As I write this there are only 3 phones in my opinion worth considering. Well 4 actually if you prefer colour. These are the Apple iPhone 5S and 5C, Samsung Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z1.
These 4 phones all offer something special. The iPhones offer an unparalleled experience in a one handed form factor backed up with the best eco system on the planet. The Samsung Note 3 is the ultimate large screened phone with a stylus running android 4.3 and Samsung’s Touchwiz. And then there is the gorgeous looking and I mean stunningly good looking Sony Xperia Z1, which is both waterproof and dustproof along with a supposed 20.7mp camera.
You may have noticed there are no Windows Phones in this list. Well, the Nokia Lumia 1020 would have featured in 5th position if you are interested. It has the best camera on a smartphone but does have a weakness in breadth and depth of apps compared to the other phones running iOS or android. So, is it worth discarding this phone? No, providing you have all the apps you require. And remember there are aspects of the Windows Phone experience unique to the platform.
So why did I discard the Z1. Simply, at the time I had mine, I had a faulty camera module plus the software Sony released at launch was far from perfect. I believe Sony has released several software updates already, but really, the phone should never have been launched this way. This meant, the photos the phone took were poor and filled with noise. However, it did have one of the most stunning finishes of glass front and back with an aluminium side frame, fantastic sound quality via headphones or bluetooth stereo, and lots of great Sony extras. It was also nearly as big as the Note 3.
So moving on to the Note 3. A fantastic phablet from Samsung and Samsung’s best phone irrespective of size. But in reality, using it one handed is not as easy as the iPhone. Also, the s-pen or stylus does not speed up data entry, it actually slows it down. It has 25gb internal memory available for apps and games which is a lot better than the S4 they released in the UK with 9gb free. It also has a micro sd slot for storing photos and your own music. It also comes with a battleship of future proof specs but I wonder if anyone really needs them or will ever use them. But it does comes with the most amazing screen. Samsung also have introduced regional sim locks on their supposed sim free unlocked phones. This did not appeal to me to be honest. But don’t let this put you off the device. It really is magnificent. Another negative for me was the Sony QX10 and QX100 lens cameras did not fit the width of the N3.
Then there is the iPhone 5C and its choice of colours. I loved this iPhone but as a true geek I always want the best. So I had to get a gold iPhone 5S. But why the 5S?
Well, actually I had not considered using iOS again as my main phone. I had sold my iPhone 5 back in March 2013 and moved to the HTC One. I kept the HTC One for 3 months and loved it. I was slightly disappointed by the 4.2.2 update which lowered the loudspeaker volume. The Boomsound speakers were its strong selling point for me. I then had several other android phones most of which had issues. So to tide me over until the new wave of phones arrived in the last quarter of year, I got the Nexus N4 for £199. And what a steal that was. It was an excellent phone apart from sound quality and camera, 2 features most important to me. But it did make £500-£600 phones outrageously overpriced. I then decided to get the new Nexus 7 tablet and make the switch completely to android by selling my iPad Mini.
And then my plan disintegrated. My wife had an old 3GS. This was her third phone. She previously had 2 Nokia basic phones for around 10 years, so moving to the 3GS was quite a jump. She bought the 3GS not on specifications but on style. She preferred the curved back over the 4 and 4S. Anyway, for some reason all my discussions regarding the new gold colour iPhone 5S and 5C, led her to want to upgrade her 3GS. She was also disappointed she would not be able to upgrade it to iOS 7. So my wife had decided she either wanted a pink 5C or a gold 5S. I explained that the only way to secure one without waiting weeks or even a month was by queuing on the 20th September. So that is what we both did. I queued so one of us could get a 5S and the other a 5C just in case it was only one phone per person. Sadly, even though we were not too far down the queue, they were no gold 5S, so we chose a silver one instead and a pink 5C. Once inside the Apple store, my wife realised she did not like the salmon pink colour of the pink iPhone, and that she preferred the silver 5S over the gold version. Anyway, we had bought the 5S and gave back the 5C ticket. Then we got Apple to switch her sim to a nano sim and re setup her new 5S. Three UK’s phone lines were busy, so it took a whole hour to sort the sim swap. By then all the early morning queuers had left the Apple store, and new stock was appearing. I quickly asked if there were any more 5S and luckily I had a choice of space grey and silver. I choose silver. I did this as I realised that my wife would have had a better phone than me if I hadn’t bought a 5S. Anyway, that is how I ended up with an iPhone.
So there I was back home with my iPhone 5S 64gb running iOS 7. I had not used the iOS 7 betas so this was my first insight. And OMG did it feel alien at first. For the first 2 days I had to work out where and how things functioned. Closing running apps did not feel fluid. But, I had 64gb of memory to do as I pleased. I could use all of it to install apps, unlike android that has its memory allocated for different uses. Internal memory is for apps, games and everything. Apps and games do not install on a memory card with android. Back to my 5S. I could now sync across all my photos and music with ease from iTunes. My photos and music are perfectly arranged, so everything is really tidy on my iPhone 5S. Then I had a few days away from home on business and FaceTime was used. Video calling made easy. I have even used FaceTime audio which is ideal. iMessage and all the Apple features in iOS 7 make keeping connected with my wife really fun and simple. My parents are soon to move to iOS. My brother has an iPhone 5. TouchID made using security a breeze. The 5S camera really is fantastic at taking top notch photos and with ease. Photostream and folder sharing is a breeze and automatic. The extra horse power of the processor, M7 coprocessor and having well designed, good featured apps back with iOS felt a relief. One handed use was back too. Game controllers are just around the corner too. The sound quality from the loudspeaker and via headphones is phenomenal. In fact the headphone amp section is the best yet from any Apple product. Google’s own apps work even better on iOS than android. Go figure that one. So what the iPhone 5S represents with iOS 7 and Apple’s eco system is one of the simplest, yet most powerful devices. I am finding it an incredible user experience. So smooth yet refined.
And that is why despite my best intentions I am back with iOS for the time being….until I buy something else 🙂