Phones My very own "I went from the iPhone to a GS4" thread!

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by 0dev, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. 0dev, Jul 31, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013

    0dev macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #1
    So, I used to have an iPhone 4, and now I have a Galaxy S4. I've been using this thing non-stop for the last few days and I wanted to do a write up about it, especially since I've had people ask me about the switch.

    I got my iPhone 4 when it first came out back in 2010. I've more recently used iPhone 4S's and 5's and they're, well, the same thing but a bit faster. While I was very frustrated at the horrible performance my dated iPhone was providing me on iOS 6, and dreading what it would do when faced with iOS 7, I was also getting bored of iOS in general and was enjoying my Nexus 7 as a replacement to my iPad 1, so I moved to Android for my phone too. Here's why.

    The Hardware

    The first thing you notice about the S4 is how amazing the display is. First of all, it's MASSIVE. Coming from an iPhone, you will astounded at this display. You may see people nitpicking about how AMOLED is oversaturated and how pentile is bad or whatever but honestly, in real life, none of that matters. This screen is awesome. And if you do find it to be too saturated, you can adjust that in the settings.

    This phone is of course made of plastic. I had a plastic case on my old iPhone anyway and I'm not bothered by this. The upshot of the plastic on this phone is that it's very light and feels nice in the hand. The back feels nicer than the S3 too somehow. It just doesn't get as slippery. Plus despite what some term a cheap feel, it is a very durable material.

    As far as the actual specs go, this thing blows its competition out the water. I have the i9505 model, so it has the Snapdragon 600 CPU. And this thing flies. There is zero lag, zero waiting for apps to open, zero anything, things just happen straight away. Coming from the iPhone 4 to this is like night and day. It's a powerful phone and it shows.

    The Software

    This is something I wasn't expecting to like. I have owned phones like the Sensation and even the OG Galaxy S and I hated the skinned Android on those. The first thing I did was hit up xda for a custom ROM.

    But TouchWiz on the S4 actually adds to the experience. I actually kind of prefer it to AOSP, which now seems very stripped down and lacking in functionality in comparison.

    One of the things I love is just how customisable TW is. Go into the settings for Samsung's air gesture features, for example, and you'll have the name of the feature with the on/off switch. But tap that setting and you get to fine tune exactly which parts of the feature are enabled. Tap those and you get even more settings. The way it lets you choose exactly what you want the phone to do is brilliant. There's even a built in power saving mode which underclocks the CPU. Another little customisation detail is the ability to select separate wallpapers for your lockscreen and your homescreen - something you can of course do on the iPhone, but not on AOSP.

    My only issue with all these settings is there's no real visual cue telling you if an option has more settings if you tap through or if it is just a simple on/off switch. But that's a minor nitpick.

    There is of course a lot of bloat on this phone, and although you can't remove it without rooting, you can disable it in the settings if you don't like it. For example, my phone came with Flipboard and Trip Advisor apps, neither of which I had any intention of using, so I simply disabled them in the app manager settings.

    The Little Samsung Gimmicks

    When I first got this phone, I spent all day playing my music on my TV through DLNA. It's a cool feature, but it's also very unreliable. It kept disconnecting every few songs and sometimes it wouldn't connect to the TV at all. The same happens with my friend's S3, so either the TV I'm using is crap for DLNA or the protocol itself is less than solid. Maybe the Chromecast isn't so useless after all.

    I haven't yet, and probably never will, use features like S Health. But I have taken time to try out Samsung's gesture and eye features designed so you can interact with the phone without touching the screen.

    Some of these are, of course, just gimmicks that look cool in the shop. I guarantee you that you will turn off the eye scrolling feature very quickly because it's unreliable and simply annoying. Likewise, there's a feature for skipping music tracks by waving your hand in front of the phone which I quickly disabled because if I was walking while playing music on my phone, and I got it out my pocket, it would change the song.

