The Infuriating Experience of Switching from iPhone 4S to Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Before I begin, I will just say that I am fully aware what I am getting myself into. The commenters here will instantly label me a fanboy and delegitimize anything I say from this point on. Why? Because I will be praising Apple and complaining about Android. In my defense though, I have written countless articles praising Windows Phone, Google, and many other companies for making excellent products. Can you guess what the commenters of those articles labeled me? That’s right, a fanboy of Microsoft, Google, and on occasion, even Nokia. In fact my last article here was possibly the most anti-Apple post you will read in a long time. But that doesn’t matter. I am a fanboy.
Putting those distractions aside, I will try to stick to facts and leave opinion out. So let’s start from the beginning. A friend wanted to buy me a present and asked me which phone I prefer, the new Galaxy Note 2 or the iPhone 5.
I have been using the iPhone 4S since its debut and that was a choice I made, since I have access to pretty much all Android and Windows Phone devices. I have been overall happy with a few exceptions, but like many, I got bored of it and when I say “it”, I mean iOS.
So, when the opportunity presented itself to switch to Android’s top of the line device (last week, now the Nexus 4 is, but that is a rant for another time.), I jumped on it and asked for the Note 2.
I am now very much regretting that decision.
I find myself trying to pick up the Note to read emails, tweets, messages, etc but keep getting drawn back to the iPhone. Why? Let me explain.
Android Jellybean is a fantastic operating system, way better than its predecessors, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, and even Ice Cream Sandwich, a huge improvement. Having said that, one cannot talk about Android without addressing the layers placed upon Android by the manufacturers, in this case, Samsung.
You see, the Note 2 is an absolute WOW device. The specs are off the charts, the screen is fabulous, and the S Pen is ridiculously futuristic with all its integrations. But those are the trees! The forest is a complete mess!
There are literally tens of examples of this but I will focus on one. One instance of a key feature/functionality that is so poorly implemented in Android, that I literally do not understand how anyone who needs to get things done, uses this platform. Again, Nexus is different but a vast majority of Android phones sold are not Nexus devices, they are Samsung devices. If you want to separate the two, then talk to Google and blame them for giving away their baby to the devil, but this is the reality.
I want to talk about notifications. On iOS, you like getting pinged for every message you get, you can. If you are in a meeting and your phone is off, you can have the new notification show up on the lock screen, at which point, you can either choose to unlock the phone or not, but the choice is yours. How ironic.
On Samsung’s version of Jellybean, you are in a meeting, your phone can vibrate or play a ringtone for a new email, but no indication of what the content of the message is. You want to know? Unlock your phone and look. Unnecessary extra step, but no big deal, right?
Of course, it does not end there. Even after you unlock your phone, swipe down the notification bar, you only see the last tweet, the last message, or the last email. Missed 20 emails? Sorry, you have no way to know that. Even the Gmail app has no indication of how many unread emails you have.
This is borderline infuriating for anyone who wants to be productive, not to mention a person like me with A.D.D and a need to stay on top of my notifications.
What if you are not in a meeting and your phone is on? A new email (not Gmail, I mean the Email app) will display a little envelope that you have a message. What is that message? Click to find out. Why not just tell me?!
Again, I understand this is a personal preference but in iOS, you can configure notifications however you like. You want a popup for new messages? Done. Want the app to show how many unread messages you have without clicking through? Done. You want that app to display notifications in notification Center? Done. Android Jellybean with Touchwiz? A little envelope with zero information.
Oh, I know quite well what you Android fans are going to say next. “Download a better email client”. Oh, I tried, trust me, I tried. I even tried to download apps that offer better notifications, ironically called iPhone Notifications. None of these are real solutions. I tried email apps including Enhanced Email, K9, RoadSync, Touchdown, AquaMail, to name a few. None of them simply show me who is the sender of an email and what is its subject.
To achieve this basic need, I have to use two different apps to check my email. Or… Wait for it, I can use an iPhone.
Again, this is one simple example, but this is reflective of the experience I have had over the past week switching from iOS6 to Jellybean with Touchwiz.
Again, Android fans, I know what you are going to say “Get a Nexus”. That is one solution; I definitely love my Nexus 7. I have two things to say to that:
- That is not a real solution. Android is still a complete mess with every OEM doing to the operating system what it wants and the loser ends up being the consumer.
- More importantly, there are two real options for the Nexus route. First is I can get a last generation Galaxy Nexus, which means I have to compromise on hardware in order to get the best Android software.
The second option? Get the Nexus 4, which comes out on November 13th (coincidentally my birthday. Subtle hint). While that is a good option I might consider, it also means no LTE (which right now affects me less but will affect me in the near future).
In other words, no matter how you look at this, you can use Android and get an open platform that lets you fully customize your experience, which in many cases is truly awesome, but that also means you will have to compromise somewhere on something. Or, get an iPhone 5 and, well, I don’t see any real reason not to.
I know, I know, I am a fanboy. Except I am not because I am giving Android a chance to wow me and in many ways, it has, but at the end of the day, this is not a political election campaign and I am not voting for an operating system based on values such as openness and transparency. I want a phone with the best supporting ecosystem and the best possible experience to get things done.
I am going to continue to use the Note 2 for now but mainly because I am forcing myself to, and not because it is the best thing for me and my daily productivity.
Looking forward to the personal attacks in the comments.