I bought a Nexus 4 at the end of August when they dropped to $199. My iPhone 4 was barely holding on and I had grown frustrated with Apple’s walled garden for the past few years. A month later even though I quite liked the Nexus 4 I upgraded to the Nexus 5, here are my thoughts on that switch:

The iPhone was amazing when it came out, truly amazing. It had a almost a five year lead on the competition, however it seemed like because of the initial work done, IOS upgrades were very incremental (at least until IOS 7). From the beginning Apple was very tied to its walled garden (or benevolent caretaker) approach, in that you were stuck Apple’s poorer quality apps. It has kind of amazed me that although Apple apps where initially best of breed, Google and other companies had been creating the best Apps on IOS for a while, and those Apps were hobbled because there was no way of setting them as the default handler for basic things like Mail, Maps, and Web Browsing. I probably would have stuck with IOS if they had changed that one thing in IOS7, the ability to register other Apps as the default app. In my last couple of years on IOS I had switched to Google Maps as my default Maps, Chrome as my default browser, (I still used the Mail app because it was still superior to everything else out there). Every time I clicked on a link that opened up Safari or the Apple maps and I had to copy the url or location and re-open it in my environment of choice made the switch more inevitable.

And then there was the Nexus 7, the cheap little tablet that convinced me that Android was not as bad as I remembered from the 2.3 Gingerbread era. There were slowly starting to be quality apps made for Android, and some apps on Android were even better than the equivalent on IOS. I truly believe that the Nexus 7 and a couple of other inexpensive quality tablets were the reason that a lot of technical people realized that Android was finally getting to a point where it was as polished as IOS and that the state of Apps was really improving.

***Digression*** It's not the number of Apps that are on a platform, it's having the apps that you need/want and the quality of those apps. There are almost 150,000 apps in the Windows 8 store and when I first started using Windows 8 I literally could not find one that I wanted to use. I really wanted to try the Windows 8 experience and I downloaded apps that I had been told where of excellent quality and I never used any of them more than 1 minute of trying them out. Netflix and Kindle were actually better in a browser, and the rest of the apps I tried had no compelling to use them. The number of Apps available on a platform is a canard (that thankfully is is going away) up there with the mghz wars of the late nineties.

And so after deciding to switch to Android in August, and switching in September here are my thoughts.

  1. Until quite recently iPhone build quality was superior to all of the android phones, which maintained had remained plastic and not copied the metal finishing of the iPhone 4. In devices like the HTC One and Nexus 5 the build quality was finally at parity with what apple had achieved and with the Nexus 5 at a considerable savings to the iPhone (almost half the price).

  2. I was OK with the Nexus 4, it didn’t thrill me as a phone (and it should have given that I had switched from a very underpowered iPhone 4 that was barely usable), however the Nexus 5 still gives me a feeling of awe every day I use it (The iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4 did the same thing for almost a year and half so let’s see if the Nexus 5 lasts that long). And it’s not that the Nexus 5 is so much more powerful than the Nexus 4, it literally is the build quality on things like the case. It feels like an amazing phone which is something that few Android phones have done to this day (the HTC-One is the only other Android phone that feels awesome.

  3. I actually like IOS7 (though I have only used it for short periods of time testing and building my Recipe Folder app for IOS) so the switch to IOS7 was not the reason of switch other than hearing it wasn’t changing the policy about setting default applications.

  4. IOS still has better niche apps, the $2-3 apps that Android users won’t pay for. Personally I believe that is changing, but until App developers build quality Apps IOS will continue to have better apps. An example is Stop Motion Studio and there are several other really good stop motion apps on the iphone, however as much as I have looked the same Apps on Android suck. They look terrible and they perform even worse (and this is on a Nexus 5, I can’t imagine using this on a low end device).

Stop Motion App Stop Motion App 2
  1. The camera is still terrible. It’s not that it take terrible pictures, you can get the Nexus 5 to take very good pictures, its that the camera App is so lacking on stock android and other Apps (ZoomFX, haven’t been able to get the control that they need to take great pictures. Hopefully this is something that is fixed Android 5, as hints of the underlying Camera3 API’s became visible in 4.4.

  2. There are a lot of things to love about Android, beyond simply the open nature of the platform. The lock screen can do whatever you want, something you can only do with a Jailbroken IOS device. Widgets are a huge feature that IOS is still missing. And the flexibility you have with the device is almost daunting (especially if you install something like Tasker), it really is a tinker’s dream.

  3. Although completely unrelated to owning a device, developing for Android is both easier and harder than developing for IOS. It is easier as the tooling is much better and far more sane (I know it’s not true for everyone, but I still find using XCode an excruciating experience and Objective C is a language only a mother could love). However the dozens of screen sizes make developing a good looking app much harder than it is for the 3 sizes that you need to develop on IOS.

  4. However all those things said, I would still tell someone who does not have a smartphone to get an iPhone and unless you have a real reason to switch from the iPhone or are fairly technically minded and want to take advantage of flexibility Android gives you, stick with the iPhone. Unless of course you want to buy an unlocked phone, in which case definately get the Nexus 5, as the value for money there is spectacular.

To make it simple for you I have created a simple flow chart on how to buy a phone (oh and if you switch as well, read Eric Schmidt’s Google+ post on how to switch from IOS to Android