I have been an iPhone man since day one. I knew even before they came out that they were going to change the world of phones, and they have. The droid phones have always seemed like an “iPhone knock-off” to me. Being an Apple lover in the first place I just thought of them as “not an iPhone” just like I think of PC computers as “not Apples.” In other words they’ve never been a consideration to me one way or another. So when my most recent iPhone (the iPhone 5) lock button stopped working I started looking to fix or replace it: never would I have thought that I’d switch to a droid.
Just to make sure I took the phone to the Apple store. They told me what I thought they would; I was out of warranty and they couldn’t help save from replacing my phone for $230. My phone obviously had more wrong with it than just the lock button as soon the camera stopped focusing, then stopped working all together — emitting a loud “buzz” when I’d load it — then the touch screen started going “out”… so it quickly went from usable to “I need a new phone.”
Since the iPhone was going to cost me at least $230 I started looking for other options — this didn’t include other PHONES mind you, simply other ways to get a new phone cheaply. I thought I’d “downgrade” (more of a lateral move) over to the iPhone 5C. But then I found out since my plan wasn’t eligible for renewal I’d have to pay full price for the phone… even MORE than the $230 replacement the Apple store quoted me. So I thought, “I’ll trade in this phone, switch providers — even though I love AT&T — and then get a new iPhone cheaply that way.” AT&T ended up giving me the ability to upgrade my phone early to keep me as a client. (Seriously, they rocked it out on keeping me! Good jorb and thanks a million to Joy at AT&T in Tulsa, OK!) It was during this “thinking” though that I began to first even CONSIDER getting something other than an iPhone.
It started when I went to our local Target and talked to Sean Austin, an employee in the electronics department. He suggested I should look at the Samsung Galaxy S4, as it was cheaper. His initial suggestion was under the assumption I could get it for the lower price — which I ended up getting thanks to Joy — but none-the-less it planted the idea in my head.
Within hours I had researched, talked to friends, posted a question on Facebook and tried it out a little (thanks to Sean) and decided I was, in fact, going to get a droid Samsung Galaxy S4 as my new phone.
Obviously the thing I was aware of with switching phones is that it wasn’t going to be the same. I knew there would be things I’d have to “get used to” and I expected there would be some things I would just have to “learn to live with”… in other words things I just didn’t like because they weren’t like the iPhone and couldn’t be. The truth is the things that are different I’m already used to… AND I’m liking it all better than the user experience on the iPhone. Something I didn’t expect. Here are a few things I like better…
|ONE – Customization
The fact you can customize almost every (if not every) setting on every app and even on the phone right out of the box is a techie person’s dream! Everything from ringtone pitch to icon placement to the color of the LED light and when it blinks and how fast it blinks. All of that is doable. This is something that most of the other things fall under as well in one way or another.
|TWO – Google & Gmail
On the iPhone you could download Gmail, but it was never your default email program and you couldn’t do away with “Mail” – which I never used. But on the Galaxy S4 the first question it asks when you set up the phone is, “Do you have a Google account?” BAM! Set up and synced! Gmail is my default mail program now and Chrome my default phone browser. Nice.
|THREE – Lock Screen
The lock screen on the iPhone let you access your camera easily. This was something I instantly missed on the Samsung, but quickly fixed. You can not only set your camera as a lock screen icon, but you can set 4 other icons there too. So, now I have my messenger, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram and camera all accessible from the lock screen with an easy “swipe up”.
|FOUR – Apps!
Not only did I get every app I used on my iPhone already on my S4 I also got some that I didn’t have on my iPhone. Admittedly I’m not a big “apps” guy. But being able to find things to replace featured I “lost” with the switch — such as visual voicemail and a great chat program (Go SMS Pro is sweet!) — the apps are a big plus on the Android.
|FIVE – Notification Panel
The pull down Notification Panel on the S4 has the iPhone beat hands down. Not only do you get to see what things have alerted you that you might have missed… but you can quickly toggle between things you use often. Wifi, Volume, GPS, and so on and so on. You can even set what 5 toggle icons you want to show at the top. It’s this customization and easy access equal a great user experience.
|SIX – Volume Control
When you hit the side volume key on the phone a visual volume bar comes up and on its right is a settings icon. From that icon you can easily see all the volume settings for the phone AND you can control them separately. So you can set the “media” volume to loud and the ringer and alerts to nothing if you want — great if you’re playing music for kids but don’t want calls interrupting. Again… customization and easy access equal a great user experience.
|SEVEN – The Screen
The size of the screen is fantastic and whatever bad things you might read about Super AMOLED and how Retina is so much better don’t pay attention… the blacks alone are worth the Super AMOLED. And if the colors aren’t “true to life” I can’t tell… they are true to awesome looking colors on an awesome screen!
|EIGHT – The Camera
Simply put the camera is way better than the iPhone camera. The panoramas do a full 360º and the default pictures are just sharper and more clear in general. Love the camera!
|NINE – Swype
Swype typing is a way of typing on the keyboard by “swiping” your finger across the letters. It’s something that I, at first, thought, “Meh,” about. But after trying it I was hooked… and now, after using it for almost a week I’m really quite good at it and can’t imagine going back to just typing alone.
That’s not nearly everything I love about he S4, but that takes care of the highlights.
Again, the ability to customize the phone is what really makes it brilliant to use. That may not be your cup of tea though and so the iPhone might be right for you because it’s already “set”. If you like to customize though don’t be afraid of what might be “missing” on the S4 Droid. You’re not only able to duplicate what’s missing… you’re probably going to like better what’s there.