Why I Switched to the Nexus 6P and Then Switched Back to the iPhone 6S

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by cookies!, Jul 25, 2016.

  1. cookies! macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #1
    I hope you like not-proofed long-form articles, but here is the TL;DR if you don’t:

    Google hasn’t fixed obvious and easily-solved issues with both Android's software and the Nexus hardware., but the company has worked on implementing new features faster than Apple has. But the problem is that while these newer features are certainly useful, the core of Android needs to be fixed to improve the overall everyday experience, which is more important. After all, new features can't be fully appreciated if the software they are based on is not fully optimized and well-developed. There do not seem to be good reasons why Google has not made progress on this.

    _________

    There’s a growing sentiment that Apple has increasingly ignored the fundamental usability of its software and desktop/laptop hardware. This view has an overwhelming amount of evidence behind it—new iOS announcements focus on features that seem funny in the short term rather than those that fundamentally change the user experience (e.g. big smilies versus multi-touch gestures). Hardware for all Macs are one to three years old, and major advances, such as screens with high PPI, are rarely seen anymore. In fact, it seems that Apple isn’t even trying to keep up with the competition sometimes. And that’s why I switched to Android a month ago.

    When the Nexus 6P became one of the few redeeming sale items during the generally underwhelming Amazon Prime Day, I purchased it when Amazon gave me the assurance that there would be no restocking fee. (I saved the email as proof in case the rep was mistaken)

    When I opened the well-designed “green” (or so they say) box and held the 6P in my hand for the first time, I was extremely pleased that the build quality was excellent much like every iPhone I’ve had since the 4. I popped my iPhone’s Verizon SIM card into the Nexus and I was off to the races.

    My honeymoon phase lasted one day.

    I’m well-integrated with Google’s services. I use Gmail, Google Calendars, Google Apps for a work project, and I recently started a 3 month trial of Play Music. Google applications set a high bar on the iPhone—they are all well-designed, they run smoothly and without serious bugs, and most importantly, they have features that are new, ingenious, useful, and not found in Apple stock apps.

    Let me stress this point. Apple’s stock apps are close to my heart. At their core, they have an excellent balance of form and function, and their integration with the stock apps on OS X (or macOS, a naming scheme I’m a fan of) is unrivaled. But they are outdated in a lot of regards.

    Their cloud integration, and iCloud overall, isn’t great—Mail still doesn't push anything well compared to Gmail or any EAS (Exchange) services. And Mail don’t have snooze swiping, one of the best productivity features I’ve seen. None of the Apple apps have extensive proactive features like Google’s Inbox app has, despite Apple’s insistence that iOS 9 focused on proactivity. iCloud Drive’s integration and flexibility is absolutely crippled compared to Google Drive. I can go on, as I’m sure many other other users can too. CarPlay is less functional than Android Auto as well—Apple is still haunted by the loss of Google Maps here, and it doesn't allow for as many third party apps for no discernible reason (not having Spotify is a major negative).

    I’m not sure what the problem here is. Maybe it is the ongoing patent war, but Apple’s cash reserves should be able to get around those issues. As the old Chinese saying goes, if you can’t achieve something through effort, achieve it with cash. Or maybe that was a Harvard daddy’s boy who said that. But I digress. Apple needs to step up its game in this regard. Google has shown its ability to do so. For example, when the company couldn’t put a fingerprint scanner on the home button on the front of the phone, it ingeniously put it on the back of the phone where you hold the phone. And when Apple released the second generation of the scanners (the ones that were accurate enough to actually be useful), Google put one on its phone fast.

    Apple still has trouble quickly integrating features the competition introduces, even the extremely simple ones that don’t require Steve Job’s obsession with making them perfect before release. But Android, even on Google’s flagship phone, fails to achieve a simple task as well—refining the core, everyday features that make a phone a pleasure to use. This failure is what caused me to return my Nexus and to use my just-replaced iPhone, which I had yet to sell.

    What are these important core features? The first is smoothness. Google’s latest phone can’t operate the latest version of its own operating system at a smooth frame rate. This problem is frustrating—it interferes with every aspect of efficiency when I use the phone with my fast, but gigantic, fingers. I know that, compared to others my age and younger, have faster fingers than I do. A central example is the lag involved with camera use. Catching a “forever” moment with people or cats (destined for upvotes) are the most common kind of photos taken with phones. And they depend more on speed than a few extra nano-whatevers in the sensor or CPU. And the iPhone 6S truly excelled here.

