Ever since I fell in love with the Google Nexus 7, I've been thinking about trading in an iPhone for an Android phone. As I mentioned before, I think innovation in the mobile Operating System space is largely coming from Google (and even Microsoft) right now, and in comparison Apple's iOS is starting to feel stale. The release of Android 4.1 Jellybean this summer was a turning point for Android, but there wasn't a phone worth buying yet until Google released the Nexus 4, a flagship phone in the same lineage of Nexus 7 that would always feature the latest version of Android. As lucky would have it, I won a new Nexus 4 at a Google event, so this week I decided to take the plunge.
I popped the sim card out of my iPhone and transitioned full time to an Android phone.
I'm going to spend a lot more time with the phone before I give an official review, but until then it's worth sharing some my initial reactions for anyone about to make a similar phone change cold turkey. The phone itself is beautiful. It's slim and light, but with a big beautiful screen. Multi-tasking and cross-app integration is pretty fantastic (as It's always been on Android). Voice recognition and other typing alternatives like native swype-style keyboards make information input a breeze. The operating system is much more informative and actionable-- from better app notifications, to better data about your power usage. And I have really high hopes for Google Now.
But there's also a lot of surprises. Though the phone is very fast, the touch response feels a bit slower, akin to how Windows trackpads often feel compared to Apple. And even though the operating system itself is fantastic, many applications aren't matching it in quality. It seems many companies delay in rolling out their best features to Android, so applications I love on iPhone are only subpar on Android (for example, Evernote Hello doesn't have business card scanning functionality yet, and Nike+ doesn't have friend leaderboards or Path integration yet-- both popular features on their iOS equivalent). And some great apps are still missing all together.
Also, Android's old selling point-- the most powerful versions of Google own applications-- isn't even true anymore. The latest versions of Google Maps, Gmail and Google+ on iPhone are pretty killer, even better, I think, than what's on Android right now. I think this is because on iPhone Google has a the highly evolved standard gestures of iOS, a refined standard that doesn't yet exist on Android (things like pull to refresh, left-swype menus and click-to-top headers).
So it will be an interesting ride. I can already see a ton of pluses and minuses of both iOS and its standard hardware build (the weight and size is definitively easier to hold, but harder to read on) and the operating system (a more open OS leads to better integration but less polished functions). I'm sure I'll learn a lot more as I spend an extended period with the phone. And then come July, when the next iPhone comes out, I'll be ready to make an informed decision on what platform I'm going to commit to my next two years. In the mean time, let me know if you have any Android suggestions or questions.