About two weeks ago, I did what was, for me, the unthinkable. I parted ways with my iPhone 4 and switched to an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy Note II to be exact).
What makes it a shocker to me is the fact that the iPhone was the only smartphone (and cell phone for that matter) I ever owned. Unlike those who in the past used Blackberrys or Windows Mobile phones or even some other form of phone before the iPhone, I’ve been a “one phone person” my entire life, and my phone of choice has always been the iPhone.
And rightly so. Everyone knows me as a die hard Apple fan, using Macs since early 2006 (and waiting to switch to a Mac even before then). I switched to the Mac at a time before Macs became popular (and people thought I was crazy to switch to a Mac), so it obviously made sense to be an iPhone user as well. Apple and I have had a solid bond for years. One could even say I’ve had Apple juice coursing through my system.
Alas, the bond between Apple and I has severely begun to weaken, and the result of what occurred two weeks ago is proof of it.
Here’s why. Over the past couple of years, my pleasant experience with Apple has begun to sour. I’ve had more than my share of issues with both my Macs and my iPhone. I’ve spent countless trips to the Apple Store in Buford, Georgia, on hardware repairs, and now that I’m back in Arkansas, I’ve made a few trips to our Little Rock Apple Store for repairs as well.
When it’s not a hardware repair, it’s software issues. Both OS X and iOS have become buggier for me and seeming to become less stable. It’s not that I’m running apps or software that’d take the OS’s down either. I performed multiple OS clean installs over the past couple of years, this last time being painfully meticulous on what apps I would install on my devices and only install what is required for me to handle a day-to-day workflow, also relying as much on Apple’s built-in applications as possible.
Alas, things still didn’t work out. I still suffered from my share of software bugs and instability,
Coupled with the fact that upon seeing the iPhone 5 in person, I was disappointed. VERY disappointed. If I stayed with Verizon as my wireless carrier (which I still ended up switching to AT&T anyway, more of that to come later), I would still be unable to surf the web and talk on the phone at the same time, even over Verizon’s 4G LTE network (something every other Verizon 4G LTE phone has included, and it’s a feature I suffered through not having when I had my 3G Verizon iPhone). The iPhone 5’s tall and skinny screen and unbalanced feel in my hands just felt awkward and poorly designed. If I purchased an iPhone 5, I’d have to replace my charging gear with new Lightning-based charging gear. Coupled with other minor quirks and the feeling that the iPhone 5 felt too incremental upgrading from my iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 (as well as the iPhone itself) didn’t feel like the perfect fit for me anymore.
Therefore, I did it. I made the switch. I’m now, for the first time in my life, to the shock of both me and my family and friends, an Android phone owner.
During this four part series, I’m going to cover my experiences of my switch to Android, and I hope you’ll come along with me for the journey. In Part 1 of this series, I’m going to touch on the purchase experience of when I purchased an Android phone.
Purchasing an Android Phone
After settling on which Android device I wanted (the Samsung Galaxy Note II), I discovered that my local Sam’s Club (which I happen to be a business member of and have been bickering lately on if I’m really getting my money’s worth out of my Sam’s Club membership) had the Galaxy Note II on sale for $174 with a new AT&T activation (which would be exactly my setup in this case).
It shocks me that I’d venture to Sam’s of all places to purchase a phone. I usually try to support Apple or the wireless carrier stores by purchasing the phones directly from them, but when Sam’s has the exact same phone for $174 that AT&T retails for $300, it’s really a no brainer. I chose Sam’s.
Another benefit about purchasing my Note II from Sam’s: excellent warranty/insurance plan. On the iPhone, I always went straight for AppleCare. The small one time fee for two years of coverage was worth it for me, especially since my hardware issues tended to happen after the first year. I was contemplating subscribing to AT&T’s Mobile Protection Package for $10/month. However, the high deductibles (about $250 if it’s a non-manufacturer issue after the first year), coupled with the fact that I could wind up with a refurb, swayed me away from it. Sam’s instead offered me an insurance plan through SquareTrade. $99 upfront cost covers the phone for two years (similar to AppleCare), and if a non-manufacturer issue happens, the deductible is only $50, and I’m guaranteed a brand new phone out of the deal. Not bad. While the only drawback is that it does expire after two years (whereas AT&T’s insurance plan continues while you own the phone), after two years, I’ll probably be looking at upgrading to a new phone anyway, as well as SquareTrade offers a buyback program that’ll give me the credit toward purchasing a new phone. Not bad a well. AT&T’s Mobile Protection Pack also offers phone support (which SquareTrade does not), but since I have plenty of Android-knowledgeable friends and everything easily accessible from a search engine, I didn’t feel it was worth spending the extra money on just to be able to troubleshoot software issues over the phone.
All in all, the good news is no more Little Rock trips when I have a phone issue! I can file my replacement claims over the phone or web, and get a new phone probably the next business day. That alone makes my life much easier.
When purchasing my phone from Sam’s, however, things didn’t 100% go smoothly. The first phone that was unwrapped contained a scratched home button. Being the perfectionist that I am, I refused it and asked for another model. The second phone unwrapped looked flawless. That is an advantage of purchasing a phone inside a store: being able to look over the phone before walking away with it, ensuring you’re 100% satisfied with it before handing over your money. I also ran into an issue getting my number ported from Verizon to AT&T, which took longer than expected. Another lesson learned: since I was already working with AT&T on some other account issues before going into the store to purchase my Note II, I had a few phone numbers to my AT&T case managers who could have probably expedited the number port and reduced the hassles. Since I didn’t have the phone numbers of those case managers on me, I had to stick it through the hard way. Next time around, I’ll bring my contact list of people on hand I can call in if I run into another account issue.
Overall, however, the rest of my purchase experience with my Note II went smoothly, and after a little time waiting, I walked out of my local Sam’s Club the happy owner of a Samsung Galaxy Note II. It was a day in my personal life I never dreamed I’d see myself doing, but on that day, I officially made the switch to Android.
Over the next few entries in this series, I’ll focus on my review of the Samsung Galaxy Note II from a hardware standpoint, as well as take a solid look at the Android OS itself, finalizing on why I switched back over to AT&T as my wireless carrier, and my experiences with being back on AT&T.