Sep 17, 2010
Before I start my review of the iPhone 4 and also the comparison between the 2 phones and OSs I want to say that I was a very early adopter of the iPhone despite the fact I was in Brazil, I managed to get one the next month after it was released in the US, so I’ve been using it since 2007. Then in the end of last year, 2009, I switched to Android thanks to Motorola for allowing me to be a tester of the Milestone (Droid) in Brazil.
After the Milestone I got a Nexus One and I used it until last week when I got the iPhone 4. It took me some time to get used to Android and now it’s taking a little bit longer than I expected to get used to the iPhone again, even though I was an iPhone user for more than 2 years.
So, this post will be a review of both phones and I will do that because I’ve been receiving emails from people asking me about the phone I use and what I think about this or that phone. It's also based on my usage and necessity.
So, without further ado let’s start the review.
It’s pretty hard to compare both phones in terms of hardware design, it’s clear they have different approaches in terms of concept, materials and therefore design.
The Nexus One is a very sleek phone, I really like the design with round corners and edges, super thin and with a beautiful 3.7 inches display. The 4 buttons that Android needs is digital and not physical, they are located at the bottom of the screen and quite often I needed to press twice or more than that to make them work. There’s also that little scrolling ball, I don’t even know the name of that. It was most of the times useless.
The iPhone keeps the same 3.5 inches display but the phone itself got a totally new design. It looks amazing, very solid, heavy with metal and glass. As Steve Jobs mentioned it’s like a Leica camera. The phone in terms of beauty is the best, very simple, minimalistic with the Jonathan Ive style all over it.
I also have to say the antenna problem is real and it’s a design flaw. What is interesting is that it's impossible to imagine that they didn’t test that or thought that the external antenna would be bad idea, even though they claim that other phones have the same issue and it’s not a real problem, buy why give away bumpers for the phones then? Actually why the bumper only protects the metal part of the phone and not the glass ones?
Both phones are fast and responsive. The Android sometimes gets a bit sluggish due the multitask, but nothing that could really makes the phone unusable. The iPhone seems really fast, my last iPhone was the 3G so I can’t tell you precisely how faster it is compared with the 3GS, but it runs very smoothly with all the transition and other eye-candy effects that the iOS has.
So in terms of performance I have to say that the phones are pretty much the same, but the iPhone makes things look smoother because of the inertia scrolling and animations.
The screen is, in my opinion, one of the best things on the iPhone 4, it’s simply beautiful. The texts look super sharp the colors are good and it works well on outdoors. The Retina Display is killer and makes me want to have that on my iPad and my computer as well. The only problem with the Retina Display is that there are tons of apps that need to be updated, including the Abduzeedo app, otherwise they will have that pixelated look.
About the Nexus One screen, don’t get me wrong, it’s really good, but it cannot compare with the Retina Display. The screen is bigger and you can see more in it, like a web site for example.
So in terms of screen iPhone 4 has a very clear advantage over Android and I believe over any other phone out there.
The Nexus One has a pretty good camera, 5 megapixels with zoom, flash and auto focus. With Froyo I believe there were a few refinements with the camera as well and if you use the CyanogenMod you can get the tap to focus and I believe 720p video recording too.
The iPhone 4 camera was updated as well, it has 5 megapixels camera, zoom, the tap to focus and flash. The quality of the photos from the iPhone camera is impressive, even with low light you still get a pretty descent photo. The video recording in 720p HD is another great feature.
Both phones have a really good camera but I will admit that I prefer the iPhone 4 camera. It’s easy to use, faster and the quality seems a bit superior. I am not an expert though, so feel free to share your opinion with us.
Both phones are pretty much the same in terms of battery life, you can go through the day with them, but if you try to have the same experience you have on Android on the iPhone, like all the apps running in the background like Gtalk, Emails, you won’t be able to go as long as with the Nexus One.
Now I have disabled Push for some apps and I can get a really good result with the iPhone. One advantage for the Nexus One is the fact that you can replace batteries, so you can have more tha one battery and just change it when necessary.
So in terms of battery life, the Nexus One was superior at least for me because I had all the multitask, push, gtalk on and was able to get the same time than the iPhone without those. But I haven’t run any super advanced and fancy test, just based on my own experience.
I believe the software is the most important part of this review. In terms of hardware both phones are fantastic if you get the iPhone or the Nexus One (if you can get one) you will be super happy. Now the software is where we have the most significant differences.
One of the reasons I decided to change to Android was that I needed a phone that I could rely on if I had a problem with my blog for example, the old iPhone 3G I had wasn’t capable of doing that. With Android you have multitask, fast switching and an integration with Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar, Gtalk, Google Calendar that the iPhone can’t even get closer to that. If you use these services you will love Android.
The Android UI elements
The first thing you will notice is that when you get your Android phone you don’t need anything but your Google account, put your username and password and boom you have all set, your contacts, calendars, emails, gtalk everything ready to be used. There’s no need to activate on iTunes and sync all the time. Just get the phone and start using it.
