As a fan of all things technology and mobile, I’ve owned countless Android devices but also every single iPhone. I remember in 2007 when I was a symbian user and the iPhone was just coming out; I thought a full touchscreen phone was completely idiotic. On a whim I ventured out to an Apple store and handled the first iPhone. I was instantly sold on the concept. Since then, Android and iOS have both taken very different paths to arrive at a similar point today: incredibly mature and great mobile operating systems, even if for different folks.
“The 6S+ is not a small device. Apple devices are unnecessarily large by today’s standards.”
This year I preordered the newest iPhone, as I do every year. For the first time I opted for the “Plus” model. Go big or go home.. and let me tell you, this is a big phone. I’ve been using it since for almost two weeks now, and I wanted to share a few thoughts about the experience.
Using Google in the land of iOS:
I am completely, unequivocally locked into Google’s services. I use Gmail, Hangouts, Google Now, Drive, etc. I’m even typing this post on my Pixel LS. It’s fair to say I won’t use a device that doesn’t have a good Google experience. In fact, that’s my biggest problem with Windows Phone, but that’s beside the point.
For the most part, on iOS the Google experience is OK. Google provides apps that are frequently updated – sometimes quicker than their Android equivalents. Hangouts, in particular, is a far far better experience on iOS. I’m not only referring to being on version 5.1 already. There are so many bugs present on Android that are absolutely non-existent on the iOS version. This reddit thread’s comments list plenty of bugs that I’ve experienced on Android. Again, none of these are present on the iOS version. The app is also quicker to launch and has none of the frequent hangs and lags I notice on the Android version. It may seem ridiculous that there is a better hangouts experience on iOS, and I’d agree. I’ve run out of reasons to defend the pretty bad hangouts experience on Android, especially with the latest bugs.
On Cameras and Catching up:
For years now the best mobile camera experience was usually an iPhone. Things changed in 2015 however, and companies like LG and Samsung are seriously bringing it in the camera department. The G4 and SGS6/Note5 all offer outstanding camera experiences. Even Motorola finally has a serviceable, dare I say “good,” camera. Bringing it back to the 6S+, the experience is as expected: pretty good. The new 12MP camera takes good pictures and it focuses and takes them quickly. I’m a big fan of the 4:3 format, so I’m happy to see the sensor maintain that ratio. Overall 2015 mobile cameras have become incredibly impressive. Below are some sample photos from the 6S+.
Multitasking, Android, and TouchWiz?
This year marks a huge bump for iOS – Apple moved up to 2GB of RAM. Meanwhile, in Android land we’re getting flagships (and even cheap phones!) with 4GB of ram. It’s easy to look at these two numbers in a vacuum and think that the multitasking experience on iOS will be awful. I would politely disagree. In my personal experience I find I run into reloading webpages and apps far less frequently than I do on my Note 5 – but then again, the reason why is obvious to most of us by now. I’m sure this a combination of factors: iOS/Android app programming, restrictive background multitasking in iOS, Samsung’s questionable software expertise… Regardless of the why, iOS multitasking is much better than it has been or I expected. The new 3D touch multitasking gesture is eventually very intuitive as well. Which brings us to our next section…
3D Touch, Long Overdue Long Press Replacement:
The main headline feature of the new iPhone is easily 3D touch. Our own Brian Young wrote a piece on force touch a couple months ago that’s worth a read. He claimed Force Touch (and thus 3D touch) could be a paradigm shift in how we interact with devices. In a the short few weeks I’ve used 3D touch I remain very impressed with the feature. It’s easy to handwave away the concept at large and just call it a “long press,” but that’s missing the point. The ability to “peek” and “pop” into content independent of time is a very slick use case. You can also 3d touch on the left side of the display and swipe right to access the recent apps menu. Additionally, getting to specific parts of applications with a long press from the springboard is also a quick way to shave off valuable milliseconds. Right now, 3D touch is useful, but the real appeal is in the future. Developers have a history of adopting new Apple features, and it will be exciting to see where they go with 3D touch. Eventually, that could reach Android as other OEMs go down Huawei’s route and bring it in as well.
Other Random Thoughts:
The “taptic engine” (read: vibration motor) is amazing and I want no more of the old rotary vibration motors in devices.
The Note5 feels much better in the hand than the 6S+. The 6S+ is not a small device. Apple devices are unnecessarily large by today’s standards.
The new TouchID is frighteningly fast. You really don’t’ see the lock screen often.
I still prefer Android’s notification handling by a country mile, Apple needs serious work on that front.
Apple’s displays and calibrations remain commendable. The Note5 is outstanding obviously as well, but Apple still hangs close with a traditional “painted on” LCD.