An iPhone lover’s confession: I switched to the Nexus 4. Completely.

03 Jan
Update: Shortly after publishing this article here, it became #1 on Y Combinator’s Hacker News, republished by GIZMODO, picked up by ReadWriteWeb’s Editor-in-Chief (Dan Lyons), commented on by CNET NewsGigaOM’s Mathew Ingram and the International Business Times. I also gave a lengthy interview in German regarding the topic, which go subsequently covered in The European (German only).

The discussion mainly takes place over on Google+.

First things first, I’d love to get in touch on Google+ and Twitter (@ralf).

Over the past few years I’ve invested a lot into Apple products and services.

My Nexus 4If you’d come by my house, you’d find four of the latest Apple TVs, two iMacs, the latest MacBook Air, a MacBook Pro, more than five AirPort Express stations and Apple’s Time Capsule. You could touch every single iPhone, from the first up to the iPhone 5, iPads ranging from first generation to fourth and we’ve lately added two iPad minis.

My iTunes Library comprises well over 8.000 songs – all purchased via the iTunes Store. No matter whom you would ask, everybody will confirm that I’m what some folks call an Apple fanboy.

The reach of Apple’s products goes beyond my personal life.

As the co-founder of Germany’s largest mobile development shop, I’m dealing with apps – predominantly iOS powered – in my daily professional life.

Driven primarily by the business I run, I tried to give Android a chance more than once.

In various self-experiments, I tried to leave my iPhone at home for the Motorola Droid, the Nexus One, the Samsung Galaxy S II and S III – and always switched straight back to the iPhone. None of those Android devices have worked for me – yet.

And then I got the Nexus 4.

When the latest Google flagship Android device shipped, I almost expected it to turn out as yet another “take-a-look-and-sell-it-on-ebay” experience. Little did I know.

It’s now almost two weeks since I switched the Nexus 4 on for the first time – and meanwhile I completely moved to it, leaving my iPhone 5 at home. Do I miss anything? Nope. Except iMessage. More to that later.

In this somewhat lengthy post, I’ll try to explain why.

My motivation is not to bash Platform A over Platform B. On the contrary: I will try to summarize my very personal findings and experience based on years of using iOS. I’ve seen the Apple platform evolve while Android was playing catch-up for so long. When iOS 6 came out, for the first time I complained about the lack of innovation in this major new release. I asked myself, whether we might see Apple beginning to lose its leading position in mobile platforms.

Before you read on, it’s important to emphasize that I’m a pro user.

I’m not the average smartphone owner, who makes just a couple of calls every now and then or runs an app once in a while. By the nature of my job and out of curiosity, I deal a lot with social media outlets, social networks and constantly try new services. With that said, my judgement might not be suitable for everyone. In case you consider yourself being a demanding power user, though, you might find this helpful.

At the time of this writing, I used Android Jelly Bean 4.2.1 on an LG Nexus 4.


Putting it into a single line: The latest version of Android outshines the latest version of iOS in almost every single aspect.

I find it to be better in terms of the performance, smoothness of the rendering engine, cross-app and OS level integration, innovation across the board, look & feel customizability and variety of the available apps.

In the following paragraphs, I try to explain why.

Performance and Smoothness of the Rendering Engine

I know there are benchmarks which measure all kinds of technical performance on a very detailed level. That’s not what I’ve done and, honestly, I’m not interested into that much. I’m talking about the performance I feel in my daily use.

Using the Nexus 4 with Android 4.2.1 is a pure pleasure when it comes to performance. I don’t exactly know what Google has done with “Project Butter” in Jelly Bean, but the result is astonishing. In the past, Android felt laggy, sometimes even slow and responses to gestures didn’t feel half as immediate as on iOS.

This has changed completely.

I’d say both platform are at least even. In some cases, Android even feels a bit ahead of iOS 6. I especially got this impression when it comes to rapidly switching between apps – which I constantly do now – and scrolling through a huge number of more complex content. (I’m not talking just tables with text here.)

While Android still doesn’t give you bouncing lists and scroll views – primarily, because Apple has a patent for this specific behavior – every transition between views has been reworked, polished and modernized. In most cases, it feels more modern, clean and up-to-date than its iOS counterpart.

Cross-app and OS level integration

One of the biggest advantages I found during my daily use is the level of cross-app and OS level integration.

Cross-app integrationThis also is the area where I got most disappointed when Apple introduced iOS 6.

In fact, I think iOS has reached a point, where usability starts to significantly decrease due to the many workarounds that Apple has introduced. All of these just to prevent exposing a paradigm like a file system or allowing apps to securely talk to each others. There is a better way of doing this. Apples knows about it but simply keeps ignoring the issues.

On Android, it’s quite the opposite. One can see the most obvious example when it comes to handling all sorts of files and sharing.

Let’s assume, I receive an email with a PDF attachment which I’d like to use in some other apps and maybe post to a social network later.

On iOS, the user is forced to think around Apple’s constraints. There is no easy way to just detach the file from the email and subsequently use it in what ever way I want. Instead, all iOS apps that want to expose some sort of sharing feature, do have to completely take care for it themselves. The result is a fairly inconsistent, unsatisfying user experience.

