Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Switching to Android

I have been an iPhone user for about 4 years now, but have recently been frustrated with the poor battery life on my phone especially with relatively moderate usage--I use the phone for the occasional phone-call or text message, and use it primarily for work emails. I grew tired of having to charge the phone multiple times per day, and started to look at other options.

My coworkers have been pleased with the battery life on the Samsung S3, so I decided to give it a try. I went to the AT&T store, and upgraded my phone. Before I did, I looked at the iPhone 5, and while it is a beautiful design, I thought its screen size is a big disadvantage compared to the Samsung.

My first impressions with the Samsung were not very positive: the usability is inferior to the iPhone, and things were not as intuitive or as consistent. However as I continued to use the phone, I discovered a lot of features that in my mind overshadowed the usability issues, and the phone started growing on me.

First there is the Swype keyboard, where you enter words by drawing a continuous line between the letters that form the word, and the predictive text engine figures out what you typed with very high accuracy. If you prefer to use the older way of tapping letters, there are subtle features in the keyboard, where if you linger over a letter, you see the capitalized form of it, and the numeral or special character that is associated with the letter, which makes it faster to enter special characters than using the symbol or shift keys.

Second, dictation is amazing, you can dicate sentences at a fast speed, and the software transcribes it with very high accuracy. Quite a keystroke saver. Dictation works everywhere, for google searches, typing letters, and calling and texting people. Similar to Siri on the iPhone but much faster and better accuracy.

Third and more importantly the battery life is great. With elevated usage I get about a day and a half worth of battery life.

And finally I think the call quality is much better, even in areas where I have bad reception. People can hear me better, and I can hear them better as well.

There are downsides though in addition to usability. First syncing music and transferring files using OSX Mountain Lion is not possible. All the programs including Samsung's do not work with the phone. Also there is an annoying issue with iMessages, where other people with iPhones can't send you text messages if they are using iMessages.

I'll give the phone a month, and see how I think about Android with more usage.

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