Leaving the iPhone

Back in 2008 I got an iPhone 3G, marking the first time I had got a phone that was at the top of the range since leaving working for theLink in 2006 (the Link used to sell mobile phones). I had spent months and months reading about the phone and had waited until it had dropped to a price that made it actually a viable option, and also waited until the phone was advanced enough for it to make sense. Remember the first iPhone was non-3G and had no apps – that was added with iPhone OS (now iOS) and the iPhone 3G. This was chronicled here, on this blog.

(Click here for an historical look at my phones).

In 2010, when I was due an upgrade, the iPhone 4 came out and I picked one up. And last year, when the iPhone 5 came out, I upgraded my contract to it. And, for a while, it was excellent. A lot about the phone was perfect. And then, without warning, I was suddenly dropped into a spiral of shittier and shittier iPhones, until last week when I finally gave up.

It started when I noticed one Saturday afternoon in our old flat that a video I was taking of Frank had a wee glitch on the screen. It was a dark spot, that looked like dirt. I couldn’t see any on the inside, so I concluded it must have been an issue with the camera. I took the phone in and they replaced it immediately with my second iPhone 5, and apologised profusely. This handset last a good six months until earlier this year, when I realised the exact same issue had happened again. Same problem, same effect, and Apple dealt with it the same way – replacement, apology, and my third iPhone 5. I was, by this point, pretty put out, but I couldn’t fault their customer service. I’d been given a new phone twice, without any blame. It wasn’t until last month when I came across the fault again – this time in a different place, but still the same issue – dark spot and glitched out area on the camera. I took it in, they were shocked, and gave me a fourth iPhone 5, but this time did a fair bit of work in the back on it, looking at diagnostics. I was pretty worried by this point that this would never end.

I used the phone for less than a week before another issued occurred, still with the camera but this time quite a different issue – a purple band flickering on the screen across the whole video. It was unbelievable. I made an appointment and took it in. The genius member asked me “What have you been doing to them!?” incredulously, and set about the usual rigmarole of giving me a new phone – my fifth iPhone 5. He apologised and almost asked why I hadn’t changed phone. I didn’t answer him, but I already had done a fair bit of research.

You see, I’ve been on my iPhone for the past five years. I’ve gone through a lot of changes and a lot of apps. I come back to the main ten applications I use, catalogued below. I rarely use anything else, in fact. I don’t play games on it, nor do I do anything productive on them, I just use them for social, internet and camera functions. The biggest problem I have is that this is not an unusual thing to occur, this iPhone 5 issue, at least for me. Something I am doing to them through my normal usage is killing them – that much is fact. But I am not dunking them in water, or throwing them against the wall – I am just using them the way I normally do. So, it’s not me that is going to change, it has to be the phone. I can only assume that I will 100% have the exact same issue in five months time with this new iPhone 5 – four times out of four is a very unfavourable statistic, especially when I managed only two previous iPhones over four years of intensive usage.

It’s not me, it’s the iPhone.

What this means is I am having to move away from Apple – I know, not a big deal for some, but for myself who is technically aware but not interested to the point of fandom, I just want things to be easy. Android, where I am going to, is easier than it ever was. And the majority of the apps I used (and actually more) are better and easier on Android.  Here is a list of what I use my phone for, and what the Android equivalent appears to be. If you read this and have any better options, let me know.

