Why I upgraded my iPhone3G to a Nexus One running Android instead of the iPhone4

June 26, 2010 Chilling_Silence Personal Rantings

I’ve had my iPhone 3G for 1 month shy of 2 years now, and it’s been a brilliant phone. Admittedly I had it replaced after 3 months because the GPS on my first one was horribly inaccurate, however the whole replacement process was superb: Full phone replacement in under 2 hours of dropping the device off!

When I bought the Nexus One, I waited first for the iPhone4 to be officially released. Everybody had seen engadgets breakdown of the new look, and it does look slick, but I wanted to know about the OS and other features before deciding on a new iPhone or a Nexus One. How did I decide? Here’s some of the reasons:

After I watched the Google IO Day 2 Keynotes on YouTube, I really began to get attached to the idea of an Android phone. You could say that Google got to me before Apple did, but I’d been a happy iPhone 3G user for almost 2 years, with around about $250 on App / Game purchases, that I did *not* wanna let go of.

This video highlighted some of the achievements Android had already accomplished, not to mention where it was going. I’ve watched the video right through 4x now, and I can’t recommend it enough:

It was exciting to see new developments in the mobile space, such as the voice recognition, performance enhancements both in the OS and the browser, and overall you just get warm fuzzies from watching the video right the way through. On the contrast, when I saw the iPhone4 release, I was felt slightly disappointed, for a few reasons:

  1. FaceTime – It looks awesome, but c’mon .. WiFi only? I did video calling some 5 years ago now from my Motorola v1075, and I could call other Motorolas, other Sony Ericsson phones, Nokias, the works, and I didn’t have to be near WiFi. Their solution? We’ll make it an “Open standard” so others can also do wifi-only video calling. Sounds to me like a step backwards from what’s been done before, with the exception potentially of higher quality. Switching between front and back cameras? Yeah been there, done that (5 years ago), got the T-shit.
  2. Multitasking – They’ve left it off the iPhone 3G which is a shame, I know that it doesn’t have the most RAM in the world, but I jailbroke mine and it works, albeit a little shaky on memory-intensive apps. Anyway it’s a little hypocritical to change your tune on Multitasking, after they’ve been saying for years now that it’s just a battery-suck that you don’t really need anyways. You know what else Apple have also been saying is a battery suck? Flash!
  3. Flash Player – Sure it may drain the battery, and sure I can’t stand it, but I like the thought that if I want to run a video on my Cellphone, or browse a certain website, then I at least have the *option* of Flash, knowing fully well it may shorten my battery life. I don’t like the prospect that one mans idea of what I want takes precedence over my free choice.
  4. Retina Display – Sounds nice, but it’s only marginally higher resolution than the Nexus One, and apparently at 12 inches it’s still not at the specs it’s being touted at. However, I don’t really care too much, it looks like a nice screen to say the least 🙂
  5. A4 CPU – Essentially the same as the 1Ghz Snapdragon that powers the Nexus, so I wan’t blown away by it. Initial reports were that the iPhone4 had only 256MB RAM, but apparently the final shipping version does have 512MB, just like the Nexus One. Relatively moot point there I suppose

What is cool about it though:

  1. HD video recording – There are other phones that do 1280×720 video recording, but not at the same framerate as the iPhone4. While it’s not a big leap or bound, the quality is certainly a nice, welcome improvement.
  2. Video editing from the Phone – Who cares if it’s going to cost another $5-10 from the App Store, it’s just cool to be able to do it!
  3. The phone redesign – It looks slick, no two ways about it, but there’s apparently already issues with the reception dropping out if you hold it wrong around the edge. Being the thinnest phone is also nice, but it’s about to be beaten by some Samsung device, apparently only by 1 or 2mm!

So I guess I saw what my existing iPhone 3G was able to do in comparison to the new one, and while decent video recording (Lets face it, the apps that do video on the 3G aren’t the best) is out, and so is video calling, the rest I can pretty much already do. There’s no big bonus reason for me to upgrade. Naturally, I went off and ordered a Nexus One that day. Here’s what I found about the ordering process:

  1. You have to be within the US to order, so use this link to “fool” it: http://google.com/phone?gl=us
  2. Shipping is free within the US for the Nexus One, so ship to a mail forwarder that’s in a state without taxes. I got stung with around USD$60 Sales Tax, so avoid it if you can.
  3. When shipping using Shipito.com it was free for me to choose to have the phone insured, I just selected it from the dropdown box. It was only an extra couple of bucks for the expedited shipping so naturally I went that route. Shipito were pretty prompt, but delayed the whole process by around 24 / 36 hours in total. The shipping via Fedex only took around 48 hours: http://www.fedex.com/Tracking?action=track&tracknumbers=793638429235
  4. Don’t forget you’re going to be charged GST on everything when the phone arrives at customs. It didn’t take long to clear, but I specifically asked them to hold it there for me so I could pay in-person and pick up the device at the same time. I got myself the car dock and the desktop dock too, so don’t forget GST is payable on them also.

