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BLOG: I dumped my iPhone 4 for the Android Galaxy Nexus

Scot Finnie | March 5, 2012
I like a lot of things about my iPhone 4, but I don't like the way Apple seems to be closing its ecosystem again.

But don't do that. As implemented by Verizon, 4G is a game changer. I hadn't fully realized how much the performance of 3G kept me from surfing the Web on my iPhone. I just don't have the patience for it. But that's changed with Verizon's 4G LTE. It's fast; easily competitive with the average Wi-Fi hotspot when serving Web pages. Combine that speed with the larger screen of the Galaxy Nexus and you'll find that the way you use your phone changes.

I'm still frustrated by the fact that the mobile rendition of the Web is merely a shoehorned version of the desktop Web. Man, does that have to change, and fast. But the experience is passable now. I reach for my Galaxy Nexus far more often to look up information on the Internet than I ever did with my iPhone 4. Surely, the next major release of the iPhone will deliver 4G speeds. But there are many Android phones that offer that advantage right away. It's one of two or three big reasons I made the move to Android.

The Android difference

There is an advantage to the Android platform and its community that I wasn't fully sure of before I made the switch. It has to do with the apps.

What most people do is count applications and decide the iPhone App Store is much better than the Android Market. What I have found, however, is that Android apps are less shielded from the hardware and the operating system, meaning that they may be able to do more powerful things (perhaps at the expense of security).

Adding to the difference is the fact that the iPhone App Store is closely guarded by Apple. Part of what Apple is guarding against is allowing apps that do things that might impinge upon the revenue streams of Apple and its partners. The Android Market is managed in a more open and freewheeling manner by Google. As a result, some Android apps are more user focused than iPhone apps. There is very little that's off limits.

Android Market freedom

There are many examples of this but I'll give you two to illustrate my point. The first involves mobile tethering. Apple has relentlessly weeded out all utilities that allow you to connect your cell phone to a desktop or notebook PC by USB cable and share your phone's 3G or 4G Internet access. The Android Market offers literally scores of tethering apps. In my neck of the woods, tethering apps won't help you. At least not on Verizon. The large wireless carrier detects tethering and shuts down all 4G access to anyone who tries it. Tethering is also against the user licenses of most wireless carriers, so I'm not recommending that you try it. The point is that Google isn't going to get in your way. It's not setting itself up as an arbiter.

 

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