  1. The Camera. I take a lot of photos and upload them all the time. I upload using Facebook (sometimes) and Instagram (#frankfortheday) and both are available on the Nexus. Also, Vine, which Twitter locked me out of for a while, is also on Android, but I don’t use that nearly enough to really care. The biggest change is that the camera looks excellent, and will sync automatically with my Dropbox, which is what I am going to start using to store my photo’s as a back up.
  2. Music. I listen to music all the time – I moved to GoogleMusic a few months ago, and the biggest annoyance with that was that Google have no app for the iPhone that let me play stuff from there, only allowing the web app. It is buiult natively into Android, which is a massive bonus. Also, Spotify appears to work pretty well on the Nexus, another important feature. Additionally, I do use a few other apps, like Mixcloud and iCatcher, so the Mixcloud app will be downloaded and a new Podcast app will be found, I am sure.
  3. The Cloud. I use Dropbox and have never used the utterly useless iCloud system. I also have a Google Drive account, so between Dropbox and Google Drive, I will be covered. Auto syncing is apparently easier on Android, so that will be a big boost.
  4. Social Networks. I use Twitter a lot and Facebook sparingly, so both will require apps. Falcon Pro, I am told, is a good replacement for Tweetbot, but I have a feeling that I am going to miss Tweetbot the most of any app. I’ve yet to find a Twitter app that makes Twitter better.
  5. Email and Calendar. I use Gmail, and have done for years. I have five Gmail accounts, and they are all linked, as well as various other features. I have wanted to use Google Calendar, but the support on the iPhone was shite. So, now I’ll start to use it more and more.
  6. Google Now. A really neat feature of Android is Google Now, a self-aware reminder, location and navigation app. I like it on the iPhone (it’s built into the Google app) so having it up front and centre is going to be interesting.
  7. Skype. I use Skype a bit (more on that below) so it’s going to be used here too.
  8. Whatsapp. I use this everyday with my friends and family and Connie, and it would have been a non-starter if Android didn’t have this app, but it does. So that’s good.
  9. New Settings. I hate that I can’t program things in to change based on my location, like turning my volume on when I get home, or turning Wifi off when I get to work. So, Android apparently lets you do this! I can’t wait to connect this up.
  10. Games. Now, I said above that I don’t play games on my iPhone, and that’s true – only a few have broken that rule, like Tetris or Ace Attorney. But with the Android market I can download emulators and play old Mega Drive games, which is a fantastic thing. And, according to some, even link up a Wii remote to the phone and play games using it?! I don’t even know if that’s true, but it might be.

There are a few things I am going to miss though:
  1. Facetime. Obviously, Android doesn’t do this, despite Apple building it on open source tech (allegedly). So doing this with the family abroad is now something that I can’t do, which is a shame. Luckily, Connie still has an iPhone, and we also have an iPad that does it too, and if worst came to worst we can all use Skype (when it works).
  2. Reminders. Connie and I have the same iCloud account, and we share reminders. So she can add a reminder to my phone from hers, and I to her phone – it works really well, so I am going to miss this feature quite a bit.
  3. All my previous apps. I have had an iPhone for ages, and I have a lot of apps. With the ability to download ones you’ve already paid for (and possibly forgotten about), it was very good at keeping them alive. With Android I am starting again, so will take some time to get all the apps I want and need. But that would be the same on any change over (like when I went from Windows to Mac in 2010).
  4. My Sat Nav. I have Sat Nav for the US, Canada, and the UK that runs on my iPhone perfectly, and now it won’t It will run on Connie’s though, so that will work out in the majority of times. I don’t know how good Android is for high quality sat-navs.
  5. My Connector in the car. I currently use a very good FM transmitter in the car for my phone to the sound system. This is the first thing I’ll need to replace to keep my experience on going, but it’s less important as I do take the train more than I drive the car (and when Connie and I drive together I am nice and play music we both like, which will most likely be on her phone anyway). I need a recommendation for a Nexus 4 compatible FM transmitter.
  6. The Docks. I have two iPod docks in the house, and even though they were made pretty redundant with the iPhone 5’s new connection, I now can’t connect them at all. I am still working out the implications of this, but I think it might be okay – one has an Aux-in put, and we still have an old iPod Nano that fits perfectly in the docks anyway.

This is exhaustive because I needed it to be. I spent months working out the advantages and disadvantages, of which there are many of both, but in the end it is about the phone and how I feel with it, and the iPhone 5 has been a severe disappointment. Even the new iOS update coming out isn’t going to change my mind, it seems. But, as I said to a friend, I am not a fanboy. The iPhone was the best for a long time, but now for me the Nexus seems better. And will be for a while. If a new iPhone comes out that changes that, I don’t see why I can’t switch back.

I’ll update this if I have any more thoughts, or post later when I get the phone. Comment below if you have any thoughts!