I haven't really used an iPhone since the 3GS days. I do get to play with my friends' phones and frequently at the Apple store, but this is my first time back on an iPhone for myself.
So here's the background: My iPhone 5 is a work phone. I decided to get Verizon because people here love Verizon. I'm on AT&T for my personal phone because I love SIM flexibility. Plus, the VZW iPhone is globally unlocked so it's not like I can't go international either.
I rocked the SGS2 and iPhone 5 for the past 3 days. Well two really because on Sunday I left the iPhone at home (less bulk). So here goes my analysis:
I'm on CM10 for my SGS2, and the hwcomposer is still broken, so I don't get Project Butter. However, CM10 is at least as smooth as CM9 if not a little better because the animations mask some of the lag. I honestly felt real good about my SGS2 on CM9 final. I felt better when they fixed the mem leak on CM10 and I hopped over. I told my iPhone friends they were stupid for being so overly amused by the iPhone 5 and that my SGS2 could do all those things and more (minus the awesome CPU/GPU).
But seriously when I picked up my iPhone, it was fast. Just fluid. 60 fps everywhere. I sold off my iPad like 7 months ago and it was just as fast. Now I remember how I felt last year with my iPad 2. Fluid, fast, no lag. Apps launch fast too thanks to the A6, but I've never been huge about app launching speed. Even if my SGS2 is a second slower, I dont realy mind. What gets me is fluidity. I think what was easily noticeable was Facebook. Android is slow as crap on that app. I seriously brainwashed myself and told myself that after the FB team finally upgraded the Android UI sometime early this year or late last year to have the same as the web UI and iOS UI that we finally had a relatively speedy app. I'd say the app was running 20fps or so tops on my SGS2. 60 fps probably on my iPhone. The difference was night and day.
I thought I was ok with my flipping through homescreens, but that's probably only 20-30fps tops on my SGS2. It's beautiful on the iPhone. Now I won't spend too much time bashing my SGS2 because you'll all say it's slow to begin with and I know the hwcomposer is broken. I don't have a GNex with butter so I can't comment. Maybe I'll expand on this section more once I get my LG Nexus 4.
But what I'd like to point out is the fluidity is awesome. For those who don't think it is, goign back and forth between these two devices is like night and day. I can overlook the fluidity issue, but it's not something you can outright ignore. It's always glaring, and it's whether you want to put up with it or not.
I wanted to say Android was there, and but there's still disparity. I thought the FB update a while back equalized things but the FB app is still better on iOS. There's a few features here and there that just make it better. Same with the Foursquare app. I mean what the hell. Come on.
I wouldn't say I'm at a huge disadvantage being on Android, but it does bug me Android apps are second rate. At the same time I do miss free apps on Android, so I couldn't play Angry Birds Star Wars, and I only had 1 game on my iPhone because I didn't want to pay. My other paid iOS apps are all iPad games
This is where I LOVE my Android. I have my slider shortcuts to take me to the checkin screen of Foursquare in 1 step. In competing with friends and my gf, I can check in first. It's definitely harder on my iPhone.
I do have FB widget and Twitter timeline on my Android phone and a weather widget, a bookmarks widget, weather widget. These things are cool, but I honestly didn't find that I missed them TOO much on the iPhone. They'd be nice to have, and I think on my Android phone I keep more up to date with social media because I'm always a step away from seeing Facebook posts and Twitter posts all on one widget. I'm also able to FB/tweet with 1 click simultaneously.
But given how fast the FB and Twitter apps run on the iPhone I don't mind using it at all. In fact I like to use the iPhone sometimes just to kill time on the bus.
I actually wanted to add that customizability is a double edged sword. Yes you do get the benefit of controlling how YOU want your apps to be, but at the same time you go down that path of knowing that there is no perfection until you are able to tweak the hell out of everything. Problem is nothing is perfect.
Yeah I can get a custom keyboard on Android, but once I know I can switch a keyboard out I start commenting how A, B, C sucks about this keyboard or that keyboard. On iOS you have a good keyboard. Yes they could add Swype or whatever to make it better, but then you go down a nonstop path. I noticed that I haven't found a fully satisfying keyboard on Android, but if I were to compare the two keyboards I think SmartKeyboard Pro works pretty darn well, and in many ways I like typing it on it more than on my iOS keyboard. But can Smart Keyboard use more work even though I like it more than iOS? Yeah. So then I keep searching. But Swiftkey FORCES me to use things like space after picking a word and the stupid numpad instead of a row of numbers. I have zero choice in that. I did get a choice in keyboard, but I have no choice in how the app works. In choosing awesome prediction, I give up some customizability that I got in Smart Keyboard. In picking Swype, I lose a good tapping keyboard. There's tradeoffs.
