Today’s Best Smartphones (February 2012)


Since this article was first written, an updated version has been posted here. Check it out. A lot has changed.

When it comes to overall specs, it's hard to beat Samsung's Galaxy Series

And the Winners Are…

Back in December I created a chart of the top smartphones available at the time. Since then, a lot has happened, so I’ve updated my list. Here are the top five smartphones available today:

 

HTC Rezound

LG Nitro HD

Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung Galaxy Note

Processor

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

RAM

1GB

1GB

1GB

1GB

1GB

Storage

16GB

16+4GB

16+16GB

32GB

TBD

Screen size

4.3”

4.5”

4.3”

4.65”

5.3”

Resolution

1280×720

1280×720

960×540

1280×720

1280×800

Pixel density

342 ppi

 329 ppi

256 ppi

316 ppi

285 ppi

Rear cam

8MP

8MP

8MP

5MP

8MP

Front cam

2MP

1.3MP

1.3MP

1.3MP

2MP

Network

LTE

LTE

LTE

LTE

LTE

5GHz Wi-Fi

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Bluetooth

3.0

3.0

4.0

3.0

3.0

NFC

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Thickness

 13.65mm

10.4mm

8.99mm

9.47mm

9.65mm

Weight

164g

128g

145g

150g

178g

Battery

 1620 mAh

1830 mAh

3300 mAh

1850 mAh

2500 mAh

OS

Android 2.3.4

Android 2.3.5

Android 2.3.5

Android 4.0.2

Android 2.3.5

Carrier

Verizon

AT&T

Verizon

Verizon

AT&T

    Comments

  • Although the Rezound is the thickest phone here, it has the highest pixel density, and a very fast processor. For now, it stays on the ‘best’ list.
  • You could argue the Droid RAZR belongs in the above chart because it’s thinner and lighter than the RAZR Maxx, but battery life is such an important issue on LTE phones. The RAZR Maxx’s 3300mAh battery has 85% more current than the 1780mAh battery in the original RAZR. Even with the extended battery, the RAZR Maxx is still the thinnest phone in the above chart.
  • Sprint will be releasing a Galaxy Nexus in the first half of this year that is rumored to have a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, 2100mAh extended battery and a functioning Google Wallet. The original Galaxy Nexus is capable of supporting NFC, but Verizon blocks users from downloading the Google Wallet. Smart users know of a trick which allows Verizon users to download and install Google Wallet from the Android Market.
  • Although the Galaxy Note became available in Europe last year, it’s rumored to go on sale here in the U.S. on February 19th.

Although iPhone 4 sales are better than ever, it no longer competes when it comes to most specs.

Close, But No Cigar

You may have noticed that some phones which were included in my December list, have fallen by the wayside. This includes the iPhone 4S and several other phones which are still good, but no longer compare with the best phones. Each has at least one major flaw.

 

Apple iPhone 4S

HTC Vivid

Motorola Droid RAZR

Motorola Droid 4

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

Processor

800MHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

RAM

512MB

1GB

1GB

1GB

1GB

Storage

16GB, 32GB, 64GB

16GB

16+16GB

16GB

16GB

Screen size

3.5”

4.5”

4.3”

4.0”

4.5”

Resolution

960×640

960×540

960×540

960×540

800×480

Pixel density

326 ppi

245 ppi

256 ppi

275 ppi

207 ppi

Rear cam

8MP

8MP

8MP

8MP

8MP

Front cam

0.3MP

1.3MP

1.3MP

1.3MP

2MP

Network

HSPA

LTE/HSPA+

LTE

LTE

LTE/HSPA+

5GHz Wi-Fi

No

No

No

No

Yes

Bluetooth

4.0

3.0

4.0

4.0

3.0

NFC

No

No

No

No

Yes

Thickness

9.3mm

11.2mm

7.1mm

12.99mm

9.40mm

Weight

140g

177g

127g

179g

132g

Battery

1420 mAh

1620 mAh

1780 mAh

1785 mAh

1850 mAh

OS

iOS 5.0

Android 2.3.5

Android 2.3.5

Android 2.3.5

Android 2.3.4

Carrier(s)