So I’ve had the phone for a week now. What have I found? Likes and dislikes?

  • Well the apps are all tiny compared with their iPhone counterparts. For some reason the download sizes are just smaller all around. Maybe it’s just me?
  • The feel of the “SoftTouch” casing is awesome, it’s a real suede like feeling that’s smooth, but has just enough grip to stay nicely in your hand.
  • Initially the Headphone controls didn’t work with the music application. Why, I’m not sure, but I only tried once, and it’s working now I have Cyanogenmod on the phone, so I don’t really care. I was also disappointed with the audio quality at first of the headphones until I took off the little cloth covers. I’ve since discovered they suck and you don’t need them, they just dampen the noise a lot and kill a lot of clarity and crispness. Don’t bother with them.
  • Live wallpapers are freaking cool. From the standard, to leaves on water, to music waveforms, they’re awesome. They don’t use much battery life at all.
  • Speaking of battery life, having a breakdown of what’s using the battery, how long it’s used the processor, and other things is a very welcome addition to a Smartphone! I dunno why it’s not been done before, but it should be standard!! I can see as a percentage of use since last full charge how much juice the display has sucked, how much battery has been spent on cellular standby, playing back music, wifi, or just the phone being in an idle-on state.
  • The syncing with Google is awesome. I use Google Apps for all my domains, and having the emails pushed down (Just like the exchange emulation it does that I used on the iPhone) is pretty standard, but having the contacts and everything else syncing flawlessly is brilliant!
  • Voice input is amazing. I’ve done things before like Voice Dialing (“Call dad mobile”), and basic voice commands like “Play Music”, but this takes it to a whole new level. It’s not just predefined things, but basically voice input pretty much anywhere there is a text box for you to type in to. It’s not quite perfect, and it won’t allow you to dictate a long email into it yet, but it’s still pretty good, and a nice direction for things to be going in!
  • Having a full browser is wicked cool. I didn’t quite realize how crippled the iPhone browser was until I used this one. I used to loath having to look up addresses, for example when I was driving somewhere and wasn’t sure to go. Now with the Android browser, the browser can finally make use of the high-speed network!!
  • The Android Marketplace seems a little empty by comparison. I’ve been able to pretty much find anything I want, but it’s clear there’s not as many apps as the Apple App Store, but to be honest most of the App Store apps are duplicates. There’s no need for a dozen flashlight applications which essentially all do the same thing.
  • Did I mention the speed? Yeah I mentioned the browser speed but overall it’s just blisteringly fast and it’s so good!
  • The buttons down the bottom are “different” from the iPhones one. It leaves more screen real-estate to do other things, and to be honest it took all of a days getting used to. It’s nice having the search button, the back button, and to be honest I’m really enjoying it. It’s far from the “too many button” syndrome I thought I would feel, or at least that Apple told me I would feel.
  • The trackball is cool! It lights up when you receive a txt / email, it’s useful in games (Replica Island), it feels nice, and you can use it to basically navigate around everywhere if you don’t happen to have a touchscreen (Which I do).

Overall, I’m very, very pleased with my latest investment. Considering I just read about how Vodafone and Telecom are about to release a small army of new devices (Well Vodafone are at least), adding to the current ONE model that’s available on Telecom currently, it’s nice to know that Android is starting to take off in NZ.

I’ve read that Apple have ordered enough parts for 25,000,000 iPhone4’s, and that there’s a whopping total of 100,000,000 iOS devices out there. That’s insane! I also read that there’s now 160,000 new Android device activations per-day ( http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/celebrating-android.html ), which means that Android is certainly the fastest growing mobile OS platform, and will very soon take the reigns. It’s also worth noting that the 100,000,000 iOS devices also includes iPod Touches, but to be honest there’s also likely a small army of Android Netbooks helping the Android figures along too.

The numbers just go to show that people like choice, they like freedom, and it’s awesome to see it really starting to take off the way that it is!

I have no doubt that the iPhone is here to stay, and I’m sure the two will very happily co-exist in the mobile space, but as far as I’m concerned the competition is great and will only spur innovation, new features, and greater benefits for us as consumers.

Android, Apple, Google, iOS4, iPhone,

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