In terms of multitask, the Android is still superior than the iPhone 4, it’s real multitask, like a computer and it works fine. You can have instant message apps opened and other apps and they will run fine, of course sometimes you will need to kill some apps with a task manager to save your battery or because the phone might start to get a bit sluggish.
The notification system that Android has kicks ass and beat the iPhone hands down. You can’t even compare both systems because the Android is really but really superior.
Notification system: iOS and Android
The UI of Android has a lot to evolve. The Google apps are great in the Google style, super simple, minimal and focus on the function much more than look and feel. Now the third party apps are a total mess. The UI lacks consistency and you will find apps with terrible UIs.
The UI and UX of Android is the biggest problem they have right now in my opinion, and I am pretty sure they know that and are working hard to solve this problem in the next version, Gingerbread, which will be released next month I think.
The Android virtual keyboard is really good but it’s not the best, it lacks multitouch and that can be a real problem sometimes, however you can install the Swype keyboard and solve this issue with a really innovative solution. I saw some videos and people using it that simply blew me away how fast they were able to type.
Another problem Android has is a media center app. The one that comes with it cannot compare with iTunes, but for me that wasn’t a problem because I am a Last.fm and Audible user so I tend to have very few or no songs on my phone. So I am either streaming music or listening to Audiobooks, and Android does a fantastic job with that.
In terms of design the iOS hasn’t change much since the first version in 2007. The 4.x version came with new features such as folders and multitask but that wasn’t really new, actually those features were very old features for Android users. Apple claims to have done it right and for the folders I agree with them, the fact that you can simply drag an icon over another and create a folder automatically is pretty clever and works really well.
Folders in iOS 4
Now the multitask is something really important in my opinion, even though it’s not a full multitask because only some types of apps can use it, like music, messaging and a few others I think, it works fine and the fast switching is a nice disguise as well.
But when Steve Jobs said that if you have to use a task manager your mobile OS has a problem, I thought I would never have to close apps on my iPhone 4, which it’s not true. The way you can see the apps that are running is by double clicking on the home button. It’s a good solution but it’s not the best, plus that is a task manager because by holding the finger on an icon they will start jiggling and you will be able to close the apps. If that’s not a task manager I don’t know what it is, even though it’s much better than the Android ones.
The iPhone has the coolest and most beautiful apps
The notification system on iOS sucks and it’s the biggest problem with iOS in my opinion. It’s terrible like you get that pop up alert box that simply stops you from doing whatever you are doing. Also when you receive an email just you get the sound alert and badge, there’s no preview to see if it’s an important one or worth checking it out.
So for the software decision my opinion is pretty simple. If you need a phone that is more a computer in which you will be able get more productive and things done, plus you don’t like to have to hook your phone in a computer all the time, get an Android phone. But if you want the best user experience with a more polished UI, plus if you have lots of songs and videos in your iTunes and don’t care about syncing all the time. The iOS is your choice.
The best of each phone:
Android Nexus One
- More models to choose, even though it might be a problem as well but you can get different screen sizes, with physical keyboard.
- Real multitask
- Fantastic Notification System
- Tethering and Wifi hotspot - that’s killer and I already miss it. I will jailbreak my iPhone as soon as it’s released just to get that back.
- Flash - even though it might look crazy but I used to check my Google Analytics all the time and Flash always ran very well in my Nexus One.
- Apps integration - you could share a URL from the browser to Facebook, or Twitter automatically, that is very useful when you have to promote your posts on different services.
- Google integration
- No need to sync
- Navigate - Turn by turn maps free
- Beautiful and consistent UI
- Fantastic screen, the best out there
- Easy to use
- More and better apps
- Better games and more options
- Killer camera
- iTunes for music and video
- Beautiful form factor.
- Best copy and paste and text selection.
- Inertia Scroll
- Multitouch Keyboard
As I mentioned before both phones are amazing, so it doesn’t matter each phone you get, either Android or iPhone, you will get the best that is available out there and, as both phones are awesome, they have problems too. It would be perfect if we could get what is best from each phone and make the best phone ever, but that is still a dream :)
In terms of choice right now I chose the iPhone 4 to be my primary phone, however I won’t sell my Nexus One because I am looking forward to what’s coming within the next few months with the Android 3.0.
The mobile market is where the innovation is happening right now and we have tons of new devices coming especially Android ones. That might be a problem because with so many options of Android it can be really hard hard to choose the right one, like the paradox of choice. While the iPhone there’s only one model so you just need to think about the storage size you want.
There’s also other players in the market with a very special attention to Microsoft with the Windows Phone 7 and the beautiful Metro UI. So if you want to get a new smartphone, now it’s the right time.
Now I would love to hear from you. What do you think about Android and iPhone 4? Which one do you have? So share with us your thoughts, I’m sure that will be very helpful for those that haven’t made the decision.