AT&T, Verizon, Sprint

AT&T

Verizon

Verizon 2/10

AT&T

    Comments

  • You could argue the Droid RAZR belongs in the first list because it’s thinner and lighter than the Maxx, but battery life is such an important issue with LTE phones that I favored the RAZR Maxx over the older Droid. It’s 3300mAh battery has 85% more current than the battery in the original Droid Razr.
  • I debated whether the soon to be released Droid 4 belonged in the first chart, but it’s lacking a HD screen and it is one the thickest and heaviest of all of these phones. If you’ve just got to have a real keyboard, you might be willing to overlook these problems.
  • I also debated whether the Galaxy S II Skyrocket belonged in the first chart, because it has such a fast processor. I left it out because it has the worst screen of any of the phones here.
  • Windows Phone fans might ask why the Titan isn’t in this chart, because it has a 1.5GHz processor and a 4.7″ screen. I left it out because it doesn’t have a HD screen and the Titan II is just around the corner..
  • Why The iPhone 4S Is No Longer One of The Best

    Some of you are probably wondering why the iPhone 4S is no longer listed in the chart of best smartphones. The answer is easy: The iPhone 4S hasn’t been competitive for a while. It has an under-clocked processor that runs at almost half the speed of the best Android phones. While it’s true the iPhone does well in some graphics-related benchmarks, the fastest Android phones kill it in side-by-side real world speed tests. If you want to see just how much faster the Droid RAZR is than the iPhone 4S, watch this video.The iPhone also doesn’t have a 720p HD display, and believe it or not, it’s not a real 4G phone. That means its data speeds are 5-10x slower than most 4G LTE phones. If you’re a hard-core Apple fan, you’ll probably buy the iPhone 4S anyway, and that’s O.K — just don’t say you weren’t warned. Two years is a long time to own a non-4G phone.

    Several new quad-core phones will be demonstrated in Spain next month. As soon as new phones are released, I’ll update this chart.

    If you think I missed a phone that should be considered, please let me know.

    - Rick

    Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Optimizing Your Network for Multimedia Streaming

Last updated: January 5, 2014

This article has had almost 7,000 views. Thanks for reading it.

How to Optimize Your Home Network for Multimedia Streaming

Wireless devices can be found many places in a typical home


Wireless networks can be found in almost every home and office. Setting up a Wi-Fi network for normal use is easy. But when you try to stream high-quality video, you’re likely to experience occasional stuttering or rebuffering. According to a study, almost one in five U.S. Internet users are unable to stream 720p HD video reliably. In some states, 40% of consumers cannot do this. When problems like this occur, you can do several things to improve the situation:

  1. Use an uncrowded channel – Make sure you’re not sharing the same Wi-Fi channel with others close to you. Many 2.4GHz wireless access-points default to the same channel when they are powered up. This can make congestion worse and lower your throughput. Download software like Farproc’s free Wifi Analyzer to get a visual picture of your network. It even tells you which are the best channels to use. Most routers will allow you to set the channel using your web browser.
  2. Utilities like this one tell you which wireless channels to use.

  3. Avoid overlapping channels – Use the channels 1, 6, or 11 when possible, because they are non-overlapping.
  4. Upgrade for more speed – If you have an 802.11b or 802.11g wireless router, consider upgrading to an 802.11n or 802.11ac router. Both are capable of faster data speeds and also support the less crowded 5GHz band. Some 802.11ac routers are capable of speeds over 1Gbps.
  5. The 2.4GHz band is much more crowded than the 5GHz band

  6. Use the 5GHz band if your devices support it – The 5GHz band is faster and not as susceptible to interference from cordless telephones, microwave ovens, baby monitors, Bluetooth devices and wireless keyboards as the 2.4GHz band. It’s also much less crowded and should be used as long as your devices support it, and you are not too far away from your wireless access point.
  7. A low-cost Wi-Fi Booster

