posted by tremspeed to Technology (31 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot speak to going from iPhone to Android or from iPhone to dumbphone, but, with the exception of the battery issue, almost all of these problems can be solved by jailbreaking your phone which is easy and legal.

On a side note, If you don't like apps and have no use for them, why do you care about the App Store approval process?
posted by proj at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Deleted most of the Anti-Apple ranting to keep this more objective, thanks.
posted by tremspeed at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: Jailbreaking is a good point, actually. But I haven't really considered it because I know someone who did that and uses it on TMobile. He likes the savings, but it's slow and you can't use the official App store or iTunes. And I feel like it would increase the general flakyness. I could be wrong. Great suggestion though, and one I'll have to ponder.

The App store thing bothers me on a philosophical level- and I believe it discourages developers from trying things that might be rejected after they've done all this work. Instead we have 100,000 fart machine clones. It's a good point though, why should I care if I don't use it? I guess it seems like shitty and anti-consumer.
posted by tremspeed at 10:18 AM on October 12, 2010

You can also look into the new windows mobile 7 phones. People who have used them seem to like them.
posted by majortom1981 at 10:21 AM on October 12, 2010

Jailbreaking and unlocking are two different processes. Using an iPhone on T-Mobile involves unlocking, which may or may not involve jailbreaking. I assure you that a jailbroken iPhone on AT&T can use iTunes and the App Store. It does not increase the general flakiness if you stick to apps that are well-reviewed.

I don't disagree about the attitude and philosophy behind the App Store, it just seemed arbitrary given your ambivalence towards apps.
posted by proj at 10:22 AM on October 12, 2010

If you elect to stay with the iPhone, these might help: Atomic web browser does what you need, browser wise. If you're not a big Flash user CloudBrowse might do the trick for your iPhone Flash needs.
posted by nomadicink at 10:25 AM on October 12, 2010

for what its worth you can jailbreak AND use official App store AND iTunes -- if you stay with ATT.

your friend could not do that due to using it on tmobile....just wanted to clarify that

tremspeed said:
A big deciding factor for me is that I'm soon to be a fulltime student. I have less of a need for a pocket sized internet device since I'll either be home or with backpack most of the time. And I already have the laptop I could potentially save the device cost money (and probably some monthly as well).

i disagree with this completely. as a full time student (most of my time is either a) in the library - w/ access to computer or b) at home w/ access to internet) there is no way i would ever leave my smartphone. granted i am currently using an old BB curve (8330) but for real i cannot imagine leaving a smartphone to go back to a "dumb phone"

fwiw, i am going from a BB to the Droid X in part because of a) OS quite honestly sucks - i love the ability to get apps on my iPad if needed. b) im living in the stone age here. internet browsing = teh suck on a BB with OS 4. and c) i love the idea of android and can get everything i need app wise as a student + more by going to the DX.
posted by knockoutking at 10:27 AM on October 12, 2010

It sound like you may be going back to school after some time away? Why not spend some time as a student to see what your actual needs will be instead instead of trying to anticipate them beforehand?

Also, I don't see the need for a netbook if you have a laptop, personally.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:28 AM on October 12, 2010

oh yea, and if you have an iphone and stay with ATT, there is literally no reason to not jailbreak your device... did it on my iPad and will NEVER look back. this actually may be what could help you with battery life (i forget the name of the app that lets you turn on/off wifi, BT, etc etc etc by swiping across the top left of the status bar but seriously, its a game changer. you can downgrade to OS 3 also btw, know lots of ppl who hated OS4 and as a result did the same thing. just google how to do it.
posted by knockoutking at 10:29 AM on October 12, 2010

sorry to clutter up your thread too -- but i have a netbook. they are overrated as hell honestly.

smartphones >>> netbooks. if you are just looking for something that has internet, maybe get an iPad 3G + dumbphone as option D. you can get multitasking (jailbroken of course) + great battery life + can add a BT keyboard and have a better system/setup than a netbook. if you have any iPad or netbook questions feel free to MeMail me...
posted by knockoutking at 10:33 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

It took me a long time to "upgrade" from a dumb as can be phone to an iPhone and, while I am happy to have the latter, I do miss the simplicity (and no worries) of the former. The iPhone has allowed me to do some travel without my laptop but, from what you describe, I would choose 3G card and simple (possibly quite small) phone. I sometimes use a 3G card while in France — it's great to have.
posted by Dick Paris at 10:35 AM on October 12, 2010

If you are unhappy with iPhone apps, you will be definitely unhappy with the quality of Android apps.

