Two Worlds. iPhone 5S and the Google Nexus 5

March 22nd, 2014

Many would call me a die-hard Apple fan. And those who’ve experienced the iPhone themselves would also find it difficult to deny. But then, work has brought me to a point, where it became necessary for me to walk into the Android world. And I’ll say it wasn’t easy to walk into.

I talked to a few friends who were already using Androids, and that was the start of a great confusion. I had just got hold of the iPhone 5S which was phenomenal when it came to speed, but as soon as everyone started talking about “specs”, life got very complicated.

When you step into an Apple retail outlet, things are pretty much sorted. There is a new iPhone, and there is an older iPhone. In India, we also get what is “the cheaper iPhone” which is usually the model that will be phased out from software upgrades within the next year. This time around, things were slightly different though, because there was this iPhone 5C also on the shelf, which you might have already read my rants about in previous posts. I haven’t been particularly impressed with Tim’s strategies, but I will not linger on with them out here.

If you want to talk about specs, then the iPhone 5C is pretty much the same as the iPhone 5, only made of cheaper materials, which entirely defeats it straight on, if you’re looking for a device that feels good in the hand. Apple has a history of leaving its customers in the lurch after a period of time, so even though the specs of the iPhone 5C might be similar to the iPhone 5, it is probable that the iPhone 5 users find themselves being dropped out of support sooner than users of the iPhone 5C.

That said, there is little choice in the Apple Store, where basically you go in and pick one product that fits your pocket, and you choose depending on your usage, if you would like to buy the 16GB, 32GB or 64GB model. And of course the colour.

But when it comes to Android, the confusion starts with first the brands. There is Samsung, LG, Motorola, Google itself made by LG (aka, the Nexus), HTC, Sony and many other bigger brands. And at the same time, there is an entire range of phones by Karbonn, Micromax, Lava and so on – an entire range of cheaper handsets which can serve as good entry points, but may lack required support.

There was no one place, where I could visit and learn about getting onto the Android Platform and the confusion kept piling on. Then, I remembered a Mashable article about Eric Schmidt releasing a getting onto Android platform that thought, it might be worth a read. But then, when I googled Eric Schmidt’s article, owing to SEO strategies used by many a blog writer, I could not reach the article easily, as opposed to reading the views of bloggers on that article. Now I could “rant” about SEO, but then that’s what happened.

Choosing my Android. Since I could not find one place where I could check the specifications of available Android phones, neither on the web, nor in the physical space, I decided to seek advice from friends about which would be the best phone to buy from the Android shelves.

What I got was in complete contrast with what the stores were telling me. And this was because, when I stepped into the stores, I would ask them what would be a good Android to start with, and the salesman would simply first enquire about my budget. This was the first big difference between choosing an Android and choosing an iPhone. As far as the specs were concerned, the sales people were able to tell me that the Samsung Galaxy Grand had features could give an iPhone a run for its money. I was amazed.

But, when I spoke to people, who I knew were using Android since a while, they plainly came back at me, saying that if you are going to be using the phone to test Android, you will need something that is not an entry level phone. And that I should not trust blindly the Android platform, because the cheaper phones will run short on memory or processor cycles, or simple hardware-software integration.

Shucks!

MemorySo, the decision was then to go in for a high-end phone. And when that happened, I was elated to think about the metallic HTC One, which I had been reviewing a few months ago. But, the moment I mentioned HTC One, I got feedback, “Oh no. You can’t even add memory to that phone!” So chapter two, memory!

Now this is one point I hate getting stuck with. I simply love the integrated memory of the iPhone, and I consider it no reason not to buy the HTC One because it has integrated memory. But I tried searching for the HTC One in the market, and when it was time to buy, there were no HTC Phones seemingly available at any store.

Samsung. The next one, was the Samsung stable, where the phones would be made of plastic. I stepped in to the experience store nearby, and after an exchange of greetings with the salespeople there, the confusion was again up. The Samsung S4 or the Note III. The Note III was big, but definitely more futuristic. I was quite jubilant about the decision, when the demo started. And just when they popped out the stylus from behind the “phablet”, it was the end of demo for me. Just who can use a phone with a stylus these days. I remember the number I used to lose, when I used the Windows Mobile based handsets many years ago. And stylus for me was a big NO.

Google Nexus. What had not been on my list till now, was the Google Nexus 5. Which was apparently a new phone, and seemingly not available easily. I scanned through a few reviews online, and got to know that LG was marketing it in India, but the phones were basically in short supply. Nevertheless, the next morning, I made a call to my preferred dealer, and he had it in stock. The 32GB model in white color. Only.

There was not much to argue about it. Because this was one phone, none of the people I knew who used Android were complaining about. The “specs” as android users say were good, and it was running Kitkat, which for me was a big PLUS, since I would be needing to review the environment with a futuristic perspective.

And that was my entry into the Android world.

The Review. It has now been two months since I got hold of the Google Nexus 5. And I must say, it has not stopped impressing me. The finish of the phone is really swell, and the “scratch-resistant” back is pretty much living up to the claims.

Yet, if you are here to see how it compares with the iPhone 5S, i wouldn’t say there is a match. The iPhone is still far ahead, even though the “salesman specs” of memory, screen size and platform support are better with the Nexus. I am neglecting the fact that the price points where these two devices are pitched are almost twice, considering a 32GB iPhone 5S against a 32GB Google Nexus 5.

But as far as an Android experience goes, the Nexus 5 is great. And I mean when say that. Over the past two months, I have “overloaded” the phone with applications. This is really where I will tell my friends who love to pop in their own memory cards into the phone, that integrated memory is “the thing” when you’re using a lot of applications. And with as many as a thousand applications on board, there are no signs of the phone slowing down. At times, I do encounter the camera crashing, and yes there is very little support available from LG about why that happens, but a restart fixes it so far. I am still to hear from LG if it is a manufacturing defect in my phone.

Because the phone does not have a removable back (like the iPhone) and neither a removable battery, I have a feeling it will keep its composure for a long time. Although, because the phone is made of plastic, the feel is pretty tacky if you are comparing with the metal and glass feel of an iPhone 5 / 5S. I wouldn’t even bother comparing it with the iPhone 4 / 4S, because the all-round glass texture of that phone, is still my favourite.

Where the Nexus bites the dust, is battery life. This, I had been expecting considering it has a larger screen than the iPhone and the operating system is more resource intensive. The iPhone battery lasts me an entire day with regular use, while on the Nexus 5, it just doesn’t even when I use it quite sparingly. If you need a phone which has a better battery on the Android platform, the Note III should be your choice. But if you’re looking for something that will fit in your pocket after you’ve emptied it to buy the phone of your choice, and want to also attempt using it single-handed (although the Nexus 5 is a little big for that), then the Nexus 5 is yours to buy.

If there is anyone who is interested to work towards easing the decision making process for prospective Android buyers, please feel welcome to get in touch with me. Although, I am riding on the best from both the worlds today, I still feel that Android has a lot of catching up to do, especially with regard to wooing iPhone customers into their stable.

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