    A low-cost Wi-Fi Booster

  8. Extend your range – If your problem is signal strength-related, consider using a Wi-Fi booster/repeater or wireless access point with better antennas like this one. By adding the $40 Wi-Fi booster shown on the right, I was able to increase my download speeds by almost 400%. An even better option for those who have a wired Ethernet network is to purchase a second router that supports 802.11ac. Make sure to set it up as an access point where you connect the first router to the port 1 and NOT the WAP port. Also make sure to disable the DHCP server. More details here.
  9. Consider wireless alternatives – When you’re having problems steaming HD video, you may want to consider wireless alternatives like HomePlug Powerline AV adapters. If you go this route, make sure your adapter is HomePlug AV-compatible so you can mix and match devices from other companies. According a recent article in Maximum PC, last-generation Homeplug AV 200 adapters were supposed to be capable of speeds of up to 200Mb/s. Even though they only got real world speeds were 60-70Mb/s, that’s enough for a single HD stream. Newer devices support the IEEE 1903 standard which is capable of theoretical speeds up to 500Mbps and real world speeds up to 100Mbps. These speeds are even faster than you can get over standard Ethernet wiring, so you should be able to stream multiple HD movies at once in your home using multiple adapters. Consider the TP-Link AV-500 TL-PA511KIT or eNetgear Nano 500 XAVB5101 adapters. Those are two of the best affordable adapters available today. Both should be capable of real world read speeds of over 62Mbps and real world write speeds over 54Mbps.

    Another good wireless alternative are MoCA adapters, which transmit multimedia data over coax cable. Both of these are capable of higher data rates and more reliable than most wireless routers.

  10. Test your download speed – If you stream media over the Internet, you should know what your download speed is. Even more important than the peak speed is the average speed. Watch whether the data rate is consistent, or fluctuates a lot. There are several good sites and apps which do this. More info.

An Ethernet Over Coax MoCA Network Adapter

Dual-Band Wi-Fi FAQ

Do all 802.11g/n products support dual-band?
No. 802.11ac was designed specifically for the 5GHz band, however, so it seems likely all ‘ac’ products will support 5GHz.

Who makes dual-band routers?
Most wireless routers sold over the past few years support dual-band. Examples include: Apple’s Airport Express, all ASUS routers (RT-AC66U, RT-N65U, RT-N66U and EA-N66) the Linksys N600, N750, N900 and AC1750 as well as routers from Netgear.

Here are just a few of the smartphones with 5GHz Wi-Fi support

Here are just a few of the smartphones with 5GHz Wi-Fi support

Do you have a list of mobile devices that support 5GHz Wi-Fi?
Here are a few of the devices which support dual-band Wi-Fi. Note: This list is not current. These days most mobile devices support 5GHz.

  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HDX
  • Apple AirPort Extreme (2009 and later)
  • Apple computers with Wireless-N support
  • Apple iPad
  • Apple iPad 2
  • Apple iPad 3
  • Apple iPad 4
  • Apple iPhone 5 (and later)
  • Apple TV (2nd and 3rd gen.)
  • ASUS Nexus 7
  • BlackBerry PlayBook
  • Google Nexus 10
  • HTC Droid DNA
  • HTC Rezound
  • HTC Windows Phone 8x
  • LG Nexus 4
  • LG Nexus 5
  • Linksys EA-3500 wireless router
  • Linksys E-4200 wireless router
  • Linksys EA-4500 wireless router
  • Microsoft Surface RT
  • PCs with Wireless-N support (most, not all)
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (and later models)
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket
  • Samsung Galaxy S III (and later models)
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
  • Samsung Galaxy S 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (possibly other sizes as well, but NOT the Galaxy Tab 2)
  • Samsung Nexus 10
  • Slingbox 500

Where can I go to find out if my devices supports Dual-band Wi-Fi?
Search for your device here. It’s dual-band if there is a “1” under 5.0 GHz transmit and receive.

Is 5GHz Wi-Fi faster than 2.4GHz Wi-Fi?
It you refer to the chart below, you’ll see some routers are capable of higher data rates when using the 5GHz band. More info.

Chart courtesy of Maximum PC

Is there a downside when using 5GHz Wi-Fi?
Yes. Not all devices support 5GHz Wi-Fi. Also, the higher frequency signals of 5GHz networks do not penetrate walls as well as 2.4GHz signals. This limits their reach inside some homes.

How can you force your devices to use 5GHz Wi-Fi?
‘Forget’ the 2.4GHz network and connect to the 5GHz one.

