Ever since the iPhone 3G, I was a stalwart iOS fan. I loved the games, the simplicity, the style… pretty much everything about it. When Android first came on the scene, I didn’t really get the big deal. There weren’t many developers, the games just weren’t there and in general it was pretty darn rough around the edges.
Then, iOS 7 happened. I had a 4S at the time and to say it struggled with the new update was something of an understatement. Then 8 came out and my phone begged for mercy because it just couldn’t handle the steep requirements. And what were the requirements you ask? To upgrade to the latest iPhone.
Americans (me being one of them) really have the short end of the stick when it comes to cell carriers. Yeah sure, we can get a new phone for $200 if we’re willing to sign our life away for 2 years, but aside from the digital indentured servitude we also end up paying even more for the device. It’s just spread out over that two year contract. Plus, the biggest cell providers in the states really twist their mustaches when it comes to the iPhone. There’s extra charges just for those specific data plans.
As a man who’s into technology but doesn’t have a ton of money to spend on it, this is an unpleasant situation.
So finally, I decided to make the jump to Android. The platform had years to develop into something that didn’t suck and I was more than ready to give it a shot. There are a lot of draws to moving to Android, probably more than I’m going to talk about here, but I’m going to give you some of the highlights.
1) CHEAP BARRIER TO ENTRY
In other words, it doesn’t cost that much if you decide to jump ship because there are some quality options. Right out of the gate I picked up a 2014 Moto G, which cost me under $200, brand new, unlocked, with tax. This is an amazing phone for the price, but I found that when I wanted to customize it (more on that later) it struggled. Still, for someone who wants a stock Android device and doesn’t plan to use many widgets (MORE ON THIS LATER TOO!) or custom launchers, it’s amazing.
This lead me to getting a OnePlus One, which for $350 netted me a device that gives any other flagship device a serious run for the money. I have to admit I got lucky getting this phone. Currently you can only get one with an invitation, and in my first five minutes of hunting for one of these coveted golden tickets I managed to track one down. Most people aren’t that fortunate. Yay me.
2) MORE CARRIER OPTIONS
When you own your device, you’re not bound to the carriers and it allows you to find alternatives. This lead me to Cricket, which uses AT&T’s network but at a much cheaper cost. I went from spending nearly $200 a month with an AT&T family plan to a bit over $100 on Cricket. No brainer.
3) CUSTOMIZATION GALORE
Now full disclosure, I actually owned two Android devices before I got either of these phones, a Nexus 7 (original) and an Xperia Play. The play actually is a phone, but I bought it for the emulators and never used it for its primary role. I mean come on, it has a built in gamepad, how could I not get it?
Lots of people extol Android for the ability to root their devices. This gives all sorts of customization options that mere mortals envy with jealous hearts, but it also makes Android appear to be inaccessible to the common man. I attempted rooting the Nexus 7 and failed, and I successfully rooted my Xperia Play with a LOT of trial and error. My come-away from the experience? Way too friggin’ complicated for people to use rooting as a reason to switch.
My mom will never leave her iPhone for the promise of an unlocked bootloader.
But then, I started doing some research and I found out that there are a TON of other options for customizing Android. One of the biggest changes you can make is installing a custom Launcher. These can let you customize your phone to a staggering degree, allowing you to add custom gestures, new animations, custom themes… there’s nearly no limit to what can be done.
Then there’s widgets, which let you put tiny little programs onto your phone’s desktop. I myself have my Evernote todo list on my second screen. One swipe to the left and I can add a new note or check off something on my list, all without having to start the app.
There’s far more options than that, from being able to make a control panel that lets you toggle off wifi or bluetooth, to being able to glance at the weather or time, to seeing what’s trending on twitter.
Most importantly? Nearly all of these are independent on what version of Android your phone is running. That means that even if you have an older device, one that didn’t cost that much, all these wonderful toys are available to you.
These three reasons are the basis for my love of the Android platform. It’s not perfect, but the freedom Android has given me, and my wallet, make me a happy Cheap Dad.