It's been a long, long time.
I've been using an Apple iPhone for years--since the original model debuted, in fact. I use it for the latest and greatest apps, I have an extensive archive of music in iTunes, and I rely heavily on the voice-activated assistant named Siri--mostly for getting directions and finding bagel shops. One of the main reasons I use a iPhone for daily work is that many mobile app startups like Ever or PopUpPlay release their wars on iOS first, then get around to other platforms. Many connected home devices start with an iPhone app; many cars only offer an iPhone connector.
Yet, I recently started tested a new Android phone that is making me question whether I need to keep living in the Apple world. There are a few things still holding me back, which I'll explain later, but let's just say there is a tremor in Cupertino-land and it has nothing to do with an earthquake or Godzilla. Apple held an event recently where they announced smaller versions of the iPhone and iPad Pro, which didn't help convince me to stay within the comfortable confines of iOS.
The phone I'm testing is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I should tell you right away, I have had my reservations with Android over the years, ever since I tested an early pre-release model at the Google headquarters before the first production model came out long ago. Big surprise here since I'm an introvert, but I tend to text and Slack all day from a phone, so I rely heavily on a keyboard.
No matter how hard I've tried over the years, the Android OS keyboard just has never worked quite right. On other phones, I used to make frequent mistakes and give up. It didn't matter if I was using an HTC model, something from Samsung or another brand. The iPhone keyboard just works. And, there were times when an Android app, even those from Google, would suddenly quit. I've used Android extensively over the years; I have not relied on Android to do my job on a daily basis.
I'm happy to report that the Galaxy S7 Edge has a keyboard that is much more accurate. I only had a few problems. I texted all day, typed up emails, and even wrote part of a document in Google Docs and never felt like the phone was the problem. (My larger than normal thumb, that's another story.) I only experienced a few minor crashes in Google Maps and the Android Store.
A few specs on this phone should make Apple shudder. It is water resistant (5 feet for 30 minutes), which means you can spill your coffee on it in a meeting and not blow a gasket. SanDisk sent me a 200GB MicroSD to test with the Edge, and I immediately downloaded every Android movie I've ever purchased and rented a few more. I had filled the 32GB of internal storage but only made a dent on the expandable memory. (To add the card, you do need the small pin to open the SIM card slot at the top.)
The 12-megapixel camera is outstanding. I shot videos of my kids and took photos of friends, and my one main realization is that the camera lets more light into the shot than the iPhone 6s by far. It's amazing. The Edge has a "pro" mode for photos that lets you set white balance, ISO, aperture size, and other options you normally only find on a high-end DSLR camera. I used the Edge to snap photos of signed contracts and receipts, too, saving them to Google Docs with a few clicks.
So, about Google. I'm a hybrid Apple, Microsoft and Google user. In my daily routine, I tend to use a Chrome laptop or Windows 10. I prefer Google Docs and Google Drive over the Microsoft options. I use the Outlook mobile app for email. (Trust me, it's better.) On the Edge, I noticed Google kept politely nudging me back into the fold. My searches on a Windows 10 laptop using Chrome magically showed up in the Google search bar on the phone. (That's right! I was researching new cars yesterday, who knew?) Hmm, interesting: So did some of my Google Maps searches. Apple often gets criticism for their closed ecosystem, but Google likes to corral you, too.
I don't own a wireless charger, but I can see that the Edge has some other advantages there as well. A few cars like the 2016 Toyota Camry have a wireless charging tray that works with the Edge. You set your phone down to charge it, no extra case required. IKEA even makes furniture that supports wireless charging. With an iPhone, you need to use a case.
Speaking of cases, the world of accessories has embraced Samsung fully. There are Edge cases from Mophie, Griffin, Ballistic, and UAG, to name but a few. The cases work fine with the curved edges of the Edge and make the phone less slippery.
The Edge lasted easily all day, almost surprisingly so. It depends on whether you are texting the office all day or watching The Revenant, of course. There's a massive 3600 mAh battery inside the Edge, bigger than the last Samsung Galaxy S6 model, and it charges up quickly. I rarely even had to think about charging midday.
Now, to be completely honest, I have not fully embraced Android quite yet. It might take a while. It's a bit complicated. I use an old Gmail account, shared between family members, for a Google Music account. (I don't want anyone sharing my primary email.) So, when I want to upload music, I have to login with that account. I still find iTunes easier to use for music management. Also, since I test cars so often, they tend to work much better with an iPhone. Just today, I tested a Nissan Titan truck and it did not recognize the S7 Edge over a USB connection.
I also prefer iPhone notifications. They seem more helpful and detailed. On the Edge, you have to drag up on a notification to get more info. When the phone is off, the screen shows a small icon to indicate how many messages you have, the date and time, and charge level, which is handy. However, I'm used to asking Siri, even when my iPhone screen is off, about the weather. Habits, right?
These are minor inconveniences and specific to me. Most of the apps I use on a daily basis, like Sprout Social, the FitBit app, Vivint home security, LinkedIn, Texture for magazines, and Strava for bike workouts are all on both platforms. A lot of this is personal preference, but here's the rub. Developers still make iPhone apps first because they know there's a halo around that phone. They want the cachet, the prestige. Maybe I do, too. We'll see if I convert fully.