The browsers for Android are not great (Dolphin is adequate but really seems amateurish with some of the finer details, while Opera sometimes does not render html (bold, italics) properly), and the MP3 players are not that good either (the native Android MP3 player is not user friendly, while CUBE, a popular free app, often crashes my phone).

That said, most Android phones are far more configurable than iPhones in regards to changing out batteries and expanding memory. I would take a look at the HTC Evo, or the new Samsung (you can never go wrong with Samsung).

But iPhones look nice, and seem to have the best user experience. It's just that as a Windows user, I just cannot ever download iTunes ever again.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 AM on October 12, 2010

I used a netbook (Atom with 1GB RAM) and a 3G dongle recently while in Japan. Skype would not work, and internet went down in the evenings - everyone in Japan accesses the Internet, including streaming television and videos, via 3G phones, so there was a lot of lag (at least with a Netbook). Not sure how it will be where you are.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 AM on October 12, 2010

I did the backwards switch, and after the initial few weeks of withdrawal pain, I found life was just fine without a smart phone. Mind you I switched back to what I would consider a "semi-smart" phone...the Nokia E71, which in most respects is similar to the Blackberry. I.e. great for email, great for texting, absolutely superb as a telephone, but pretty crappy for web surfing and any "apps" beyond google maps.
posted by randomstriker at 10:43 AM on October 12, 2010

BB is not a bad thing to consider really, great for calendar/email/texting ...and thats about it. but may be worth considering as opposed to going back to a full "dumbphone"
posted by knockoutking at 10:44 AM on October 12, 2010

I have a Nexus One. Since Google is providing the OS directly, I have no meddling from a cellular carrier, which means I get tethering for free. I also get OS updates a lot faster than other android hardware. Now, the Nexus One is GSM only, so it's not an option if you want a CDMA (Verizon or Sprint compatible) phone, but rooting a Verizon Android phone and installing a custom ROM will get you the free tethering, and still have access to the official Android Marketplace. Oh, yeah, and we have flash. I think flash works better on my Nexus One than it does in Firefox on my desktop.
posted by jrishel at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

I went from iPhone to Android (HTC Incredible), and I don't see myself going back anytime soon.

iPhone pros:
User interface - easy and just works
Variety of apps

HTC Incredible pros:
Power and flexibility - Any app I want, including a Torrent app

Batteries - I'm a power user, but I was able to buy two extra batteries and external charger for $40. It does eat battery (I use WiFi and Bluetooth all day), but so did the iPhone when I had it. Now I can swap batteries on a whim.

Lack of sync - Internal storage of 8 GB, plus 16 GB miniSD card - Mountable disk drive on any computer. I can do so much on the phone in terms of downloading, file system, etc. that I only plug into a computer every two weeks or so.

Verizon - Huge difference, especially in my area that didn't have 3G on AT&T until last month

Flash - Use it rarely, but it is nice to pull up a video when you need it.

Moving to a phone as capable as the Incredible completely cured my desire to get an iPad. Having a good phone in my pocket that does all of these things.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just switched from an iPhone to an Android. The general stability of the thing is a huge gripe in my book. The number one priority for me is being able to call and text my friends. everything after that is all gravy.. And sometimes I'm a little bit worried that the Android is more like Windows (read buggy and not stable) than an old phone would be for my purposes.
posted by lakerk at 11:12 AM on October 12, 2010

This is probably really unpopular, but I wouldn't have a smartphone.

I just don't think they are a good value. At this point, having multiple devices that each do one-to-a-few things really well is cheaper and more high performing than having a smartphone or an iPad.

(Did anyone see "the Office" last week when Kelly asked Ryan for the time - in a theatre - and he fired up his iPad to show her? Ahahaha.)

I might feel a little different if I were a single person AND I used a lot of voice minutes. But even then, there's Google Voice and Gmail calling, so maybe not.

