October 19, 2012 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Current Droid Charge user. Contemplating a move to my first-ever iPhone. Mistake?

(Note: price is not a concern - work pays for it - and I'll be on Verizon no matter what.) I currently have a Motorola Droid Charge. Other than a few annoying issues (it's huge, the battery life is crap, it's semi-flaky when switching between 3G and 4G modes), I've really liked the phone, the network, the interface, everything. HOWEVER! My boyfriend has an iPhone. Everyone at work has an iPhone. There are billions upon billions of apps/cases/accesories for the iPhone. I am concerned that, by continuing to use a Droid device, I'm basically clinging to a Beta VCR in a VHS world. My questions for you, Hive-dwellers:

- Are there any basic, non-esoteric tasks which are possible on a Droid which are NOT possible on an iPhone? I am afraid of getting an iPhone and winding up thinking "holy crap, I can't believe this stupid thing can't do _____!"

- Are there any non-OS-related limitations to the iPhone that I am unaware of? I've never really used Apple products/support/anything. If I am going to move over to the dark (well, bright-white) side, I want to know if there are any ugly aspects of it that I'm unaware of.

- What sort of things might I be able to do as an iPhone user in an iPhone-centric world that I CANNOT do as a Droid-person? If there's a whole world of amazing iPhone-only crap that I'm unaware of, that'll help sway my decision.

Thanks, Mefites!
posted by julthumbscrew to Technology (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The biggest issue at the moment is the iPhone's Map app. Not as good as the google app on your droid, but, in all reality, for basic navigation, it gets you where you want to go.

I used a Droid for three years or so, switched to an iPhone about 6 months ago... I find the UI better and easier to use on the iPhone, I saw no loss in the sync ability (I'm a big gmail/google calendar/tasks user)... Battery life was better on the iPhone than it was on the Galaxy Nexus that I tried for a couple of weeks before I returned it, and as good as my Droid 2.

All in all, it was a good move for me.
posted by HuronBob at 7:00 PM on October 19, 2012

It depends on what you use your Droid for. I switched from a Droid to an iPhone a few months ago and the texting interface is a lot more intuitive. There's also (IMO) a greater variety of apps available to play with. I'm primarily a game-internet-texting user, so I've been very happy with the iPhone. YMMV.
posted by Autumn at 7:05 PM on October 19, 2012

Let me also add that both of the motorola droids I had died in two years or less....
posted by HuronBob at 7:08 PM on October 19, 2012

Recent Droid deserter here, posting from my week-old iPhone 4S. All I can say is you will have no regrets. I had Droids for the last 3 years (HTC Incredible, Incredible 2, and briefly the X2). The thing is, I can't really describe the difference because it's kind of ethereal... But like, I can tell Siri "remind me to do laundry tonight when I get home," and she makes the reminder, and a notification pops up as I'm walking up to my building to do laundry. I love Siri, it makes everything awesome and easy. And I tried the voice command on my Droids and it was awful.

The only thing better on a Droid was the built in navigation, but the iPhone one is gradually getting better. Oh, and having to pay for Angry Birds? That's kind of BS.

But generally, everything is just easier and more intuitive and doesn't have random glitches etc.

If you have other Apple things (like I got a MacBook and Apple TV this year) then you can do other awesome things, like sync the web pages so when you open your laptop you can pull up the page you were looking at on your phone. And Apple TV works as a wireless external monitor for both my phone and laptop.

Also battery life - I had good Droids. The battery life on the 4S exceeds what I had, and I use the phone more, plus it charges quicker.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:09 PM on October 19, 2012

I didn't have a Droid specifically, but I had a Captivate and just switched to an iPhone 4S about 2 months ago. And I hate it.

The battery life is good and the music integration is great. However, I really miss being able to customize more of the options on my phone.

As an example, I had an Android app that let me switch between "profiles". So I could set my phone to Car (rings really loudly), Work (notifies me of texts/calls, but not email, since I'm at my computer anyways), Sleep (rings quietly if I get a call, but didn't do any other notifications), etc. The iPhone doesn't allow you to tweak all those settings without jailbreaking.

I also use Google for just about everything (Gmail, Google Calendar, Reader, etc) and the iPhone just does not play as nicely with Google products (i.e. I can't star emails, they don't all show up in threads, there's no app for Reader, I'm having issues with Calendar sync). If you aren't much of a Google user, that likely won't matter much.

And, as mentioned above, I'm not loving the maps right now. Hopefully that will improve soon.
posted by JannaK at 7:36 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

JannaK, what are you using for gmail? I use the built-in mail app and it can flag messages (same as starting them) and they thread for me.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:15 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

So you have a rather anemic android handset on reasonably old software.

You'll be best served with a new phone in either eco system, so go in to a store and play with them. Personally I think the options in the android realm are better (screen/battery/control) unless you want music management and are a heavy mac and/or itunes user.