With Apple, you learn to live with it. And the way I see it, as long as it doesn't totally suck, it's not that bad to compromise. Apple has blown it before though, so to compromise with no copy and paste is not acceptable, but thank goodness they fixed that. On the keyboard issue, to have one of the best tapping keyboards, but no ability to change it out is an ok compromise for me.
Back to Android though, because I'm able to customize, I feel that there's never perfection. First came Back Light Notifications on my SGS2. A kernel mod that lights up the backlights of the menu buttons if there's a notification. Cool. For a phone that had no notification lights, this is a huge upgrade. But I can't configure how I want my lights to behave. Now there's Lightflow. I can customize WHICH apps cause the BLN to activate, but I can't customize how they dismiss. I don't like how the lights are deactivated for Touchdown, or what I have to do to dismiss a BLN notification. Theoretically someone could code some notification that blinks only the back button or the menu button or whatever depending on the notification type. Then I'd have to deal with the bugs, the development cycle, etc. See it's a never ending path towards "perfection." I'm NEVER going to be satisfied. With iOS, I never have to worry about that.
4) Siri and Google Now:
My experience is that for the tasks I wanted, Siri did it better.
When I got my iPhone on Friday, I decided to work from home. I was doing some chores and I wanted to see if it could tell me my next appointment. I asked "What's my next appointment?"
Siri: Let me check that, *takes a few seconds, searches* "Your next appointment is at blah blah at 3:30pm"
Me: Where is it?
Siri: Checking your events... your next appointment is at [insert location]
Me: Cool beans.
Google Now: *tries to create "apointment" at 4:30pm when I'm next available.
Me: Thanks idiot.
When I asked for the weather Saturday, Siri gave me the highs, the condition, and an hourly breakdown. Google Now gives you the same damn widget for any weather question. It shows you the forecast for the next few days. Great, but Siri gave me MORE information for the day. That's what I cared about. It was 10am and I wanted to know if a jacket was necessary given that I wouldn't realy be outdoors til 12pm. Maybe it'd warm up. Siri answered that nicely. And had I asked for the weather for the next few days Siri would give me that. Siri understands the question better and tailors her answers. Google Now is just an excellent Google tool.
Look I may have picked tasks that Google Now isn't good at, but I like that with Siri I can follow up with questions. I think both have a long way to go until they're truly indispensable tools, but to say Google Now trounces Siri is ridiculous.
Later on Saturday I wanted to find the Cal vs. Oregon score. Both phones failed. Ended up manually looking up ESPN.
So this is just talking about the voice search capabilities, but with Google Now I'm very happy with the cards. I find those cards very useful. It may be battery draining at times though, but it was nice to see my gf's flight pop up and tracking info for my package show up. I do question the battery use though because each data transaction is a wakelock.
On Saturday, I took both phones out. I checked in using my iPhone but I added the photo to my checkin using my SGS2. I also checked my iPhone more for surfing while riding the bus. I checked my SGS2 periodically for Whatsapp messages with my buddies to meet up though.
At 4pm my SGS2 was at 71% battery, and my iPhone was at 86%. I'd say I used both pretty equally. The SGS2 might've had more individual wakelock events, but I think the iPhone had longer on screen time. I played with my iPhone here and there but I believe I came back home with about 65% or so on Sat night after a heavy night of drinking. I left my phone at home the whole day at home with wifi on and I never entered my wifi pwd. So it was really on mobile data the whole time but maybe the wifi periodically scans. I found my phone Sunday night with 55% battery. Pretty darn good.
Today I was at work all day training. I spent the 15 min breaks surfing on my iPhone. I replied to an email on my iPhone. I chatted on whatsapp on my SGS2, though very sparingly. The iPhone definitely had more on screen time. Reception for both suck at work. I think its a building thing. At 5pm, SGS2: 32%, iPhone 64%. I think LTE vs 3G has a huge effect here. With bad reception, AT&T 3G is an issue and it's hard to complete tasks especially given Android PULLS data a lot. The iPhone uses less data and relies on push notifications purely.
iPhone is a winner on battery. I don't know how people can say otherwise. Maybe when you have both screen on and testing you might see Android close the gap, but when it comes to idle, which phones do a lot of, the iPhone is great. This is like how I can leave my iPad and check it every morning briefly, and use like 2% battery everyday only even while it's on wifi and fully receiving notifications. I don't think ANY Android tablet can do that.
