switch from ios to androidMy iPhone 4S is eligible for an upgrade later this year, and I’m starting to think about what I might want to replace it with.

The easy answer is “the iPhone 6,” and I’ll certainly wait to see what it’s like (and what new features are in iOS 8) before making a decision, but there are Android features I’d really like to have in my smartphone. For tablets, I prefer my iPad to an Android device, but the phone is a different story.

Alternate launchers are attractive to me. I read about launchers that are sensitive to your location and offer appropriate apps. Aviate is the one I see mentioned frequently. I love this idea. The iOS home screen is just not that interesting a place.

I prefer Android’s notifications to the ones on iOS. It’s possible iOS 8 will wow me, and notifications in iOS 7 are better than in earlier versions, but they still are lacking to me.

Google Now is one of my favorite things. Yes, Google Search for iOS has similar features, but it’s not as good. For example, the last time we wanted to see a movie, I opened Google Search and typed in the movie name. I got lots of review links, but what I wanted was showtimes at the nearest theater. Google Now would have given it to me. I finally found the show time, but it took several search attempts.

So what makes me hesitate? I do like the build quality of Apple devices. I’ve compared performance on both my iPad and Android tablets, and the interface seems smoother on the iOS devices. I’m concerned I’ll be frustrated with an Android phone, while I know exactly what I’m getting with the iPhone. I manage all my music through iTunes, and, yes, I know there are workarounds, but I’m not sure I want to deal with the hassle. Most of the Android phones I’m interested in (like the Nexus 5) have bigger screens than I want. My guess is that I won’t have a choice there, considering the current crop of iPhone rumors.

So there’s my thoughts and concerns. Feel free to chime in with advice. I’m open to thoughts. I suppose by the time I need to make the choice Amazon will have released their phone, so I may have three options to consider.


  1. I’m fond of the Moto X I got through Republic Wireless. It doesn’t have an SD card, but apart from that it’s pretty much all I could have wanted. Fits great in my hand, decent camera, good amount of space for apps, and so on.

    • @Nate, as much as I’m on the go these days, I can’t live without mine. Not so much for phone calls, but lots of people text me throughout the day, and I’d have seriously unhappy clients if I weren’t available via text.

  2. I agree with Chris. The updates have been fast, the phone has some unique tricks that are useful, and the screen is quite nice. Although the “printed-on-plastic” look of the iPhone is really nice, I prefer the AMOLED display for the ultra-wide viewing angles and infinite contrast for low-light reading. (It also doesn’t hurt that it is half the price of the other phones, but I guess that doesn’t mean as much since you are buying on contract.) I think the only real negatives to the phone are lack of an SD card (as Chris pointed out), less-than-stellar battery life (it’s good, but not iPhone or Galaxy good), and possible uncertainty of support with Lenovo is running things.

    It may not be the latest-and-greatest, but I think your only regret will be buying it just before the “Moto X + 1” comes out to make you jealous. 😉

    I will state that the inconsistent frame rate on Android never really bothered me on such a small screen, but the newer versions have been much better. Further, while not having data to back it up, the experience is a lot smoother when enabling Android RunTime (ART), which is an option on the Moto X.

  3. PS: I forgot to mention about iTunes….

    I also use iTunes to manage all my music (I haven’t found anything better), and iSyncr is the way to go. Everything is easy, just works (cable or WiFi), and is definitely worth your $5.

    Also note that if you use Bluetooth for your music and you are also an Audible subscriber (or use a Podcast app), you may wish to avoid the Samsung phones. Most of them (I haven’t tried the S5) redirect all Bluetooth button presses to the music application which is infuriating, and I’ve never found a way to make it work. I’m not sure how well iPhone handled this since Audible and music were all rolled together.

  4. I agree with you about tablets, and love my iPad 3rd gen (though I mostly read on my Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 these days. For a phone, I’ve gone android, and if build quality is what matters to you, I’ll recommend the HTC One. I have the last year’s edition, going on nine months now, and I love it. The industrial design of the thing is both beautiful and functional, the fit is so natural to my hand I can’t imagine anything being better, and it’s true that Google Now is a killer feature. My kids have Galaxies (SII and SIII) and my wife as the Note II, but none of those quite do it for me.

  5. I will say this: if you’re going to buy an Android device, be it a smartphone or tablet, your best bet is to go for ones with the Google or “Google Play edition” branding, or else Motorola devices (given that Motorola was until very recently a part of Google). Thanks to Android fragmentation, most other manufacturers do various random obnoxious shovelware things with their models, and/or are slow to issue updates. If it says it’s a “Google Play edition,” you know Google has certified that it’s still in the neighborhood of plain vanilla Android.

  6. Thanks, everyone. Yes, I was definitely going for a Google or Google Play edition. I don’t want to wait for updates.

    I’ve thought about the HTC One. I’ve heard great things about them. I’m not considering a Samsung device. I don’t like all the added apps on them.

    Right now, it’s pretty much looking like a Nexus 5 (or the upgraded version that’s probably coming out later this year) or a Google Play edition HTC One. I don’t think Google Play versions are available on contract, so I’ll have to consider the costs. The Nexus 5 looks like a nice phone, and I’ve got a friend who compared it to the Samsung Galaxy and said he preferred the Nexus.

    We’ll see. Maybe Apple will wow me with the iPhone 6.

  7. I switched from a 4S to a Nexus 5 earlier this year and am very happy with the results. The battery life could be a little better, and the camera could handle low-light a little better, but everything else is great. And for the price it doesn’t feel like a compromise.

    • @Chris, ah, exactly what I wanted to hear since you switched from the same phone I have. I’m not a big picture taker, so I can live with a less-good camera. Battery life isn’t a big deal either. I usually get two days on a charge on my iPhone, so if I have to switch to charging every day, no big deal.

      Sounds like the Nexus 7 will win, unless Apple wows me.

  8. The Nexus 5 is definitely among the very best phone choices: latest OS, good build, minimal overlays of extras, fantastic price for an unlocked 32 GB device. The 5″ screen is a good compromise between portable and huge.

  9. Looks like I’m the exception here: I’m a long-term iOS user, however a while ago, when the Nexus 4 was still new, I tested the Android waters, but wasn’t really all that impressed.

    Google Now is a neat idea, but it didn’t really do much for me in everyday life. I hardly ever used the widgets Android offers, and the bigger form factor was actually more of a nuisance to me. (I like small phones.) I ended up sticking with my iPhone 4 for the time being, since it was more integrated into my workflow and habits. (That said, I didn’t upgrade to a new iOS device, either, since I couldn’t see a compelling reason to do so.)

    I’m not sure what platform I’m going to buy when my current iPhone dies, but so far I haven’t seen anything on the Android or Windows Phone side that would make it worthwhile for me to re-buy all my apps. If I just started out in the smartphone world, it might be a different story.

    Just my personal experience, of course, YMMV.

    • I’ll note that one big reason I’ll never go back to iOS has to do with the keyboards. Apple won’t allow people to replace the default keyboard with another. But Android lets you do it just fine, and I’ve fallen in love with Swype. It’s so much more efficient to Swype a word at a time than to have to spell each one letter by letter! I don’t ever want to be without Swype again.

      • @Chris, that’s a big gripe for me as well. Although my keyboard of choice is SwiftKey for their uncanny predictions.

    • @Jens, good thoughts. I do like widgets on my Android tablet, and it’s another feature I wish iOS implemented. The bigger size is still an issue for me, but it looks like Apple is heading in that direction as well, so I’m guessing I’ll just have to deal.

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