    Next is the the difficulty of mirroring other incredibly useful OS features that the iPhone nails. Google touts Android’s ability to download apps to solve this issue, but the truth is it can only do this partially, and it can take a lot of time if you want more than that. For example, I can’t find an application that lets me swipe to go both back and forward in a reliable and fluid manner. This gesture is a central feature, and not having it significantly reduced my ability to use my phone efficiently.

    Basically, I want something that works out of the box. From my experience, you have to spend a lot of time augmenting Android well enough to even partially match many core features that make the iPhone such a joy to use. In many cases, even if you spend a week working on this, you won’t be able to get it right. I came to this conclusion because I tried to do it. I consider myself to be above average when it comes to technological proficiency, and my quintile and up are a priori smaller than the majority (see, I’m smart, I write in Latin!). Maybe I didn’t look hard enough for a good app, but I shouldn't have to. Maybe everything I ever dreamed of works well if I utilize developer mode, but I don’t want to spend my free time doing that. I would rather spend that time writing lengthy articles where I bitch about the Nexus 6P. But in all seriousness, this situation demonstrates another substantial weakness of Android.

    Does Android have an app store and OS that allows for software augmentation that beats iOS by a long shot? Yes, of course it does. Swipe Keyboard is an example of how good this feature can be compared to iOS. But can be is where Android’s greatest weakness lies. Many features can be great, but they aren’t, and I can’t come up with any good reasons why.

    So the weakness with the patent excuse goes both ways. Apple likes to sue even the small companies, and it didn’t take to court the makers of this app and many others that directly copy Apple’s patented features—despite them having hundreds of reviews on the Play Store, which probably represent a small minority of users of the app.

    Let’s move on to the final issue, which is hardware-related. You might be asking me how can criticize Android devices based on a single one! Well, I have a Tab S2 or something (I still can’t figure out Samsung’s convoluted naming scheme for its tablets), and I’m aware, as most of you are, of the limitations of third party Android devices compared to Google phones. The first limitation is the completely unnecessary OS wrapper, which restricts the Android’s stock apps and features, which are better designed and more capable.

    The next limitation of Android on third party devices is the failure to update in a timely manner. Taking a year (or more) to install OS updates with important security fixes and design upgrades means the device is always a year behind (cough Apple please update my Macbook Pro). Flexibility with hardware and up-to-date operating systems are not mutually exclusive benefits, as Microsoft has demonstrated. Yes, I know that the desktop market is different in many regards, but I don’t believe that is the case here. Surely two companies with combined assets the size of South Korea’s GNP (according to my hyperbole, but you get the point) could have figured this out.

    I have observed that these are widespread, if not universal, problems with Android devices. If there are some phones that do not have the problems of unnecessary and badly-designed wrappers and the failures to update promptly, I am doubtful they have mastered the basic, extremely good (but not perfect) design of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Again, I can’t judge every single one of the many Android phones out there, but from what I’ve read in many reviews and from what phones I have tried in many stores, my comments apply to the vast majority of them.

    Let’s finally talk about the Nexus 6P. It is a beautiful phone that feels as expensive as the iPhones since number four, yet it somehow costs around $300 less than an unlocked iPhone of a similar calibre. But a lot of the hardware’s advantages are nothing more than tech spec boosters that you really won’t notice. No one can really notice the difference between the touted AMOLED screen and the iPhone’s LED-whatever screen. I’ll eat my hat if the differences between cameras stand up to a randomized controlled trial in which people are told the less advanced camera sensor is actually the better one. Please see the footnote about this paragraph before you write an angry comment about it. Then you can write one.

    Now, the 6P has some really great design features, like the aforementioned fingerprint scanner. But it also has some really serious flaws—the kind of flaws that should have not made it through the first litter of usability lab rats. There are a few, but for the sake of anyone who made it this far into this article, I’ll just note the biggest one—the physical buttons are placed next to where my hand places pressure on the phone when I use it. So I press them accidentally nearly every time I use it.