    However, some of these are also genuinely useful. My favourite use of gestures on this phone is the feature that allows me to check my notifications while it's on a table and in standby mode. You simply wave your hand over the phone and it gives you the time, date, number of missed calls and new texts, battery life, and app notifications. I'm sure this runs down my battery since the sensor has to be on all the time, but it's too cool for me to turn off.

    Another one is the feature that detects when you've picked your phone up and vibrates if you have a new text. So you don't have to worry about missing messages.

    I've also been using the feature that lets me hover my finger over the screen for additional information. So if, for example, you're in the music app, and a song title is too big for the screen, you hover your finger over it and you get a little bubble with the full title.

    These things make the phone genuinely better to use while also having a sort of sci-fi feel about them. That's exactly what I like from a phone like this. Turn off the over the top crap that barely works, keep the more subtle things like this on, and you've got a nice experience.

    One Samsung feature that simply will not work for me, however, is WatchON. The bit that lets me use my phone as a remote for my TV works (and is awesome!) but the part that's meant to recommend TV shows simply doesn't display any content at all. I've updated the app and this issue still persists. I've given up on it for now.

    Connectivity

    The i9505 model comes with LTE that works in the UK. I've not yet had a chance to test this out since my network, Three, won't get LTE for another few months. In fact they're very laid back about introducing LTE. Instead they're happy sticking to their existing 3G network for now. But there's a good reason for that.

    This phone and my network both support DC-HSDPA+ which is essentially when the phone uses two HSDPA+ masts at the same time to improve connection stability and speed. This technology is often faster than the speeds you actually get from EE's LTE network. It's certainly a lot faster than my iPhone 4 at any rate, which can't even get normal HSDPA+, let alone LTE.

    I will update this post with speed tests when I go into areas with decent signal. The house I'm in right now has poor coverage on my network, but even here I get speeds of around 5kbps. My old phone got around 0.5bps in the same place so I'm really looking forward to letting this thing bust out the super fast internet in an area with a decent connection.

    UPDATE

    [​IMG]

    'Nuff said about those HSDPA+ speeds ;)

    It's also worth noting that this phone is better at connecting to WiFi too. The WiFi speeds I get on this phone are essentially the same as my MBP.

    Usability

    This is an important aspect for a lot of people. Many hold off on phones like this because they think either Android, the big screen, or both, make the phone harder to use than an iPhone. Is this true?

    Android isn't inherently difficult to use, as evidenced by its popularity. TouchWiz isn't either. However, it's certainly very overwhelming. Samsung throws so many features in your face that even for me it was hard to wrap my head around everything. Although Samsung does a very good job explaining these features in the settings, I feel that a lot of people will miss out on this phone's true potential because they won't have the patience to go through all the menus and work out what all the features do.

    On the other hand, the iPhone is a lot easier to pick up and start using, but it also does a lot less cool stuff (see the gimmicks section above).

    Overall, I prefer Android because it isn't as dumbed down. I can access my filesystem, I can install apps Google don't like (there's even an entire app store just for porn!), I can change all the settings to suit me, I can change default apps... All of this makes for a better experience for me. And for the average user, I don't think it makes things more complicated, because it's easy enough to not bother messing with the settings and just use the phone.

    The big screen does make this phone more difficult to use with one hand. That's just a fact. But the question is, does it matter? I would say no. When I use my phone with one hand, I'm just scrolling through lists or quickly checking for messages. If I want to actually type something or do anything more substantial, I use two hands anyway. So really, for me this isn't a big deal, and it feels like it's just a matter of adjusting rather than a real annoyance. You'll pick up how to deal with a big screen pretty quickly. I sure did anyway.

