I’ve been using IPhones as long as there has been IPhones. I recently became upgrade eligible (Christmas for tech geeks) and instead of getting the IPhone 6/6 Plus I decided to switch to Android and purchased a Samsung Galaxy S5 Active. I’m a week into this and I wanted to share the experience for those of you thinking about making the switch. I chose the Active version of the S5 with the hope of going without a phone case. It feels much less delicate than my Iphone and I like not having an extra layer of plastic around my phone.
Should you switch? TLDR
I know this is what most of you want to know, so I’ll cut to the chase. If you are somewhat tech savvy, use google apps and enjoy technology with less limitations then yes, switch to Android. You won’t miss IOS/Iphone and you can still use your old Ipad if you do. If you just want a phone that works and is simple to use, stick with Iphone. Android isn’t especially difficult to use, but you have to know/care enough to go through the settings for different apps to get the most out of Android.
Why not IPhone 6?
I have a 5S and I have dutifully purchased nearly every IPhone upgrade over the years. I have enjoyed them all with the exception of the Sprint 3GS we had. The Sprint network has unlimited data, at dial up speeds. I have never been satisfied with the size of the screen on the Iphone. It’s just hard to read, I jacked up the font size but couldn’t make much use of PDF files in court or on the road. My goal was to have a phone that I could use as a standalone in court for announcements and quick resets etc. So a bigger screen was a must. So why not the IPhone 6? Bigger screen = no more problems right? Maybe. But for the past 6 years our office has run on Google Apps for email/calendars/drive etc, and as the CTO of Guest and Gray Law Firm I have required that all work computers use Chrome. I have been more than satisfied with Google’s products and I was looking for more….
Before making the switch I had never used an Android phone for more than a few minutes. But being a tech junkie I was intrigued by the idea that Android was more flexible than IOS. That IOS was a safe and easy phone for the masses, while Androids could be bent to the user’s will with more options, features and customization. That seemed to fit my profile, so why not switch and see what happens? The biggest innovation on the new Iphone is the screen, and I already had a Ipad, so I went to the Forney ATT store made the switch to Android.
Apps, Widgets and Rooting, Oh My!
When you first make the switch from IOS to Android one thing you will notice is that the layout is customizable to a degree not available on the Iphone. You can download launcher apps to customize the look even more, but I’ve stuck with the stock TouchWiz for now. I did audition the Google Now launcher, but went back to TouchWiz.
Let’s talk about widgets. Widgets are apps that are up and running on phone at all times. Just you like keep an email tab open on your browser, you can do the same on Android with the gmail widget. You can also combine widgets and apps on the same screen. For example, I have my calendar widget on a page with other work apps. That way I can quickly view my schedule and access my other work tools all on one page. I also like to compartmentalize my pages into work/not work. It makes me feel like I have some work-life balance.
Email- The Gmail app. Samsung has it’s own bloatware email app that I disabled. I can’t say I tested any other email apps, gmail works well and I am satisfied, for now. One thing that I miss from IOS is that you can’t automatically dial numbers that are in an email. So if my assistant emails that I need to call Prosecutor Bob, I can’t click on the number in the email to call him. First world problems.
Calendar- The native Samsung Calendar isn’t bad. I use that, and I’m trying out Google’s Calendar in Agenda view. I’ve never liked monthly view on a phone, agenda is much easier to navigate.
Browser- Chrome and Firefox Beta. Firefox has two features that Chrome lacks, extensions/apps and customizable search. Firefox for Android allows you to use browser extensions just like you would on your computer. The price for using extensions is generally a slower browsing experience, but you can decide which apps are worth it. Firefox also has wide open search options. In Chrome, you can only choose from a few search engines, basically google and some other really shitty search engines like AOL (really) and Yahoo. Firefox allows you use any search box you can find and add it. For example, I set up my firefox to search google, reddit, wikipedia and duck duck go, all from the search box. I can choose which I want as I type what I’m searching for. Chrome is by far the fastest browsers I’ve used on Android, but the search function is woefully limited. I also tried out CM’s browser and Dolphin. I liked CM more than Dolphin but it was a little slower than Chrome. I will keep auditioning CM/Chrome/Firefox Beta until I choose a winner.
Why Firefox Beta? I found it to be faster, and it hasn’t crashed yet so for a Beta it’s pretty solid and bug free.
Music- Spotify. Same as IPhone.
VPN- Freedome It’s easy to install/setup, and only $30 a year. I tried out Hotspot and Private Internet Access as well and Freedome is the most consistent and simplest so far. As a lawyer if you don’t use a VPN you shouldn’t use public wifi. This will keep you from being tracked, and keep you safe on public wifi’s while protecting your ISP anonymity as well.
Keyboard- Google. Once you start swipe typing you’ll never go back to pecking at those tiny keys. These keyboards both offer the ability to swipe from letter to letter and the words auto generate. Much faster, google keyboard has a bug in it that makes it switch from letters to numbers, and it appears to be more pronounced for us lefties.
Google Drive- I have never been a big fan of google drive. It’s clunky and not especially great at document editing or storage. It seems like something Microsoft would make. However, Drive and it’s associated apps (Docs/Slides) have undergone some major updates and are way less shitty now. To the point I actually use Drive now more than DropBox now on my phone. Android and Drive/Docs work very well together and it made me take another look at their computer browser version as well. If you haven’t used Drive/Docs on your computer or phone in a while it’s worth giving them a look again.
What I don’t like/miss from my Iphone
As I already mentioned I cut touch a number in my Iphone email and it would call instantly. I’m still working on that for Android. Itunes U, I haven’t found a comparable product for Android. I miss the instant flip up screen on the Iphone that had the brightness phone etc. The Android version is on the bottom, which for a big phone is less than ideal. It’s also very small and not as easy to use. Swiping left/right in a browser doesn’t do anything on Android. Encryption was automatic on the Iphone, where on the Active S5 you have set it up and install a 6 digit passcode, no PIN or other way to unlock the phone.
If you are a lawyer considering the switch let me know and I’ll be happy to share my experience with you.