Motorola Atrix, HTC Flyer, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7, Asus Transformer TF300T, B&N Nook HD+, it’s safe to say I’ve had a few Android devices over the last few years and until recently I didn’t regret moving over from IOS when the contract on my iPhone 3GS expired. I’m not fussed by these “closed system” arguments that a lot of ‘droid supporters put forth; to me it’s always been about getting a device to do what I want it to with the minimum amount of fuss and at the time the way to do that was to switch to Android. It was easier to stream stuff off my NAS boxes, to play around with things I’d downloaded and generally do most of the things I wanted to.
There are still plenty of things I like about Android. I use my Google account extensively so having all the services properly integrated into my phone, including automatic online photo back up is great but I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with what Android is giving me in terms of an end user experience.
Take my Nexus 5 as an example. The first time I updated to Lollipop, it didn’t work properly- some of the functions that should have been there weren’t and the battery began to drain so quickly you could actually see the percentage drop as you held an “idle” phone that was hot to the touch- so I did a factory reset and reloaded all my data. The Nexus 5 now seldom gets hot to the touch when it shouldn’t but the battery life is still appreciably worse than it was pre update (it’s 59% now, after a bit of FB and Twitter use only four hours after I unplugged it), Gmail keeps on crashing and third party apps are generally not as stable as they were under KitKat.
Bear in mind that’s on a Google phone with the official Google updates installed; things get a little more interesting when you hit third party devices with the inevitable custom ROMs (since official support 12 months after release for the majority of devices is next to non existent). My Nexus 7 and the Nook HD+ both have Cyanogenmod on them, the Transformer has KatKiss, the latter being a light ROM that I thought would be useful given how slow the Transformer seems with Cyanogenmod. All three more or less work, more or less most of the time but they are as flaky as you’d expect something running an unofficial ROM to be. All three have plenty of “moments” where the devices locks for a few seconds as it thinks about something. It’s frustrating because in all three instances (ignoring the woeful resolution on the Transformer) the hardware is perfectly fine for what I want to do- some web browsing, checking and writing emails, reading books, magazines and comics, and watching some movies- but it’s the software side that’s creaking.
Why should I have to replace the hardware to fix a software problem?
Of course I’m aware of all the issues with IOS, so I’m not exactly overwhelmed with enthusiasm at the idea of returning to it. I’ve spent some time with a Nokia Lumia 1020 and while there is much to like about Windows Phone, it is lacking in a lot of the key apps that I use on a daily basis (SONOS, British Gas’s MyHome, Virgin TV Anywhere for starters), so at the moment it’s not really an avenue I can consider for my primary device.
I suppose I’ll have to struggle on with a worsening Android experience in the hope that it eventually gets better. Depressing eh?