I just received the Nexus 4 from Google last week as I felt it was time to get to know Android a bit. I'm so accustomed to the iPhone that I felt technology may be passing me by on iOS. I had played with various devices running different flavors of Android in the past. I wasn't impressed.
What basically made me feel that it was time to change my mind was the raving reviews the Nexus 4 was getting. There were multiple reports about how FINALLY, Android was competitive with the iPhone. Many even went as far as to claim it's better. Not being religious in any way about platforms and one willing to give new tech a chance, I've been testing the Nexus 4 heavily since Saturday. I literally sat down with it and "learned" it. Thereafter I went to multiple blogs to read all the tips and tricks about using it. In total, I spent at least 3 to 4 hours really looking into the OS and playing with the device. Further, I used it as my main phone the rest of the time and if you know me, I am constantly using my phone.
So what do I think? Well, I tweeted this to a friend yesterday. Android is great but it's just become COMPARABLE to iPhone. Is it better? No, I don't think so. It's still far more difficult to use and even more so, learn. If I put this phone in a novice user's hands, they'd struggle with it for a while, probably never figuring out half the things it can do. I am an outlier when it comes to phones. I really dig into them and try to figure out all the features. It's simply much more difficult with Android when you know what you are doing. If you do not, it could be super frustrating.
I do like that the device has a "fresh" feel to it. Many things on Android are newer than on the iPhone. Like myself, I presume many people are getting bored of iOS. Especially when you consider how little has changed in the past year and half or so, totally understandable. Part of my motivation to play with the Nexus 4 (as well as the Lumia 900 a couple weeks back) was looking for something "new". A couple days in though and I am sticking with the tried and true. Instead of listing out though what I liked, it's probably better to list what I didn't like about Android and maybe this will help you make up your mind. On a side note, I believe my device may also be defective as the back panel makes a weird noise when pushed in certain areas, as if the seam wasn't aligned. It kind of reminds me of loose back covers form the day and age when you could change out batteries (like two years ago).
1. There are five home screens which you fill with apps. Why five when I only use two or three? This is odd and better resolved on iOS, where unused homescreens aren't shown and there seems to be less clutter.
2. The "settings" menus are not intuitive for many things and unless you know where to look or google it, you will be lost for a while. There are little things I still haven't figured out how to set up.
3. There are all these gimmicky things for logging into the device, including patterns, face recognition and so forth. You know what, a PIN is just fine. Sometimes choice is not good and leads to indecision.
4. Figuring out how to get necessary keyboards (in my case US English and German) plus Emoji's is not trivial. This took me a while to figure out. Why so difficult?
5. All the options for the lock screen, plus a notification screen and the little icons at the top of the screen lead to information overload. Yeah, it's nice to have notifications but I don't need them all over the place.
6. The combination of hardware with this software is not necessary for me. The screen on the Nexus 4 is a bit larger than the iPhone 5. It's not phablet-huge like some other manufacturers, but it seems worthless. My phone doesn't need to be a tablet....that's what I have the iPad for. I actually found myself enjoying the "smallness" of the iPhone 5. I wasn't expecting this.
7. Battery life of the Nexus 4 is quite poor. This may have something to do with Android since there are always so many processes running unless you shut them down. Seems like overkill. Not necessarily better on iOS but I was expecting longer battery life.
8. Too many choices! I alluded to this above but Android feels like it tries to pack everything in. There are a ton of things you CAN configure but the real question is do you WANT to. I found myself answering no to quite a few of those questions. Simplicity does have its benefits.
9. I like Gmail but it wasn't so amazing in terms of integration with the OS. Everyone notes how great Google's products work on Android. They are OK but not better than the respective apps on iOS. No idea why people feel it's so much better an experience on Android.
10. Media and photography still seem to lag iOS. The camera is great as is the software but iOS's approach to this is just better and the camera is superiour on the iPhone 5. Same goes for media. Music and videos somehow just seem better on iOS but this could very much be my taste.
I'll stop there as I will probably start repeating what a ton of other people wrote. Would I recommend Android and specifically the Nexus 4? If you are strapped for cash, at the price point, it's the best phone out there. The hardware is quite good and you can't do better for 300 bucks. If you are not price sensitive and just want something that works and is polished at this point, go for iOS on an iPhone. (And pray you don't get buggy ones.....this week I'll be on to my fourth iPhone 5!)
Update: on a random note, I couldn't for the life of me get the Android device to pair with the Bluetooth in my Audi. iPhone is zero problems and works every time. I tried all the tricks I found in forums about this issue and there was absolutely no way to pair the Android device to the car.