I was fortunate to be part of the group featured in the video below, spot Your Web AddiCT in the BRCK t-shirt, a good friend happened to be on holiday from Switzerland and wanted to instagram his stay in South Africa. This is what happened when an iPhone user spends 3 weeks with an Android device.
I have a confession to make, right off the bat: I am a dedicated iPhone user and it’ll be a cold day in hell before Google gets me to join their team. That said, I was, for 3 weeks the proud(ish) user of a
First impression: A very cool super sexy looking futuristic slab of high tech that you can’t take your eyes off of. It begs to be looked at, which also means you have to answer a lot of questions from other Android users about specs, Android version, camera specs which, of course, I’d have no answer for. After researches I found the specs online and they seem impressive to a novice like me, but it’s not definitely not in the league of the HTC One or the Galaxy S4. For the price though it can’t be beaten.
Even I managed to get my phone setup with email, contacts (all via my Google profile), Facebook and Twitter fairly quickly, and after 3 days offline after travelling I was back online and inside the internets extremely painlessly. That said, I did find that setting ringtones, vibration on/off quite hard to do – then again simply because it was really my first time using Android. The menu structure in the Settings pages seems unnecessarily convoluted and some very plain, non-lethal settings are well and truly buried quite deeply.
After needing 3 days to grow accustomed to the Android UI paradigm, a number of the phones’ character traits began to grow on me. I like, for example, how the phone knew that WhatsApp was installed and that one could message a contact using this app directly from the Address Book, something that iPhone can’t. Simple but nice. I like the thoroughness of the control page you can access by swiping down from the top: Once you’ve set up your phone as a new user you might never need to face the confusion of the Settings Pages and, instead, manage almost all of your day-to-day Settings needs on this page.This feature iOS has managed to crib admirably from Android, but the iOS attempt lacks the thoroughness of this implementation.
I also grew to love the Android app icon management paradigm (apologies to the initiated among us for being the Android noob): The apps menu and the apps shown on various screen are two different things, whereas on iPhone, the app icons shown on screen IS the apps menu. It means I could place only the apps I really used on the first two screens, and the other apps lived in the menu, unassigned to a screen.
The Holy Trinity of Home, Back and Menu buttons is something I don’t think I could live with for a longer time. They do seem superfluous to me…sorry. Why Google, why?
A case in point: This phone being fairly large, even texting on it with one hand was hard for a guy like me. I’m nearly 1.9m tall with the hand size to match. There always seemed to be a lot of strenuous extension of the fingers. Then I open Facebook. And my fingers get a real work out with all the reaching and stretching it needs to do. Because theres no UI ‘Back’ button in the Android version of the app and one needs to use the phones button. It felt like work. I also must take exception to the bloatware ‘typing assistant’ pre-loaded on the phone. It’s suggestions are really wack, in both English and German. E.g. when typing the name ‘George’, I’d get the suggestion ‘George Clooney’. For real. The keyboard also seemed finicky to use: I would often ‘type’ the letter adjacent to the one my finger was on.
The biggest deal breaker for quite a few people when it comes to buying a smartphone is the camera. The camera of this phone being as specced out as it is, the quality of the photographs is surprisingly low. Let me explain: I’m an avid (can’t stand the word) ‘iPhonographer’. My iPhone 4S amazing things with it’s 5MP camera. Perhaps if resolution is your main interest, don’t get an iPhone. If you’re looking for natural looking colours, great response to backlit subjects and an HDR mode that actually does not mess up your snaps, don’t get the HiSense Infinty Prime 1. Sounds like a harsh judgement, but I could only make my holiday snaps barely forgivable with a more than liberal dose of Instagram. God bless filters.
The naked barebones snaps taken with the phone looked incredibly washed out. Contrast levels were not very high- blacks were not crisp, response to bright light and backlit subjects was not adequate at all. Subjects in the medium distance were often undefined and or unfocused. And this was daylight. Night time is a another kettle – not that my blessed iPhone 4S is the night shot superstar, but the Hisense gave me black shots with swirls of digital grain.
The qualms continue with the actual making of phone calls. It seemed that I had to hold the phone at a very specific angle in relation to my ear to properly hear the other party – the tolerance for variation of this angle was very, very poor. I also experienced that people I was on the phone with would ask me to repeat myself more often than when I was using an iPhone – I’m sure it was not a case of weak/bad signal as I spent the majority of my time in Cape Town CBD and/or Stellenbosch. (Network: MTN). As regards battery life, I think all smartphone makers and their suppliers need to huddle together and try and solve the problem of short battery life. Gives us the features that make us want to play with our pocket computers all day, but don’t give us the battery life we need. A wicked game. In fairly strenuous use, lot’s of email, WhatsApp, regular Twitter checks and Facebooking I got 7 – 8 hours of battery life, which puts it on par with most other modern smartphones, I suppose. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Also, bigger is not better. the phone is so big that texting with one hand is laborious, I suppose however that in many markets this phone will be many peoples’ primary mobile device, with it having to function as a kind of mini tablet as well. Well, it IS great for watching video on, but it’s a bloody big. I didn’t use the dual-SIM functionality at all, but one can apparently dedicate one SIM for voice and text and the other for data, which opens up your options enormously for saving on a mobile data plan.
My experience with non iOS phones up to the present day being limited to latest Sony Xperia, Galaxy S4, HTC One and the Hisense Infinity Prime 1, I don’t think you could call me an expert. We all know that most people rank the One above the S4. I would go so far that, for what it is, the Infinity Prime 1 is a better option than the Xperia. Less bloatware, less unnecessary flashy stuff chewing up processor cycles and battery life, better looks (and better than the S4 too). I grew fond of the device eventually and was sad to see it go. But I was happy to get back to my iPhone.