What’s better than 802.11n?
802.11ac is a new wireless-networking standard which is capable of speeds that are almost 3x faster than 802.11n. You can learn here about it here. In addition to higher throughput, 802.11ac has wider coverage and improved power efficiency. Although real-world speeds won’t always exceed 1Gbps, 802.11ac should be capable of speeds of 500Mbps at distances of 50 meters. Apple’s Macs now include support for 802.11ac. All premium routers now include 802.11ac support as well. Asus shipped a laptop with support for 802.11ac over a year ago.

Is anything else being done to improve streaming of multimedia around the house?
Yes, companies like Qualcomm are working on technology called StreamBoost. When combined with 802.11ac, this is supposed to improve performance by managing network traffic. StreamBoost-compatible products let users to see all the devices connected to their network and monitor the real-time bandwidth usage of every device.

What comes after 802.11ac?
According to this blog, “802.11ad improves upon the wireless capabilities introduced in 802.11n. Ideally, 802.11ad will allow devices to communicate over four, 2.16GHz-wide channels, delivering data rates of up to 7 Gigabits per second, even for mobile devices with limited power, a significant improvement over both 11n and 11ac.” More info about 802.11ad.

There are also people who say G.hn is the next big thing in home networking. It uses existing home wiring including coaxial cables, phone lines and power lines. You can learn here about it here.

More about what lies next in networking.

Another good article related to this topic.

If you follow the above guidelines, you should be able to stream high-definition videos without problems. Let me know if I missed any good Wi-Fi tips.

– Rick

Copyright 2013-2014 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged. Network photo courtesy of Apple.


Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

iOS 5.0’s Advantages over Android 4.0

This article was just updated! You can view the new version here. It compares iOS 6 to Android 4.1.

Android has come a long way, but iOS is very mature and still has quite a few advantages over Android. Yesterday I listed the things I like better about Android 4.0 OS. Here are the things I miss most from iOS 5.0 and the Apple mobile ecosystem.

  1. Better overall app quality – Android apps have improved, but still don’t match the App Store when it comes to overall app quality. Apple tests all apps and it shows. Apple also excels in categories like games.
  1. Few tablet-optimized apps – Andy Rubin once said he didn’t think there should be apps specific to a tablet. I don’t agree with this statement. While it’s true, a well-designed app should adapt to different screen sizes, iPad-optimized apps provide a much better experience than standard iPhone apps. I wish the Android Market had a filter for tablet-optimized apps.
  1. More iOS-only or iOS first apps – By now you’d think all popular apps would be available on both platforms, but that’s not the case. Android is still missing some popular iOS apps. To make things worse, even when developers support both platforms, they often release their iOS apps first. If I were Google, I would provide incentives to top app developers to make sure they release their popular apps at the same time on both platforms.
  1. iCloud – Google had a huge lead in the area of cloud-based apps, but they still haven’t put together a comprehensive solution like Apple has with iCloud. Sure you could create an iCloud-like solution, but you’d have to do with a collection of apps. Apple makes it easier.
  1. Better intelligent personal assistant – I’ve tried Iris and a few other Siri competitors on Android and they don’t compete with Siri yet. It’s ironic that Google let Apple win in this area, because they still have better cloud-based voice recognition and return more useful search results in general.
  1. Better cut and paste – Apple has done a better job implementing their cut and paste. The also have more region selection options. This is one of the things I miss the most.
  1. Better calendar app – Another thing I miss is the iOS calendar. I found it much easier to add appointments to the Apple Calendar than the Android Calendar.
  1. No carrier bloatware – Carriers load all non-Nexus Android phones with useless apps. Some of these are links to paid services, others are carrier-branded apps. Most are things you don’t need and will never use. They clutter your screens and can’t be removed.
  1. Less OS fragmentation – Carriers decide which versions of the Android OS to include. Oftentimes they do not allow users to upgrade to the newest OS. This combined with carrier skins makes the Android experience vary from phone to phone. Although Apple does have some problems with fragmentation of older phones (e.g. iPhone 3G), it’s not near as bad as most Android phones.
  1. Better voice mail app – I think it’s ridiculous that I have to dial *86 to get voice-mail on my Galaxy Nexus. You’d think its 1998, not 2012. Apple’s phone app has dedicated voice mail button and its interface is excellent.
  1. Better power management – iOS devices seem to have power management than Android devices. Some of this may be a result of the fact that iOS doesn’t allow third-party apps to run in the background. Others might have to do with the fact that iPhone 4S has an under-clocked processor and no LTE support. Whatever the reason, it’s an Apple advantage.
  1. One-button operation – Apple uses a single button to return to the Home screen, display the search box, and show recently opened apps. Is it intuitive? No, but once you learn it, it works well.

