Monday, 3 June 2013

Why you should buy an iPhone (but not right now!)

Had an amusing conversation in the car with the missus the other day.

I better set the scene first...

My handset at the moment is HTC's flagship model (was when I bought it) the "One X"...
This MONSTER handset is actually faster and has as much RAM as the netbook I'm writing this post on, it's a Quad-Core 1.6GHz, 1GB RAM, 4.7" 720x1280 resolution device and mine is running Jelly Bean 4.1.2.

Missus has an iPhone 4... 1GHz single core, 512MB RAM, smaller screen.

We share a car with a Bluetooth enabled stereo in it. This stereo worked 100% every time when it was connected to my (old) iPhone, or the missus iPhone. Since I've been using it with my android however, I notice a few things:
  • With iPhone, the car connects automatically and you simply have to press "play" on the stereo to resume playing music. This doesn't SOUND like much effort, but it seems like one extra step... If you have a CD in, or the radio selected, it will start playing music as soon as you turn the car on, no need to press "play" to resume.
  • With an android phone you get a LOT more options here. Various apps and settings can allow you to resume playing music when Bluetooth connects, specify the volume, read SMS's out loud, turn on the GPS and open a navigation app. This is the reason I've moved to android, the ability to streamline things and personalize your settings a LOT more than the iPhone. If you found yourself constantly doing an array of tasks every time you get in the car or every time you arrive home, you can set your phone up to do all these tasks automagically.
  • THE CATCH: Although android does allow for all this customization, it is NOT flawless. On occasion I would jump into the car and the music would not play, the Bluetooth would not connect, or it would connect and play, but would have popping sounds and stuttering which made it "unlistenable".
    The only method I could find to get the android working happily again was the golden system technicians trick...

                                              Turning it off-and-on again.

This is where the amusing bit comes into it...

My past 12 months, at least once a week I jump into the car and have this audio stutter problem... So I reboot the phone, wait about 45 seconds and we're back in business - the thing will usually re-connect automatically and start playing music. Not hard, just something I've come to live with.

The missus (I should also point out she uses a Macbook) jumped in the car, and that reminded her that "Hey - I tried to connect my phone to the stereo the other day and it gave some error message about bluetooth."

So (while driving) I go through some troubleshooting steps with her.
  • Have a look under Bluetooth in settings, is Bluetooth turned on?
  • Have a look at your devices under Bluetooth, can you see the car stereo?
  • Ok, click on it and go to "forget this device", then we'll add it again.
         "Ok, tried that and it says there's a Bluetooth error"
  • ....
  • ummm.... Just try switching your iPhone off and on again?

The response I got was the amusing bit. As an android user (and a PC user), I am used to rebooting to fix a problem. Her response to this was "oh, oh yeah - I totally forgot you could do that!"

The reliability of the iPhone and Macbook really speak for themselves. She has a pretty geeky boyfriend (if I do say so myself :-p) and so she's no stranger to 'basic techie' stuff, choosing operating system at boot or changing settings on computers etc. But whenever I tell her to reboot the Macbook I get this "what?" sorta look, like, she's not sure if she heard me correctly.

THIS is how reliable apples products actually are, their users think of rebooting as a "What? ok, just give me a minute while I remember how to do that..." kind of moment - it's such a rare occurrence... Tell a windows user to reboot and they simply go "yep" - it's a completely different attitude...

Proof is in the pudding;

My android now has a host of 'reboot' options when I press the power button. I can do a quick reboot or a full reboot (I often do the full reboot to be sure). I have this Bluetooth 'bug' as well as occasional other problems which prompt you to 'turn off-and-on again' to give your phone a chance to clear it's head...

iPhones have a "shutdown" button and that's it, because, it's almost unheard of that you would need to reboot it. She has been happily playing games, writing messages and emails, browsing with tabs, installing and uninstalling new apps, playing music and videos - for close to 2 years straight! Without (purposely) turning the phone off-and-on again (I say purposely because on the odd occasion it HAS run out of batteries, so I can't say it's been constantly on for 2 years straight). This is the sort of reliability I would need if I were getting a smartphone for my mum, my nan, or anyone of those "I don't know what a smartphone does" types. Not because it is less customisable and therefor easier to use, but because they can take it out of their handbag and do something on it, confident that it will "just work".

Apples current offerings;

So after the iPhone 4 was released, there was the 4S - TO MOST PEOPLE they are almost the same phone, the camera was improved, and the specs were raised a bit, but, most people aren't playing full 3D high-graphic shooting games etc. on their iPhone, so the specs of the iPhone 4 weren't lacking in any way.

Then the iPhone 5 came out, with the infamous new "ultra-scuffable" aluminium body, and, well, a slightly taller screen and not too much else.

In about the same amount of time, android has had 2 or 3 MAJOR operating system updates, handset technology has been increased to offer handsets with up to 8 cores, 2GB of RAM, 5" screens, 3D cameras and 3D screens, the ability to plug in USB devices (keyboard, mouse, hard drive, camera etc) and the android ecosystem (the app store) has grown a LOT (where it used to be microscopic when compared to apples ecosystem).

What will they think of next?

The iPhone is, and should remain to be, a solid unit. But apple will need to come up with some new ideas soon, as the new iPhones will start to be overshadowed by increasingly impressive new androids. My advice to those in the market for a new phone right now is; WAIT... if you can, wait a little and see what happens in the next few months. The iPhone 5 is a renowned "flop" - it is "good" - but it's not 2 generations better than an iPhone 4. It will be interesting to see what the next iteration of the iPhone will be capable of - and with so many manufacturers competing in the android arena, we're sure to see some quick developments there too!