For the past couple of months I have switched from Android to iOS. It wasn’t intentional. I had originally tried a Nokia 521(Windows Phone 8 is a really nice OS, but lacks in app support), but then swapped it out for a nearly as cheap LG Optimus L9 while also picking up an iPhone 4 as a potential app development platform. It turned out that the iPhone 4 was defective(luckily purchased from Swappa so the return was easy), but I found a really good deal on an iPhone 5(was also broke, but still under warranty and Apple gave me a shiny new one after 3 hours of waiting). It also turned out that the Optimus L9 wasn’t a great phone(but much better than the Nokia 521), so I got rid of it leaving my with only an iPhone. I had intended to stick with the iPhone until the Galaxy Note 3 release made a Galaxy Note 2 without a contract feasible or the next Nexus phone came out, but the price drop made the current Nexus a deal too good to pass up, especially since I was tired of the iPhone.
This post is going to be part iPhone reaction and part Nexus 4 review. I will start with the iPhone reaction. The iPhone hardware and iOS is often considered the gold standard in the smartphone journalism world. The iPhone 5 is fantastic on the drawing board, but I found it a different story in day to day use. While the glass and metal design of the iPhone my be a feat of modern industrial design, I did not find it a comfortable phone to use without at rubber skin to dull the rough edges. The elongated 4″ screen was also a bit small coming from larger phones. On the software side, I’ll fall back to my mantra than most modern operating systems are easy to use, it just matters what you’re used to. Being a long time Android user, it did take me a while to get accustomed to the iOS way of doing things, the biggest being so many apps having settings within the iOS settings app and not accessible from within the individual apps themselves. There was also Apple’s lock down creep where certain functionality was difficult since it wanted to do file syncing with iTunes(despite my general tilt toward geekdom, I really prefer not to root or jailbreak my devices if possible). From lack of strong file management to Chrome only using the slow renderer, I mostly felt held back by iOS. Yes, I could have jailbroken and gotten some extra functionality, but then I’d be in a back and forth fight with Apple(which I was in with my first gen iPod Touch that eventually ended up with my turning by back on Apple as a former Mac head) and I want something that works how I want it out of the box. Could I live with an iPhone day to day? Yes, but it’s harder when I’ve already been an Android user and knowing some of the freedom I’ve missed out on.
Now on to the Nexus 4. There are a few reasons I hadn’t bought a Nexus 4 until the price came down. Chief among those are the glass back, no replaceable batter, no LTE, and no expandable storage. For $299 on the 8GB model, I could have gotten past the glass back and non-user replaceable batter if it had an SD card slot. But it didn’t, and the bump the a decent amount of storage at 16GB, cost just a bit too much to over look the other flaws. Now the 16GB model is $250, and I can start to overlook the other flaws, but just barely. The 16GB is enough storage with an SD card slot, and for the price I don’t need to be able to get to the battery and the glass back maybe won’t be an issue if I’m careful. The big question mark is LTE. If I had gotten the Nexus 4 two months ago instead of the iPhone 5 when right when T-Mobile was turning on LTE in Dayton, I would’ve been none the wiser and would consider the phone perfect. Instead, I have had some LTE goodness, and it is pretty awesome. While T-Mobile does have HSPA+ around here, the LTE is just so much smoother and faster and I do know what I am missing. Luckily, it’s not like going from Sprint 3G to LTE where the former is practically useless, but the difference is noticeable. Had I gone straight to the Nexus 4 from the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Nexus on Sprint, it would have been the perfect phone. But while the iPhone 5 may not have wowed me with software and hardware, the presence of LTE data is just enough to taint my Nexus 4 experience. It’s still a terrific phone and the best I’ve ever owned, but I would really like LTE(disclaimer: I know it’s possible on T-Mobile, but there are a lot of caveats).