These are the things that I miss about iOS. What did I leave out?

This article was just updated! You can view the new version here. It compares iOS 6 to Android 4.1.

– Rick

Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

Android 4.0’s Advantages over iOS 5.1

This article was just updated! You can view the new version here. It compares Android 4.1 to iOS 6.

I recently switched from an iPhone to an Android phone and was surprised how easy the transition was. That says a lot about how far Android has come over the past year. While everything is still fresh in my mind, I want to talk about the strengths of each operating system (OS). I’ll start with Android 4.0, and then list the advantages iOS has over Android.

Extensive Customization Options

There are so many different ways you can customize an Android phone that it would be almost impossible to list them all here. Here are a few of the ways you can customize your Home screen(s).

    Widgets are one of the ways Android users can customize their mobile devices

  1. Widgets – Widgets can be placed on any of the five Android home screens and provide you with things like weather updates, stock quotes, recent e-mails, or your daily calendar. Widgets are accessible, always visible and updated in real-time without needing to launch an app. Widgets also provide easy access to both system and application settings. Want to disable Wi-Fi or GPS services? Use a widget. You can get widget-like apps for the iPhone, but they can only run on your lock screen, and some require a jail-broken phone or third-party widget executor software.
  2. Easier screen organization – It’s much easier to rearrange the home screen locations of your apps on an Android phone. If you’ve ever tried to move an app several screens on an iPhone without rearranging the existing apps, then you know what I mean. It’s almost impossible to do.
  3. Moving wallpapers – Live wallpapers are pre-installed on all Android 4.0 devices. They allow you to run cool animations on every home screen, without rooting your phone, or needing to use a third-party app.

Superior Navigation Services

All Android devices have navigation services which are far superior to those found on the iPhone. There are two main reason for this:

    Turn-by-turn directions are another Android advantage

  1. More accurate GPS – The GPS on the iPhone is often inaccurate when you’re in a large city, or at an event with many people. Sometimes it shows your location hundreds of feet from where you are — even when there are only a few mobile devices in the area. My Android phone uses a compass, Wi-Fi, a barometer (for altitude) and other techniques to improve its GPS accuracy. The difference in GPS accuracy between it and an iPhone is dramatic.
  2. Turn-by-turn directions – The Google Maps app is much better on Android than iOS devices. Its turn-by-turn directions are far superior to any free navigation app you can find for iPhone. It’s even better than paid services like Verizon’s VZ Navigator and most automotive GPS systems. Google Maps also has other important features you won’t find on other maps including offline maps, transit maps, walking directions, Street view and indoor maps.

Classic Android Advantages

You’ve probably heard most of these advantages before. They’re all still true.

  1. System Intents – It’s easiest to explain this by contrasting a iOS app with an Android app. When I click Share on my free Android “Notes Lite” app I have 15 choices including the ability to share via Dropbox, Bluetooth, Email, Facebook, Gmail, Google+, Text Message, Twitter, WordPress Blog, and six more options. [The actual list of intents varies depending on which apps you have installed.] When I click Share and Print on my $10 Apple “Pages” word processor app I’m given five sharing choices: Email, iWork, iTunes (useless), iDisk and WebDAV (useless). Google realizes they cannot be best at everything and allows their customers to choose which services they would like to use. Almost all Android apps support this feature.
  2. Flash support – The lack of Flash support is probably the best-known iOS limitation. I can’t tell you how many times someone has sent me a link to a video I couldn’t watch on the iPhone or iPad because it was Flash. Android users don’t have to worry about this.
  3. One of the many free Wi-Fi tethering apps in the Android Market

