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

The Confusion Around Mobile Data Speeds

AT&T's marketing chart correctly places HSPA+ in-between 3G HSPA and LTE when it comes to data speeds.

The History of Faux G

Data speeds can have a huge impact on the perceived speed of your mobile device, but there is much confusion around 4G. For the past year all of the carriers have been running commercials about their 4G networks. Truth be told, until recently, Sprint and Verizon were the only U.S. carriers with true 4G networks and mobile devices to support it.

  • T-Mobile was first to call their HSPA+ network 4G and AT&T gave T-Moble grief over it. HSPA stands for “High Speed Packet Access.” Since then AT&T jumped on the same HSPA+ 4G bandwagon. HSPA+ is capable of speeds that are somewhere in-between 3G and 4G LTE. This is why some call it “Faux G.”
  • Sprint uses a different technology called WiMAX and was the first to deploy a true 4G network. Their network is capable of speeds that meet or exceed Verizon’s 4G data network. [Update: Sprint just announced they will be coming out with LTE phones in the 2nd half of 2012.]
  • Verizon launched their 4G LTE network back in December of 2010.
  • AT&T launched LTE in five cities in September 2011 (9 months after Verizon), but didn’t have a single 4G phone until November 2011.

If you’re fortunate to be in one of the 200+ cities with LTE coverage, you’re in for a real treat. LTE is much faster than 3G or HSPA+. How much faster? Verizon claims LTE speeds which are at least twice as fast as AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ and up to 12 times faster than their own 3G speeds. Most LTE users experience real world download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and real world upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps. These speeds are impressive, but they are conservative. I’ve experienced real world LTE download speeds as high as 45Mbps and upload speeds as high as 28Mbps. Theoretical peak LTE speeds are even higher than these. More info.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is on of the few phones with LTE and Dual-Band Wi-Fi support.

The list of smartphones which support LTE today include the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, BlackBerry Torch 9810, Droid Bionic, Droid Charge, Droid RAZR, HTC Rezound, HTC Thunderbolt, HTC Vivid, LG Revolution, Pantech Breakout, Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE, Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket and Samsung Stratosphere. More phones are being added to this list every month. The list of tablets which support LTE today include the Motorola Xoom, Motorola Droid XYBOARD(8.2″ and 10.1″), Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Why isn’t the iPhone 4S listed here? Unfortunately, LTE support isn’t yet available on the iPhone or iPad yet.

Trouble in Paradise?

There are two downsides with LTE that you should be aware of:

  1. LTE phones consume power faster than non-LTE phones. For this reason, in the past some people disable 4G when they weren’t using it. Fortunately most newer phones have more powerful batteries which make this less of an issue.
  2. LTE isn’t available everywhere, and even if you live in a city that has it, you may not always be able to get a 4G signal.

Wi-Fi data speeds are important as well. The best mobile devices support dual-band Wi-Fi. That means they work on both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz Wi-Fi networks. 5.0 GHz networks are less crowded and capable of higher speeds. You can learn more about 5 GHz and view a list of devices which support it here. Some new mobile devices also include support for Bluetooth 4.0, which promises better range and lower energy consumption.

After reading this, you should be better prepared to evaluate the carriers confusing marketing messages about mobile data speeds. If data speeds are important to you, it’s essential all of your mobile devices support either LTE or WiMAX.

My next post will be about Rhapsody’s new cloud-based music service. You can read about that here.

Copyright 2011 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

How to Evaluate Mobile Processors


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

The Need for Speed

The HTC Rezound has a 1.5GHz processor making it one of the fastest smartphones

The processor is the engine behind your mobile device and determines its speed. Mobile processor speeds have been increasing quickly over the past few years. Today, most of the best smartphones have processors which are either 1.2GHz or 1.5GHz. The HTC Rezound and Samsung Galaxy S II HD LTE both have dual-core 1.5GHz processors. Processor speed isn’t the only thing that matters. The number of cores is important as well. Back in February, we saw the first smartphones ship with dual-core processors. Dual-core processors allow your mobile device to do more things at once without slowing down. They are also faster than single-core processors and this can result in a more responsive user interface. Over the next year, dual-core processor speeds are likely to top out around 1.7GHz. Although processor speeds will continue to increase, there are limits to how fast they can get. Mobile processors are beginning to face the same performance and power challenges desktop CPUs faced a few years ago. Demanding applications such as HD video playback and advanced gaming are stretching their capabilities. In order to further increase performance and stay within the available power limits, mobile devices will migrate to processors with more cores.

