Thursday, 20 November 2014

My Next Phone

My iPhone 5 is celebrating its second birthday at my service. Although it is still doing a great job at doing whatever I want it to do and doing so well, it does feel like a kid's toy in comparison to its bigger screened mates. I will not deny it, I am craving screen size!
Apple came to my aid, this time around, supplying the iPhone 6 Plus with a 5.5" screen - the phone they should have offered years ago. Alas, they also made sure it cannot be purchased on impulse by giving it a $1130 price tag (for the 64GB version; I do not see much point in the 16GB version). Then there were the stories about the phone bending: while Apple was put in the clear by various official investigations, I think the model does have an inherent weakness just below its volume buttons. Too many otherwise objective reviewers have reported the problem for it to just be "nothing".
Then there are my recent issues with Apple and its approach to privacy (as discussed here and here). Sure, Apple talks the talk, but it doesn't walk the walk in too many ways. Given that for years now I have been an Apple over Android advocate by virtue of the extra privacy that Apple offered, this is quite a blow.
The thing is that Android did not make much of an effort to attract me in its direction. Sure, its smartphones are generally cheaper but not so much when considering total cost of ownership (as in, iPhones last longer and resell for more). Android itself, although more powerful than iOS, requires more attention and is less consistent than Apple's. Then there are the privacy issues: once installed Android apps can do pretty much whatever they want with your smartphone's data, while in the background there is always Google to sip your privacy away.

Recently, however, there came an Android phone that did two things to tilt the equation. The OnePlus One Android phone offers A class components for significantly less than the Samsungs and HTCs it competes with. By running the latest CyanogenMod version out of the box, equipped with facilities allowing the user to control what each app is allowed to access, it also negates a lot of the privacy issues that stand in the way of the Android system. [21/11/2014 update: The OnePlus One comes with a promise to receive CyanogenMod updates for two years.] Reviews (Ars Technica's here, Anandtech's here) have been quite favourable.
Not that the OnePlus is without issues. As the reviews attest, its camera is mediocre, not to mention Android camera and photography apps in general lagging severely behind iOS'. OnePlus' purchasing options are also a pain: if you want to buy one directly from OnePlus, you need to have an American address and you need to prove yourself worthy of the phone by taking active part in the company forums. I'll put it this way: they can go and **** themselves if that's what I need to do in order to give them my money.
One can get a OnePlus more conventionally, though. DWI sells them for $460 (although prices fluctuate by the day). Which brings me to think: at less than half the cost of an iPhone, the cost of converting from iOS to Android pales in comparison to the savings. Sure, the iPhone 6 Plus is a better phone; but is it $670 better? No way, Tim Cook.

So, am I buying a OnePlus? I will not deny craving one. However, as I said, the rational part of me is well aware of this being an exercise in financial irresponsibility. I bought my iPhone 5 under the assumption I will use it for three years, and given that I haven't won the lottery yet (nor could I, given my lack of participation) I should stick with that original plan.
However: in the not so unlikely event of my iPhone 5 dying one me, the OnePlus stands a good chance of coming into my life. More importantly, I consider it a fine option for punters out there contemplating which phone to get without having to bundle another mortgage into the deal.

21/11/2014 update:
Since I know I'm going to be quoted on this post, I would like to add that in my humble opinion iOS still offers significantly superior privacy facilities to the OnePlus. It is still my preferred mobile option; the question is just how much more one is willing to pay extra for that superiority (and, obviously, for the other advantages and disadvantages bundled with it).

Image copyrights: OnePlus


wile.e.coyote said...

where did I read this post already? ...mmm... let me think..., was it "will I buy IPhone 5 or Android?" on this exact site?

Go ahead and book your 6+, we all know you will.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Me too, though I'm aiming for the 6+S.

The Galactic Moshe said...

As an owner of an Android device (S3), I can tell you that once you root the phone (very simple process), you can control permissions and access of any app, including system apps. That also includes dpi, orientation, location and what ever per app. I also own the iPad and can compare that the flexibility and customizations are far greater on the Android.
But having played with the iPhone 6s, I admit it's a magnificent device.

Clara Brooks said...

The better choice is what works best for you, and what you are really inclined to use. It’s good that you are comparing specs first, comparing things like the iOS is better optimized, but the Android can do much more. User-friendliness is what basically defines the choice. All the best!

Clara Brooks @ Telco World