I have been doing a LOT of research on new phones over the past few months. Here is a list of them:
- Nexus 5*
- HTC One
- iPhone 5s
- Nokia Lumia 1020*
- Nokia Lumia 1520*
- Motorola Moto X
- Motorola Droid Maxx
- Motorola Droid Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy S4*
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3
*Phones I have not physically used in a store as part of my research
So why all of the research? Well, since 2007 I have owned the following smartphones: Blackberry 8700, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, and an iPhone 4s. It has pretty much been an iPhone frenzy for the last 5 years and in that time I have invested more and more into my iTunes library (since 2002 thanks to the iPod) and since 2008 I have built a good collection of apps. I would say 50% of the apps I own are completely free, 45% are in the $0.99-$2.99 range and rest anywhere up to $9.99. However, despite this long term use of an iPhone I have recently started to yearn for something different, something new, something better.
The Android phones I played around with were all on the Verizon network and each of them had a different version of Android installed ranging from Android 4.0.4 to 4.3 neither of which were the stock versions directly from Google. That’s why I have had my eye on the Nexus 5 as it runs the latest, greatest, pure and free from bloatware version of Android (4.4) and updates are received directly from the source. The Droid range and Moto X seemed to have a close to stock Android experience, but of course, Verizon has done a great job (in their eyes not mine) of bloating it out with their own spin on the OS. The HTC One and Samsung range are like completely different phones altogether. I really didn’t like the Samsung TouchWiz UI on their latest phones and if I were to get one I would most definitely root it and install stock Android. The HTC One’s Sense UI is rather nice and would take some getting use to, but I believe its feature set would make it a worthy investment of my time. The problem is that it the HTC One on Verizon is running Android 4.2.2, which in technology terms is pretty far behind the curve.
The only Windows phone I have played with is the Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 7.8, whereas the Lumia 1020 & 1520 are running Windows Phone 8. However, the overall look and feel is similar and I have an idea of what it would be like to use these devices. The 1020 appeals to me because of the PureView camera and the 1520 originally appealed to me due it’s gargantuan size, but I have since lost the desire to have a phone in the size category of the 1520 or Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
Then there is the iPhone 5s. When I look at this device I can’t help but think “Nothing has changed” and when you think about it, pretty much since the iPhone 4s, only the screen size has only changed 0.5 inches in length and it shed a few ounces in weight. Then along came iOS 7, which is not exclusive to the 5s, as I have it installed on my 4s, but boy does it run much better on the 5s! My Wife just upgraded from the 4s to the 5s and I have been playing around with it extensively.
Now I am stuck again as to which phone to get when my contract allows me to upgrade to a new device, so I decided to revert back to a question a good friend of mine recently asked me “What kind of hardware features is it you’d want?”. My initial answer was:
I’m not too fussed about a camera anymore, as my Wife is content on the 5s and we have a digital SLR, so baby pics are well covered. The dorky side of me wants an Android for the Linux dual booting aspect as well as the ability to try out over *nix based OS’s on the same hardware.
Well, now that I have played around on the 5s I can totally see why in all of the reviews that I have read everybody is raving about its camera. When I say everybody this isn’t from a blog post on same crazed Apple fanboy’s website, no no, I have been reading very modest blog posts on Android Central, Windows Phone Central, Phandroid, and Ars Technica. All of the reviews followed a common theme “The ‘so-and-so’ phone is super powerful and has a beautiful 1080p AMOLED display, but… the camera and battery life is not as good as the iPhone 5s”. This is due to the new sensor that is not present in any other phone on the mark, so even though on paper it the camera is “only” 8MP and the Lumia 1020 is 41MP, yet the colors on the 5s are still superior. This has me feeling as though the camera is back to being one of the key components in the decision to buy a new phone.
In addition to that I love to go running and I use the Strava app to track my time and mileage. Well, the 5s has a secondary processor called the M7 “motion coprocessor”, which is a dedicated chip that more accurately collects motion data for fitness apps like Strava (who already support the M7). By having the M7 take charge of the motion aspect it alleviates the burden from the primary A7 processor and thus conserves battery life, something that is currently a pain on the 4s when going out for a 12+ mile run.
By the time my upgrade comes around we will be approaching the release date of the iPhone 6, so it makes me wonder what we can expect to see upon its release date. For now, I am not going to make any rash decisions by opting to upgrade early.