    Google has great engineers, judging by the competition at MIT to get hired by the company. How this was missed, I don't know. Apple makes engineering mistakes all of the time, and they are annoying. But this problem makes the phone really, really hard to use because it affects every second of use. I can’t disable to power button, and I need buttons to easily silence the phone or to adjust the volume of the ringer. This is an example of Google’s disregard for improvement of the everyday use environment.

    All of the issues with Android I discussed took Apple some time to resolve (or invent/plagiarize/buy), but how Google, the creator of Android, failed to fix them, is beyond me. Google closely worked with Huawei to make what was essentially its own phone that runs the latest version of Google’s own software. And it couldn't fix them. Reviewers identified many software and hardware flaws with Apple’s devices, and the company largely revised its designs in accordance with those criticisms—yet Google didn’t fix them. Google has the largest (sometimes) market cap in the United States, and it couldn't fix them. This is why I’m returning my 6P and going back to my 6S—at least until Android and its phones are no longer built on a dated, cracked foundation. To surpass the excellence of Apple’s time-tested phones and operating system, Google needs to fix the problems of the past while still pressing forward into the future.♢

    _________

    Footnote: I think one of the most valid criticisms of tech reviews is that they weigh this spec stuff too much in their reviews (hey, they have to cater to their audience of power users to get revenue like any other journalists). And that’s a reason I wrote this ridiculously long article, and I am truly impressed if you got this far into it. There are plenty of problems with Apple superfans—I’m one of them, so I would know—but a glaring problem with most Android device reviews is that they don't prioritize about what the vast majority of users care about. Those users care about price and they care about day-to-day usability. Yeah, Jony Ive does convince them that they care about those extra sensor nano-whatevers, but anyone who knows the industry’s history knows that marketing only goes so far when it comes to long-term success/profits—you have to get at what most consumers truly want.

    And yes, Apple has way too many of these too, hence the deserved ridiculing of Jony Ive using his accent to sound authoritative when he tells us that each iteration of the iPhone is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The incredible irony of this statement combined with the equally incredible marketing success of it is a core component of the thesis that humanity is not terribly intelligent, even when controls for income and education are in place.
     
  2. mclld macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    #2
    "make the iPhone such a joy to use"

    I fundamentally disagree with this part, it is funny how people can view things so differently. Good thing we have plenty of choices and all these companies help push each other to improve which is only good for the consumer
     
  3. mjschabow macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2013
    #3
    This is so true. As someone that has switched back and forth, I can fully support this. Android definitely puts out a good product, with my last device used being the Galaxy S7 Edge, but in the end I switched back because of the core operating system. Sure the Galaxy has a much better screen and a really cool Edge functionality, there were annoyances like "why in the heck is Android System draining my battery so much" and no fixes in place. I mean, the Galaxy has a bigger battery than the iPhone 6s Plus, but seems to drain nearly twice as fast. And that was an ongoing problem that almost every user had no matter which carrier they were using.
     
  4. nviz22 macrumors 68040

    nviz22

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    #4
    What's with the "I used Android Device X, but I went back to iPhone Y" posts as of late. Too many of them. It's called "Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices," not "Testimonials on Why I Went Back to iOS."
     
  5. ramram55 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2012
    #5
    Appreciate your comment not wanting 6p, yet a phone cost double the price with iPhone, I would have to live with the disadvantages of 6P, so be it. As long as a phone can call, text and take pictures, I would be happy, not plunging down lot of doughs, after all a phone will last as long it has its use.
     
  6. C DM macrumors Westmere

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    #6
    Wouldn't the feedback and discussion be about what someone found lacking (for them at least) when it comes to Android or particular manufacturer (perhaps in the context of what Apple offers and how it differs)? Seems like that's a good deal about non-iOS devices and OSs. Also, I can't say I see a lot of recent threads about going back to Apple here--a few about going from an iPhone to a particular Android device or from iOS to Android in general, but not so much the other way around.
     
  7. Tig Bitties macrumors 68030

    Tig Bitties

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    #7
    How long did you use the awesome Nexus 6P ?

    To truly test a new phone, you should be fair and give it 30 days use, and put the other phone away, locked up in a drawer for a month, never touched during that time.
     
  8. cookies! thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #8
    About 20 days.
     
  9. The Game 161 macrumors G5

    The Game 161

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Nothing wrong with people posting their experiences and why they switched back.

