I did it. After five years of nonstop iPhone, waking up with the iPhone, sleeping beside the iPhone, keeping the iPhone with me at all times… all the time, I finally switched to an Android phone. I’ve had the Nexus 5 for an entire month. Would I recommend other iPhone users make the switch? The answer is no. Kind of.
First I’ll tell you the good things about the Nexus 5. The iPhone I wanted was a 32GB Space Gray iPhone 5s. The 32GB Black Nexus 5 I ended up buying was very close to being half the price. It was $445 total, with shipping and tax. The iPhone is $748, not including shipping and tax.
The Nexus 5 itself is nice. Many people have reviewed this phone at this point, and everything they’ve said about the build quality is accurate. The screen is great, the buttons feel pretty good, the back is grippy and sleek. And yes, the speaker is lousy, the battery sucks and the camera is an embarrassment, but alas, this has all been covered.
What else do I like about this phone? Hmm. I really, really like how fast Google Maps is. It’s awesome. Map apps need to be fast, and I find this aspect really satisfying on the Nexus 5. I also really like searching stuff by saying “Ok Google” when the phone is activated. The “always listening” feature of the Moto X would be even cooler, but this will do. I use this feature a lot, and I like it.
I could probably come up with some more nice things to say, but for whatever reason, they’re not coming to me now. The highest compliment I can give this phone is the fact that I’ve decided to keep it. Not only did I switch to Android, I switched from AT&T to T-Mobile. I’m very, very pleased with T-Mobile. My bill is a lot cheaper, the 4G LTE is fast, and I don’t have a contract. Bravo, T-Mob! It will be incredibly sad if Sprint buys you.
Okay, now the bad stuff. I know I’ve already mentioned that the camera was bad, but it needs to be said again. I’ve upgraded to the new version of Kit Kat 4.4.2, which is supposed to fix the camera, and I have to say, it’s a pretty big let down. I know others have reported that the update really helped the camera, but I don’t think those people have 16 month-old toddlers in their homes. Trying to take a picture of my kid with the Nexus 5 is far more difficult than using my wife’s iPhone 5.
The OS itself, Kit Kat, is okay. It’s pretty stripped down and minimal in a lot of ways. It doesn’t look ugly, it looks nice. But there really isn’t much to dig your teeth into. As a first time Android user, I have to say that the OS, on the whole, is unremarkable.
Some of the apps that come preinstalled in Kit Kat are complete garbage. I made a terrible mistake by trying to do some writing with Google’s Quickoffice app. I initially tried to write this blog post with it, but the dumb thing didn’t save. It sure seemed like it was saving , but when I returned to the work later in the day, it had vanished. Gone forever. This is a catastrophic fail on Google’s part.
Since Quickoffice was a bust, I turned to Google Keep, which appears to be Google’s version of a note taking app. Writing in Keep is kind of a pain, but the app was at least saving what I was writing. However, this morning I opened Keep during my commute to write something, and I hit a bug. There was no way to make a new note. I played with the app for a few minutes, trying to trick it into letting me make a note, to no avail. I took a screenshot of Keep in its “no new notes for you” state, partially because I was left with nothing else to do.
One of the most shocking things about switching to Android is that there’s no “Visual Voicemail” feature that’s been baked into the iPhone from the very beginning. If I had known this before I switched, I would have seriously had to give it a hard second thought. I hate voicemails. They’re awful, terrible, horrible things. Visual Voicemail made a lot of the awfulness of voicemail go away. I seriously cannot believe that it isn’t in this phone. Apparently, if you’re on AT&T, you can get an app from the Play Store that mimics Visual Voicemail, but if you’re on another carrier, you’re hosed.
Another thing that’s weird about this phone is that it’s not very clear how you’re supposed to get things into and out of it. For example: music. I plugged the Nexus 5 into my MacBook Pro, and nothing happened. I did some Google searches to try to figure out how to load music into the phone, and I didn’t find the info I needed. I did learn about Google’s Play Music feature, where you can upload your entire iTunes library to their “butt,” and stream your music for free. But I take a thing to work called the subway. It’s underground. There’s no butt down there. I need music in my phone. This is lame.
Tonight, after shooting a six minute video of my daughter, it hit me. How am I going to back up the content on this phone? I’m sure there’s a way to do it, just as there is likely a way to load my digital music files onto the phone. But the problem is that I don’t know how to do it. It’s not intuitive. It’s work.
I thought I would miss the physical Home button on the iPhone, but I don’t. I’m perfectly happy with the onscreen Home button in Android. I also use the multitasking button a lot, and I like it very much. The Back button, however, just seems like a bad idea. In multi-touch mobile devices, it just feels a lot more natural to swipe to the left to go back. Swiping to the left in Android often does nothing. This makes every app a lot less intuitive.
The overall quality of the apps in Android lags pretty far behind iOS. For example, when I transfer funds with my banking app, the totals of the accounts don’t update. Many of the same apps I used on the iPhone are available on Android, and many of them are not as well made as their iOS counterparts. That said, I’m pleased to report that using the Play Store is pretty nice. It’s easy to find apps, download them, and start using them.
The Nexus 5 is the complete opposite of an iPhone. With an iPhone, there is one company making the hardware and the software, and the number one concern is user experience. With a Nexus 5, there are two very different companies designing and making the hardware, Google and LG. The software is made by Google, and the it’s supposed to be the star of the show here, but honestly, I don’t see it.
With an iPhone, it feels like every detail was argued about, over and over again, until it was decided that it was the best it could be. With a Nexus 5, it feels like something that was shoved out the door in an unfinished state. Its apps feel like a mishmash of half-baked projects, and the productivity apps only succeed at burning me.
Despite all of this, I am going to keep the Nexus 5 for the time being. It feels good to have made a dramatic change, and I really love how fast Google Maps zips along. Besides, I think I’m getting a Chromecast for Christmas.