    Nitpicks

    I've had a few other assorted issues which aren't huge but are enough to cause me annoyance:

    • The SMS app will convert texts to MMS after they've exceeded the length of three messages. Why? The iPhone never did this. And there's no option to turn it off without using a third party SMS app.
    • The timestamps on the SMS app show the time the message was received, not the time it was sent as my iPhone did. This means I have no idea if a text was delivered late, which happens when I have poor signal.
    • Samsung's keyboard is rubbish, but the Google Keyboard is far nicer and very easy to install from the Play Store.
    • It's far too easy to accidentally press the touch buttons and the screen due to lack of bezel.
    • I expect this will be fixed in an update soon, but the YouTube app has a bug where if you go into fullscreen on a video then go out of it again, you get a black bar at the top of the app until you quit and relaunch it:
    [​IMG]

    Conclusion

    I am very happy with the S4. It's the only phone I'd buy today. The experience, the software, the hardware... all of it is incredible. As always, Samsung's latest experimental features are a bit rough around the edges, but the overall experience is brilliant and the main stuff "just works." I recommend it to anyone in the market for a new phone.
     
  2. ChazUK macrumors 603

    ChazUK

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Essex (UK)
    #2
    Great read. That's quote a generational leap between phones there.

    TouchWiz has come a long way since the original i9000 and I didn't actually mind it on my old S3 but I am an Android purist and prefer the faster updates of a stock build vs a customised build.

    Anything missing from AOSP can be normally added via a third party application of it is needed.

    That sounds fantastic and is a clever little idea.

    Regarding Three DC-HSPA+ network. I have very few issues with it round our way and thanks to the 20+ megabit speeds I pull down (23 average on my old N4) coupled with unlimited data, I absolutely love tethering using their network.

    Was yours a locked to three model or a ism unlocked model? If it is a three version, is there much Three supplied bloat at all?

    Good luck with it. I'm going to hang out for the Xperia Z Ultra to come out although my grade is due the 8th. :(
     
  3. Ffosse macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2012
    #3
    Nice write up...I use 3, also, and get blazingly fast speeds on my Sony phones - faster than my wired broadband and with all-you-can-eat data as well.

    I'm not really a fan of Samsung's in general, but would love to try out the stripped-down Google version of the S4.
     
  4. daveathall macrumors 68000

    daveathall

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    Location:
    North Yorkshire
    #4
    Excellent review, I find myself echoing most of the points raised but would not be able to have described them as eloquently. Thanks for the review, I really enjoyed reading it. :)
     
  5. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #5
    Thanks for the complements everyone! If there's anything else you want to know about the phone just ask :)

    Yep, it feels amazing to be in the 21st century again! :D

    I do like AOSP too, I run it on my Nexus 7 and I'm very pleased with it. But I've now been spoiled by TouchWiz :p

    Yeah when I'm at uni I get a decent signal and I used tethering a lot on my old phone so I'm looking forward to seeing how the S4 performs when I'm back. I'm sure this phone will be amazing for internet. Three itself has a brilliant network when you actually have proper coverage. I'm just unlucky with my location right now.

    I got it SIM unlocked but from what I've seen in their stores, they don't have much extra bloat. I actually went and installed Three's app from the Play Store so I can keep track of my usage and bills.

    I've read the same, but I was held back by the crappy hardware I had before. Once I go to a place with a decent signal I'll report back with speed tests. It feels good to be able to take full advantage of Three's data network now.
     
  6. Fireblade macrumors 65816

    Fireblade

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    #6
    Nice read, agree with nearly all you mentioned.
     
  7. MRU, Jul 31, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013

    MRU Suspended

    MRU

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    #7
    Yeah the samsung keyboard is not the greatest, if you want more than just the stock google keyboard then Swiftkey really is worth the purchase price. :)

    You can get it now however with a free month trial

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.touchtype.swiftkey.phone.trial&hl=en

    Swype is cheaper - I own both - but Swiftkey is certainly more popular for a reason :)

    Noticed this too... and it's a little annoying especially if your texting a long conversation.
    edit.. oh and can be costly too if you don't notice it - because MMS are extra cost outside of your texting bundles.... Here an MMS is about 50 cent.
     