On iOS, you might use the somewhat odd “Open in…” feature – in case the developer was so kind to implement it – to first move the file over to Dropbox, which gives you a virtual, cloud based file system. If you’re lucky, the other app, from which you want to use the file next, offers Dropbox integration, too, so you can re-download it and start from there. All because Apple denies the necessity of basic cross-app local storage.

On Android, it’s really simple.

I can detach the file to a local folder and further work with it from there. Leveraging every single app that handles PDF files. In case I receive a bunch of mp3 files, I can do the same. And every app, that somehow can handle audio playback, can reuse those mp3 files.

Another great example: Sharing stuff on social networks. On iOS, I have to rely on the developers again. Flipboard, as one of the better examples, gives me the ability to directly share with Google+, Twitter and Facebook. On my Nexus 4, I have 20+ options. That is, because every app I install can register as a sharing provider. It’s a core feature of the Android operating system.

But it goes even further: On Android, I can change the default handlers for specific file types – much like I’m used to from desktop operating systems.

If, for example, you’re not happy with the stock Photo Gallery application, that shows up whenever an app wants you to pick an image, you can simply install one from over a hundred alternatives and tell Android to use it as its new default. The next time, you post a photo with the Facebook app – or have to pick an image from within any other app – your favorite gallery picker shows up instead of Android’s own.

All of this is entirely impossible on iOS today. I’ve stopped counting how often I felt annoyed because I clicked a link to a location in Mobile Safari and would have loved the Google Maps app to launch. Instead, Apple’s own Maps app is hardcoded into the system. And there’s no way for me to change it.

The customizability is simply stunning

Let me make this very clear: Gone are the days where home screens on Android phones almost always looked awful.

If you don’t believe me, hop over to MyColorscreen and see for yourself.

Also note that all of those are real Android home screens, not just concepts provided by designers. They are not beautifully photoshopped wallpapers, but fully functional screens with app icons and active widgets.

And all of those can be configured pretty easily just by installing a couple of apps and tweaking settings. Here is an album showing my current configuration, which I was able to achieve after just a couple of days using Android as an absolute newbie.

Getting inspired? Here are some more of my favorites:

Android Home Screen


Android Home Screen

Now, iPhone lovers might argue, that the average Joe doesn’t want to deal with widgets, icons and custom animations.

I’ve used the same argument for years. Well, guess what, you don’t have to. The default Jelly Bean home screen looks beautiful already. But in case you want a somewhat more individual phone, the possibilities are endless.

For years, what you could do with Android, simply yielded awful looking home screens. This has changed. Significantly so.

And believe me or not, but after having configured my Nexus 4 just the way I always wanted – providing me with the fastest access to my most frequently used apps along with the most important information on a single screen – whenever I grab my iPhone for testing purposes, iOS feels pretty old, outdated and less user friendly. For me, there currently is no way of going back. Once you get used to all of these capabilities, it’s hard to live without them.

App quality and variety

Yes, there are still lots of really ugly apps on Google Play.

In my opinion, this has two primary reasons.

First, the obvious one: The lack of a centralized quality control and review. It’s great for encouraging variety, but obviously it also allows for some really cheap productions to be published to the store. Usually, you can spot those immediately from the screenshots on Google Play.

The second reason is more low-level: The way developers declare user interfaces (it’s primarily done in an XML configuration file) allows for rapidly hammering together dirty UIs. That’s what happens a lot and users can see and feel it. iOS developers tend to be more aware to involve designers and iOS UIs cannot be crapped together as easily.

However, gone are the days where the apps I use most greatly fall behind their iOS counterparts.

The Facebook app is identical in terms of the look and feel and its features. As a plus, it has better cross-app integration. The Google+ app is better on Android, but that’s to be expected. Flipboard is fantastic on Android, plus better integration. The same is true for Pulse News. The list goes on: Instagram, Path, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Quora, Pocket, Amazon Kindle, Spotify, Shazam and Google Talk. They are all great on Android. Plus better integration. Plus home screen widgets. You sense a scheme here?

And if you want to experience some real UI magic – even if you just need an argument when you’re bumping into an iPhone owner the next time – install Zime, a highly addictive calendar for Android which features a smooth 3D animation and really innovative UI.

Talking about variety. This is, where Android’s openness pays off.

On iOS, many things I always wished to see being developed, simply cannot be done because of the strict sandbox Apple enforces around apps. On Android, I use an app to block unwanted calls. To auto-respond to incoming short messages. And to lock some specific apps with an extra passcode, so my customers don’t play with my Facebook profile, when I hand over my Nexus 4 for demos.

I also have apps that give me great insight into the use of mobile data across the device and all apps. Or the battery consumption. Or which apps talk home and how frequently.

None of it is available for iOS. And possibly won’t be at any time in the near future.

What I miss

I said this earlier: The only thing I miss is iMessages. I’m not kidding. Letting go iMessages was difficult, as many of my friends are on iPhones and used to text me via iMessage. While there are perfect alternatives (Facebook Messenger, Google Talk, WhatsApp, to name only a few), from time to time I still find a couple of unread iMessages, when I switch on my iPhone 5.

