Since my first smartphone, I have been an iPhone devotee because of their superior build quality and the simplicity of iOS. This all changed a few weeks ago when I ordered my first Android, a Nexus 6.
So what compelled me to make the switch? It wasn’t an instant decision, but rather a drawn-out realization of what I really want and need in a smartphone. Before you buy a smartphone, make sure you know what you are getting into—or you’ll be making a $500+ mistake.
Battery Life and Speakers for a Music Enthusiast
As a proud music lover, I easily listen 7-8 hours every day. I needed a phone with a battery that can last a day at least. My iPhone 6 usually had 30% of battery left after a full day of music streaming and some light web browsing. While this charge level wasn’t bad (it’s definitely better than 0%), I wanted a device with enough battery for the day and some to spare.
The Nexus 6 has a more robust battery than the iPhone, and its quad HD pixel screen makes battery life comparable. But—bonus!—the Nexus 6 turbo charger can charge the phone to 50% in just 30 minutes.
The Nexus 6 is also built to play music better. Its speakers are on the front of the device, not hidden on the bottom or back like most other phones.
iOS and Android UI from a Power User’s Perspective
I don’t just passively listen to music on my phone—I am a power user. I knew all the tips and tricks to maximize the potential of my iPhone 6: actions that conserve battery life, speed processing, force-close troublesome apps, customize notifications and more. And on top of these tips and tricks, I always connected strongly with the high value Apple places on the aesthetics of its operating system and user interface.
Then there’s Android, with its intense focus on functionality and customization. Custom fonts, widgets, themes, skins—there are so many ways for Android users to make their device their own. Manufacturers themselves (like Samsung and HTC) also lay their own skins on top of Android. Unfortunately, all this customizability sometimes makes the Android UI seem disjointed or thrown together, and it can make the system congested and even sluggish. As a graphic designer and a power user, these characteristics always made Android seem undesirable to me.
Pure Android with the Nexus 6
“If you like iOS so much and think Android is unattractive or clunky, why is your post about switching to Android?
—You, probably, reading this post right now
I *did* think that Android left some things to be desired—until the release of Android Lollipop and the Nexus 6. From an aesthetic view, Lollipop is a Godsend for Androids everywhere. Not only does it boast some amazing features, it just looks great!
Before Lollipop, Android had no design specifications. But with Lollipop Google implemented its concept of Material Design, “a visual language for [Google] users that synthesizes the classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.” The result is an operating system that is easy and pleasant to use. I find it easier to download files from the web, play YouTube in the background and integrate seamlessly with Google apps, just to give a few examples.
Hardware-wise, the Nexus 6 also addresses some concerns for me. This Android phone is straight from Google by Motorola, and runs pure Android without any skins or unnecessary bloatware. It may not have fancy features like the curved screen or fingerprint scanner of the Samsung S6 Edge, but its OS performance is uncongested.
Perfection: In the Eye of the Beholder
Don’t get me wrong, a few things are less than perfect with the Nexus 6. Some owners may not prefer its gigantic size. Upgrading from my iPhone 5 to an iPhone 6, and now to the Nexus 6, it seems like a “monster” of a phone. But I kind of like it.
I will also miss the TouchID fingerprint scanner on my iPhone 6, a feature you can find on Samsung devices these days as well. The Nexus 6 has no physical button, let alone a scanner. It really is shame because TouchID is a quick, easy and user-friendly way to bypass the lock screen while still keeping your phone secure.
The iPhone 6 and Nexus 6 are both solid devices with beautiful (yet different) OS interfaces. I’m sure lots of users share my preferences—and still more would probably disagree with me passionately. The point is that in 2015, almost all of us are smartphone users—like, serious smartphone users—and that we all have strong preferences and notions about the way we want our device to function and perform.
It’s the job of the companies that the make hardware, operating systems and smartphone apps (hello, Phunware!) to keep their finger on the pulse of user preference and create the kind of user experience that would make a person like me switch from one device to another.
What devices and operating systems you prefer and why? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.