  8. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #8
    I tried out SwiftKey on my N7 but I actually prefer Google Keyboard. The only real plus SwiftKey has is the themes, and while it is cool to have a themeable keyboard, I still prefer Google Keyboard as an actual keyboard (the word keyboard has now lost all meaning).

    Yep, especially since I have free SMS but still get charged for MMS.

    In fact, what third party SMS apps do you all recommend? Handcent and Go SMS are the most popular ones, but are there any others worth a look?
     
  9. ChazUK macrumors 603

    ChazUK

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    #9
    The stock one?

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.concentriclivers.mms.com.android.mms&hl=en

    MMS is broken in this version so you'll also be safe from that one. :p

     
  10. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #10
  11. maxosx macrumors 68020

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    Southern California
    #11
    1) Actually one huge advantage of SwiftKey is it learns how you write. It has the most accurate predictive text system of any input method I've tried.

    But the missing tip, is that you must use it for at least a week or two to give it time to learn your patterns. If you do this, suddenly you notice if offers up the exact word you were about to type, time after time.

    Next, change your preferences so a push of the space bar inserts the word it offers. Once that's done, I've sat in amazement as I enter just a word or two to start a sentence, then just use the space bar word after word as it completes my sentence. You've got to experience to believe it!

    I'm convinced this is the reason it's the number one app on Google play week after week.

    2) I really like KiK .... It is fast & free since it uses data unlike SMS. Also you don't have to give out your phone number, just your KiK user name. 90% of my contacts use it, with more migrating to it by the day. Works on all platforms and has no drawbacks.
     
  12. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #12
    I use AT&T messages app. It automatically setup my visual voicemail and takes care of receiving my texts much better than stock. It's basically the ONLY app AT&T got right. Maybe your carrier has something similar?

    I use TripAdvisor for one reason only. When you select lock screen only for choosing wallpaper, tap on TripAdvisor and it will display beautiful random places from around the world as your lock screen wallpaper.

    I haven't had the bugs that you had with Youtube and WatchOn. They both work flawless for me.

    Warning ...... If you ever setup Samsung Link (which is a great app IMO), DISABLE IT until you plan on using it again. Samsung Link will kill your battery life very quickly during standby. I would disable it even if you haven't set it up to be on the safe side.

    Glad you enjoy your S4. I too like TW better than stock. :)
     
  13. MRU Suspended

    MRU

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    #13
    If I could replace all the stock apps (dialer / contacts / calendar / calculator) and replace them with their stock versions I'd keep Touchwiz myself - but the clash of designs throughout the UI is why I'll likely be flashing the GE rom again when it comes back from repair.

    Annoying thing for me though is that the Samsung Camera App is better than the stock one in the GE Rom and it does take better photos (sharphness and hdr etc.) so that is a big downside to stock and a positive for Touchwiz's defense.

    Has anyone tried Contacts+ and Dialer+ ? Can they override the stock dialer ?

    I know I can download stock calculator and calendar apks, so I may try that before flashing the 4.2.2 GE rom to see how I get on.
     
  14. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #14
    I didn't get that on my Nexus 7. I mean I got suggestions but they were crap. Maybe it's just because the tablet version is different from the smartphone version?

    I'll have a look at that actually since I dislike the ones like WhatsApp which require giving out your phone number and uploading all your contacts to the service.

    However when BBM comes out for Android I'll probably end up using that since it's what a lot of my friends and family use.

    ----------

    Sadly not.

    Weird, I wonder why they're buggy for me :confused:

    Thanks for the tip!

    Thanks, it really is brilliant.
     
  15. maxosx macrumors 68020

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    #15
    I use SwiftKey on my Android phones and tablets. They're the same. One new feature that's just fantastic is the free cloud space that is used just to house your writing style. Then when you install SwiftKey on a new device there's no learning period. It has your writing style and works immediately.