My most frequently used apps

I’m an Android newbie. During the last couple of days, I had to ask many questions and received hundreds of recommendations for apps. I installed, tried and uninstalled. And kept the great ones. My sincere thanks go out to the great Nexus and Android communities over at Google+.

In case you decided to give Android a try before you read this article, or got inspired here, I’d like to save you some of my journey. Here is a list of the apps I found most useful (and beautiful, given the high standards set by years as an iPhone addict):

Note: I always use the paid / pro version of apps, if one is available. Coming from iOS, I simply cannot adjust my eyes to in-app-ads and probably never will. Google Play now offers credit cards, PayPal and some other payment alternatives. Plenty of choice. I encourage everybody to give back to the developer economy and not just go for the free versions.

In case you’re wondering why I took the burden to include all of the links to the apps above, well, here is another advantage over iOS: Google Play allows the complete remote install via the Web. If you’re logged into your account you click the install button after visting one of the links in any browser, and wherever your phone is, the respective app will be installed silently.

My Android Wish List

Let me finish this post with a couple of wishes I’ve got for the next major version of Android, hopefully made available at this year’s Google I/O:

  • More and centralized settings for notifications, or, a notification center.The rich notifications introduced in Jelly Bean and the overall usability of the notification bar and drawer are already far better than those on iOS. (On a side note, I never understood why usability masters like the Apple engineers decided to make the “clear” button so tiny, that you can hardly hit it without using a magnifying glass.)However, the level of customization you get for Android notifications is currently 100% up to the developers.This means, even though Android offers a great variety of possibilities, they are not consistently available in all apps. In fact, some apps barely let you switch notifications on and off, while others allow you to customize every aspect, from notification sound to the color of the notification LED to do-not-disturb times. These should be made available globally and enforced through the APIs.For example, I’d love to be able to receive notifications on Facebook messages, but don’t want them to show the full message preview in the notification bar.There are some apps, which let you chose whether you want a complete preview, or just a standard “you’ve got mail” message, without revealing its content. But it’s up to the developer whether you’ve got the choice or not.Or: Android has support for a notification LED that can flash in different colors. I configured the LED on my Nexus 4 to blink green on new WhatsApp messages. Incoming stuff from Facebook notifies in blue and new business mail causes the LED to flash in white. What sounds like a tiny feature is really valuable: While sitting in a meeting, you can grasp immediately whether you might want to check your phone right away or not. Unfortunately, not all apps let you customize the LED color. Again, it’s up to the developer to provide these settings as part of their application. This belongs into a centralized notification center.Options I’d like to see centralized: LED color, notification sound, content preview. They could also be exposed on app level, but the Android Notification Center should allow for overrides.
  • Support for multiple accounts in Google Now.I’d love to see Google Now taking advantage of multiple configured Google accounts. On my device, I’d like my Google Apps for Businesses account to drive the calendar based cards but my private one for everything else (location and browsing history, etc.). Currently, Google Now can only leverage a single account. I therefore had to switch browsing and location history on for the Google Apps for Business account I use professionally. This should be a no-brainer for Google and I keep wondering, why the folks at Google tend to forget these multiple-account scenarios.
  • Solving the inconsistencies grouped around the back button.I’ve actually found this on many lists and from what I’ve read it has already gotten better in Jelly Bean. However, at times I still get confused about the multiple navigation hierarchies that are caused by the native back button which is part of the OS and a second back button available within apps. Oddly enough, the mostly fantastic Google+ Android app suffers from this issue, too. Sometimes I end up on my home screen just because I “went back to far”. It’s not a big issue, but one which needs to be addressed.As a starter, how about giving the damn back button a different color if the next time you hit it, you’ll be taken out of the app.
  • Indicate whether an app uses Google Cloud Messaging or some other technology  stay connected.I believe this one to be huge: On iOS, there are essentially no long-running background processes, except for VoIP or Navigation apps. This means, all apps that notify users of incoming data while they are inactive, make use of a centralized service operated by Apple, called Push Notifications. It has a great advantage with respect to battery life, as there is only a single process on the OS level, that monitors all incoming messages and distributes them to the targeted apps, instead of potentially many apps doing whatever they want to do to stay connected.Android has a similar service, named Google Cloud Messaging.Unfortunately, there is no obvious way to differentiate apps that leverage this service from those, that constantly poll or even keep a socket connection to their home servers.I’d love to see the ones making use of Google Cloud Messaging identified in Google Play and on the OS level, maybe in the already available App Info screen. That way, I could dramatically increase battery life by stopping those that constantly talk back home and encourage developers to make use of Google’s Cloud Messaging service.

One last word

At the beginning I stated, that I tried Android many times before and it never worked for me. I figured, there are two main reasons for this. First, Android has made a major step forward with Jelly Bean. It just wasn’t on pair with iOS before. Second, and more important, I found the stock Android experience provided by Google the best you can get. After switching to the Nexus 4, I tried my Samsung S III again, and it did not work for me.

