It’s not actually a smackdown, that’s just to get your attention. But there are screenshots!
My smartphone — an LG G4 — is over 3 years old, so I started thinking about a replacement. The current generation LG G7 has received positive reviews, so I was tempted to get that one, as I have been mostly happy with my G4.
I have been bothered lately about how much data Google collects about me:
Just one of many typical screens of mysterious Android and Google network connections (note: Google Play app is not open).
I figure one thing I could do to narrow Google’s firehose is to switch from an Android phone [which runs an OS owned and developed by Google] to an iPhone [which runs an OS owned and developed by Apple].
Apple’s new model XR is tempting, as the price is more affordable than their other new models, and it has [mostly] Apple’s latest tech. I’m not unfamiliar with iOS, having used an iPad for years. So I jumped.
The following comparison is based on a week of daily use of the iPhone [after 3.5 years of daily use of the G4].
Surprisingly, I cannot think of a single thing which the XR does better than the G4, other than it boots faster. Of course most 2018 phones would boot faster than a 2015 phone.
There are however numerous things which G4 does better. Herewith some details:
1. The keyboard. A basic part of the OS on a texting device, Apple’s keyboard layout only displays alphabetic characters plus backspace and spacebar — in order to type numbers or even basic punctuation, you have to switch to another keyboard. This switching back-and-forth quickly gets annoying when one is used to having all the alpha-numeric and punctuation characters on the same keyboard. Compare the following two screenshots:
2. SMS texting. Apple locks you into using their builtin messaging app for SMS. Android lets you choose an alternate — I used an app called Signal on Android because it encrypts text messages when both parties are using the app. If one side does not use Signal then it defaults to standard SMS. Perfectly reasonable, but while there is a Signal app for iPhone, Apple refuses to allow it to be the default SMS app. So I have to navigate between two texting apps — annoying!
3. Custom ringtones. Android lets you assign custom ringtones for notifications and incoming calls. Rather sensibly it lets you select any mp3 file you like. Apple makes it insanely difficult to add ringtones to their builtin list, and won’t allow changing ringtones at all for other notification apps [Signal for instance].
4. Calendar. The default G4 calendar shows you your appointments in month view; Apple’s month view does not show appointments — you have to switch to week or day view to see them. I had to search Apple’s app store for a 3rd-party app which displays appointments in month view.
5. MPD client. Android has two MPD client apps: MpDroid and M.A.L.P. Both have decent GUIs, and both are free. Apple has two MPD client apps: MPDluxe and Glider — both are paid apps. Glider is crippleware, which only works for 10 minutes before demanding a paid subscription. MPDluxe doesn’t require a subscription but has a very primitive GUI — you can only browse the file system, it doesn’t read tags to let you browse by artist or album or genre. Like both of the Android apps do. The file system shouldn’t matter; what I’m interested in is the contents and metadata.
|MPDluxe browser on iPhone
||MPDroid browser on G4
|MPDluxe artist’s listing on iPhone
||MPDroid artist’s listing on G4
6. Quick settings. Android has a quick pull-down menu which lets you toggle on/off services such as wifi, location, bluetooth, airplane mode and more. What’s more, it lets you edit the services in this list. Apple’s similar pull-down is Control Center, but it has a shorter list of services which you can add. Sadly, location is not one — you need to open Settings, then click Privacy, then from there you can toggle Location. Oh well, at least you can do it.
7. File transfer. Android’s file transfer app lets you select files using a standard detail view file listing, and lets you drag and drop them to the destination folder on your computer. Apple does let you select multiple files — at least, in the photos app — but there’s no way to see a detail view…so you are forced to select each photo one-by-one. And you can’t choose the destination — transfers go to your Downloads folder, period. Android’s listing is way faster and more flexible.
In summary, Apple’s phone covers all the basics — as expected since it invented the smartphone category. But it seems inferior in so many ways — I am surprised that it doesn’t hold up better in comparison.
As a long-time Android user it’s expected that I will be used to the Android way of doing things. Hopefully I will discover more to like about the iPhone the more that I use it. And I am also hoping that Apple doesn’t collect as much information about me from their phone as Google seems to from theirs. But I can’t tell because so far I haven’t found an iPhone app equivalent to Android’s ‘Network Connections’ app. So sad!