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

About Rick E. Schwartz
Rick Schwartz is blogger from San Diego. You can learn more about Rick by clicking on the "About" tab at the top of mostly-tech.com.

5 Responses to Jumping Ship – Moving from iOS to Android

  1. westerdaled says:


    This is really useful as I will be going through the learning curve when the Samsung Note 2 is released in the uk on 02 or EE. I just wondered if there was a good resource for out there covering
    1) A given iPhone app
    2) The equivalent or better in the Android store
    3) How to painlessly move your app settings and maybe data over to your Android phone.

    Now I appreciate that everyone’s choice of iPhone app will be different but there must be some common ones.

    • Thanks for the comment Daniel.

      I found that most of the iOS apps that I used were also available in the Android Market. For the others ones, go to the Android Market and search for similar keywords. The reviews and ratings will tell you which is best. If you can’t find a good app in one area or another, let me know and I’ll try to help you.

      All of my Outlook data just came over fine once I connected to our Corporate mail server. You may have to manually copy some of your media files, if you aren’t using Dropbox or Skydrive.

      – Rick

  2. Pingback: iPhone 4 vs gs3 - Android Forums

  3. Apple doesn’t need to “catch up”.
    They take the lions share of profits over Android by many orders of magnitude. Phones, app, and other parts of the ecosystem like accessories. Android is not even close. Nowhere near.
    The only Android manufacturer making money is Samsung and they won’t say how much they are making. The rest have lost millions trying to make a profit from Android.
    Its clear now that Googles profits form Android or either minimal or they have lost money. they won’t say what their profits are which should tell you something.
    Android sells in huge numbers because it is cheap. Yet nobody makes money from it.

    • Are you living in a cave? Android is now outselling Apple by 4:1 and has 78% market share worldwide and 90% market share in China. In the past quarter, Samsung sold more phones than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S combined. That’s one reason Apple’s market cap has dropped $130 Billion dollars since September.

      – Rick

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