Reluctant Apple Fanboy: iPhone 4 vs Galaxy S2

You'll find this image in every single post comparing the two, but who am I to break ranks?

I’ve had an iPhone 3G for about a year and a half now, and while I have been less than happy with a LOT of things about it[1], it’s certainly been enough of a positive influence that I’m sure I wouldn’t willingly go back to using a mediocre-phone, for lack of a better term. So now that it’s time to switch- and it really is, I bought the phone second-hand, it fell into the sea, it has scratches on the screen and I can feel some sort of buzzing sound in the background when I use it sometimes, which can’t possibly be a good sign for continued use- I was pretty sure that I’d want to get either the iPhone 4 or, more preferably, one of the better Android-based models. My choice up until an hour back was the Samsung Galaxy S2. It has far better specs- faster dual core processor, more RAM, a nicer camera, a better form factor, you can increase the memory relatively cheaply by using micro-SD cards, and so on. But when you actually use it, as my uncle exhaustively showed me, the story’s a little more nuanced.

For starters, very strangely, Samsung has insisted on fitting this phone with some sort of colour display enhancement, which means that everything you see in this is quite noticeably different from most standard displays or from “life”, as you can see if you compare photos. This would have been OK because it really does look quite nice in most cases, except for one thing: you can’t turn it off. There ARE 3 display modes which apply various levels of enhancement but all of them give you substantially different images from what you would see on a “normal” screen. This won’t be a problem for a lot of people and I’m still deciding if this is an issue for me, but for anyone who really cares about the “true” colours of something as opposed to how crisp a movie looks- and it definitely looks crisper, if much darker, even with the brightness turned all the way up- this might be a dealbreaker.

Then, the battery life. The battery theoretically has a greater capacity than the iPhone but possibly because of the better specs it does not, in fact, last as long. This might not be a major issue because it does last 6-8 hours of “active” usage, but it’s certainly less than ideal, and I can think of lots of situations where I would want more than 10 hours between charges.

Third, there’s the fact that it really isn’t as quickly responsive as the iPhone. I’m sure loading times for games and so on will be faster- that dual core processor and extra RAM must show up somewhere- but the basic touch sensitivity is just a teeny bit less. Not necessarily very irritating, but certainly noticeable, even when you’re not looking for it.

Fourth, there’s the screen resolution, which is quite a bit less. This is as advertised, but that doesn’t help the fact that if you’re going to be reading something on it, you’d have to scroll much longer on the galaxy s2 than on the iPhone 4, even with the bigger screen. The iPhone does look positively puny if you set them next to each other, though.

Now, all of these are minor points, and it’s entirely possible that I’m overweighing the small inconveniences and underweighing the substantially greater power of the Galaxy S2, and that awesomely large 4.3″ screen. A lot of these bugs like the colour enhancement are meant to be features, or are inevitable side effects of features, and they probably are features for some people in some contexts. My initial plan was to get a decent Android phone for the present and see how the iPhone 5 will be when it comes out, which probably will not be very long. But at least for now, despite my initial bias, I think I’m going to stick with Apple.

Footnotes:

[1]Where do I start? The biggest issues:

  1. Apple blatantly screws over people with older phones, as evidenced by the iOS 4.0 update rigmarole for the iPhone 3G. This update is by far my biggest reason for hating Apple.
  2. You need to resort to some extremely inconvenient workarounds to do anything to this phone without using iTunes every step of the way. I don’t really hate iTunes, I just hate being forced to rely on it.
  3. They… well, let’s just say they don’t have the cleanest corporate image.
  4. I really, really don’t want to be yet another Apple fanboy. Oh, but look…
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