Last November, I switched from an iPhone 4 to the Galaxy Note 2. I hate to say it, but the iPhone just doesn’t keep up with my needs anymore. It’s disappointing, but after years of waiting for Apple to bring new innovations to iOS, Google and its partners are slowly edging past Apple to meet consumer needs – and I’m moving with them.
Remember the excitement around the iPhone 3G? Stunning isn’t a word I used to describe any phone at that time, but the iPhone 3G was one of the most gorgeous phones I’d ever seen. The iPhone’s app store only added fuel to the fire. This wasn’t the first phone to support apps, but Apple modernized apps and made them look cool. With a market full of gorgeous and innovative apps designed specifically for your device, it felt like the future of mobile had finally arrived.
These things created a special atmosphere in the tech community. It felt as refreshing as rain, full of promise and so much potential.
Limitations from the 90s
Despite being one of the most innovative products of its time, the iPhone was – and still is – no stranger to peculiar limitations. You can’t download files directly to the device (still) without an appropriate app or jailbreaking it. You can’t send or receive media files via bluetooth and the only way to regain over 1GB of precious space occupied by the cache of installed apps is to delete each app manually – then reinstall them.
If you think about what old phones like the Motorola Razr were capable of doing (send ringtones via bluetooth), the features noted above aren’t really that advanced. These are old standards that the iPhone should’ve innovated on. Apple disregarded how important these features are to helping mobile devices meet the needs of smartphone owners. They’re features that need to evolve with mobile devices.
Same Old Features
Features that were shunned by Apple have been embraced and innovated on by their competitors. These innovations are quickly becoming standards in mobile devices that the iPhone is still missing.
The first Android phone to support 4G debuted in June 2010 (HTC Evo 4G). The first iPhone to support 4G didn’t appear until October 2012 (iPhone 5). iOS 6 doesn’t compare to the performance and power of Android 4.1 or 4.2 (Jelly Bean). Near-field communication (NFC) is still missing from the iPhone, while Android and Windows Phone manufacturers continue finding new ways to use this amazing technology.
I will give the iPhone the title of best camera, but only because I haven’t played with the Nokia Lumia 920 which sports a camera that has blown away many tech bloggers.
Innovation in Mobile
Google and Samsung understand the need to continue innovating in the mobile arena. Microsoft and Nokia also get this. It shows in the little things they implement in their mobile phones, like NFC, and the way they expect people to use it.
You can think of NFC as an evolution of bluetooth. Samsung uses NFC in its S-Beam feature in a way that makes NFC look cool. With S-Beam, you place two Samsung devices back to back to transfer a media file. You can use NFC to transfer webpages from Windows Phone to Android. Nokia’s use of NFC and bluetooth to charge the phone’s battery and stream music to a JBL PowerUp speaker is more innovative than any wireless feature the iPhone has ever offered.
Nokia’s use of NFC is most impressive because it makes this type of technology relevant to how people use their phones. This is what innovation in mobile should look like.
Making The Switch
Switching to Android was an easy decision after a few days with a Galaxy Note 2 provided by Samsung. I’ve already reviewed it, but I’ll “note” again that it’s one of the best phones I’ve owned and Android 4.1 is everything I wish iOS was.
The iPhone and iOS used to be leaders in the mobile industry, but they’re not exciting anymore. The user experience is restrictive rather than liberating. iOS apps remain some of the best in the industry, but I’m more interested in seeing those apps branch out of the Apple tree.
In retrospect, this isn’t about the what phone or platform is better. It’s about how mobile devices will meet consumer needs instead of creating unnecessary wants that are influenced by the functionality embed in each device. I’m enjoying what Google and Microsoft bring to the table, but they (Apple included) still have a lot to learn.
Disclosure: The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 mentioned in this article was graciously provided by the good folks at Samsung Mobile US. I paid several pretty pennies for my iPhone.