The top phones in the Android space right now are the Samsung Galaxy SIII, Nexus S, Motorola Droid Razr M, Razr HD and Razr HD Maxx.

The op phone in the iphone space is the iphone 5.

There are more Android handsets in the world than Iphones, something like 20% more give or take, Android isn't going anywhere. You are however stuck on an old release with that hardware you have now.

Go with what is comfortable, the ecosystems on each are solid and mature.
posted by iamabot at 8:26 PM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

It really comes down to a personal decision, so as iamabot suggested you should go play with each phone in the store. Whether the iPhone is missing any key features really depends on how you use your phone.

I dumped my iPhone for an android device and will never look back. iPhones force you to use iTunes, which is a monstrosity. The phone that wasn't the problem at all, it was the cruft that apple forced on me. But in return I got a much more functional phone: I am dictating this entire post on my phone; I can replace the keyboard with a keyboard of my choosing; the Gmail and Google calendar integration is airtight instead of clunky; and it has a dizzying amount of little tweaks that make me faster, such as widgets and shortcuts that iOS doesn't allow. You can't do any of those things on an iPhone. Yes, it has its little bugs and is not quite as robust as iOS, but 99% of the time iphone makes me faster and that's an acceptable trade-off to me.

On the other my, my fiancée has an iPhone and I suggested she get one. Having bleeding edge features, being able to dictate into the phone, and having useful shortcuts shortcuts widgets is not as important to her as consistency, ease-of-use, and battery life. For her, clearly iPhone wins.

What I'm trying to say is: you're really going to have to go use the devices to have a useful comparison.
posted by PCup at 8:51 PM on October 19, 2012

You will miss swype.
posted by victory_laser at 9:19 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, this is a ton of useful info - thanks, guys! And I hadn't even thought of Swype, victory_laser, but I do love the almighty hell out of that app - if there's nothing comparable for the iPhone, that's a for-sure dealbreaker.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:44 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another "went to Android from iPhone an will never go back" voice here (I do still have an iPad, whence some of my comparisons). The major things:
  • The Android 5 button interface vs the iPhone/iPad 1 button interface. I just get along with a dedicated back button and a dedicated "take a picture" button so much better.
  • I can upload things to web pages without apps. Really, Apple, how hard is that?
  • iTunes. If that's not reason enough to ditch iOS devices... It's a phone, with a filesystem, why should I have to use some gawdawful app that's constantly sucking resources on my desktop machine?
  • The Android browser rarely has me going to a desktop machine, mobile Safari? All the time.
  • Battery life - my Android haz it. This may have changed since my iPhone 3G, although I'm seeing a lot of complaints about the 5.
  • Hard keyboard. It'll take a lot to try to lure me back to a soft keyboard again.
Really, I think it comes down to personal tastes, I'm with the "go to the store an play with phones" crowd.
posted by straw at 11:13 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Have an iPhone 4 for about two years, and I can say this - apple products are really well designed from a user experience perspective, and for the most part it is just somehow more pleasant to use them on a day to day basis, but the lack of out of the box customizability on iOS and apple's war on jailbreaking is really annoying.
I always had my iPhone jailbroken and it would be really annoying for me to use it in the standard way apple intended (have no pirated apps btw, just changes to OS), so now I can't upgrade to ios 6 for instance.
I guess it depends how you use your phone. For me I have certain things (like caller blocking) which I can't live without and which apple doesn't allow out of the box.
posted by Mai2k3 at 12:37 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have only had a Smart phone since last year. I have the iPhone 4S and I really like it but there are definitely some enjoyed features that my Android friends have that I am a bit jealous of. The first one is definitely swype. Second would be some of the little display and personalization tweaks that android users can make. You don't use safari you can use Google Chrome on the iPhone and Google Chrome on your desktops which i do But I suppose that's more of a reason to get an android!
posted by NikitaNikita at 6:09 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jailbreak and you get swype on iOS devices:

Speaking as someone who has owned an iPhone (purchased 3 months after launch since it seemed the hype wasn't going away), an iPhone 3G and now an iPhone 4 and as someone with friends in both the Droid and iOS ecosystems, I think the majority of consumers would be best served and happiest with an iOS device.