  4. Better free Wi-Fi tethering – There are several good free Wi-Fi Tethering apps in the Android Market which don’t require you to root your phone. These apps allow Android users to share their network connections with their computers and tablets. This advantage can save you about $20 a month. Tethering is possible on iOS devices only after you jail-break your phone and download a paid app from a third-party app store.
  5. True multitasking – Apple places restrictions on background operation for third-party apps. In most cases, they are suspended and not allowed to communicate with other apps. Android has no such restrictions and supports true-multitasking. This has changed the way I use my phone, and allows me to do things which weren’t possible on an iPhone.
  6. 3rd-Party App Stores – There are quite a few good alternative app stores for Android users including: AppBrain, GetJar, Handango, Handmark, and the Amazon App Store, which offers one paid app a day for free. The only apps which can be installed outside the Apple app store are called Cydia apps. Cydia is only available for jailbroken devices.
  7. No need to sync media – It’s a hassle to get anything but photos on or off of an iOS device. With Android devices you just connect a USB cable to your computer and drag and drop your files. There’s no need to use iTunes (or other apps) to sync files.
  8. More advanced notifications – Although notifications have improved in iOS 5.1, Android still has advantages in this area. For example, you can tell at a glance what types of notifications have occurred, and clear all with a single click.
  9. Easier to root/jailbreak – In most cases it’s easier to root an Android mobile device than it is to jailbreak an Apple mobile device. One reason for this is because Apple has devoted significant resources to prevent jailbreaking and prevent jalibreaking apps from appearing in the App Store. Some of the most popular apps in the Android Market only work on rooted devices.
  10. Easier access to app settings – Android users can either use an in-app Menu button, or onscreen widgets to manage apps settings. iPhone users must use the Settings app every time they want to change app settings, or turn off Bluetooth.
  11.  A more open marketplace – The Android Market has far less restrictions than the App store. There is a long list of apps Apple won’t allow, including apps which compete with iTunes, free Wi-Fi tethering apps, VoIP apps which use technologies like Google Talk, and great utilizes like Farproc’s Wi-Fi Analyzer.
  12. More screen unlock options – Android now has five different ways to unlock your screen: A slider which lets you access the home screen or camera, pattern unlock, PIN unlock, password unlock and a flashy new Face unlock, which unlocks the screen when you hold the phone up to your face.
  13. Back button – Android’s Back button can be very useful on some apps and sites. For some strange reason, the iOS home screen (and many iOS apps) doesn’t allow you to go back.

Other Important Android Advantages

Android 4.0 has other important advantages over iOS 5.1. You probably haven’t heard of these before, but they are very important to me.

  1. More Stable – Apps Crash Less – One of the first things I noticed when I switched to Android, is that apps like the browser crash much less. Apparently I’m not the only one who has experienced this. A recent study published in Forbes magazine, shows this to be true.
  2. Better Wi-Fi to cellular switching – My iPhone had so many problems switching from Wi-Fi to 3G, that I had to turn off Wi-Fi much of the time. Once my phone saw a wireless access point it recognized, it would try to connect even when the signal was poor and data transfer rates were slow.
  3. Apple makes some tablet users choose between distorted text or apps which don't occupy the entire screen.

  4. More Tablet-friendly – There is no need to push a 2x button to run older Android apps on a tablet. Older apps stretch to fill the larger screen without the types of distortion you see when you use the 2x mode on an iPad.
  5. A Better Web browser – I’ve tried all of the best iOS browsers (Dolphin, Opera, Atomic Web, etc.) and none of them beats Chrome running on Android 4.0. See for yourself. On Android you can also set an alternative browser as your default. This is not possible with iOS.
  6. Better app updating – My iOS devices sometimes only show available updates after I launch the App Store app or iTunes on my computer. And every time I update an app I’m asked to enter my password. Android doesn’t have either of these issues.
  7. Better Facebook App – I was very surprised to find that ‘Facebook for Android’ is now better than ‘Facebook for iOS.’ ‘Facebook for Android’ doesn’t lose its place when you go back after reading a post. It also doesn’t crash when you try to browse a lot of posts.
  8. Easier Exchange setup – I was also surprised that it was easier to setup access to my corporate e-mail account on an Android phone than it was on my iPhone. All I had to do was enter my e-mail and password and my contacts and calendars were synced with my Android phone. Apple needed to know my companies server name, domain name and username — in addition to my e-mail and password.
  9. Better in-line spell checker – Apple’s infamous spell checker has spawned many spell check parody sites like this one. The Android in-line spell checker and suggestion modes work better than Apple’s. I like the way it provides four suggestions, and doesn’t try to auto-insert as many words. It also has a mic button on the keyboard, which makes it easier to speak your words. The iPhone’s onscreen keyboard used to be superior, but with Android 4.0 the difference is much smaller.
  10. Better voice searches – Android has better voice recognition and more relevant search results than Siri. Don’t believe me? Ask Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. You can read more about his thoughts about the accuracy of Siri here.

