Sunday, September 22, 2013

Switching teams... nope.

I did it: in my hand lies a Samsung S 4.

Why? In short, for my own technical literacy. It is not a statement intended to change anyone else's mind.

An iOS fan and iPhone owner since way back (1st gen, 3GS, 4S) and a moderate-to-heavy level user , it certainly did everything I needed. However, as a consumer, I've been eyeing larger screens lately. I was ripe for an upgrade two months ago, but waited for Apple's latest. I was somewhat impressed. Nifty features that push the platform, but not what I wanted as a consumer. My choice, then, was to wait for a year, or get what I wanted now. If you know me, the choice is obvious.

Hello red Samsung 4 S.

Plus, I'd just spent some time with a Surface, and found some interesting things I liked (but once found myself saying, "Um, the Newton did that").  This past week I dug for some information for my Dad and his ASUS tablet and that had me more curious about Android. (Who can resist an OS with version names like Ice Cream Sandwich?) I wanted to see more of "the other side."

Not because I don't think the iPhone is great -- it is. The competition has spawned some great things, too. The argument of which smart phone is BEST is truly a first world problem. They all do markedly more in the palm of my hand than the PC I took to college and for a fraction of the cost. I'd like to say that was a little over a decade ago, but to be honest, it's two decades.

After research I narrowed it down to an HTC One, or the Samsung S 4. Both are fine phones. The fit and finish of the HTC One was very appealing; it felt more solid, looked more durable, and was, frankly, very iPhone like.

I chose a Samsung S 4, and spent a few days getting familiar with it.

However, it was a mistake. Luckily, I can take the phone back to AT&T, pay a small restocking fee, and then wait for an iPhone 5s. (I'm assuming it'll be a wait at that point; I have an appointment at AT&T on Tuesday).

Why was it a mistake? I spent a few days playing with the new features, getting into Android, and customizing my new phone. The joy gave way, however, on Saturday, the first day of "normal use." I was pretty much done with tinkering, and we were going about a pretty standard "routine."

What's the problem(s)?

- A big screen looks nice, but makes a handset unusable for me in a key element: one handed operation. My hands are medium to large for a woman, but I can't reach across the keyboard with my thumb if holding the phone in one hand. That's key for me -- I often will one handed text, write lists, etc. while going from one place to another, or while doing something else with my left hand. (No, not while driving.)

It's just bulky and awkward, regardless, with one hand. It doesn't fit very well in my front jeans pocket. To be honest, I often stick my cell phone in my bra, and it doesn't fit there, either. (Scot said maybe I just needed bigger boobs, and suggested a boob job; that seems a little extreme to accommodate a cell phone. He's so helpful, though)

- Battery life is bad compared to the iPhone. On a normal day out and about where we'd used turn by turn nav for a bit, my fully charged phone was in the red by noon. I'd noticed the day before at work I hadn't really fussed with it that much, but by mid evening it again needed a charge. I'd been reading about what features to turn off to avoid unnecessary battery drain, too. Regardless, that's just unacceptable to me.

- Crap apps you can't remove. Oh, you can get ANOTHER app to hide them, but that right there said a very important thing to me: I want a well designed OS, not one that's built well, messed up by a manufacturer without way to affect it, which you then have to put ANOTHER layer over to live with.

- Various backup/management options for Mac users with Android phones are available. None of them were really as seamless as I was used to with an iOS phone. I didn't expect them to be, but I also didn't expect them to be so quirky, either.

- I missed the solid feel of the iPhone. I have a 4S, and am familiar with Scot's 5. I like the solid, slim block feel. By comparison the S 4 feels too light, plastic-y.

The key thing here for me was I thought I wanted a bigger screen. As someone who has a laptop, an iPad, and a smartphone, this experience helped to illustrate to me the importance of the right tool for the right job.

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