Hey Android, I'm Back

Hey there Android, I’m back

My iPhone 5S was on it’s last leg (battery fatigue issues, and a home button that stopped working a several months ago), and this past fall I decided to replace it with a Nexus 6P.

History

I entered the smartphone world with Android back with the original Motorola Droid in 2009. With the hardware slide-out keyboard, I used Android 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2. I really liked the phone for a year, and then the hardware seemed extremely lacking. The phone became slow and I put a lot of effort into keeping Android updated (with custom builds as my only option).

After suffering until my contract upgrade time in 2011, I switched to the iPhone with a 4S, which I then upgraded to the iPhone 5S in 2013. Coming from that Motorola Droid, the iPhone felt like a HUGE leap forward. I didn't even really consider another Android phone at that time. Apple's hardware and their direct control over the software (no waiting for the cell phone carrier to approve an update) really made a huge difference in the quality of my experience compared to my original Android phone.

Why switch back?

I think it is extremely valuable for my professional life to have a wide set of knowledge on all the platforms I deal with through my job.

I enjoy and appreciate the simplicity of iOS, but often find it’s customization lacking, and it’s apps limited in how they can integrate with the operating system and with each-other. Apple has taken big strides to improve that with more recent versions of iOS, but Android still dominates customization and integration.

I’m pretty much all in on Google services for email, calendar, etc, and using the Google apps for email and calendar on iOS leaves a lot of power behind since you can’t set anything 3rd party as a default app for any type of service in iOS.

With Google's Nexus phones, updates are more likely to happen in a timely manner. The hardware released this past fall is outstanding. Also, from a cost standpoint, a 64GB Nexus 6P compared to an iPhone 6S Plus 64GB is significant ($549 vs $849 USD at the time of this post).

How has it been for the past 2 months?

It has been great. Most of the apps I was used to have great Android versions. Some of them even have better Android versions (mostly the Google apps). I was able to find great alternatives to the few apps that didn't have an Android version from the same developer.

It was a huge jump up in the size of my phone as well. It took about a day, but now I'm very happy with the massive size phone. My old 5S feels like a toy now.

Here is a breakdown of the good, the bad, and the things that are pretty much the same. All in no particular order:

The Good

  • Do Not Disturb and Priority - Automatic setting of Do Not disturb based on calendar events or a custom schedule has been awesome. There is a lot more flexibility here. Turning on Do Not Disturb with various levels (Priority, Alarms, Total Silence) and for a specific duration (30 minutes, an hour, etc) is a really useful tool when heading into a meeting or a movie.
  • Notification center - Android's notification center is way more powerful. Lot of actions can be performed, and notifications themselves can show previews of photos (Instagram).
  • Alarm - The alarm posts a notification a little while before it is to trigger, allowing you to dismiss the alarm. This is a wonderful little feature when you wake up before your alarm and won't need to hear it until the next day.
  • Price - Comparing a Nexus 6P to an iPhone 6S Plus is a huge difference, and even more so if you consider Nexus Protect and Apple Care.
  • Fast charging - It is fast and awesome.
  • Battery life and prediction - Battery life has been pretty good, but the graph predicting how long it will last given your current usage is really helpful at time. I looked at this a lot when I first got the phone, now I just use the phone, and it can make it through the day unless I'm really using it a lot.
  • OK Google and Google now put Siri to shame - Google's voice activation and commands are fantastic. It is fast and accurate and works way more than Siri ever did. Google Now is extremely useful.
  • Location and device pairing unlock rules - This is really great. I love being able to have my passcode/fingerprint disabled when I'm in the car because I'm connected to it's bluetooth.
  • Homescreen layout - This may seem silly, but it is great to place the icons wherever you want, and I don't even need them all even on the screen since there is the app drawer.
  • Default apps - Google's apps as the default is a huge advantage for me since I use a lot of them, but if I didn't or in the cases where I don't, Android lets you customize how links are handled way more than iOS does.

The Bad

  • Imprint - Unfortunately it is barely supported in 3rd party software. Only about 3 of the apps I use support it, two since pretty much the beginning and one just the other week, several iPhone apps I used supported TouchID. Android 6.0 with Imprint is a super small subset of phones in use, I don’t expect people to support it quickly, which is a unfortunate.
  • Hardware Silence - I do miss the hardware silence switch from an iPhone. Being able to reach into my pocket and silence the phone was pretty handy. Taking it out and pulling down the notification shade to enable Do Not Disturb is much more cumbersome.
  • Complexity - Yes, it is more complex and can be harder to use than an iPhone, all this flexibility comes with complexity.

The Draw

  • Android Pay Support It seems that support in stores is minor. I never used Apple Pay, and now that I'm paying attention to NFC equipment at sales terminals, it seems pretty sparse in general.
  • Imprint - It is as fast and good as the TouchID from my 5S, the new TouchID might be faster, but I've never tried it, and Imprint is plenty fast.
  • Camera - iPhones are known for their cameras, but the one on this Nexus 6P is really good, I think it holds its own.
  • Build quality - There is know doubt that Apple makes some really nice hardware. Huawei did a fantastic job with the 6P, it feels like a quality device and has great fit and finish to it.
  • Charging connector - Reversible! USB-C, Lightening, everything should be reversible like this.

In conclusion

I'm really happy I made the switch. It has been an overall positive change. I'm sure I would have felt that an iPhone 6S Plus was a great upgrade from my 5S, but I'm welcoming the change in operating system. It is a great time to enjoy the rapid enhancements of these smartphones. If you are considering giving Android a shot, I can recommend it.

Header Photo Credit - Anthony Quintano Android Garden - Google Mountain View Office CC BY 2.0 (resized)