Posted October 22, 2012
Being a long time Android user, I kind of surprised myself when I decided to take the plunge and preorder my first iPhone. What was the tipping point? I don’t think there was any particular tipping point. I think I’ve always wanted to take the plunge but there were a few things that were holding me back. I live in a Google world using GMail, Calendar, Drive, etc., so having an Android phone made sense. The question is, can a Google user live in the Apple world? After having the phone for almost a month, here is my review of the iPhone 5.
My first impression of the phone is how pretty the phone is, but more on that in the next section. As far as my first impression using the phone itself, I was a little overwhelmed with how the way iOS has all the apps right in your face. As an iPad user, I already had a number of apps downloaded, so some of these apps went onto the iPhone right away. Why was I overwhelmed? I was looking for my familiar home screens like I had on my previous Android phones. I wasn’t used to the app drawer being opened right away and not being able to close it. I was also looking for my widgets, but they were nowhere to be found. In my opinion, Apple’s implementation of the home screen is suitable for the iPad, but on the smaller screen of the iPhone, there needs to be some rethinking. With that said, after getting all my apps reorganized into folders and the appropriate screens, I was a little bit more satisfied. Despite the issues I have with iOS there is one thing that I cannot doubt… iOS is probably the smoothest operating systems I have ever used. Granted, my previous phone was a Motorola Droid Bionic, which only until recent, has been stuck on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Verizon has finally started to release ICS to it’s suffering Bionic users. As for me, it was too little too late.
Even before receiving my iPhone in the mail, I ordered a cheap case from Monoprice because I wanted to make sure that my phone would be well protected from day 1. Now that I physically have the phone, I will say that this is the best phone, as far as hardware is concerned, I have ever owned. The phone is too pretty to cover it up with a case, but the phone is too pretty not to protect it with a case. Granted, I’m coming from being an owner of the Motorola Droid and the Bionic, but even handling other phones such as the Galaxy S III and HTC One X, I don’t anybody can beat the styling and sleekness of the iPhone 5. The only thing that would come close in my opinion is the Nokia Lumia 800 & 900 family of phones. The iPhone 5 is just a beautiful piece of hardware with a lot of fine details that makes you want to show it off. Because of this, I’ve decided to buy a new case that would show off the phone a little bit more, such as the Griffen Reveal and Belkin View.
The Eco System
The eco system is where the iPhone was going to make it or break it for me. On the iPhone, there is a dedicated GMail app, but having multiple GMail accounts, the GMail app is not an option to me until they start to support multiple accounts. One app that gets no love on the iPhone is the built in mail app. Personally, I don’t mind it at all. Actually, I quite like how I am able to separate all my email accounts but at the same time have one unified email box. At the same time, I am able to look through all my GMail labels as well. Google Calendar works flawlessly with the built in Calendar app and the Google Drive app gets me access to all my cloud files. Editing files in the cloud is a different story, but I may save that for another blog post.
My first frustration came with figuring out how to sync my contacts. The only two ways that I know or heard of syncing Google contact with your iPhone automatically is setting up your gmail account as an exchange email or using iTunes to sync your contacts with GMail. As one who uses iTunes frequently and plugs my iPhone into the computer, I elected to go with the latter.
Of course, I am enjoying the plethora of apps in the iOS eco system, but what about some of the apps that have been omitted in the iOS 6? The one that has been getting the most attention is Google Maps. As far as ascetics are concerned, I quite prefer the Apple Maps simplified layout and color scheme. The thing that I miss the most about Google maps on my phone is the ability to do a quick search for things, such as my nearest Starbucks. For example, at the time I’m writing this, I happen to be in TaiChung, Taiwan. The Maps app was able to locate me accurately on the maps, but when I searched for “Starbucks”, it gave me four locations in China. Taiwan is not in China (if you didn’t know that, please look on a map some time). One way around it is going to Google maps in the Safari browser. This is a pretty good alternative, but not quite the same experience as using the dedicated Google Maps app on Android. I haven’t had any issues with the navigation, but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it too much either. One thing that I assume will happen is that the Maps app will improve over time, but unless they are able to tap into the Google database, I don’t think the experience will ever be quite up to par.
The thing I was excited the most about getting the iPhone was using the highly praised camera. Has it met my expectations? I would say that it has. If you’re expecting DSLR quality photos, you have come to the wrong place. My Olympus E-PL1 still takes way better photos but I would say, the photos are quite good and usable. “Usable” doesn’t seem like high praise but for a camera phone, there’s only so much you can ask. Outdoor photos are excellent and indoor photos hold their own as well. I will not be selling my camera gear anytime soon, but it has caused me to hold off on upgrading my camera gear.
The focus speed is pretty good but does take some time to focus in low light situations. Shot to shot performance is pretty awesome. There is no burst or continuous shooting mode, but the phone seems to keep up with the rapid pressing of the on screen shutter button. The panorama features is simply phenomenal being on a little device as the iPhone. The feature that I enjoy the most is just the ability to pull out the phone and shoot almost right away.
Can a Google user live in the Apple world? In my opinion, yes. Maybe the question now is, am I a Google user living in the Apple world or an Apple user that uses Google Apps? No matter what you would call me (traitor, hipster), the iPhone 5 is probably the best phone I have ever used. I have yet to use an updated version of Android on a daily basis, but for the foreseeable future, I’m an iPhone, not an Android.