...copyright Elena Yatzeck, 2010-2017

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why I Ditched My iPhone 4S for the Samsung Galaxy S3

From the first, I had been a pretty avid Android person, partly just because I wanted to be nonconformist.  But after starting out strong with the original Motorola "Droid," I fell prey to two Samsung Galaxy II phones in a row that had poor call quality.  (Yes, I sailed right from "shame on you" to "shame on me" in that little transaction).  I returned the first one FIVE times to AT&T before they decided it was a "lemon" and let me upgrade to the next phone up.

From att.com!
Imagine my horror when I discovered that the Samsung Galaxy Skyrocket II had the same problem.  I spent hours getting software upgrades in various AT&T stores across America, and after a replacement or two, I finally checked out the interweb and found numerous geek-oriented sites that documented something I would have loved to have known a while ago:
Samsung phones are not known for call quality and some Galaxies II have a specific problem in which the speaker's voice is muffled on all calls.  You can hear, but you can't be heard.
This apparently doesn't matter to 98% of the Samsung Galaxy II owners out there, probably because, like my teenage daughter, these people don't actually use their phone to "talk to people."  They text and email and whatnot.  I was astounded to find that a best-selling phone didn't need to be an operable, well, phone.

So in a fit of rebellion, I bought an iPhone 4S.  My Apple friends smirked and welcomed me to the the cult, er fold.  But right away I was severely unhappy, even though I will freely admit that:
The iPhone has perfectly good call quality.
So did my original "clamshell" phone, and it was pink.  I was hoping that I could have a "smartphone" that was as smart as my Samsung Galaxy IIs had been, only also with the ability to carry a clear voice signal.  So if you're about to cravenly cave in and buy an iPhone just like your neighbors on the train, here's what I learned in my roughly four weeks on the iPhone:
  • The iPhone screen is much smaller.  If you are old, and I am, you will miss the extra real estate.  I like to read electronic books when I'm on the bus or the plane, and it's handy to do so on my phone.  The tiny screen made me sad.  Which brings me to:
  • iPhone does not let you buy Kindle books directly from the iPhone Kindle application.  Apple wants you to switch from Kindle to iBooks, so they have purposely hobbled the iPhone Kindle app--AND the Amazon app--so that they don't let you buy Kindle books.  You have to literally bring up the amazon.com web site on your tiny, tiny screen, and buy the Kindle book from the web.  It is annoying, and it's meant to be.
  • iPhone does not give you spoken turn-by-turn navigation from Google maps.  You can buy an app to do it, but the app I found, which was the cheapest one, I admit, had a tiny 1x1 inch map and a horrible user interface.  Android gives you spoken turn-by-turn navigation for free.  I gather that Apple has recently announced better navigation in a future phone, but you know what, the future was 2 years ago, if you were on Android.  And while we're on the topic of turn-by-turn navigation in the car,
  • The iPhone Operating System doesn't expect you to try to play music while navigating.  What I like to do is jump into the rental car, plug my phone into the audio system, fire up a play list, turn on navigation, and drive.  Then, the music will automatically be muted so I can hear the driving instructions yelling for me to turn left in 1000 feet.  You can get this in your iPhone app that you pay for, but it's weird and kind of funky.
  • There is no good Google mail client app for iPhone.  I am not sure who is more eager to have gmail not work on iPhone--Google or Apple--but I'm not switching email addresses right now, any more than I'm going to drop my investment in Kindle books in favor of re-buying the same books from iBooks.
  • The much vaunted Apple interface is not intuitive.  I know Apple must know best, but really.  If I get a call on an Android phone, the screen lets me choose from "Accept Call" and "Reject Call."  Apple only lets me "Accept."  At first I thought Apple was naively trying to control my life by making me accept all calls, but a developer friend pointed out that all you have to do is press the on-off switch to reject the call.  Oh, right, that makes sense.  Or how about this--I want to sort my applications by name.  So they will be alphabetical.  Sorry, you can't do that on the iPhone.  Or maybe you can, by turning it upside-down three times and baying at the moon.  You would know that because--wait, no, too much packaging to sell the phone with "Instructions."
Anyway, if you are a gmail user who travels and reads Kindle books, the iPhone may not be for you.  Under other circumstances it might be.  There are no value judgements here.  Just observations.  Last week I gave my iPhone to my partner and bought a new Samsung Galaxy S3, which does every smart thing you could ever want on a huge screen AND has call quality.  The end.