In 2007, Apple famously entered the smartphone world. Many at the time saw it as a mistake. But thanks to some incredible hype-building, great usability and a fantastically minimalist design, the iPhone has become the most successful phone on the planet. And it keeps getting more and more popular. Last quarter alone, Apple sold 37 million iPhones globally.
Most of you, our readers and visitors, will have an opinion on the iPhone. Many of you will be huge Apple fans. It comes with the territory of an iPhone blog. In fact, thanks to having way too much invested in the App Store, and iTunes, iOS devices are virtually my only choice. Cupertino’s ecosystem has me well and truly hooked. And I don’t mind so much. But it does beg the question, if I didn’t have an iPhone, what would I be using?
Every time a new device comes out, the tech fan in me goes “I want to try that”. Sometimes even “I need it”. I get excited. I’m addicted to phones, and I have been since 1999. Before I started working as a tech blogger, I still spent all my time checking up on the latest smartphones, trying them out etc. Spend enough time with a lot of devices, and you soon learn what the most important features are for you personally. The reason I’ve always gone back to the iPhone is that I love that it’s hooked in to my music. I love that there are so many great games in the App Store. I also like the way my phone looks. And, I like a great camera.
Back in November I got my hands on a Galaxy Nexus and used it as my personal phone for 30 days. I loved it – simple. It performed fantastically and its display was out of this world. 4.65″ of pure, brilliant black and bright colors. Sure, it could do with being a little sharper and crisper. My eyes are used to the insanely sharp Retina display. Anything with a lower pixel density will naturally appear a tiny bit fuzzy. If I was all about performance, speed and mega specs, the Galaxy Nexus would be my first choice – by a long shot.
I figured, that what made the Nexus so great was Ice Cream Sandwich. Android 4.0 is by far the greatest version of Google’s OS yet. It’s stepped away from the nerdy green, hacker friendly UI, and instead looks polished, refined and attractive. The hardware looks great from the front too. Turn it around however, and you’re greeted by a grey, character-less plastic that doesn’t quite match up to the promise shown by the phone’s face.
Syncing music with Android phones and using the inbuilt music player apps has always seemed a bit lumpy. And sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. They never quite hit the mark when it comes to meeting my personal desires. The same can be said of the Nexus. The camera was fine in daylight, but poor indoors. Loudspeaker quality was poor, and listening to music through headphones was an irritation, not an enjoyment.
Alongside my iPhone 4S stands my ever-faithful BlackBerry Bold 9700. It meets my next two big priorities which aren’t met by the iPhone: battery life and great physical keyboard. But they’re not enough on their own. If RIM can keep these and create a fantastic looking device with a software to match, I’ll be all over it like an aggressive moss.
If I was to choose a phone now, it would have to be the Nokia Lumia 800. They’ve just announced the white version, and it looks stunning. It’s minimalist, and the contrast between the black user interface and brilliant white shell, makes it easily one of the best looking phones ever made. It certainly ticks the aesthetics box. Windows Phone 7 is to the smartphone world what iPhone OS was in 2007. It’s a change, a new way of thinking. Microsoft’s Metro UI makes Android and iOS look virtually identical in comparison.
Although the number of apps is relatively low on WP7, it’s steadily gaining support from developers. And that will only continue as the platform solidifies itself in the smartphone market. I actually enjoy using the virtual keyboard on Windows Phone, and the camera is great. Thanks to the Windows Phone 7 connector for Mac, syncing music and contacts isn’t an issue either. Nokia’s brand also gives me some confidence when it comes to hardware quality. It’s normally second to none, and goes through rigorous testing.
As an overall package, for me, it works. With the Nexus, I always felt it had 3-4 really outstanding features, but some of the others were left lacking. With the Lumia, it has its looks and UI, and the other parts well executed. Nothing incredibly outstanding. But, I just get that feeling that it would suit me more day-to-day than anything else.
What about you? If the iPhone didn’t exist, what would you be using? Tweet me: @TiP_Cam.