Why I switched back to the iPhone (again)

My love affair with the iPhone has developed over the past few years. I’d actually owned both BlackBerries and an Android phone before trying my first iPhone: the 3G. Initially it was a loan from a friend, it took me a while to get used to not having a home screen wallpaper, and the lack of customization was not something I enjoyed. But, the way it tuned in to my everyday life was fantastic. It was enough to persuade me to go down to my local stockist and purchase the iPhone 3GS on launch day. I used that phone exclusively for an entire year; something which was completely unheard of for me. I normally changed phones like the weather.

I adored that phone. And if I’m honest, I still think of it as my favorite iOS device of all time. It didn’t look too fancy (like the 4/4S), but it was comfortable to hold and it performed well. Since the day I sold it, I’ve felt a hole in my pocket and my palm that is yet to be filled by another device.¬†Since then I’ve owned both black and white versions of the iPhone 4, and have the 4S. Interspersed between those three I had tried the Nexus One, G1, Bold 9700, 9780 and Pearl 3G. I’ve not been a one-phone man since my old faithful 3GS was sold. And despite attempts to leave iOS’ grasp it keeps calling me back.

I recently purchased the Galaxy Nexus – also did a tonne of coverage on it a few weeks back – and I absolutely love the phone, I think it’s great, but it’s missing a few things that actually make it a tad frustrating – for me.

1. Ecosystem

This may not apply to everyone, but it certainly applies to me. I’ve been gradually building up/hoarding music, apps and videos on iTunes since I got my first iPod in 2007. I have more than half a week’s worth of music, and over 100 iOS apps (many paid for). They all sync with the relevant devices and I know that I’m always going to have the content I want when I want it.

Like I said, it doesn’t apply to everyone. People with only 1 year on iOS may not have the same amount of consumable content. And so, for them, this is a non-issue. For me, it is a big issue. There’s no way that I’m going to replace all my apps with Android versions, that would cost way too much. And, music syncing is a nightmare with the Galaxy Nexus, not to mention video. And before I hear you shout “Google music” let me just inform you that it doesn’t exist in the UK, so it’s not an option for me.¬†All my calendars and contacts are synced through iCloud with my “@me.com” email address too. Unsurprisingly, Apple is in every area of my technological life.

2. Camera

In daylight, the Galaxy Nexus performs really well. Granted, everything may have a slightly over saturated feel to it, but it’s quick and is pretty sharp. In lowlight, and indoors though the 4S is in a league of its own. Yes, the Nexus has plenty of optional settings to boost exposure, contrast and white balance, but if I’m trying to catch my daughter doing something hilarious and spontaneous I want a camera I can just grab and shoot.

The other thing that’s bugged me about the Nexus is that often, the resulting photograph looks different to what’s on screen. The picture, when uploaded to a computer, looks a different color and sharpness to what was shown on the phone’s display. Again, this was mostly specific to lowlight scenarios. The iPhone’s display is pretty much bang on what you see in the final result.

3. Music/Loudspeaker

This has more to do with sound quality than iTunes. With or without headphones, the 4S sound quality is so much better. It’s clearer and has more definition. The Nexus – with headphones – has quite a muddy sound, and even when you mess around with its graphic equaliser, doesn’t quite come out crisp. And the loudspeaker is poor for low frequency tones.

The biggest letdown for me was that I’d constantly be missing calls and texts if I wasn’t in the same room as the Nexus. It was even worse when outdoors. To be clear – I didn’t experience the much debated volume bug. It didn’t keep going up and down of its own accord. I had it on full the entire month that I use it, and I often could not hear it. I missed too many important phone calls, and there was nothing I could do to improve the situation.

Wrap up

The fact is that the Galaxy Nexus is a fantastic phone. It really is, in fact, I love it. There is also, so much that I dislike about the iPhone 4S. But, the iTunes ecosystem has had me in its grips for so long that it gets harder and harder to leave. When you’ve invested a good amount of time and money buying songs, games, videos and other media, it’s not easy to just leave it. It’s not like you can transfer the apps over to a handset running a different software. That coupled with possibly the best camera (big deal for me) on a smartphone, means that even though I hate the design, feel and size of the 4S, I’m stuck with it. Unless I downgrade back to a 3GS…



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  • James

    I need to know where you work Cam. You’re buying phones like they’re candybars. How many carriers are you with?! lol

    • Tom F

      I’ve always wondered how people can change phones like that. I’m in for a two year ride on my phones.

  • Volas

    I have the same problem. The reason I can’t leave my iPhone, although I wished it had a bigger screen, is because it’s quality is perfect! Quality over quantity. Android versions of anything apple is just cheap washed out imitation.