Parting Thoughts

Before anyone gets too excited about any of this, I’d like to say that my comments above are my personal observations. This isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list. I know I’ve left a few important things out like NFC. My comments are based on my observations over six months of usage. I use iOS 5.1 and Android 4.0 every single day and view them as equal in many ways. If it seems like I’m stressing Android’s advantages over iOS, it’s because most people think the iPhone is still far ahead of Android and that is no longer true. Even in the area of mobile UI design, Android 4.0 is now beating iOS in some areas. Case in point: Android 4.0 was just awarded best platform experience by Parsons School of Design. More info.

Tomorrow I’ll try to be equally passionate about iOS’ advantages over Android. Check back and see how I did.

This article was just updated! You can view the new version here. It compares Android 4.1 to iOS 6.

- Rick

Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Jumping Ship – Moving from iOS to Android

I Was an iPhone Addict

I’ve been a hardcore iPhone user for the past several years. Like most iPhone users, I had a hard time imagining ever switching to another phone. I’d seen some early Android phones and their user interface didn’t look nearly as polished as iOS. I also thought the transition would be too hard and I might regret making the switch. I knew my iPhone so well I could practically operate it blindfolded.

Why Would Anyone Defect?

I had planned to buy an iPhone 5 the first day it was available. However, once the iPhone 4S was announced, and it became clear an iPhone 5 was not going to be released in 2011, I started having second thoughts. My old iPhone had slowed down to the point it was sometimes frustrating to use. I’m not sure if this was a result of iOS, or the fact I was on the AT&T network, which is horrible where I live. While I was researching this problem, I learned about the differences between 4G LTE and the 4G imposters like HSPA+. 4G LTE phones are 5 to 12 times faster than other phones. Two things were clear to me:

  1. My next phone must support LTE
  2. My next phone must run on the Verizon network

More about the confusion around 4G data speeds can be found here.

Verizon's LTE speed comparison

These two requirements made my decision easier. The iPhone 4S had disappointing specs (compared to the newest Android phones) and it did not support LTE. There was no way I was going to sign another two-year contract on a non-LTE phone.

So, I started looking into Android phones. I’d heard about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and read several reviews which said it was the best Android phone ever. Some of the reviews said Android 4.0 was more intuitive than earlier versions, and even had the nerve to compare it to iOS. So I took a big leap of faith and bought a Samsung Galaxy Nexus the first day they became available. I wasn’t too worried, because I had two weeks to return the phone if I didn’t like it.

More about the differences between iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus can be found here.

I immediately started using my new Galaxy Nexus and was surprised the transition wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Once I installed a few of my favorite apps, I was on my way. I did encounter a few hurdles along the way, so I made a list of suggestions for a trouble free transition from iOS to Android.

Ten Steps to a Trouble-free Transition

Once you get through these steps, you’ll be on your way to being a happy Android user.

  1. First things first – Start by creating a Google account (if you don’t already have one) and enter your credit card so you can purchase apps. This account will allow you to backup everything on your phone to the cloud, and sync with other Google apps. Next, enter the key for your Wi-Fi network.
  2. Setup your voice mail – Now learn how to makes call and setup your voice mail.  On my phone, I have to dial *86 to check my voice mail, your phone may have a dedicated button for this.
  3. Install your favorite apps – Now go to the Android Market and install a few of your most-used apps. Don’t bother to make a list of your old apps. If you really need them, you’ll remember their names.
  4. How do I switch apps without that big button? – One of the first hurdles I encountered was figuring out how the Home button works on Android phones. Both phones have Home buttons, but they work a little differently.

    iOS Home button

    • Pressing that big Home button on the iPhone always takes you back to the main Home screen. Pressing the Home button on an Android 4.0 phone takes you back to the last Home screen you were on.

