UPDATED – READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH
First off – I need to set the record straight. I am an Apple Junkie. I have been for many years. I’m the guy that is first in line whenever Apple comes out with a new product, whether it’s an iMac, Mac Pro, iPod, iPhone, whatever. I buy them all. Even though I’m writing this article, I still think of myself as an Apple Junkie.
I also have no “bones to pick” with Apple whatsoever. I love the company, and think they ROCK. So this post has nothing to do with my feelings for Apple as a whole.
So why would a guy like me make the switch from my every-generation iPhone ownership and go over to the “dark side” and buy a Droid Bionic from Motorola? My experience is why I’m writing this.
I’ve been on AT&T for years. Even before they came out with the first iPhone. I probably would’ve switched to another carrier long ago, but since they “owned” the iPhone I stayed. I upgraded through every iPhone, as soon as they came out (the same day typically).
The initial driver to switch was that I wanted to get off AT&T. I was tired of dropping calls. Having been a Verizon customer years ago, I know they have the best coverage around. And with them carrying the iPhone as well, it would make sense to make the move and stay on the iPhone.
BUT – I came to a turning point. I realized that Apple’s technological lead, idea lead, and strategy lead was coming to an end. Here’s why:
1) The iPhone Hardware no longer led the field. The iPhone 4 was great when it came out. But soon after that, Droid phones came flying at us from many manufacturers that out-performed the iPhone in many areas. The cameras were better. The screens were bigger. They were 4G. The list goes on. Apple used to release the latest technology, and everyone would play catch-up. By the time they were even close to catching up, Apple would release the next generation and they would be playing catch-up again.
That world is over I believe. As one of many examples, the camera on the newly announced iPhone 4S now has 8 Megapixels, shoots 1080P Hi-Def video and has image stabilization. Impressive. Droid phones have had 8MP, 1080P and a limited image stabilization for a year already. So it’s Apple who is playing catch-up this time. And they didn’t even raise the bar (other than a higher quality image than many). By the time Apple comes out with the iPhone 5, Droids will have already moved onto the next great thing and Apple will be playing catch-up again.
2) Then there’s the speed catch-up game. The 1st thing I’ve been blown away by with my new Droid Bionic is the sheet 4G speed that KILLS what my iPhone did.
3) The list goes on, but this one is the clincher. This is the reason I can no longer keep myself tied to Apple’s iPhone, even though I LIVE by iTunes, have iPods all over the house, have an iPad, and so on. It is that Apple’s proprietary strategy is now leaving them behind in software on the phone. Everyone remembers the original Apple, who held so tightly to their proprietary technology and ideas that it led Microsoft to leave them in the dust in the 80’s and 90’s. The reminiscent strategy is coming back again from the 80’s. Hold on tight to your proprietary hardware/software combination to your own destruction. Microsoft killed them with PC’s because it was so much cheaper to make them. The same is beginning to happen with the Droids.
They are heading down the exact same road with the iPhone. Until recently, apps and “cool stuff” would come out from developers on the iPhone first. It was the perfect platform to make their cool apps. But now that everyone’s up to speed, the “open” Android market for application development is much more attractive. Apple still prevents many cool things from happening on the iPhone because they have other plans. Google Android has no such agenda. Developers can make all the cool things they want happen, without Google stifling them because it interferes with their corporate vision.
Let me give you just one example. When software was developed that would work on the iPhone that give you turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone, Apple would not allow it to be sold in the App Store. That’s because it had its own agenda with Tom Tom or whomever was developing a $99 app that would be sold on a deal with Apple. So in order to use your iPhone as a GPS Navigation system, you had to pay out the nose. On the Android? Free, and built-in. AND it worked better than the one on the iPhone.
Okay, another example while I’m at it. You know that cool SIRI technology just announced on iPhone 4S? Where you can talk to it and it understands? Well that’s been on the Android for a year. And it sucks that I didn’t have it on my iPhone 4. And to make it worse, I had SOME of it with an app on the iPhone called SIRI (sound familiar?). Yes, it was an app before Apple built it into iPhone 4S. And guess what happened to my SIRI app once Apple built it into iPhone 4S? They killed it! So now I’ve got NOTHING.
4) Other examples that drove me to switch are that the iPhone is nothing more than an “App Holder”. Look at the iPhone, and all you have is a mobile desktop that holds apps that you can run. Oh, and you can put your own wallpaper on it (that you can’t see because the apps cover it).
On the Android there is a whole world of “Widget” applications that you can make your phone come alive with all kinds of useful data, displays, pictures, interaction, social media updates, etc. etc. on multiple pages or wherever you want to put them. Again, it has been that way for a while now. Maybe Apple will “open that up” on a future phone, but it will have already been on Droid for years.
The fact that the Android system is “open” guarantees that the Droid will get the cool new things faster than Apple can release them. Since the Droid is open to developers, Apple’s competition is really the whole world of individual developers. They are attracted to the world of Android because it “invites” them, not “prevents” them. I would compare it to opening a bank, but choosing which country you want to open it in. A country with HEAVY regulation vs. a country with VERY LIMITED regulation. It’s exhilarating to be able to work in the non-regulated environment.
5) And last but not least. Steve Jobs died last week. That was a real downer. A great era comes to an end where the pioneers of the technology explosion are no longer in play (Jobs and Gates). My confidence that Apple will lead the field has diminished. They’re on their way to becoming the next Microsoft, and the smaller, nimbler companies will make the new cool stuff before Apple can.