6) Odds and ends:
I noticed that my Android phone got emails faster than my iPhone on Exchange. Both were on mobile data the whole day. I felt them both vibrate in my pocket. The iPhone was up to 3 minutes slower, but at best it was 30 seconds faster. Most of the time the alerts came within 30 seconds of each other, but I found my SGS2 coming in first. Not sure why that is.
I hate Android's exchange capabilities but with Touchdown I'm able to set when quiet hours are and when to eliminate push and go to 6 hour pull. On the iPhone I get push notifications all day long, and even though I can silence alerts or whatever it's still wasting extra battery/data by having 24/7 push notifications. I don't need instant email after work. But it's not like you can even set that on Android unless you use a third party app.
I do miss the toggle widgets on my SGS2, but on my iPhone I found leaving wifi on or bluetooth even doesn't significantly impact battery, or at least not as much as on my SGS2. Apple probably uses conservative polling values.
Overall I think I'm more surprised with the iPhone than I thought I would've been. It's a phone that I know is limited and you can easily find 300 more tasks Android phones can do, but at the end of the day do I need all that? I only need a few things here and there and apparently the iPhone does it all very well. It's not that big of a deal that it's missing customizability or rooting, or custom ROMs. The most important thing I learned about my iPhone is that it may be missing features here and there, but instead of worrying about how you can potentially gain a feature with a custom kernel, or rooting, or have a half broken feature with some custom ROM, you use what you have at your disposal and you use it to its full ability. The iOS devs are all busy making apps, not rooting or whatever. It's out of the box functionality that's great. With the SGS2 I find that I have to tweak so many things just to make it work well (BLN notifications, color curve, auto brightness curve, etc). In reality many of these tweaks may not be necessary, but since I'm so focused on them, I feel like my phone is always half finished and I'm dealing with a "beta product."
I'd say my SGS2 is probably a bit crippled because of the broken hwcomposer, and the fact that Exynos hasn't been the best developed platform. Maybe if I had a GNex I'd be in a better position to comment, but at the same time I do have a Nexus S running full butter CM10.
I probably can comment on things a lot more in the next few days if and when I do get my Nexus 4 to play around with.
Another big point is screen. At 4" vs 4.3" it's not as big of a difference as it was before. I don't think the screen difference to me is that big of a deal with these two phones. I realize the iPhone is smaller, but I'm busy enjoying what it can do more than specs. I don't feel like I'm missing out on too much content because I don't get some large screen.
However, I will say the larger 4.3" in 840x480 aspect ratio (whatever that turns out to be) is great for the keyboard. While the iOS keyboard has great prediction and correction, it's much easier to tap the correct keys on my SGS2. I wish my SGS2's Smart Keyboard Pro had better correction and prediction, but it just has the right balance of customizability and being a good tapping keyboard that I'll stick with it.
I kind of do think whoever said the iPhone width is the perfect size is an idiot. I wish they went wider, to at least how wide the 4" Android screens were. Going 16:9 meant they should've tried 4.3" or something.
The SGS2 also has unfortunately been plagued with development issues. No screen color tuner exists. The Galaxy Nexus and Nexus S can be tuned to BEAUTIFUL colors. I say this because my Nexus S looks much nicer than my SGS2 in terms of colors, and even with Pentile, I'd take my Nexus S in terms of how the display looks. Now if the SGS2 were calibrated I think we'd have gorgeous colors. The iPhone 5's display is beautiful and is a great IPS panel. I can say it's miles better than my iPod Touch 4G which has a retina display, but lacks the IPS panel. I think the iPhone does a nice job with display brightness that even though its previous displays had horrible color saturation, you could still get nice pop with text and readable stuff. I feel like my SGS2's display is just so horribly tuned it's at a huge disadvantage.
So basically the bigger screen is nice but it isn't really a big deal which screen size I'm using. The IPS panel is beautiful, and I wish my SGS2 can be tuned to have better colors. A calibrated SGS2 would win hands down I think simply because human eyes tend to like oversaturation.