What Samsung does with its TouchWiz modifications and many of the other tiny changes – and other non Nexus vendors, too – totally ruins the experience for me. If you’re coming from iOS I highly recommend choosing one of the Nexus devices with guaranteed updates and a clean Android environment the way Google envisioned it.

Closing it off

This was rather lengthy. I figured, switching the mobile OS platform should be worth an in-depth view. Hence this post. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Will I sell my iPhone 5? No. No. No. I never sold one. I’ll keep it. Maybe it’ll manage to win me back with iOS 7.

Looking forward to your feedback in the comments. Or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

131 replies
« Older Comments
  1. Jason Howlin says:

    It’s great that you’re smart enough of a power user to handle the Nexus responsibly.

    But what Apple is doing is making computing easy for the 80% of the population that can’t handle having “20+ options for sharing on social networks, or “changing the default handlers for specific file types,” or, installing a new default photo gallery app so “your favorite gallery picker shows up instead of Android’s own.”

    We went down this road before with Windows and it got so bad that people stopped using computers for fun because they stopped working. Everyone in that 80% had a Windows computer at home that took 30 minutes to boot, had 25 icons in the system tray, a browser from plug-in hell, and it was so slow and buggy it just sat in a corner and was worthless.

    So Apple said let’s reinvent this thing, get rid of the filesystem, all of the customization, sandbox everything, etc. and give people a rock-solid computer that happens to fit in your pocket. And make phone calls. And people fell in love with the Internet again.

    • Aharon says:

      That in my opinion, was a horrible idea with repercussions that are still felt today. If Apple actually educated the masses on Computer Literacy with their iPhone by introducing an easy-to-use file system, then we wouldn’t have brain-dead teenagers that use their phones as status symbols that double as portals to Facebook, Twitter and (shudder) Instagram. If people actually knew how much potential smart devices have, then we could have innovated so much farther than Apple has gone recently. Just look at this:
      Why hasn’t Apple done this already with their iPhone? I doubt they will ever merge iOS and Mac OSX like this because people are used to the marketing drivel that Apple spoon-feeds them, like, “It just works.”

      Sure I want it to work, but I want it to be worth the money I spend on it. For 350 bucks unlocked with 16 gigabytes, the Nexus 4 is hard to pass up for an iPhone, which costs an outrageous 550 bucks for a 16GB model.

      • Robin Thakur says:

        I respectfully disagree on the audio front. This is also what stopped me using the Samsung Galaxy 3 as my day to day phone and caused me to buy an iPhone 5. On the Galaxy 3, you can’t triple click to go back a track, double tap to go forward and all the standard audio controls I have taken for granted since 2007. Only with a paid app do these controls become available, as well as standard stuff like having the musi controls on the lock screen, and then you are still left with dragging and dropping audio files onto the device. Using iTunes and some sort of third party hacked syncing mechanism is not what I call a robust solution. What happens when Apple update iTunes so the freeloaders can’t use it? Yes I know that Google would prefer that I use Google Play, and no I would rather have the music on the device so I can play it on the London Underground where I don’t get internet. Pretending the app ecosystem on Android is better than iOS is frankly disingenuous unless things have come on vastly since christmas. Lots of the apps and games I use every day do not exist or exist in an inferior form on Android and until this gets better (and it is getting better slowly) then iOS is still the platform to own. ONce developers start being able to properly monetise Android, then this will change, no sooner.

        • Jacob says:

          That’s weird my Nexus 4 has lockscreen music controls and headset controls such as triple click double click and pause/play. Google music also matches music you upload for free at 320kbps. Plus, Android features something called “pinning” which enables you to listen to music, read books, personal documents, magazines and websites to access your media offline. I guess you need to be spoon fed these things.

    • Jastopher says:

      Slightly unimpressed with your choice of doubletwist since it is as yet unable to work with the N4.

      • Benn says:

        As a matter of fact, Google Music allows you to actually download the music you’re listening to to the phone so that you can listen to it offline later. Concerning the app ecosystem, both have their exclusivities, some apps are present on Android but not on IOS, and vice versa…

      • brian says:

        Um I’ve been using Doubletwist since day one with my n4. With air sync, of course.

  2. Troy Angrignon says:

    You and I have spent an almost equal time in the Apple ecosystem. I’m at 32 years and counting. :) Your Post about switching hit on every single reason i’ve never been able to switch. I bought and then gave away the last Nexus. But you’ve convinced me to go back and try it again, once Google/LG start shipping again. I’m glad you got so much coverage on this article. It was incredibly well-thought-out. Best of luck for 2013 and thanks for writing this.

  3. Edwin says:

    After I read your article I see that I’m not the only one feeling left behind. I own an iPhone 4 for almost two years and I could not be less interested in upgrading to a 4S or a 5. Why should I upgrade? I would still have to put up to the same stupid limitations imposed by iOS.

    A couple of days ago it took almost 30 minutes to “side load” three comic files to a comic reader app I have installed. iTunes decided not to detect my iPhone via wi-fi so I had to upload these files to my dropbox, download them one by one on my dropbox app, and then one by one export them to the comic reader app. Such a simple task and I had to juggle around for half an hour.

    The main reason I’ve haven’t run to Android is because I love mobile gaming and iOS is still THE preferred platform for most developers.

  4. Dan says:

    Looking forward to hearing what you think of the soon to be launched BlackBerry 10 once you’ve had the opportunity to use one.

  5. Don says:

    Great Post! Thanks for the article.

    I recently moved from being a long term Android user to the iPhone 5. I always thought that I was missing out on something great by not converting to an iPhone sooner. For some reason, I stuck with Android and have experienced first hand it’s evolution. So, I finally made the switch to iOS on the iPhone 5 and after two weeks of investing a ton of my time getting familiar with this aesthetically appealing device I was ready to pull all of my hair out and throw the stupid thing against the wall. Luckily my wife has been wanted one and will do well with it in her move from her Blackberry. I believe there was a time when the user experience was far superior with an iPhone, but having gotten used to the flexibility and easy file management capabilities of Android, I feel no need to ever try to make the switch to an iPhone again. Who knows, Apple may surprise us one day with some huge breakthrough – but I doubt it.

    Question: Where do you find the TiLED Launcher in the third picture under your THE CUSTOMIZABILITY IS SIMPLY STUNNING section?

    • Chris says:

      Hi don, i agree with every thing you say. I have used android for 4 years i owned a htc legend a galaxy s2 and now a galaxy note which is really a pocket pc. I had to help my boss who got an iphone 4s for work, the telco said that since i have used android i would find the iphone a piece of cakeand i could help her. Well like you i was going to tear out the rest of my hair lol i just couldnt believe people rave over this thing it was like going back a few years in time to use. In the end i said you will just have to get someone who actually owns one to help with some of the stuff i couldnt do! Im so used to things like paid apps free music and all files comeing to and from my phone! I personally just couldnt use this device! I will have a kindle book on my phone in seconds and a screen to read it off anyday over an iphone. If you want to make calls and txt a little buy an iphone, anything else android. To be brutally honest it was almost like useing a childs toy in operation, but actually hard to navigate around, and where is the back button Ahhhhh all over the shop it is.

  6. Alex says:

    Hey, i’ve been looking everywhere for that last launcher example, “TiLED”, but I can’t find it anywhere, can you point me in the right direction?

  7. tessoro says:

    I dont think you are real, you made up all this article to disgrace apple, I too switched from apple to android (nexus 4) and find most of what you point out plain crap. Nexus 4 is just fine, but not, by any means, better than iphone/IOS

    • Aharon says:

      I have a Nexus 4, and it is much richer experience than iOS on my iPod 4th gen. How is the Nexus 4 disappointing you? I do entirely agree with the author of the article on improvements that could be made on Android, though the back button issue can be fixed by developers if they actually followed development guidelines. If I could change the back button, it would act like a back button in a web browser, taking me back to the last page I was at, not up a hierarchy, and if I held on it, it would tell me exactly where I’m going in a little popup over the button.

  8. Sarah says:

    Hey, can you tell me whether the Nexus is compatible with Itunes?

    • Aharon says:

      You can import your iTunes by using the Google Music Sync service on your Mac or Windows computer. Go to the Google Music Webpage, sign in with a Google Account (gmail) and create a Google Wallet with some credit card info so that you can use it, or if you don’t want to, get a Google Play giftcard from the grocery store and redeem the card on your Phone’s play store application (in the 3 dot menu on the top bar) or on the computer on the Play Store website (It’s at the bottom of the page). Then, once that’s done, you can download the Google Music Service on your computer from the download link on the Google Music Webpage, and you can direct it to import music from your iTunes folder where all your music is stored. On my Mac, once the service is installed, it shows as an headphones icon in the settings and preferences. It also can’t hurt to say that the Nexus 4 is available on the Google Play Store again, so get it while you can.

    • alessandro says:

      how cannot be an android devide better than a ios one? it’s just illogical. andoid is about 3.-4 years forward than a ios one.
      i had iphone 3gs and 4 before, i casually switched to android (htc one s) .. it ‘s a non-return point.

    • Dan says:

      Copy+paste in explorer or your OS equivalent.

  9. Denilson says:

    You said: “lock some specific apps with an extra passcode”
    And also said: “Or which apps talk home and how frequently”

    How do you do that? What apps do you use?

  10. Dylan says:

    Impressive article, though many of the limitations of iOS that you mentioned can be overcome by jailbreaking the iPhone.

    • Dan says:

      Yes but why would you choose a device that is “jailed” by the maker just to break that jail, and void your warranty.

      I respect my freedom, and respect Apples choice to deny me that, so I don’t buy Apple devices.

      Openness has always won out, the PC is an open design, IBM don’t even make them any more and Macs are still only 5% of the market (and now PC based), the Internet is open, no body has probably ever heard of IPX/SPX let alone uses it anymore.

  11. Joshua says:

    I love the nexus 4. I think the largest thing keeping me from ios is the limits it puts on me. I have to admit for the ease of use 80% find it much easier to use on a day-to-day basis. Most people argue about jailbreaking can fix most of these issues, but if being on a fair playing field, the android device was not rooted and most people do not hack the device so an out of the box side by side comparison really is the best way in my opinion to compare.

  12. royhid says:

    A brilliant well written article.
    No biased, just opinion based on using both systems daily.

    As an Android user for along time you don’t notice the changes so much release to release. I guess due to the time gap between you trying it before and now you see the differences straight away.

    Again, a brilliant piece which highlights the differences significantly, but still each to their own.

  13. xinzic says:

    And the price, you forgot to mention price.

  14. Terence says:

    I consider myself a power user and have been since 1997. Although I see the benefit of all of the features that you mentioned, I have no desire to do any of them. Hopefully, the Android system never becomes a desktop Windows, because I can never forgive Microsoft for wasting so much of my life fixing, helping, finding workaround, etc. for their crappy software. I’d hate to know the actual accumulated time wasted. I guess I’m at the age where I just want things to work because I’m too busy with other parts of my job and life to tinker with one more gadget.

    Brilliant article btw.


  15. Grayson W says:

    If Google/LG would ever get off their butts and make the Nexus 4 available here in Singapore, I’d dump my iPhone 4S in an instant and switch. Alas, like you, I can’t stand Samsung’s or HTC’s variants of Android, and want the stock “pure” experience.

  16. Phil Moore says:

    Well I happen to have a friend who was working locally on support for Google Nexus and found out they were back in stock in the UK last week. Immediately ordered and it arrived today. I must say what I have seen I think is simply stunning! It’s going to take some time to sit down and set it up the exact way I want it to work, but the ‘rawness’ is far better than the Sense overlay I have been used to with HTC. Thanks for the article btw, some great tips and advice to get me started with my customization!

  17. Jay says:

    I think all your points/arguments does not stand. JB is out on IOS 6.
    I will 100% agree with you IF JB doesn’t exist,
    Without JB, IOS is completely unsuable for me.
    Thus, since you’ve already invested a lot In IOS stuff, like apps and musics, I would reccomend you stay in IOS if you’re willing to take the step to JB your phone. No matter how good android is, apps still run better on on ios, but not for long. Games is a good example, wild blood and modern combat 4 are available on both platforms, but they run seamlessly on ios devices but laggy but quad core android devices.
    I hope this helps.

  18. Jeffrey says:

    Hey people who have owned both smartphones, how’s the nexus 4 battery life compared to the iPhone 5? And the speed?

    • Charles says:

      Jeffrey: I own both…iPhone 5 with Verizon and Nexus 4 on AT&T prepaid. The iPhone 5 has generally better battery life but not by too much. However, if you compared the Nexus battery life with the Galaxy Nexus (i had that one too), I find the Nexus 4 has much, much better battery life than the Galaxy Nexus. Based on my own experience with the Nexus 4, and having now read this article I am planning to make the Nexus my every day phone. I would never have done that with the Galaxy Nexus because of the miserably poor battery life…BUT the Nexus 4 is much, much better in my experience, enough better to where I am ready to make the jump.

  19. Kart says:

    I finally received my nexus 4 and have been using this post as a reference for my transition from iOS to android. I will preface my reply by saying I am not a techie and pretty much a pedestrian in terms of mobile devices. First off the transition is like, being accustomed to driving an automatic sports car in North America (iphone) to driving a fully manual raw rally racer that needs to be tuned (Nexus 4) on the streets of London… or where they drive on the opposite side. The OS is different in so many ways or at least the pure google experience is. A couple times I put it back in the box and was ready to ship it back. I am slowly making the tweaks with the Nova launcher and venturing into settings I am not accustomed to changing. I have made a commitment to stick it out but definitely surmise this phone is not for the average user. Its interesting that iOS does not leverage the use of widgets. My sense is google is innovating at a faster pace than apple.

  20. Paul Davies says:

    I have an iPhone 4S at the moment, but my friend recently got a Nexus and he loves it, great resolution and speed. Although I just think that apps run better on the iPhone and I use mine a lot for trading binary options.

  21. Andrew@Samsung stock symbol says:

    I find my most used android message apps are Viber for free and GoSms for normal messages. I’ve tried skype too, buts its not so good.

  22. eli says:

    I never comment on blogs. This is my first exception. I recently bought a nexus 4 for two reasons. 1. it was cheap for what it was 2. I needed a phone that would work on tmobile USA’s 3G for when I traveled and used my Tmo pay as you go. This pentaband phone made perfect sense. I took a few hours to set it up the way a like then I decided to use it a couple of days to be familiar with it during travels. That was 3 weeks ago.. My nano sim never made it back to the iPhone 5. I do miss iMessage and Facetime as everyone I know has an iPhone. I actually also miss the autocorrect of the iPhone, I just got really used to it. I also find it a little bit too large for one handed use.
    Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone’s screen is just too small for media consumption, making the phone just longer was a mistake I believe. They should have went with the same size/dimensions as the Z10.
    Anyways, not bashing either platform, love them both. I’ll probably still recommend the iPhone to most people I know. But if you have some time to fiddle around and want to be able to do more, Nexus 4 is amazing.

  23. felicity says:

    Hi Ralf, and all,

    Is there an app that will allow you to load your products (books, music, apps) from your apple account? Or can you convert the data somehow to laptop then to Nexus 4? Your article tempts me to switch…

  24. Mechs85 says:

    “The Facebook app is identical in terms of the look and feel and its features.”

    I’d respectievly disagree with you here, and it leads into another point that you brought up:

    “Solving the inconsistencies grouped around the back button”

    Now sometimes If I’m flicking through someones photos, I hit the home button, get a notification about something else, I click the notification in the OS swipe down menu, it doesn’t take me to the notification. It takes me to the last thing I was looking at – which in this case was someones picture. Now to make things worse, if I hit back, it takes me to the previous picture, or the previous page I was on. I sometimes have to KEEP hitting back until I see the FB notification bar again. It’s incredibly annoying.

    As well as this, Instagram has a really annoying bug, where if you upload a pic, view a few photos, hit the home button, then go back into the app, it presents you with the editing window of the pic you just uploaded. It’s not 100% of the time, but it’s enough to be annoying!

    Otherwise, much agreed on most of your points.

    • Mechs85 says:

      I even forgot my other point about the different between the FB app for iOS and Android. When viewing pictures, in iOS you can just swipe down and it closes the picture viewer. In Android it doesnt. We need some equality here!

      *these views are of the most recent updates to the apps, as of 7th of March

  25. Henry says:

    it is really sweet when people actually try to use Android and even have a better experience than iOS. I was used to be a iphone user and last year when my neighbor bought the Galaxy Nexus (with also a pure stock Android), I decided to give it a try for a week. After that, when I touch my iPhone 4s, I felt it like a toy and I can’t do anything with it. The Nexus 4 is a really phone I must say with high quality material (my GNexus is plastic) and I am really impress with the phone.

  26. Simon C. says:

    I also switched from iPhone to a Nexus 4 and can honestly say that there is little chance of me ever going back… OK, how can I say this when I have no idea about future Apple OS updates?
    The reason is firstly, I was simply in awe at the superior level of control and flexibility of Android OS, I believe it to be so far ahead of Apple OS that even if Android stood still, which it won’t, on past iOS update improvements it would take a couple of years before it was close, and even then I cannot ever see Apple moving away from it’s ‘walled garden’ inflexible approach to it’s OS.
    I also agree with another comment here that the Samsung/HTC et al approach ruins Android, they are attempting to fix a problem that simply doesn’t exist. The raw Android experience is simply sublime and lets not forget that Nexus users will get their system updates immediately on release whereas Samsung etc will take 6 – 8 months while they apply their overlay to Android.
    I thought I was an Apple fan as I was quite happy with iOS when I had an iPhone, but I realise now after using the Nexus that I never enjoyed it even half as much as I enjoy Android. As I said… Assuming Android updates continue at this pace and follow the Android core philosophy, there is very little chance of me ever returning iOS.

  27. rajeev says:

    this is a very nice article. i am a novice in nexus 4, shifted yesterday from blackberry. I love the LED notifications of blackberry. missing here. i have a few questions.

    1. which is the app for LED customisation. please let me know.
    2. everytime I need to switch on the phone from the sleep mode, I need to push that start button which is very wierd and I keep thinking this will spoil the button. Is there any app where in i can use a swipe or something to unlock the screen or move it from sleep mode??
    3. Is there a common mailbox like in blackberry. missing it badly.
    4. Is there a universal search for the phone (only phone not net), which can be used on android.

    I have been a power user of blackberry but still yet to learn android. so please help.



    • eli says:

      I’ll help with number 2. There’s 2 options for that one.
      Unrooted, you can download ‘screen off’. You can place it on your home screen or pretty much anywhere and it will lock your phone and turn off the screen. It helps in the sense that you’ll only have to press the power button to turn on your phone.
      Rooted, there’s an app called Touch Control which will let you unlock and lock the phone with a swipe gesture. Amazing app. Very simple to root, read up and it’s a pretty fool proof procedure. If you decide to go that way, you’ll need a custom kernel that’s supported by touch control, and I recommend Franco. You just buy the app on google play once rooted and follow instructions.
      Good luck

    • moooo says:

      Hey, i have been also a blackberry user for years.
      Now i am thinking to switch from a 9900 to the nexus 4 specially for the social and calling apps.
      Please i want your advice and how do u see the nexus powered with android huge market.

      • moooo says:

        I baught the nexus yesterday. A great phone, revolutionary compared to bb.
        Nothing to regret, wish only it got bbm :).
        Nexus 4 jelly bean 4.2 = a great responsive experience.

  28. Dariy1999 says:

    I liked the review and I also was an Apple fan before ICS. After I switched to Android and never turned back, maybe Google Play doesn’t have all the cool apps AppStore has, but most of them and the devs are making more and more, so sooner or later Android will have the same apps iOS has. I also hope iOS adds some juice to the next version.
    I also liked when you called yourself a ”pro” user, lol, having lots of apps and using them, dealing with social media outlets and trying new services is nothing of a pro user. I can call myself half-pro, because I rooted, I unlocked the bootloader, flashed roms and kernels, I made some tweaks and made a custom ROM, tough it wasn’t really good and I didn’t share it. On iOS I made the jailbreak and downloaded tons of stuff from Cydia, so that my iPhone looked better. You can’t call yourself a pro user because your not one. Thanx for the review

  29. says:

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

  30. Davy s says:

    I upgraded from the iPhone 3GS to the nexus 4 and I’ve loved every minute of using it with its 2 gig of ram quad core s4 pro and project butter this computer cause that’s basically What is blows iPhone 5 out the
    Ball park for me I’m running android 422 jelly bean and its bean a plesent experience the thing is lightning
    Fast opens apps instant it’s an all round amazing phone if thers got to be a down side for me it’s the lack of LTE but I can live with my 16 gig model no prob. If Apple were to reinvent the iPhones OS A total overhaul I would consider it but thay would have to shake things up big time I’m thinking a bigger screen
    4.7 inch would be perfect and a whole new interface. I do like the design of the iPhone but that’s about it.

  31. Arthur Ramshaw says:

    1) just search led changer on Google play and find one with a high star rating
    3) you can set up multiple accounts in the email app
    4) dont think so; different launchers can allow you to search your app drawer and i think that you can use file explorers to search through file but dont think there is universal search.

    Possibly, if your stuff isn’t blocked by DRM you can copy files over to your android phone by drag and drop/Copy and paste. Music apps will scan your phone for music files and other files should similarly be scanned by apps.

  32. Michele says:

    This beautiful article just talk about my same experience….exactly the same, and I completely agree with all.

  33. jo says:

    Lol..was really making up my mind for the iphone5. But now got to give it some thoughts.
    Been an android user, have tried many apps ,( Galaxy Sl/gingerbred), and the following are pros and cons(in my limited view):

    Highly customizable..and I love doing it…my own home screen, widgets,wall papers, even I can decide how many home screens i want, my favorite music for morning alarm…, App launchers which makes the UI cute( i use Go launcher, and I love the way it works).
    back button…..and I need it.
    Tons of apps..whatever is your need, you’ll find something that suits.


    Guess it’s my damn 512 RAM, after downloading some good amount of apps, automatic restart is now a customary for my device. The worst thing is, when I pick my phone for an urgent call, I just see it in a switched off state… Hope S3/S4 with higher RAm doesn’t have any issues like this.

    My phone has just fallen down last day, and now, the back and menu buttons, just doesn’t work..and without those buttons, I can use my SMART PHONE only to make calls.

    I’m not getting that ‘premium’ feeling , which an apple user could have. I know it’s ridiculous, but you know what? I always have a relatively cheap feeling about android and samsung phones…and that’s the main reason I was planning for the iphone…for that glazing apple logo in the backside of the phone..hmmm.

  34. Andy Corley says:

    Great article Ralf. I’ve really been impressed with the Nexus 4, but mainly because I look for inexpensive but powerful, unlocked Android phones to use with unlimited service on this new 4G network that pays you every month. Check it out: (And the Nexus 4 works awesome with this service provider!)

  35. iSwitched says:

    Great article. I too was a complete iDict of everything Apple especially phones. I tried different kinds of high end Android phones on several carriers back and forth that left me wanting iOS again ea time, even though there would be little things I missed from Android. Then I tried the Nexus 4…..reluctantly, meaning I was only wanting to sell it for a higher price than I paid for it since I was lucky to get one. Was such a different experience from the high end Galaxy phones, the HTC ones, Motorola etc. Not sure what it is, but it’s the best version out of all the versions Google has. I’m not quite sure why this isn’t the main and only version for the entire ecosystem. It literally reminds me of a way better, enormously better version of iOS. Everything seems to work on the phone and it just runs incredibly smooth, it doesn’t have a bunch of things on it that I don’t want, and it’s just the right size. It’s just a very elegant operating system and it just looks beautiful. I got my wife one and my son one and my whole family just loves it. We were all crazy Apple iPhone users but the Nexus has won all of us over. Even with the new HTC One and the Galaxy 4 on the horizon, we have 0 desire to try any of those versions of Android ever again. Google really should advertise this as the main operating system and get rid of all the other ones. This is definitely the best version of Android hands down and each little update seems to make it even more user friendly. I read on blogs how people keep saying this is a developer phone. I would like to be one of the people who would say this is definitely not a developer phone! This is for anyone who wants to enjoy a really good phone operating system on day-to-day use.

  36. s00sanna says:

    thanks for your post. it is incredibly thorough and very helpful. would love a comparison of the Samsung S4 and the Nexus 4 and one between Samsung S4 and iphone 5, when you get the chance.

  37. Denis says:

    Great post!
    I had exactly the same experience as you.
    My last try was GS3 and i hated. Samsumg killed the phone but Nexus 4 is fast, stable and beaultiful (more than iphone 5)

  38. Lucy says:

    I switched today too! (from the iPhone 5 to the Nexus 4) And I would have to 100% agree w/ you that the only thing I miss is iMessage as well.

  39. droidologist says:

    Android Firewall is the perfect solution for controlling data usage on limited data plans. Adding a layer of android firewall safety to this operating system is be beneficial.


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