    I'm quite puzzled about your poor experience. Granted I'm an early adopter and have used it since day one, but I've suggested it to scores of Android friends family and others. Everyone's had nothing but good things to say. In fact it's been number one on Google Plays most popular selling app list for ages.

    Perhaps you just got a bad download. It's such a amazing time saver you may want to try it again.
     
  16. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #16
    I might give it another go, I am very happy with Google Keyboard though.
     
  17. MRU Suspended

    MRU

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    #17
    If your happy - that's enough :)
     
  18. lympero macrumors 6502a

    lympero

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    #18
    I can also say that s4 is absolutely fantastic. I have had an iPhone 3G, 4, 4s. If you want a bigger acreen then it's the only way. Don't be afraid! Sell your iPhone and buy a s4. You'll be amazed!
     
  19. Stuntman06 macrumors 6502a

    Stuntman06

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    Metro Vancouver, B.C, Canada
    #19
    I use SwiftKey as my landscape keyboard and Swype as my portrait keyboard. I use an app that switches between the two depending on screen orientation.

    SwiftKey in landscape allows me to type the fastest. Its landscape layout includes a split layout. When in landscape, I find that reaching to the centre of the screen to type the G and H keys on a non-split layout is difficult. The split layout moves the keys closer to the sides of the screen. The middle of the keyboard has the arrow keys which I rarely use. I thumb type with both hands when using SwiftKey.

    Swype I use in portrait. When I type with Swype I use the gesture typing feature where you drag your finger or thumb over the keys and Swype predicts what word you really want. I am impressed with the gesture typing with Swype. It does a good job of predicting what I want to type. My typing speed is slower, but it does allow me to type comfortably one handed. Although SwiftKey also has gesture typing, it is harder to change the word that was predicted because SwiftKey tries to predict your next word. You don't get the option to pick a different word than the one you just typed and was predicted incorrectly. With Swype, it gives you a list of other words that it thinks you may want to type instead. This comes in handy as occasionally, it predicts the wrong word and I can simply tap on the correct word in the list of words.

    I did use the Google Keyboard for a while as well. I find it very similar to Swype. I recently changed back to Swype as I felt that Swype seemed to be a little bit better at predicting and can do things like capitalise proper nouns via gestures instead of having to tap the caps key.
     
  20. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    #20
    I like to read about differences in the experience in iOS and Android from people who have spent time with both, so I appreciate your taking the time to share your experiences. It actually pushes me farther toward thinking that Android couldn't work for me and that I'll be sticking with iOS for a long time to come. There was a time when I enjoyed adjusting settings and making customizations, but reading about it now makes me realize how much I appreciate having a phone that, while not 100% perfect, comes pretty darn close right out of the box.

    I'm glad to hear that this was a good switch for you, though. And again, I appreciate the detailed write-up.
     
  21. mib1800 macrumors 68030

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    #21
    That depends on your expectation. If your expectation is only mediocre then an Iphone will work close to 100% of what you want. Android will also work near 100% given that kind of expectation. I really can't see any differences between Iphone and Android when used at the basic phone level.

    But if you want to squeeze a bit more out of the phone, then Iphone really falls flat given the numerous restrictions and workarounds required.
     
  22. 0dev thread starter macrumors 68040

    0dev

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    #22
    As long as you're happy with the product you buy that's what matters :)
     
  23. Jibbajabba macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Indeed. I am with Three (S3) and I am getting up to 15Mbps ... just tested again :

    [​IMG]

    Colleague on EE gets 9Mbps ...
     
  24. Andrew K. macrumors 65816

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  25. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    #25
    Indeed.

    You talk about "expectation is only mediocre" and "squeeze a bit more out of the phone" as if these are universal constants. My demands are in performance (think reliability, not tech specs), but less in versatility (I don't have the time or inclination to customize things beyond the background images). I'm not going to say that Android can't meet my needs, because I've never used it. Based on this review it seems that Android would require too much tweaking and upkeep.
     

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