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One Week, One iPhone 5

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Last week, I, along with 5 million others, got an iPhone 5. I preordered it as soon as I could, and the UPS man showed up at 9:30 in the morning on the Friday. I had to go to the Telus store to get a new SIM card since my HTC Desire HD used the regular sized SIM and the iPhone 5 uses the nano SIM, 2 sizes smaller. Par for the course on Apple launch days, Telus’ system was down for most of the day, so I couldn’t activate my SIM, and hence use the phone, until about 5pm. No worries, had work to do anyway.

So is it good?

I’m coming at this not as somebody who’s been using an iPhone 4 or 4S for the past while. I was on a 3GS until Thanksgiving1 last year, at which time Telus had a sweet deal on the HTC Desire HD. At the time it was still a good phone, but it might have been on the way out, because they must have been having a blowout sale or something. Anyway, we got this phone and a good rate plan. It was a nice upgrade from the 3GS, and I wanted to try the Android setup for something different.

Well, after a year, I got fed up with this Android and HTC crap, so I got me an iPhone.

Choices, Choices

In retrospect, the HTC Desire HD isn’t really a good example of a quality Android device. Most of friends here that use Android agree that, despite all the hardware choices in the Android ecosystem, the only real choice is to buy the Google device, and just run vanilla Android. So we’re back to no choice.

Speaking of vanilla Android, I had to flash mine to Cyanogenmod7 because an update to the Telus/HTC ROM started to crash regularly, when receiving phone calls. You know, that thing phones are supposed to do.

But it was good for a while though, probably just because it was new.

Music

I used my previous 3GS for music all the time. I tried putting music on the Desire HD, but I found no application to do syncing that worked with any reliability. Even once I got music on it, you’re dealing with a standard filesystem, so you put it here, but this music player expects it here, and this one expects it there. I couldn’t find a decent music player either; they were all just terrible. At this point I was already heavily invested in iTunes, and in the end I just never used the phone for music.

The iPhone 5 of course plays nice with iTunes, and I use iTunes Match so all my music is basically just on the phone. Apple kind of broke iTunes Match in iOS6 since you can’t delete music, it just gets managed for you. Ignoring that annoyance, I use my phone for music again. The new EarPods are also nice. They are 1 of 2 earbuds (the other being the Bose ones) that actually fit in and stay in my ear. They aren’t as good as the Bose ones, but they are better than anything else. You might have different mileage with your ears.

Photo & Video

I tried a number of gallery programs on the Android, but I also had to get a little program to “reindex” the photos, because they would just disappear out of the gallery.

WTF.

This was happening on the HTC ROM and seemed to go away once I had flashed CM7.

The camera itself was decent: 8MP stills, 720p video. It took good pictures, though it felt slow. Video was really good.

The iPhone 5 takes great pictures too, and it’s deadly fast to do so. Video is great too. I’m happy with it, and that’s what matters.

The Screen

The screen size was a step down from the Desire HD, which has a 4.3" screen, but the iPhone 5 screen is 16:9, where the Desire HD screen is…something else. It’s wider and a tad shorter. After using the Desire HD for a while, I started to find the size too big (again, coming from a 3GS).

I’m quite happy with the 4" screen on the iPhone 5. It looks good, and after using various apps that make use of the full height, it seems about right.

The Size

Damn it’s thin and light.

The Speed

Damn it’s fast.

What do I miss from Android?

The whole master account section is nice. For example, I could sign into my Google account and then Gmail, Calendar, Contacts works (which is about the same on the iPhone), but then the Google Reader application also just works. Other applications that use the Google services could just work as well.

iOS has some of this now with Twitter and Facebook integration, where applications can use those accounts without having to sign in again (Instagram and the official Twitter application for example).

The sharing stuff is nice too. Applications on Android can register something somewhere that they support sharing things like photos. Some support sharing multiple things (Google+) and some only a single item (Twitter). You can open the sharing dialog for something, and it will let you share it with any of the registered apps. This is nice for apps like Dropbox, where you can just share something into a Dropbox folder with the application not needing to know anything about Dropbox. On iOS, the app would need Dropbox sharing built in.

Dropbox is getting big enough that we might see it integrated into iOS one day, but Apple would probably have more interest in pushing Photostream and other services they control.

The global Search button was nice. Since the Desire HD had a hardware search button, I could hit that in pretty much any application and I’d get a search dialog. In iOS apps, you may have to hunt for it.

What am I glad I don’t have to deal with anymore?

The hardware Back button was useless. It rarely actually went back to somewhere I wanted it.

The general UI for the phone was fairly annoying and terrible. It doesn’t help that I was originally on the HTC Sense setup, then the ADW launcher setup (I think…). I tried another one for a bit, but it was just as bad. So many different UIs, and all were mediocre at best.

Problems

The wifi connection strength sucks, and is slow. Apple apparently knows about it, and it’s apparently a software thing, so we should see a fix soon. Okay cool, whatever. Good thing the LTE is bloody fast.

I occasionally see a little “broken LCD” technicolor line through the keyboard when inputting my password for the iTunes or App stores. Other people seem to have this problem, and it only occurs when inputting my password in those two dialogs, so I’m not concerned that it’s a hardware problem. The screen looks great the rest of the time.

Conclusion

I’ll stop rambling. This turned out to be more of a “my old Android vs my new iPhone” instead of a “one week later” post, but whatever.

Overall, it’s a big step up for me. I was already invested in the Apple ecosystem when I decided to try Android, and it just made more sense to go back. If you’re thinking about going back to Apple from your Android (or other) device, don’t hesitate. If you’re upgrading from a 4S…I don’t know. I never owned one.

In any regard, it’s not perfect, but it’s a fantastic phone.


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