The only appeal to me for the Droid ecosystem is I'm a *nix nerd, but I have no real desire to have root access in bash on my phone. It's an appliance and while I do jailbreak to get some non-Apple approved functionality, like setting the default browser app, tethering, etc.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:38 AM on October 20, 2012

What I miss most about my android phone (Nexus S) is Tasker. I love that it set my phone to sleep mode automatically (if plugged in, after 11pm) so that the ring and alarm were quiet, so it doesn't wake my wife. Work mode, automatically in silent when work wifi network was detected, etc. Just fantastic. Better battery life and faster charging on my iPhone 4 than on the Nexus S (I'm not sure if that's better on other *droid models) I would go back to *droid if I could.
posted by defcom1 at 9:44 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had a Samsung charge as well. That thing was a piece of crap! It eventually died and I replaced it with the Samsung Galaxy S3. This is a fabulous phone. At home, I use an iPad, so have experience with the interface... And I would never get an iPhone. I have three main reasons for this. 1) I love having widgets on my Android, and you can't do this onan iPhone. I've got my calendar, my todo list, my mint ino, the five day forecast. And I can see all the info without opening an app. This is the deal breaker for the iPhone, which isn't capable. 2). The spell check drives me nuts on iOS. 3). The copy/paste drives me nuts on iOS.
posted by smalls at 10:43 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've used Android phones and the iPad for many years. I've used both types of devices for extended periods of time in both stock and rooted/jailbroken configurations, and have also spent hands-on time with the iPhone and Android tablets.

The Android keyboard options are far superior to those on iOS. Even the current stock Android keyboard, which allows you to hold down keys to get numerics or punctuation without changing modes, is far more comfortable to use than the iOS keyboard, and Swype and Swiftkey take the convenience of the Android keyboard up another notch. In addition, iOS's autocorrect will routinely correct words that are correctly spelled or punctuated to different words or words that are punctuated incorrectly; I've had to turn off autocorrect due to the trouble it has with it's vs. its. When working with text, I greatly prefer Android.

It is possible to jailbreak iOS to get iSwype, but jailbreaking can really be a pain as you'll have to re-jailbreak or follow special instructions every time Apple releases an update. In addition, Cydia, the App Store for jailbroken phones, has become a fragmented mess of tweaks and apps that are buggy and work only with very particular versions of iOS, and they've started serving up ads for Ron Jeremy's sex pill site. While I'm very much in favor of developers and device owners having the freedom to write and install their own apps on any given platform, it is difficult to recommend jailbreaking as it is today to people who are not tinkerers or developers.

Similarly, customizations with widgets and theming that are easily accomplished with Android require jailbreaking with iOS, or are simply not possible. If you're a "open the app, switch to another app" kind of Android user, that won't be an issue, but if you've set things up to have various application widgets at hand, it will be a jarring experience.

Others have mentioned maps. The built in mapping and navigation on Android has been excellent for many years, but mediocre on the iPhone. iOS 5 had Google Maps but not Google Navigation (for turn by turn driving), whereas iOS 6 replaces Google Maps with Apple Maps, which provides turn by turn instructions but without the level of detail and accuracy that Google provides.

However, few have mentioned the places where iOS shines.

While Android excels with text, iOS excels with music and video production. There are any number of virtual synthesizers and music/video production applications that don't really have an analog in the Android world. While Android has a large number of games and educational apps at this point, games and educational apps tend to appear first on iOS, with the winners getting ported to Android a little later. There's no Garageband or Animoog or Super Hexagon on Android.

Photography has also been better supported on iOS, although Android is very close to having caught up. The iPhone's camera has historically been better than the camera on the majority of Android phones, and the high-resolution Retina display really makes photo viewing/manipulation a joy.

Ultimately, I find I prefer Android on my phone, where I value speed and ease of typing, customization and accuracy for purposes of both work and play, and I prefer iOS on the tablet, which is the right form factor to work with the types of multimedia apps and games iOS excels with. On the other hand, I really would have a hard time switching to an iPhone in my pocket, and an Android tablet would very likely be less useful to me than an iPad.

While all of your friends may have iPhones - they are undoubtably the status symbol of our time, and tend to spread through social groups like a virus - I don't think you need to worry about Android losing a format war. While VHS and Beta were ultimately very similar formats, with each having small advantages over each other, Beta was ultimately expensive and proprietary to Sony (which could be considered the Apple of the 80s), while the VHS format was licensed to large numbers of VCR manufacturers and was able to provide similar quality at a lower cost. Apple's following the Beta model, while Google's following the VHS model. Based on the fact that Android was released after iOS but already has a larger market share, things seem to be playing out in a similar way.
posted by eschatfische at 12:24 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

The iPhone has inferior transit mapping and no bike maps, two of my most-used smartphone features. Android also has better keyboard options, as mentioned, and widgets, which you may or may not use.

The latest version of Android, Jelly Bean, is vastly improved over Gingerbread on the Droid Charge. That phone also was one of the first LTE phones, and the LTE chipsets back then were very hackish, which was bad for battery life and stability.
posted by akgerber at 2:03 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, the iOS native map app sucks in a lot of ways. This does not prevent you from using the transit options in the Google maps web app, nor will it be as big a deal when the Google map app is released.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 5:12 PM on October 20, 2012

Response by poster: Update: I got a Droid Razr Maxx. I love it like a tiny inanimate child. I am SO glad I didn't get an iPhone.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:42 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

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