Apple iPhone 4S

HTC Rezound

HTC Titan

Motorola Droid RAZR

Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket

800MHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz single-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

Chart 1: A comparison of the processor speeds of popular smartphones

Four Can Do More

Like PCs, mobile devices will migrate from dual-core to quad-core. Quad-core makes even more sense on platforms like Android which allows multiple apps to run in the background. Having four different cores allows your phone (or tablet) to do more at once without slowing down. Tablets will be the first mobile devices to get quad-core processors.  The NVIDIA Tegra 3 will be the first quad-core processor available on mobile devices. NVIDIA says it has 2 to 5 times the processing power and 3 times the graphic performance of the Tegra 2. This will result in smoother graphics and better gaming performance. The Tegra 3 is also capable of 1440p video playback. That’s higher quality than you can watch on your HDTV. The Asus Transformer Prime will be the first tablet to ship with a Tegra 3 processor, but rumors are also circulating about quad-core tablets from Motorola and others. Smartphones won’t be left out of the party; phones with quad-core chips will be announced at CES in January.

The Asus Transformer Prime will have the first quad-core CPU

Most quad-core processors are more efficient and generate less heat than today’s dual-core chips. That will result in better performance and longer battery life. How much longer? NVIDIA says a Tegra 3 tablet should be able to provide 12 hours of HD video playback.  The first quad-core processor will be 1.3GHz, but speeds will increase to 2.5GHz next year. Those chips will be faster than some of the CPUs that ship with mid-priced home computers today. Of course, NVIDIA isn’t the only company making quad-core processors, Qualcomm, Apple and others will also launch products containing quad-core processors next year.

Amazon Kindle Fire

Apple iPad 2

Asus Transformer Prime

B&N Nook Tablet

HTC Jetstream

Motorola Xoom 2

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

1.0 GHz dual-core

1.0 GHz dual-core

1.3 GHz   quad-core

1.0 GHz dual-core

1.5 GHz dual-core

1.2 GHz dual-core

1.0 GHz dual-core

Chart 2: A comparison of the processor speeds of popular tablets
 

The Importance of the Graphics Co-processor

Some of the fastest phones have separate graphics co-processors, which can have a big impact on performance. Even though the iPhone 4S has a slower processor, it outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S II in some benchmarks. This occurs mainly because the iPhone 4S has a faster graphics coprocessor. See the chart below for details.

Even though the iPhone 4S has a much slower processor than the Samsung Galaxy II S, it outperforms it in some benchmarks. Chart courtesy of AnandTech

 

Final Thoughts

In summary, the speed of the CPU and GPU in your mobile device has a major impact on its performance. Dual-core processors almost always outperform single-core processors, and quad-core processors outperform dual-core processors. Although dual-core processor speeds are starting to slow down, quad-core speeds will improve substantially next year.  By the end of the year, quad-core processors will be found in most high-end tablets and smartphones due to their improved performance and extended battery life.

In case you’re wondering, my next post will discuss the importance of 4G on data performance speeds. Stay-tuned…

– Rick

Copyright 2011 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.

How to Evaluate Mobile Displays


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

In my last blog post I talked about the best mobile devices on the market today. This will be the first in a new series of posts that will help you evaluate each part of a smartphone or tablet. Since the display is the main interface to your mobile device, let’s start with it.

Bigger is Better

Three main parameters are used to specify the size and quality of a mobile display:

  1. Screen size measured diagonally in inches
  2. Screen width and height in pixels
  3. Screen density measured in pixels per inch (PPI)

The Samsung Galaxy Note has a much larger screen than the iPhone 4S

Today’s best smartphones have displays which are 4.3″ or larger. The largest screen available on a smartphone in the U.S. today is 4.7″ and can be found on the HTC Titan. Think that’s big? It is, but mobile displays are going to continue to get larger. The Samsung Galaxy Note, which was recently released in Europe, has a 5.3″ screen.  As screens get 6″ or larger, the line between smartphones and tablets will begin to blur and these devices may no longer fit into your pocket. Is it worth it? If you spent lots of time browsing the Web, playing games or working with business documents the answer could be yes.

