A is for Apple

By Hiranand Sunny
January 08, 2013

SINGAPORE, Jan 8 — When I was briefed to document my switch from an Android phone to Apple’s iPhone 5, I was confident that Android would win hands down.

After all, I have been using Samsung’s Galaxy Note for over a year now without complaints and the latest Android smartphones I have reviewed such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 and the Asus Padfone 2 have left me very impressed. I even publicly professed my love for Google’s creation last January in a post on Today’s Tech Talk blog. There was no way I would become an iPhone convert.

I was wrong.

The iPhone 5, with its impressive Retina display. — Picture courtesy of AppleThe iPhone 5, with its impressive Retina display. — Picture courtesy of AppleThe first thing that struck me was the design on the iPhone 5. Being a big fan of supersized Android phones, I was convinced the iPhone’s narrow and long design would be inadequate but that all changed once I laid hands on it.

Unlike giant handsets which required two-handed use, I could work the iPhone 5 comfortably, quickly, and constantly with one hand. And, perhaps due to the Retina display, pictures taken with the iPhone 5’s 8-megapixel camera looked better than those taken on some Android phones which come with 13-megapixel cameras.

I was also impressed with the simple and clean user interface. Navigating through social media feeds, emails and the apps on the phone was so smooth and seamless and the iOS’ swipe to delete function is a stroke of genius.

But it is with apps that Apple pulls ahead. Apple has strict rules App developers have to adhere to and, as a result, most of them (at least those that I had downloaded) work brilliantly on the iPhone 5.

It is a different story for Android. While the operating system has become faster and more intuitive with every update, the apps on Google’s Play Store have not been able to keep up. Popular apps such as Facebook and Instagram are frustratingly slower and essentially less fun to use. Android users are also deprived of good quality, hardcore mobile games such as Street Fighter X Tekken and Infinity Blade II on the Google Play Store.

iTunes has also handed Apple a huge advantage in the war for smartphone dominance. It provides users with an easy-to-operate, easy-on-the-eye and fast one-stop portal to download and manage music, movies and apps. Google has the Play Store for apps but its use is restricted to just downloading and installing apps.

Samsung users can make use of the Kies software to convert and transfer media files to their devices but it is slow, clumsy and could not detect my phone on most occasions. You can easily transfer data to Android phones the same way you would transfer data to a flash drive but the lack of a one-stop portal to backup data, manage apps, transfer media files and execute updates on Android phones is extremely frustrating.

However, there are some areas where Android shows its definite superiority: It is infinitely customisable and it allows users to have a working desktop filled with interactive widgets that show everything from the weather to your latest social media updates and even what apps are draining your battery or consuming data.

Being a part of Google also makes Android phones sync better with Google Calendars, Contacts and Mail, which is important since most of us use such services for both work and play. Having said that, while it is not difficult to transfer contacts and sync your Gmail account and Google Calendars on the iPhone, it would have benefited from Apple’s famed simplicity.

I have been an Android phone user and reviewer for more than a year now and it pains me to say this, but Apple’s iPhone 5 is the best smartphone on the market now. The latest phones such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 may boast much more impressive specifications and I do love their gigantic screens and endless customisation options, but the iPhone 5 has proved that smartphones can be phenomenal without having phenomenal specs. And that, I’m afraid, is the hard truth. — Today