So, a couple of weeks ago I had an accident* and my iPhone broke for good. I needed a replacement, which gave me a good opportunity to assess the options.
It came down to the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus. I opted for the latter, for reasons I will explain. However, if someone were to ask me which is the best phone, I’d still say it’s the iPhone, hands down. But for my particular circumstances, the Nexus suited me.
So, why choose the Galaxy Nexus (GN from now on)? First of all, it’s the latest flagship phone from Google, designed to show off the Android platform at its best. It’s made by Samsung but to Google’s specification, and also features the latest version of Android, called Ice Cream Sandwich, unadulterated by any other crud that carriers or manufacturers like to install on Android phones.
I’m a heavy Google user, we use it for Kind of Digital’s email and calendaring, etc, and the integration with Android is excellent. The Gmail app on the GN is far better than the iPhone’s default mail app (certainly if you are a Gmail user, anyway). As email is by far and away the most used app on my phone, this is pretty important!
One of the other considerations was cost. I generally prefer to pay for my phones up front rather than get a subsidised phone via contract. By getting an unlocked, sim-free phone, I can shop around and get a better deal for me. I usually manage to make this pay for itself within a year. I managed to get the GN for a smidgeon under £400 – which is considerably less than an new unlocked iPhone 4S would cost.
In terms of apps, the Android platform is still way behind the Apple ecosystem. The market place, now called ‘Google Play’ – perhaps because of the emergence of other market places for Android – is still full of junk, and it’s too hard to find the good stuff. Also quite a few cool apps just aren’t available for Android yet, which is a real shame.
However, for my needs, the main ones are all there. There’s a NatWest app for banking, a rail enquiries app, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Twitter, Remember the Milk for to do lists, and so on. Pretty much everything I really need is in there.
Some thoughts on having used the phone for a few days:
- It’s *just* too big. My hand aches if I use it one handed for any length of time
- It’s thin – but almost too thin. I do worry I might break it
- It’s light – the iPhone 4 and 4S have real heft. Despite its size, you often forget the GN is in your pocket
- It’s the best keyboard I’ve ever used on an Android device, by which I mean it’s actually possible to use it without going insane
- It has a really useful widget on the home screen that lets me switch things like wifi, GPS and 3g on and off as I need them without having to mess around in the settings – dead handy
- I need to figure out how to get my iTunes library onto it so I can stop carrying my iPod around too
Overall, I’d say that the iPhone is the best handset you can get right now. As much as I like my GN, it’s not as nice to use as an iPhone and it lacks the app ecosystem. However, for my personal circumstances – particularly my reliance on Google’s platform – the GN works pretty well and I’m happy enough with it.
Dan wrote up his views on his Galaxy Nexus on his blog.
* I threw it really hard at the floor after having failed to send a text for the 16th time. I can therefore categorically state that I am worse off financially due to being digitally excluded.