So that’s why this Apple Junkie jumped ship on the iPhone. I haven’t made any jumps on iPods or iPads or anything else yet. Just the phone.
As a wrap-up, below are some of the coolest things that have “caught” me since the switch to the Droid Bionic.
– Cool Phone Widgets
– All my Apps were available on Android as well as iPhone
– The AWESOME larger screen
– WAY better camera capabilities, functions and quality of the camera from iPhone 4
– Freedom of NOT having to cable-sync the phone every time I do anything (even installing apps can be done from my Mac on Android Market without touching the phone)
– I’m even synching my music with iTunes wirelessly (couldn’t even do that on my iPhone!)
– I HAVE 3 BATTERIES! – 2 regular ones and 1 extended one. I can switch them out whenever I want! And I can charge 2 of them at the same time.
– Verizon 4G is FFFFAAAAASSSSSSTTTTTTT!!!
– WOW on the Google Apps integration. Google Calendar, Gmail, and Contacts interact PERFECTLY with my phone. iPhone was crappy, and didn’t have apps for any of it. I had to use the browser.
– My Corporate email on Android is WAY better than the one on iPhone (and easier to setup).
– I can add a Micro SD card any time I want to increase memory (even more than iPhone offers)
– Built-In Voice commands for finding anything, texting, emailing and other stuff ROCKS! Very cool. iPhone 4S will have this, but another example of introducing it a year too late.
– The Navigation capabilities RULE. It’s the best GPS navigator I’ve ever had. Google is very good at this stuff. iPhone’s was crap.
– Sexiness of the Droid OS. There are just some really cool things that Android does. Reminds me of when Apple was new.
– In short, the Android mobile OS is already leaps and bounds farther than iOS (yes, even version 5). With Google’s agility, I believe it will continue to go that direction.
UPDATED – LESSON LEARNED FROM THE SWITCH AND WHY I SWITCHED BACK!
After 2 weeks of the Android Honeymoon, reality set in and I came to some hard conclusions. Those conclusions were significant enough to make me return the Droid Bionic and swap it for an iPhone 4S.
Here are the reasons I returned to iPhone. Even though all the cool things listed above were favorable to the Droid Bionic, the following issues were significant enough to reverse the decision.
1) BATTERY LIFE – So it’s cool to have 2 or more batteries, but when each one only lasts 3/4 of the day it’s kind of annoying. I had to keep one in my pocket every day waiting for the 1st to die and switch. It’s the “good and bad” of the Android OS – cool widgets, but the more you have the faster you burn your battery. Kind of kills the excitement when you can’t use the cool things if you want the battery to last all day, when they were the reason you bought it in the first place. I got 2 days consistently out of my iPhone 4.
2) OS Issues – I heard a lot about how Apple OS is much more “stable” than Android. Now I know 1st hand. With all the cool things Android does, there are a lot of issues as well. You can download multiple music apps…cool! But then they conflict with each other and start playing and interrupting the other. If you’ve had an iPhone you know how smoothly it handles it when you un-plug the audio cable? Well, do the same thing with a Bionic and when you plug it back in it sounds like a chainsaw. It can’t handle that kind of hardware interruption. Then I had to keep restarting the music player. Then there’s the little “finesse” types of things that Apple has done so well that Android has some maturing to do. In the contact list you get the same alphabet list on the side to go directly to that letter in your contacts. The problem is the letters are so small you select the contact next to it instead of the letter. Different annoyances like that abound.
3) Screen Size – This was a big thing for me. I initially LOVED the larger screen. What did I learn? Well, the reason Apple’s made its screen size that way is because it spent TONS of money in research to make it just right. The sexier larger screen? Well, it’s too big for your fingers to comfortably reach everything. So I was stretching all the time (or using other hand) to reach apps, menus, etc. It got annoying quickly.
4) Camera – The specs on the Bionic camera were impressive, and Apple’s iPhone 4S’s specs were finally up to the Bionic. Reality? Aside from the specs, the quality of the camera and the pictures of the Bionic stunk compared to even my iPhone 4 (NOT 4S). Within the first few days I was sorely disappointed with the Bionic camera. Crappy and SLOW.
5) “It Just Works” – That catch phrase about Apple’s products is not just marketing speak. It’s true.
6) Design – Apple almost always nails the design like truly inspired designers. The Bionic has some issues. One annoyance is that the “On” button is on the wrong side of the phone. It feels like it’s made for a left-hander. You have to stretch your finger in the wrong direction to turn it on.
7) Software Updates? – I assumed that Google would act like Apple when it came to software updates. Apple releases MANY updates that you can get on your iPhone for multiple generations of the device. At some point when your hardware is really out of date, Apple says it’s time to buy a new hardware device to get the new OS update. Google? Not so much. The Droid Bionic was only released a month or 2 before I bought it. Even though that’s the case, Google announced recently its new version of Android OS. And guess what? It won’t be fully compatible with my brand new Droid Bionic. Why? Because Google doesn’t control the hardware. So if you buy a Droid phone, it’s very likely you will be stuck with the version of the OS that came on that phone. And possibly NEVER be able to get any new features with new releases as they come out. To get those new fangled things, you’ll have to buy another new phone. Ouch! If you want to see the nitty gritty “ugly” details, see this link.
For these and other reasons I returned my sexy new Droid Bionic to Verizon and walked out with an iPhone 4S. With everything else documented above, it just makes life easier to stay with Apple.