    It's what forums are for after all. The OS is why a lot seem to move back and I can totally understand why.
     
  10. MRU, Jul 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016

    MRU macrumors demi-god

    MRU

    Joined:
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    Other
    #10
    At the end of the day it's a phone. Thankfully, there are many different phones and variations and we all have subjective likes and dislikes which are all on various scales - no black & white answer.

    Trying something else and preferring what you have or had, is not something that people should scoff at, it's just your opinion and its a very valid opinion to you.

    Until anyone scoffing here at your choice is actually paying your bills - there opinion or choice counts for little other than noise in the wind.

    Enjoy whatever device you end up using and be happy in the knowledge that it may not be perfect (nothing is), but its the most suitable for you :)

    [the old mantra]

    The grass is not always greener. It's often just the same grass [albeit a different shade] in a different field.
     
  11. THE JUICEMAN macrumors 68000

    THE JUICEMAN

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    #11
    Firstly, this was very well written. Very long but I enjoyed the read.

    Secondly, I'll have a Nexus 6p tomorrow and will come back here to post my thoughts after I give it some good usage.

    I too have tried to switch to Android many times and have always come back to the iPhone. I think a lot of your reasons are valid but I'm not sure that 3rd party skins and not getting updates belongs in this review. That's one of the major strengths if not the number one selling point of the Nexus. I'm not surprised to hear you say that the camera is a little slow. That seems to be a well known problem and I'm not sure why Google hasn't fixed it at this point. However, I am surprised to hear you say that navigating the OS in general was not smooth. I thought that this was for the most part a non issue with the 6p. I agree that this is very important and I plan to test it out fully.

    Your example about swiping left or right to back and forth...... Are you talking about in safari? I know a lot of places throughout the OS let you swipe back but not forward which is achieved on Android by the back button. Which I think is more intuitive because it's always there and works consistently (ok mostly consistently). I can't tell you how many apps I have been in on iOS and tried to swipe back from the edge only to be disappointed. What other features does Google get wrong that you were trying to find apps to replace? It kinda seems like you are trying to make Android work the way iOS does and in that case will never be satisfied. I'm guilty of doing this too.

    Overall you pointed out many Android advantages and very few disadvantages but I understand and respect your opinion. The problems that you had must have been deal breakers. Damn now m writing long posts. Do you see what you've done? :)
     
  12. GrumpyMom macrumors 603

    GrumpyMom

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    #12
    That was a well written article on your user experience and I enjoyed the other member comments on this topic as well. I will keep your observations in mind as I evaluate an Android phone for myself. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I'm always willing to read long posts as long as they are well written and not huge unbroken walls of text that usually indicate an incoherent rant. :D

    (I'll be hedging my bets and keep using my iPhones as well, because they do indeed "just work").
     
  13. sk1wbw Suspended

    sk1wbw

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Location:
    Williamsburg, Virginia
    #13
    I switched to a Nexus 6 solely based on the screen size, but overall I still think iOS is a better operating system and its overall connectivity to the Mac and iTunes and iMessages is far superior to anything Google has to offer.
     
  14. THE JUICEMAN macrumors 68000

    THE JUICEMAN

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    #14
    I'm looking forward to the improved notifications on Android and default apps. Also customizing my home screen to make it functional yet clutter free. Oh and the huge screen and front facing speakers.
     
  15. AppleRobert macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2012
    #15
    What gets me is 99℅ of iOS users do the same exact things with an iPhone that can be done with an Android smartphone.

    Using either would be seemless for me but I rather the better choices for price, screen, and the device's overall size so an Android smartphone is my daily driver a very high percentage of time.
     
  16. pmau macrumors 65816

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    #16
    ... insert your favorite car anology here ...
     
  17. nviz22 macrumors 68040

    nviz22

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    Jun 24, 2013
    #17
    If only Apple learned more about "better choices." I do like how the SE is more affordable while offering mostly decent specs for $350-$400 USD (processor, RAM, camera). But the 6S and 6S Plus are atrociously overpriced. If it had the best specs on the market and the best features, it will still be slightly overpriced. With the ZTE Axon Pro, OP3, Moto G, and any big name phone with a modest price tag, it's hard to justify spending $800 or more on a smartphone these days.
     
