Phone Wars: Finale

In our final installment, it's time to decide, which smartphone is right for you?  FYI before we get going, Amazon is rumored to be jumping into the smartphone market so that could be an intriguing option to consider, too.  They have a press conference scheduled later this month to unveil a secret new device.

With that out of the way, let’s start with a quick recap of the answers you need before you start looking.  Are you a mobile warrior who is on your phone all day, during work and off hours?  Do you need just the basics – calls, texts, email?  Or are you all over social media and want to be ultra connected to everyone in your network?  Do you play a lot of games, stream music, and/or watch a lot of videos?  These are all important questions to help narrow down the options once you answer the most critical question – which ecosystem is for you?  Do you even care?  Your “user type” may impact your choice, but typically people dabble in a couple ecosystems at first and naturally gravitate to one.

To give you some real world results, I asked around the office, to find out how folks here decided.  Nine of us have smartphones with five on Android, three with iPhones, and one has a Windows Phone.  Even in such a small sampling, no big surprise in the breakdown.  The reasons also weren’t surprising.  Android users cited an affinity for Google, the market leader position, and the greater variety of phones.  For our iPhone contingent, being an early adopter, brand loyalty, and a heavy investment in the Apple ecosystem drove the decision.  Lastly, for the one, i.e., me, Windows Phone user, boredom/frustration with Android and a lukewarm opinion of Apple/iOS led me to look at Windows Phone with an open mind.

While the numbers and the reasons weren’t surprising, the overall satisfaction level with each was a bit.  Most surprising was how iPhone owners felt.  Usually they’re the biggest fanboys.  Of the three, only one is very satisfied with his selection.  He cited the iPhone “look and feel and interface”, small form factor, and his general affinity for Apple and Apple products.  A second checks in as “satisfied”.  He doesn’t necessarily love his phone but it was “the easiest to use” and had “the best feature set at the time” he first got a smartphone.  Since then he’s invested in Apple with multiple iPads for his family and he feels he’s in too deep with Apple to make a change.  Overall, he’s not dissatisfied, which for a lot of Apple early adopters is enough to keep them from switching.  The third iPhone user is clearly indifferent about it.  His response to whether he’s happy with his phone was “neither completely satisfied nor completely dissatisfied.”  Battery life, the keyboard, and the rigidity of iOS were his primary complaints.  On the flip side, he really likes the intuitive interface and integration with iTunes, which is common among iPhone users.  The one common theme I noticed among the three is the belief they’ve invested so much into Apple products, switching doesn’t make sense.  Simply put, that’s how Apple drew up the game plan.

Android users, as expected, provided a wider range of responses.  One switched from Blackberry to a Samsung Galaxy S3 a couple years ago because the reviews were favorable and her son recommended it because he’s a fan of Android.  Another is a first time smartphone user who liked the larger phone selection and larger screens.  Two others with Samsung Galaxies cited integration with other Google products, the ability to “unlock” the phone, and a dislike of iOS for their choice, now and in the future.  Only one Android user gave a tepid endorsement and appears open to changing in the future.

That brings us to the lone person using Windows Phone (WP): me.  I’m a recovering Android user, having switched to WP in February after spending 4+ years on Android.  While I’ve never owned an iPhone, I have spent quality time with them and I just don’t get the hype.  If you are willing and able to objectively evaluate your options AND you don’t believe you’re so deep into a particular ecosystem that a switch is impossible, try a Windows Phone.  I’m a big fan.  It’s a controlled experience, similar to an iPhone, with a ton of room to personalize and customize.  The Live Tiles are not only cool and unique they provide a wealth of information on a single screen.  Wait until the end of this year when (hopefully) the first Microsoft/Nokia phones with 3D Touch are released.  The rumor is we’ll see the full potential of Live Tiles.  Coupled with the updates in 8.1 including an interesting approach to a personal assistant, it’s a shame Microsoft didn’t get their act together earlier.  While Apple and Google are iterating, Microsoft is aiming much higher.  They are the only major player with an official “end-to-end” vision and strategy to unite your devices for both work and play.  There’s still a lot of anti-Microsoft sentiment, not to mention that pesky distant third place position, they need to overcome but new CEO Satya Nadella appears to be the right person to give them a puncher’s chance.

So that’s a wrap on our smartphone series.  Answer a few basic questions, decide what’s important to you, do a little homework, ask around, and then go shopping.  It’s tough to find a store rep who is knowledgeable AND without an agenda so be an informed buyer!

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