Making the Switch

My new phone is pretty sweet!

Recently, I won a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone in an AT&T company raffle. After the initial surprise of “I never win these things!” wore off, I had a choice to make. Up until now, I’ve had an iPhone 4 and I was thinking of upgrading to 5 around Christmas, but this presented a whole new option. On one hand, there are a lot of things I don’t like about Apple business practices. On the other hand, I was worried about having to repurchase all of my apps, accessories, etc. The final decision was made by my feet — after Apple Maps gave me walking directions that suggested that I walk along a major highway, down two dark alleyways, and scale a cliff to get to a destination. So, I made the switch and I wanted to share my experience here.

Things that I like about the S3 (other than navigation and developing for it, which pretty much everybody likes better on Android):

  • Swype typing lets me draw the words on the screen. I can actually effectively answer my emails on the phone now.
  • NFC means that I can easily share data with other NFC phones just by touching them, but also I’ve been experimenting with NFC tag stickers that you can use to program phone behavior. For example, when I touch my phone to an NFC tag near my home’s entrance, it connects to my WiFi, turns off my 3G, and checks me into my house on FourSquare. The things I can control are still fairly limited, but I can see a lot of potential for this in the future.
  • Large and wide screen means that I can now comfortably read and (more importantly to me) draw on the screen with a stylus. Is it too big? Well, phones were already too big for my jeans, so even though it’s bigger, there is no change in my practices. I still have to put it in my jacket pocket or backpack most of the time.
  • Desktop widgets and shortcuts. I like not having to open an app to start my music, check something off my todo list, or check my calendar. I like that I can just have a shortcut to the Google Spreadsheet that I use for my Happiness Project, instead of always having to go through the list of my docs.
  • Finally being free from iTunes and iPhoto! Now I can just transfer the music that I want on the phone or the photos I want off the phone with AirDroid, which is great!
  • Google Marketplace is better than the Apple App Store because you can try an app for a bit and then return it for a refund if you didn’t like it. I frequently buy apps to see what they are like or to take a screenshot of some aspect of it, so this is probably going to pay for the entire cost of the transition in about a year.

Things that I don’t like:

  • EpicWin my favorite gamified to-do list app is not available for Android. Woe is me! Astrid is pretty good as a to-do list, but I really want to get points for doing stuff.

So, in terms of my user experience, the transition was worth it, but it definitely cost a bit in terms of replacing apps and accessories:

  • Stuff I would need anyway for a new phone (protective case and an anti-glare screen protector): $18
  • Repurchasing stuff I already had (apps, a dock for my bedside, car charger): $45
  • Things that I didn’t need with the iPhone that I want now (NFC tags, stylus, new apps, car mount): $70

So, if you’re thinking about switching, those costs are definitely something to figure into the decision. Have any of you recently switched your phone? What prompted the switch and what was the experience like?