Android Vs. iPhone 7 Months Later

Seven months ago I ditched my AT&T iPhone for an Android powered Samsung Galaxy Vibrant from T-Mobile. I’d been a big and early fan of the iPhone (I spent the night in line and was actually customer #8 to buy the very first iPhone in Palo Alto back in 2007). With each new model I purchased the new phone until this switch to Android 7 months ago. After using the Android phone for a little over seven months now these are my thoughts.

Android Pros

1. I’m paying less than I paid for my iPhone. At present I pay TMobile $60 a month for 500 talk minutes (which I never come close to using) and unlimited texts and data. By contrast I’m told my wife has a very good iPhone plan from AT&T which is $85 per month for 450 talk minutes, 200 monthly text messages and unlimited data.

2. Google Maps on Android are *amazing*. With Android you can just load any Google Map that you’ve created as a layer on the phone’s default mapping software. This has been tremendously helpful for me as a photographer. I will frequently map out locations that I want to shoot in a new city on a Google Map. Being able to see these exact pin points on my phone’s mapping package (including using directions to the pins) is huge. With my iPhone there was no way to integrate a Google Map page into the phone’s mapping software. At best I could try to load the Google Maps internet page (much less helpful) and I could rarely if ever get it to load in my old iPhone.

3. T-Mobile’s service is better than AT&T’s. I get much better coverage with my Android phone than I did with my iPhone.

4. I can tether on my Android phone *AND* have an unlimited data plan. Although T-Mobile “technically” doesn’t allow tethering unless you buy a tethering plan from them, my Samsung phone tethers just fine without paying for one. I tether two ways — with a USB cable and the PDA Net Android app or wirelessly through the built in software which allows me to turn my phone into a wireless hotspot. The service on my laptop while tethered isn’t as good as a regular wifi or broadband connection, but it’s certainly useable.

5. I was able to purchase the phone without any service plan. I can quit at any time and owe no penalties.

6. The gmail integration is pretty good. Search especially is strong. I can easily find any email that I’m looking for.

7. I get a lot of cool apps. The Twitter app is pretty good. I’ve got the Facebook and Yelp apps. The Android Market seems to be pretty rich in terms of the apps that I like and am looking for. I probably use the Vignette camera app the most of any of the camera apps.

8. The Gallery function is really slick. I like how it keeps my photos segregated by camera type that took them and also allows me seamless integration with Google’s Picasa.

Android Cons

1. There are some apps that are not on the phone that I want. I miss Hipstamatic from my iPhone. I feel like I’m totally shut out of the current Instagram craze that’s going on because it’s an iPhone only app. I’ve tried picplz on the Android as an alternative, but it doesn’t seem to have near the engagement from other users as I’ve seen from my friends using Instagram on their iPhones. I also can’t use my Android phone as a remote control for my AppleTVs like my wife can.

2. Music on the Android sucks. I don’t really like the music player. It doesn’t sync at all with my iTunes. I tried double Twist, but it just didn’t work. Getting music on it is just dragging and dropping the mp3 files with no sort of playlists or organization etc. via iTunes.

3. Once you buy the phone you are *totally on your own* for upgrade support. The upgrade support from Samsung/TMobile has been *horrific.* They made us wait and wait and wait and wait to get the Froyo update and when they finally let us have it, the only way to upgrade my phone was to go through a complicated upgrade process that required me using a Windows based PC (as a Mac guy that sucked). Literally a class action lawsuit was filed to twist the arms of TMobile and Samsung to finally make them release this update. By contrast, updating your iPhone to the latest and greatest system upgrades is as easy as hooking it up to your iTunes and Apple never makes you jump through the hoops like TMobile and Samsung do.

4. Unlimited really isn’t unlimited data on T-Mobile. I was disappointed after signing up and using T-Mobile to get this text message from them. Throttling me because I’m a heavy user seems chump on their part. I understand that unlimited *never* really means unlimited, but I guess I feel like it should.

5. The battery life on my Android phone is a little bit better with the Froyo update, but still not as good as my iPhone was (and I hear iPhone 4 is even better). I could go a full day with my iphone from sun up to the next morning and still have battery life left. With my iphone if I don’t charge it at home at night it’s going to be dead for my commute to work the next morning.

6. The Android phone just seems quirky and buggy all the time. For example. At night I’ll turn the screen off and connect it to my usb port on mac so that it can charge while I’m sleeping. But in the morning when I get up the screen is back on full blaze. I’ll try to push the button to turn the screen back off but it won’t let me press that button unless I first swipe the phone screen to unlock it and then press the button. It shouldn’t be coming on at all when I press the button to turn it off at night, but it does without me touching it in any way and then it’s hard to get back off.

Or I’ll be low on battery and it will dim the screen to a super low level that is hardly even usable. If I go into the settings and bring the screen display back up to full strength, as soon as I try to load a web page it goes completely dim again to where I can’t see it. While I can appreciate their efforts to save my battery, if I’m walking 5 minutes to my office where I can recharge it, I’d rather go ahead and use what little battery I have left on a screen that I can actually see than try to conserve battery life at that point.

There are other quirks as well, but overall the phone just doesn’t feel as user friendly as an iPhone.

All in all, I’m glad I made the switch from the Apple iPhone to the Android powered Samsung Galaxy. I’m a heavy tetherer and really enjoy having my own network to use whenever I want/need it. It’s cheaper. The maps make travelling as a photographer way easier. But it does have it’s tradeoffs as well.

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  1. I was debating how to get better data service for my iPhone and MacBook Pro when I was not around WiFi. I was even thinking about getting an Android phone just to use as a hotspot. In the end I decided on Sprint.

    I have had a Sprint Overdrive since January. It allows up to 5 devices to be connected at a time, and I use it to tether my iPhone and MacBook Pro when I am not around my home WiFi. It works well, and holy crap is it fast! The Sprint 4G service is almost like being at home, and data use on 4G is unlimited, whatever that means on Sprint.

    If anyone is looking for a mobile hotspot, it’s worth considering.

  2. Rob-L says:

    Interesting, because I did the opposite. I went from an Android phone to the iPhone. I enjoy the wider variety of apps on the iPhone, but I agree that Google Maps (and anything Google related) was much better on the Android. Personally, I think there are strengths and weaknesses for each phone and it comes down to your personal preference and how you like to use your phone. After owning both I can’t really say one is better than the other.

  3. Marcus says:

    I agree about the battery life. I just switched from a blackberry and I miss the battery. I think the update delay is all Samsung’s fault. Samsung users have complained about this regardless of carrier. As far as the screen dimming,

  4. Marcus says:

    Issue it sounds like the power saver settings. From the home screen go to settings >power saver and adjust the settings.

  5. Andrew M says:

    Hi Thomas,

    you can get “free” iTunes and Android integration using the iTunes Agent from

    works like an absolute charm with my HTC Desire!

  6. George says:

    Hi Thomas,

    The Android con 3 you have listed above is afaik unique to Samsung droids, my HTC is only ever connected to a PC for file transfers, it updates over the air and has been rock solid for me since day 1. Granted my usage is prolly different to yours but don’t write off android over the way Samsung have (badly) implemented it.

  7. Dave Oplinger says:

    on point #5, don’t you mean the Android phone rather than the iphone in your last referral in that paragraph? You just got done stating that the iphone had a slightly better battery life, yet “With my iphone if I don’t charge it at home at night it’s going to be dead for my commute to work the next morning.”