I finally made the jump from iOS to Android. As an iPhone user for four years, starting with the iPhone 4 and ending with the 5, I found myself rapidly losing interest in Apple and the features its phones were providing. For both announcements since the 5, the 5s and 6/+ both left me feeling underwhelmed and unexciting. Same thing with iOS 8. I mean, I understand iOS 7 was a big step, but really only aesthetically.
So what phone did I end up getting?
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4.
It is a big phone. There’s no getting around that. I was debating between the 6 and 6+ when they first came out because I was thinking about the camera. But when I saw and heard about the 4, I was blown away. Not only with the fantastic display and design, but also the features and customizability it offered. I mean, I guess and Android fan would be like “Yeah we’ve had that forever.” but iOS didn’t, so this is a huge thing for me. I’ll start with the hardware features I love and hate, and then slowly delve into the software.
The design of my devices, I’ll be honest, is rated fairly high for me. I don’t want a cheap looking plastic phone. I want metal, and I want good looking phones. So for the longest time, Samsung phones were “eh” in terms of design. And suddenly the Note 4 (and Galaxy Alpha, for that matter) came out and changed everything. The sides are this beautiful black and silver chamfered metal (very similar to the iPhone 5 and 5s), but that’s were the similarities end. The back is plastic, but it does have a rich, leathery texture. It’s also removable, granting access to the removable battery, and SIM card. After the glass back of the iPhone 4 and aggressively scratchable iPhone 5, the Note 4 is a welcome change. Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple’s designs, but I wanted something new. The display itself is so crisp and beautiful. I can honestly say the blacks on the AMOLED dispay are very black, especially compared to Apple’s IPS display. The phone is responsive and smooth, as you’d expect a top tier flagship phone to be. However, just under this display rests a regrettable excuse for a fingerprint scanner. It is not on par with Touch ID. There’s no other way to put it. With such a big phone, it should honsestly register prints from any angle, but it only works in one orientation, and you have to swipe down over it.
Under that button, nestled in the bottom right corner of the phone, is the famous S Pen. The thing that sets apart the Note line from any other phablet is this S Pen. I use it a lot. The S Note features and all that really do come in handy.
The phone itself, coming from an iPhone 5, is heavy, and it’s big. When I had it for the first few days, I wasn’t sure whether I could handle a phone this large. But after a few more days, I realized I couldn’t ever go back to iPhone. I used my mom’s the other day and I was really confused as to why there was so much bezel and not enough screen. The Note, on the other hand, is very much screen. The bezels on the top and bottom are quite small compared to the size of the screen.
Those beautiful chamfered edges do have a flaw, however. The shiny parts scratch. Like a lot. I didn’t get my case for the first week or so I had the phone, and in certain lighting the edges were already scratched up. I mean that’s a small negative because those scratches are only visible in very specific kinds of lighting, and it’s not like the iPhone 5 and 5s don’t have that problem.
On the back is the 16 MP camera. The pictures it takes are sharp and beautiful. The lowlight quality is kinda sucky, but I’m not a professional photographer, so I don’t really mind that. It’s a great camera.
Samsung gives you options for everything. I was reading this forum when I was trying to decide whether to stick with iPhone or to switch, and I read a quote: “There are eight ways of doing something with Android, and only 2 of them work well. The other 6 suck.”
I’ve been finding this to be true. I mean, for email, contacts, calendars, and all of Google-compatible stuff, Google’s apps or the stock apps work nicely. But for everything else, I’ve had to hunt. So far the most challenging hunt was for a simple, easily-organizable Notes app. I was not a fan of the S Note app for text writing, so I downloaded a third-party app, which is fenomenal.
I also switched over to Chrome as my main browser. The only reason I didn’t with iPhone is that the back button was in the top left corner and I had no way to set it as my default browser. With my Note 4, I can. It’s extremely fast, and the ability to sync my bookmarks and tabs across devices really comes in handy when I’m doing school work.
The general feel of the phone is very fluid. I was hesitant to get a Samsung device because of TouchWiz, Samsung’s skin on top of Android. However, after opening up the Developer Options and adjusting the animation speeds, the phone is far more fluid. I’ve experienced no true hangups except with the Google Now settings pane once in a while.
The biggest reason I didn’t make the switch to Samsung after my iPhone 4 was how entrenched in the Apple ecosystem I was. My entire family shared calendars, contacts, music, and reminders. So the first thing I had to do was move my contacts. I actually did this in August sometime because I was growing tired of having issues with the My Card constantly changing. So I switched my contacts to Google Contacts. Then when I got my Note, I downloaded my iCloud calendar and re-uploaded it to Google Calendar. The biggest thing for me to figure out was iTunes. How the hell do I get my music to my phone, and preferably keep using iTunes to download music? That’s where the third party app DoubleTwist came in. It wirelessly syncs all my music between my Mac and my Note. It was a $4.99 purchase, but worth every penny. It even let’s me use my Apple TV’s AirPlay feature!
One irritating “feature” of my Note is its inability to send gifs. I tried Google Hangouts, and then Google Messenger, but both didn’t allow me to send them. Finally I tried Textra, which is a simple, beautiful, and highly customizable app. Textra is a beautiful app. It handles both SMS and MMS very well, allowing you to set maximum image size. Textra also has options for colors and layout.
That’s what I’ve been finding with this phone and Android in general. If something doesn’t work the way it should, or the way you want it to, there’s a work around. Somehow, someway, there’s a workaround. For the past month or so I’ve been using this phone, I have been enjoying it. I’ve gotten used to the phone, and using Samsung’s built-in features that help manage the 5.7 inch screen has become second nature to me. (Also, it lets me watch Netflix and go on tumblr at the same time and that’s beautiful. I watched 24 episodes of Parks and Rec yesterday. Oops.)
All images are from Samsung’s website.