My tech using family (so me, the husband, and my stepson) has an iPod touch each, and a dumb cameraphone each. This is plenty. For three people, each of whom uses like 15 minutes per month on our cells, we spend less than $10 per month (this is prepaid, obvs). The iPods allow us to text for free (TextFree or Google Voice) and do web surfing on a small scale. You can also install Skype and buy $10 miced earbuds to make voice calls, but texting is easier. Yes, you need to be under a wifi cloud for this, but the husband works at a university, I'm a stay at home mom, and my stepson is at school during the day, and at home at night. So there's wifi in our circles, with the dumb phones for backup in case there is no wifi.

To me, the big lure of Android is the app that reformats music from YouTube to AAC. But I do this on the computer, so not being able to do it from the iPod is not reason enough to get shackled to a monthly contract. I will say that if there was an Android version of a wifi music player/pocket computer, I'd be on it like white on rice.

I also have a Kindle with free 3G internet, and it has rocking battery life. Yes, it's an ereader, but this is a very nice backup system, just in case.

I also have a decent camera in addition to the pretty crappy phone cameras.

So while this is a lot- three phones, three iPods, two computers, a Kindle and a camera- we pay very little in the way of monthly fees and everything works beautifully. As I said, our average for cell minutes is below $10 a month, and we pay $20 a month for mid level DSL at home. We also pay $30 a year for a home phone VOIP system, but that's pretty optional. We just like not having to have Gmail open to take a home phone call.

Our initial investment in hardware was $350 for the iPods (buy two get one free!), plus another $50 for the phones, so not too steep, especially for three people.
posted by Leta at 11:33 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

One thing I love about Android is that the calendar and contacts sync in the background with the Google cloud. So, it is easy to edit them on either the phone or a computer and maintain consistency. Back when I had an iPhone I hated having to use Outlook to manage that stuff.
posted by exogenous at 11:36 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

for what its worth you can jailbreak AND use official App store AND iTunes -- if you stay with ATT.

your friend could not do that due to using it on tmobile....just wanted to clarify that

This is completely wrong. You CAN use the app store and itunes with an jailbroken and unlocked phone on Tmobile. You simply need a data plan and the correct APN information.
posted by yfatah at 11:48 AM on October 12, 2010

yfatah said:This is completely wrong. You CAN use the app store and itunes with an jailbroken and unlocked phone on Tmobile. You simply need a data plan and the correct APN information.

interesting, i had no clue. i knew you could use it w/ ATT + jailbreak but not Tmobile + jailbreak...

thanks for sharing this yfatah! :)

posted by knockoutking at 12:11 PM on October 12, 2010

Don't go to a laptop card. Get a MiFi.

With that you can connect 5 devices to the internet. You could do interesting things like getting a skype phone, and make calls from anywhere using WiFi.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:38 PM on October 12, 2010

(and it can look like R2D2)?

And how!
posted by tybstar at 12:57 PM on October 12, 2010

I posted a similar question a few weeks ago.

I looked at just about every alternative and ended up choosing an iPhone 4.

In two years it will be the same useless brick that my 3G became, but right now most of my complaints about the 3G are more than satisfied by the 4.
posted by three blind mice at 1:06 PM on October 12, 2010

Only one other person has mentioned tethering, which seems odd.

I recently got a Droid X, which I tether for all my internet needs. I previously had mid-level DSL, and feel like the tethered (via USB) 3G is faster. Don't need another device for internet, cheaper than the DSL + dumbphone I had before.

Given that you already have the iPhone, though, I agree with the suggestion to try jailbreaking it and putting some decent software on it before you spend a bunch of money / sign a new contract.
posted by momus_window at 2:03 PM on October 12, 2010

Only one other person has mentioned tethering, which seems odd.

I did forget this! I use tethering (rooted, not the additional monthly fee through Verizon) almost every day. When in the car, my two sons use their iPhones connected to my HTC Incredible. The iPhones are older models with issues (power button broken, battery dying), but they make great pseudo iPod Touches for my kids. Now with my tethering ability, they can watch YouTube or download apps in the car.

Now, your data plan on Verizon is unlimited for $30, but they want an extra $20 or $20 per month to enable tethering. The phone is easily rooted (one click methods now available), and you can WiFi tether with your existing data connection. I'm careful about how much I use, and keep it within reasonable limits. If Verizon really wanted to crack down on it, I'm sure they could, but I'm not too worried. They already get my $200 a month for three phones.
posted by shinynewnick at 3:41 PM on October 12, 2010

You can actually find all this out for yourself, albeit with some extra hassle and about $100.