Screen Size

Pixels (H x W)

Screen Density

Apple iPhone 4S

3.5”

960×640

326 PPI

HTC EVO 3D

4.3”

960×540

256 PPI

HTC Rezound

4.3”

1280×720

342 PPI

HTC Titan

4.7”

800×480

199 PPI

Motorola Atrix

4.0”

960×540

275 PPI

Motorola Droid 2

3.7”

854×480

264 PPI

Motorola Razr

4.3”

960×540

256 PPI

Samsung Galaxy S II

4.3” or 4.52”

800×480

217 PPI

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

4.65”

1280×720

316 PPI

Samsung Galaxy Note

5.3”

1280×800

285 PPI

Chart 1: A comparison of popular smartphone displays

Quality Matters Too!

The HTC Rezound has the highest resolution display available today.

Screen width and height is another popular measurement. Today the best smartphones have 1280×720 pixel displays. The Samsung Galaxy Note has an even larger 1280×800 display. Although the total number of pixels is important, it’s not the best indicator of screen quality. The density of pixels is what really matters.  The higher the pixel density, the more detail a screen can display. Although most people think the iPhone 4S has the highest pixel density, they are wrong. The HTC Rezound has a display with a higher pixel density than the iPhone 4S (342 vs. 326 ppi). Even better screens are on the way. Earlier in the year, Toshiba announced a 4-inch screen with a 367 PPI resolution. Pixel densities are likely to hit at least 386 in 2012.

It’s worth mentioning there is some debate over the ideal pixel density. Steve Jobs once said a device with a pixel density of 300 exceeds the limits of the human retina. However, some photographic experts say that number is too low. They believe the ultimate pixel density is 477 PPI. At that point, it’s said the pixels become invisible to an unaided human eye.

What About Tablets?

Screen resolution is one area where tablets can improve. The best tablets have screen densities below 200 while some smartphones have pixel densities higher than 300. Apple is known for their great displays. How does the iPad 2 compare to Android tablets? Let’s see: The iPad 2 has a 9.7″ screen with 1024×768 pixels. The Motorola Xoom has a 10.1″ screen with 1280×800 pixels. Which is better? The Motorola wins on all three categories: screen size, total number of pixels and screen density (with a pixel density of 160 PPI vs. 132 PPI). If you refer to the chart below, you’ll see there are five other Android tablets with even higher screen densities than the Motorola Xoom. Will we see higher resolution tablet screens next year? Definitely! The Lenovo LePad S2007 will have a 216 PPI display and tablets with 2560×1600 screens will be available some time in 2012. These tablets will have a screen density of at least 300 dpi.

Screen Size

Pixels (W x H)

Screen Density

Amazon Kindle Fire

7.0″

1024×600

169 PPI

Apple iPad 2

9.7″

1024×768

132 PPI

Asus Transformer

10.1″

1280×800

160 PPI

Asus Transformer Prime

10.1″

1280×800

149 PPI

B&N Nook Tablet

7.0″

1024×600

169 PPI

Motorola Droid XYBOARD 8.2

8.2″

1280×800

184 PPI

Motorola Xoom

10.1″

1280×800

160 PPI

OGT Eros Tablet

7.0″

N/A

188 PPI

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0

7.0″

1024×600

171 PPI

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

10.1″

1280×800

149 PPI

Chart 2: A comparison of popular tablet displays

That’s Not All

Of course pixel density isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to screen quality. The color accuracy, color vibrancy, brightness, contrast ratio, black level and viewing angle are important as well. The durability also matters. Gorilla Glass screens are more damage resistant than regular displays. Gorilla Glass 2 screens are on the way, so watch for those.

Well, that wraps up my review of mobile screen technology. In my next post, I’ll write about the heart of every mobile device: Its processor.

Thanks for stopping by.

– Rick

Copyright 2011 Rick Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged.