PC Perspective’s Android to iPhone series explores the opinions, views and experiences of the site’s Editor in Chief, Ryan Shrout, as he moves from the Android smartphone ecosystem to the world of the iPhone and iOS. Having been entrenched in the Android smartphone market for 7+ years, the editorial series is less of a review of the new iPhone 6s as it is an exploration on how the current smartphone market compares to what each sides’ expectations are.
Full Story Listing:
- Day 0: What to Expect
- Day 3: Widgets and Live Photos
- Day 6: Battery Life and Home Screens
- Day 17: SoC Performance
- Day 31: Battery Life and Closing
It probably won’t come as a shock to the millions of iPhone users around the globe, but the more days I keep the 6s in my pocket, the more accepting I am becoming with the platform. The phone has been fast and reliable – I have yet to come across any instability or application crashes despite my incessant installations of new ones. And while I think it’s fair to say that even new Android-based phones feel snappy to user interactions out of the box, the iPhone is just about a week in without me ever thinking about performance – which is exactly what you want from a device like this.
There are some quirks and features missing from the iPhone 6s that I had on my Droid Turbo that I wish I could implement in settings or through third-party applications. I fell in love with the ability to do a double wrist rotation with the Droid as a shortcut to opening up the camera. It helped me capture quite a few photos when I only had access to a single hand and without having to unlock the phone, find an icon, etc. The best the iPhone has is a “drag up from the bottom” motion from the lock screen but I find myself taking several thumb swipes on it before successfully activating it when only using one hand. Trying to use the home button to access the lock screen, and thus the camera shortcut, is actually hindered because the Touch ID feature is TOO FAST, taking me to a home screen (that may not have the camera app icon on it) where I need to navigate around.
I have been a user of the Pebble Time since it was released earlier this year and I really enjoy the extended battery life (measured in days not hours) when compared to Android Wear devices or the Apple Watch. However, the capabilities of the Pebble Time are more limited with the iPhone 6s than they are with Android – I can no longer use voice dictation to reply to text messages or emails and the ability to reply with easy templates (yes, no, I’ll be there soon, etc.) is no longer available. Apple does not allow the same level of access to the necessary APIs as Android does and thus my Time has effectively become a read-only device.
Finally, my concern about missing widgets continues to stir within me; it is something that I think the iPhone 6s could benefit from greatly. I also don’t understand the inability to arrange the icons on the home screens in an arbitrary fashion. Apple will not let me move icons to the bottom of the page without first filling up every other spot on the screen – there can be no empty spaces!! So while my organizational style would like to have a group of three icons in the bottom right hand corner of the screen with some empty space around it, Apple doesn’t allow me to do that. If I want those icons in that location I need to fill up every empty space on the screen to do so. Very odd.
I don’t want to sound overly negative in this update about my experience – even though it is easy to find the flaws in how the iPhone 6s compares to the Android environment, there is a lot that I continue to be impressed with. Take battery life – today was what I consider my first “normal” day of usage with the iPhone 6s. I wasn’t running speed tests or artificially testing software. Even with a battery of only ~1750 mAh, compared to the 3000 mAh of the Droid Turbo, the iPhone 6s had 35% battery remaining at midnight, having come off the charger at 8:45am that day. Even with the much larger battery, my Droid Turbo struggles meet that benchmark. Obviously I need to continue to monitor this as adding new apps that do more background monitoring could affect the iPhone in a similar manner.
I haven’t dropped my iPhone 6s yet, I decided it was best to get a case for it. I’m a minimalist in this regard, wanting as little material surrounding the phone as possible. I already find it frustrating that I am hiding my phones aesthetics (be it Android or iPhone) so I attempt to maintain as much of the identity of the device as possible with a slim case design. The case also helps to protect what I think is the only dangerous part of the design: the lens. Despite the fact it is built with a sapphire material I still worry about it so having the case take some of the impact off the lens housing makes me feel better, if nothing else.
Online you'll find several reviews that tell us there are Android devices with cameras that perform better than that found on the iPhone 6s, I continue to be impressed by my experience using it. The shutter speed is impressively quick and when I bring up the camera app, it is ready to take a picture almost instantly. If you are trying to get that picture of your infrequently smiling baby, that’s very important! In the later life of my Droid Turbo I often found that even with the double-wrist-rotation shortcut, the camera app would take multiple seconds to start up – not a great user experience.
For users of different keyboard styles on Android phones, it was great to see Apple finally adapt and allow third-party keyboards to be used on iPhone devices. I purchased and installed Swype for my 6s but I have noticed some issues that appear to be keyboard-API based rather than Swype specific. Occasionally, when I open up the Messages app I will be greeted with the standard Apple keyboard, even after I have triple checked that Swype was enabled and utilize the last time I was inputting text into that field. When I press the globe icon the bottom right hand corner to reveal the many emoji I need to use to describe my feelings, and then hit the “ABC” icon to return to the keyboard…low and behold the Swype keyboard has returned. This is a repeatable and somewhat frustrating experience as it means I am often swiping across the keyboard that doesn’t support it. Not knowing exactly which input method is going to come up at any given time is clearly not ideal.
As I near a full week with the iPhone 6s as my only phone I find it incredibly interesting that there is not a single application or usage model that I had with my Droid Turbo that I haven’t been able to duplicate with the iPhone 6s. As an Android user I always assumed that there were certain applications that were exclusive to that marketplace, just as there are games and programs that are exclusive to the iOS platforms. I am heavily invested in Google’s online services including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Keep and more and all of those are easily accessed and controlled on the iPhone 6s. Google Keep was the latest addition to that iPhone app portfolio (just a few weeks ago) and without its ability to manage my notes and tasks, I would be lost. Heck, even Google Now and Google Maps work on the iPhone 6s, though with a slightly more obtuse integration. Now that I think about it…it is somewhat telling that I have essentially turned this iPhone 6s into the best Google services-based smartphone I have ever used.
On the day of a PC Perspective Podcast recording, which happens on Wednesday nights at 10pm ET / 7pm PT at pcper.com/live for those of you interested, I usually don’t get home until sometime between 12:30am and 1:00am that night, and last night was right in line with that. Once again I find myself impressed with the battery life of the iPhone 6s, having lasted from my 8:45am wakeup call (courtesy of my daughter Emmaline) until about 1am, and still had 17% of its battery life remaining. Even though I spent the majority of that time in my office in front of various computers running benchmarks and writing, I am constantly checking my phone for email notifications, fantasy football updates and of course, messages from the wife and babysitter giving me updates on the baby at home.
I said this on the podcast last night – but if the Droid Turbo had a 1750 mAh battery it would be unusable. Apple has done some impressive work here to get such a slim phone with a small battery to last as long as it does. And all the while I don’t feel like I am missing out on some fundamental capability that I had on Android, nor do I find performance lacking when using any application.
Though I am waiting another few days before doing some of the traditional benchmarking that we run on smartphone and tablet devices, Ken and Allyn, both of which are long time Apple iPhone users, continue to comment on the faster application load times and responsiveness of the new A9 SoC. Even compared to the A8 in the iPhone 6 the experience is much improved. I can’t make that same claim from personal experience, as this is my first new iPhone since the 3G, but I can attest to the user experience of input, touch and app loading to be at or above any Android device I have set hands on.
That’s it for me for this update. In the next few days I will start wandering in the direction of benchmarks: synthetics, games, productivity, etc. I’ll report those findings in an upcoming Android to iPhone story update and you can be sure that real-world user experience will continue to be explored and discussed as well.
Do you have any questions or thoughts on the process thus far? Anything specifically you want me to try or to investigate as a new iPhone user? Let me know in the comments below!