First, make sure your AT&T plan has forwarding, and learn to forward your calls to another number, so you don't miss anything while you try this out.

Then go to your local BuyMore and get a prepaid dumbphone for $50. Use ONLY that for a week or two. Realize you can't go back to a dumbphone? Don't mind having a dumbphone? This will let you find that out without having to switch carriers or calling plans. If you go back to smart, or go for a new plan, you'll probably ditch the $40 cheapo phone; please donate it to a shelter or give it to someone who has no phone at all. You learned, did good, and are only out $40.

Now you know you don't need an iPhone, which means you also might not need AT&T.

But before you ditch AT&T, see what else they've got. The nice thing about GSM carriers is that you can just pop out your SIM and put it in another phone and test it out. Got an Android owning friend who will swap phones with you? Also, Go online or ask at the store about the return/cancellation policies. Once upon a time, phones could be exchanged for equivalents within 14 days, and a contract renewal could be cancelled within 30 without any penalty.

That give you the chance to re-up, get an HTC Aria (great little Android phone on AT&T) and test-drive it for two weeks. Don't like it? Exchange it for an iPhone 4 and you've got another two weeks to decide if you're satisfied and want to stay signed up for another two years.

Is sounds like a lot of effort, but do this and you'll never have any doubts about what kind of phone needs you have and what your best options are - you'll have tried everything.

P.S. Also look into prepaid wifi cards instead of on-contract ones. Virgin Broadband2Go uses Sprint's data network, the USB unit costs $80, and you can either pay $10 for a week of checking email or $40 for a month of unlimited. That's only when you need it for a month, not $40 every month for two years. If you're kinda hesitant about getting a dumbphone because you might go on vacation and want to check your email, then a no-contract data card is a good solution.
posted by bartleby at 3:59 PM on October 12, 2010

I'll join the Android chorus. I have the Incredible on Verizon and "Droid does" (ugh) everything you want:

Unchangeable batteries. Mine is almost done. -- My battery life isn't great, but I can definitely swap it out. (Battery life being my single complaint with this phone.)

The whole app-store approval process. What a BAD precedent. -- Not the case w/ Android Market.

Apps in general. I have no use for most of them after the initial novelty. I have to use my Bank one, that's it.
-- Then don't use them. But there are some useful ones that can make something you do easier, and the Market is growing.

The 4.0 software that causes more crashes on my iphone than on my Win 7 PC, incidentally. -- I guess I occasionally have issues, but never really enough for me to notice or care. I think my system has had to be reset or restarted on its own probably less than once a month.

No flash, and never flash, apparently.
-- Big selling point of Android.

The browser that won't let me switch the user agent and get out of mobile page hell.
-- Dolphin, at least, does this, with an add-on that's easy to find (took me about five minutes once I thought, you know what, I'm going to look into that).

There are of course some things iPhone does better than Android. But Android is definitely better for me, and it sounds like it would solve the issues you have with the iPhone. AND it tethers! (Even without jailbreaking or paying--the pdaNet app uses USB and is amazing. The newest OS version also does WiFi tether, but Verizon has blocked it unless you pay or jailbreak.) But this is great because it gives you 3G on your computer anywhere that you can't get WiFi and the phone interface is insufficient.
posted by SuperNova at 8:09 PM on October 12, 2010

I switched from the iPhone 4 (No Sim Card Installed failure message) to a used Droid Incredible that I picked up off craigslist for $300. I got a deal with PagePlusCellular for $29 a month, including 50MB of data. It's not much, but I can get directions and check e-mail and use it to test network connnections. I only went over it one month when it wasn't hooking up to the WiFi at home and I was streaming videos.

Anyway, my phone bill went from over $120 a month to $29 all in. 1500 mins/1500 texts/50MB data.

You'll miss the prettiness of the iPhone user experience. But after a month I barely remembered I had switched. It makes phone calls on the Verizon network and I never get dropped. Google Navigator is better than any GPS I have ever used. And I'm saving enough money to fly to Europe every year.
posted by notion at 10:41 PM on October 12, 2010

I am in the process of getting a new cell phone, and it looks like I'm going to jump from AT&T to Verizon (though I'm not sure if I'm going Droid or dumb). I found this article, from someone who'd recently made the jump from iPhone to Droid and lists out the pros and cons, to be helpful.
posted by librarylis at 5:29 PM on October 13, 2010

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