Thursday, 23 July 2015

iPhone to Android - LG G4 first impressions

Enough of getting out of Appleville - what is it like in the world of Android?

Initial impressions were a little shaky. I hate unclipping molded plastic. No matter how well it is made, it always feels like it is going to break so getting the back off the phone was fraught. Of course, the fact I could get the back off at all is a point in its favour as this handset has a replaceable battery and expandable memory.

Putting in the micro SD card was a bit odd - it felt like it wasn't locked securely into place. It turned out that it wasn't so I needed to open it up again to fix it but it needed a bit more of a push than I was initially willing to give. Still, having it open let me switch the back for a Qi wireless charging enabled case which clipped into place and Just Worked. I don't need wireless charging in my life but it was one of the little things I was excited to try - it feels like I'm in the future. Yes, I'm a child.

Next, loading it up. Key noises. Argh. First task on any new device - silence the system noises. The Android ones seem particularly obnoxious to me. Also, the default Android (or possibly LG?) keyboard is pretty irritating. Why doesn't it auto-complete for me?

Powering through the horrible sounds and annoying keyboard, I put in my Google account details and ... that's it. The phone thinks for a few moments and EVERYTHING WORKS. Calendar, email, contacts, music, files in Drive, sync - the list goes on. I'm very, very impressed. It's not quite as good as a fully iCloud Apple device, but it's much cleaner than I'm used to using non-Apple services on an iPhone.

It gets better from there. Everything that is annoying can be changed. Keyboard? Swiftkey please. Sounds? Change them. Turn them off. Whatever. Text messaging not great? Install an entirely new text message application (Textra). And so on. If you can't be bothered to do it on your phone, just log into Google Play on your desktop and tell it to install stuff to your phone from there. I think you can do this on an iPhone but since it involves firing up iTunes I'd rather add the applications directly to the phone's hard disk using a magnetised needle.

Out of the box I'd say iOS has the edge. It's more refined, snappier and has much better defaults. But Android gives me options iOS users can only dream about. Arguably far too many configuration options, but it really didn't take too long to go through the ones I cared about and by the end I have something which works very well and is tailored to the way I use the phone. It's still doesn't feel quite as snappy as a new iPhone but it's much more than fine and the personalisation definitely makes up for it.

The LG G4 is a lovely device. Much bigger than the iPhone 4S, but it really didn't take very long to get used to the change. The screen is quite beautiful - quad HD with a great colour definition -  and the camera is fantastic too. The battery started out frightening - I struggled to get a full day out of the charge - but a friend told me they gain life after a day or so of use and he was right. Last time I looked, the indicator said I had 75 hours remaining. My usage has dropped off a bit as I've stopped fiddling with it but not that much.

Android tells me things about the battery. How much it's using and which applications are consuming the power. Why didn't my iPhone tell me this information?

So - first impressions weren't great. Almost every other impression since then has been brilliant. I've been using the system for a little over a week now and it still gives me actual pleasure - it has been a long while since I could say that about a phone.

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