      Android's Home button

    • Pressing the Home button on the home screen of an iPhone takes you to the Search screen. This doesn’t happen on Android phones because the search box is displayed on every home screen.

      Android's Recent Apps button

    • Double-pressing the Home button on an iPhone 4S shows your most recently opened apps.  You can do the same thing on an Android 4.0 phone by pressing the Recent Apps button. The only difference is that you scroll up and down, instead of left to right.

      Android's Back button

    • Two other important navigation differences exist between the iPhone and Android phones are the Menu and Back buttons. The Back button on an Android phone works like the back button on your browser. Once you get used to doing this, I think you’ll find it very useful.

      Android's Menu button

    • The same is true with the Menu button. On Android phones before 4.0, there is a dedicated Menu button which works much like the right mouse button on a Windows PC. This can also be a real time saver once you get used to it. On an iPhone you have to go to the Setting app to access options which are available in the Menu key on Android phones. Note:On Android 4.0 phones the Menu button is only displayed once you launch an app.

      Android's App Drawer

    • Another difference is the fact that all downloaded iOS apps must appear on one of the iPhone’s home screens. On Android, this is not the case. All apps are displayed when you touch the App Drawer. It’s up to you which app you want to have displayed on your five home screens.
  5. Syncing your calendar and contacts – Google automatically syncs all of your Google contacts and calendars. If you want to sync your work contacts and calender, it’s easy. Click on the E-mail app and then select Settings using the menu key. Then click Add Account and enter your work e-mail and password. In a few minutes, all of your work contacts and calendar will be synced with your Android phone. When you add a new contact or appointment to your calendar, it will instantly appear on your Android phone without any type of manual sync needed.
  6. Learn how Notifications work – Notifications work a little different on Android and iOS 5.0 devices. On an Android phone, you’ll see different icons at the top of the screen every time you receive a new e-mail or other activities. Like iOS, you swipe down from the top of the screen to view your notifications.  Once you review them, just click the “X” to clear them.
  7. Install the “must-have” Android apps – Every platform has its own “must-have” apps. CNET recently published a list of some of the best Android apps. You may want to download some of these after you get a new Android phone.
  8. Optimize your battery life – If you get a lot of e-mail, you need to make some changes to extend your battery life.  Load the E-mail app, go to Settings and set the Inbox check frequency to 1 hour or never. You can still manually sync at any time. Other good battery-saving suggestions can be found here.
  9. Make it your own– Learn how to customize your Home screens. Move your app shortcuts around, create folders for similar apps and deleting apps you don’t use daily. Learn how to use widgets. Widgets are a big differentiator between Android and iOS.
  10. Relax – Don’t expect to master a new mobile operating system over night. It could take days — even  weeks until you are fully comfortable with your new phone. Be patient while you adjust to some new ways of doing things. The effort you put in will be worth it in the end.

Would I Ever Go Back to Apple?

Sure. I didn’t buy an iPhone because all of my friends had one. In fact, when I bought my first iPhone, it wasn’t that popular. I bought it because it was the best mobile device available at the time. That’s the same reason I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy. I want the fastest and best phone on the planet. I don’t care who makes it.

Which Mobile OS Do I Prefer?

In another blog post, I compare Android 4.1 with iOS 6, and let you know which things I like best about each. You won’t want to miss those posts.

– Rick

Since this article was first written, the iPhone 5 has come out and I’ve switched to a Samsung Galaxy S III. Gizmodo ran a really good article which also talks about making the switch from Android to iOS. I must not be the only person switching, because there are now four times more Android phones than Apple phones. Even with the iPhone 5, it’s going to be impossible for Apple to ever catch up.

Copyright 2012 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

Follow me on Twitter @mostlytech1

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