Quiet Mumblings

Sunday, October 07, 2012

My great phone dilemma

My first ever smartphone was a T-Mobile G1 - an Android device with a fold out keyboard. I adored that phone, despite its slightly tacky feel and the suspicion that the keyboard might fall off at any moment. Android was great - it felt raw and powerful, and I could do whatever I wanted with it. By comparison the first generation iPhones were great - well built, looked beautiful - but they had a limited feature set, and I knew I'd made a safe choice.

I moved from the G1 to an HTC Desire, and loved that as much as the G1. It had everything the G1 had, but also had a newer OS, a faster processor and a much better build quality. The camera was great in well lit situations - although awful in low light. But as my usage of the HTD Desire continued, I began to find it dropping my connection to T-Mobile. I've never worked out if that was the Desire or T-Mobile causing it, but finally I was stood outside a tube station, desperately trying to send an email before going underground and it wouldn't go. That was the moment when I decided I needed something more stable and reliable. I decided to move over to the dark side.

I went to an Apple store that weekend and bought an iPhone 4. I felt that I had sold out, and that I had joined the cult of Apple. But it was a lovely phone. It was solid, fast, well built, and very quick to use. The newer versions of iOS had added most of the features that I would have missed from my Android device. I started to accrue a collection of apps, and more worryingly, started to use iTunes to build up my media collection.

Then came iOS 5. That changed everything, again. And I started to use iCloud. No - not the stupid doc syncing stuff, which doesn't work anyway, but the wonderful iTunes Match service. All of my music in the cloud - everything streaming down to my phone whenever I want it. Completely hassle free. But something started nagging me deep inside. I had been locked in to the Apple ecosystem, to escape no more.

And that is the wonder of the cloud for companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft. The cloud is sticky, and you don't really want to leave. You invest time, and money, into the cloud services you use, and while it's so beautifully integrated into your hardware, you're going to keep on purchasing that hardware.

These days Android phones are even better than they were back in the days of the HTC Desire. The Samsung Galaxy S III is one of the best phones on the market, full stop. Even Windows Phone - which I would have written off as a also ran a few years ago - has come on in strides, and the new Metro UI looks and feels fantastic. The Nokia Lumia 920 is something special. But am I going to move over to these wonderful, cheaper, well built phones? Probably not. I'll probably dig deep and get an iPhone 5 - despite Apple Maps, and the lack of NFC, and the fact that it's not that much more special than my iPhone 4. Simply because I've tied myself in to their ecosystem.

How sad is that?

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