  18. spinedoc77, Jul 26, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2016

    spinedoc77 macrumors G3

    spinedoc77

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #18
    The 6p is a flawed phone IMO. The screen is fairly meh, daylight view ability is terrible and the brightness sensor doesn't work, no OIS, camera is subpar IMO. From a hardware perspective the iphone is far superior. From a design perspective they both equally fail, especially when looking at things like screen to phone ratio and bezel size.

    When looking at the OS I disagree that Android needs to be setup and played with to become effective. I find that the simplicity of iOS makes it more complicated to use. The main differentiation for me is widgets versus just having rows upon rows upon pages of app icons, that's just a terrible way to set a phone OS up.

    You make a great point in how long the OS updates take, but I'm not sure that's relevant to the 6p which gets updates the same day google releases them. About lag, I have no idea where you see it on the 6p. My Note 5 does lag, but I have to say that marshmallow and especially nougat are incredibly smooth on the 6p and I have yet to see any lag at all.

    Still, iOS is otherwise a decent OS and they have improved their widget support greatly, although iOS widgets still pale in comparison to Android widgets.
     
  19. mi7chy macrumors 68040

    mi7chy

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2014
    #19
    Suggest to make a short version if you want people to actually read it otherwise it's too long winded without really saying anything.
     
  20. c0ppo macrumors 6502a

    c0ppo

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    Feb 11, 2013
    #20
    I don't like subjects like this topics title, but his post was brilliant imho. I've read it and enjoyed it :)
     
  21. spinedoc77 macrumors G3

    spinedoc77

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    Jun 11, 2009
    #21
    It was quite convoluted, and he kept switching from the 6p to android phones in general, confusing me after reading the title of the thread. He made some good points, but 99% of it is just opinion and what he personally prefers. I don't have an issue with that at all, it's what comprises 99.9% of the posts in these forums anyhow.
     
  22. cookies! thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #22
    To be fair, I think I sufficiently explained that I believed there to be the strengths and weaknesses in both OSes, and I believe I described in enough detail what they were, as you can easily infer those strengths and weaknesses if they are not stated implicitly.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2016 ---
    I could have made the TLDR longer and more detailed, and I might after work. My writing is long winded, but it is also a more complete line of logic than shorter posts allow. I could have made this much shorter, but I wrote it in an hour as an unfiltered stream from my brain, and I didn't want to spend time doing that.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2016 ---
    I respectfully disagree :) Opinion will always be involved in any complex argument that isn't quantitatively substantiated, but I included a fair amount of evidence in there as well.
    --- Post Merged, Jul 26, 2016 ---
    Thank you :) I talk way too much, as this thread makes obvious, and I'm glad someone enjoys it :p
     
  23. mclld macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2012
    #23
    I am not saying you are wrong, everyone has preferences. I am just saying I don't think iOS is a joy to use
     
  24. cookies! thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    #24
    Very good points all around. All past Android devices I have used, all high end, have lagged, therefore I incorrectly assumed that the problem is endemic.

    I have found workarounds to the simplicity issues you discussed. For example, I only search for apps, just like using Alfred on my Mac.

    I only included the comment about the update delays because the vast majority of Android phones are not Nexus devices, and Google certainly shares a fair amount of the blame for not being able to work with device manufacturers to get those updates to the phone. Specifically, Google hasn't used its ability to lock capabilities of those phones without updating, such as disabling the ability to download new apps.
     
  25. spinedoc77 macrumors G3

    spinedoc77

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #25
    You disagree on what? You are posting mainly opinions, nothing wrong with that. Hey I do the same thing to, sometimes I have a train of thought and regurgitate it on the forums then later realize that the diarrhea of my post needs to be tidied up. There are just some things which are confusing. You title your thread that you switched back from the 6p to the ip6, yet half of your initial post is regarding perceived shortcomings with Android in general, but untrue about the 6p itself. I'm not sure what kind of responses you are looking, do you want us to sing cumbaya, hold hands and let you know you made the right decision? Posts like these crop up multiple times a day, and I'm personally guilty of a few of them so I'm not blaming you in the least.

    PS: I'm not ranting on you at all, you bring up some good points. I agree with some, but disagree with others, but again these are just my personal opinions.
     

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