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Shuffling between an iPhone 3GS to a Droid Bionic to an iPhone 4S | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Shuffling between an iPhone 3GS to a Droid Bionic to an iPhone 4S

White iPhone 4S

October was a busy month for me shuffling between mobile devices and network carriers. I switched from an iPhone 3GS to a Droid Bionic to a white iPhone 4S. I also left ATT for Verizon. Below are some of my notes comparing the Droid Bionic to the iPhone 4S. There was a couple reasons why I left the iPhone family briefly. Basically I was unimpressed at the time of iPhone 4S launch. Yes, I was one of those people that wanted to see an iPhone 5 after waiting so long for a new iPhone after having to put up with poor network speed from ATT in NYC. I felt like I deserved something better for that pain. So I switched carriers and bought a Droid Bionic. I figured it would be helpful for me as a designer to experience other mobile operating systems too. That experience lasted thirteen days.

Droid Bionic
This thing had a huge screen which I actually liked. I didn’t have any trouble with the size. I did however fear that I was going to walk into someone or get hit by a car while looking down at it. It felt like it took a bit longer to do simple things with it. More focus on the screen and less awareness of what was going on around me. Setting things up from scratch wasn’t too bad.There was a decent amount of apps to download and most of the basic one’s that I had used on my old iPhone 3GS were available like Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare etc. Notably Instagram or Camaera+ weren’t available. Actually there are no good Droid camera apps out there which kind of surprised me. Comparing the basic apps from my iPhone to the Bionic, I thought the bigger screen relestate made them better to use. The elements didn’t feel as cramped. Interacting with the apps took a bit of time to get used to, but it wasn’t a huge hurtle. As a power user I liked that I could work within the settings to customize things with one press as opposed to having to go outside the app to fix the settings. I’ve always felt that the iPhone could do more with the background screen. On this device I could use an active Google map to show me my location which I thought was cool. I was surprised that I didn’t use other Google products more because of the Droid integration. Battery life wasn’t great so I bout a spare battery. It was small enough to keep in my wallet which I didn’t mind.

So using this device wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but most of those experiences dealt with receiving info. Creating content to push out was very difficult and ultimately why I had to return the device. The camera was awful. Just because it has a lot of megapixels does not equal a good image. The images looked dreadful because the sensor had no sense of white balance or the ability to show a range of colors. It got so bad that I bought a eyefi sd card for my GF1. Basically I was going to use my real camera to take photos and connect them to the Bionic. The other huge issue was the keyboard. The visual design of it was ugly, but worse was the sensitivity of it. Every other word was getting misspelled. I tried to force my self to liking the Droid Bionic, but there would never be love for it. On day thirteen of using the device I had to stop. I couldn’t take it anymore that my photos sucked and it was impossible to type anything.

iPhone 4S
I’m pretty sure every feature of the new iPhone has been blogged a thousand times already but here’s my impression of a couple experiences. I like Siri for reminders, it works very nicely as a to do list. It feels weird to talk to it and my weim Madison doesn’t like me talking to Siri. For the most part it is easier for me to do task with my thumbs as opposed to making requests to Siri. How my behavior over time evolves as I get comfortable talking to Siri will be interesting to watch. I like notifications, I use it for email, tweets, ESPN alerts, Instagram among others. I could see myself designing an app based around the notification UI. I’m starting to use iCloud more than I thought I would. Photos are still being pushed to a couple sites but other things like email, calendar and alerts between my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air feels tighter now. With that said, when I have all three devices in front of me and something goes off like a reminder in my calendar, it goes off three times right in front of me. The Camera is great, I’m starting to shoot even more photographs. My photo strategy between Flickr, Instagram and Twitter is already starting to evolve (more on that in an upcoming post). I’ve noticed an amazing increase in sending and receiving information online by switching from ATT to Verizon. I noticed this with the Bionic too, but comparing 3G to 3G with different networks is a farer comparison. The connectivity difference is amazing and has made my life better. Battery life isn’t great. I’ve ordered an external batter charger. It hasn’t arrived yet so it’s hard to compare that experience with the extra battery I was using for the Droid Bionic.

It’s like using my iPhone 3GS but better, much better. I hadn’t even had the iPhone for a full day when someone asked me about it. Without even thinking I said to them that I loved it. There’s a lot to be said about things just working. That goes without saying for this device. If I wanted to be really nitpicky I could complain that this device isn’t that much newer than their iPhone 4, a device I could have bought a year ago. If the iPhone 5 does come out in the next couple of months I will be slightly disappointed that I’ll have to wait quite a while before I can upgrade again. I suppose that won’t be a huge deal after going through the experience of buying a newer device from a different platform only to return it and being ok with using an older Apple product before getting their newest device.

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  • http://roitsch.info roitsch

    Really interesting post. And looking forward to your post about your photo strategy.

  • Randy Troppmann

    I was ready to say you didn’t give your bionic enough of a chance before I read the post. I was “forced” to switch to an android phone for a year. At first I hated it. After a few months I got used to it. And, lo and behold, a few months later I began to like it. When I went back to the iphone last spring, I found the iphone to feel over simplistic and missed a lot of little things that the Android phone still does better. After reading this post though, I have to say I agree with all your points. Ice Cream Sandwich looks very promising (although I worry about battery life).

  • Anonymous

    interesting