My switch to Android, one year later

posted by Jeff | Monday, October 24, 2016, 10:40 PM | comments: 0

I was looking at my phone today, a Nexus 5X, and realized that I've had it for a year now. It seems like I bought it more recently than that. Of course, I had my previous phone, a Lumia 920, for three years, so I suppose it is relatively "new." At the time I bought the Nexus, I was thinking it would mostly be a little experiment while I waited for a new awesome Windows Phone. But after just a few days, I realized that it was more than good enough. Either that, or I now consider phones the way I have most cars, most of my life, that good enough is good enough.

Some of my criticisms from my v7 review are still valid, even with the newer release, but none are that big of a deal in the bigger picture. Actually, now that the camera app starts almost instantly, my only real complaint is that it won't read my texts to me in the car and let me reply via voice. Maybe there is something that does that, and I just don't know about it.

My concern now is that Google has brought to us the Pixel, while ditching the Nexus brand. By every account, the Pixel is an amazing, premium phone, and it's priced like an iPhone. That's a bummer, because the Nexus I bought last year is an extraordinary value at $400. Simply put, even the newer iPhone (and the Pixel) is not $250 better. My phone may be plastic on the back, but the camera is objectively about as good and the screen I would argue is actually better, or higher resolution at least. With the days of contracts and subsidized phones gone, and the real price up front and obvious, the price matters now. I think $650 is too much for a phone.

For now, it doesn't matter, because I'm fairly content with my phone, but a year from now, or if I have an accident with it, I'll certainly be looking. I'm fairly content with Android, but only if it's updated in real time and not by the whim of carriers or manufacturers. That means it's Google or nothing. I'm hopeful that the prices come down in the next year.

Getting back to the OS itself, for a moment, I'm actually thrilled to see apps adhering to Google's Material Design standard. It's a pretty good standard from the company that brought us the ugly mess that is Gmail. Seeing more apps adopt the look is a win, and it has even bled on to the web in some cases. That's all good. I can't say that I've been as thrilled with the iOS evolution (as seen via our iPads), especially the design language that makes buttons all look like text. I really despise that. Facebook continues to defy that, fortunately, with buttons and links in bold. Plus iOS still doesn't have the equivalent of live tiles or widgets that sit inline with the launcher. What year is this?

I'm surprised that I'm satisfied, but I imagine that's largely because all of my previous Android experience was with earlier, crappier versions of the OS, covered with extra crap from carriers and manufacturers. At its core, it's a pretty solid OS. I still think Windows is better, but it doesn't matter since the half-dozen apps I've grown to use don't exist there. And that's saying something, because I still contend that the browser is the most important app.


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