Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Six Months with the iPhone 6

A couple years ago I switched from iOS to Android, pre-ordering a Samsung Galaxy 4. I wrote about my decision and then a short term update before I moved back to my old iPhone 4S and iOS. I have a few more thoughts on what was better on Android, but in the end there were a few things that really annoyed me, specific to how I use a mobile device.

Last fall I eagerly looked forward to the iPhone 6 as my 4S was getting old, slow, and the battery was dying. I pre-ordered the 6, and switched from Verizon to T-Mobile at the same time. I decided to take a look at the past six months and my thoughts. I've broken this into two parts because the carrier and phone are separate.


I have mixed feelings here. I really like lots that T-Mobile has done. The freedom from contracts, the high speeds, the music streaming, the wi-fi calling, overseas data, it's a neat company. And in some ways, they perform well. I remember sitting in Starbucks, in Parker, CO, and trying my speed test app on the phone with T-Mobile's LTE network. I got 40Mbps down, better than I get at home!

At times, it's amazingly fast and I appreciate that. However, at times it's really, really bad. I live out in the country, and service is spotty near me. I can accept some of that, and certainly in the last six months I've seen LTE get close to me and have better service.

However I've been in buildings in Denver and other cities, where I have great connectivity outside, but inside a building, even a smaller two story one, I'll see very, very poor service. Near my house the service is flaky, and T-Mobile hasn't given me the ability to turn off data roaming near my house. Since I only get 50MB each month of roaming data, I don't want to waste it. However I have no control, and I've given up. If I'm using the phone near my house, but not on wi-fi, I'll run out of data in a few days. Even if I'm not actively browsing or searching, apps on the phone will use data.

Slightly maddening.

Overseas access has been good, and I've appreciated the connectivity without additional costs in the UK. Since I go 2-3 times a year, this is handy.

Wi-fi calling is spotty. At times I know my network has hiccups, but I'll drop off  the wi-fi calling and it doesn't come back quickly. I'll have to drop into airplane mode and back out to get wi-fi to reconnect. The transition from wi-fi calling to cellular hasn't been very smooth, which is disappointing.

iOS8 / iPhone 6

The phone came with iOS 8, which is an evolution, not a revolution, from iOS7. I was somewhat excited, as there are a few enhancements, but also disappointed in some ways. I'll cover a few things I like and some I don't.

The phone itself is an iPhone. Slightly larger than the 4S, thinner, and light. It's basically a slightly stretched version, and I haven't noticed much. I get 5 rows of icons on the screen, which does look amazing at times. A few of my pictures, or videos I've shown on there look fantastic. As good as my Galaxy 4 screen. Battery life seems inconsistent. At times it runs down far too quickly, and at times it lasts. I've uninstalled apps at times when I've noticed poor battery life, but haven't really figured out what's happening. I have a battery case, so mostly I don't worry about it.

iOS 8, however, took a few steps back.  The biggest thing I noticed right off was that when I get forwarded to some web pages in Twitter, Facebook, or other apps, I'll only get a partial page load. Then I'll get white screen halfway through an article. I know this is iOS/Safari somehow, because if it happens on all kinds of target sites, and if I reload the page in Chrome, it works fine. That's slightly maddening.

The music app works fine, and the camera does well. It's quick, though once in a great while it hiccups. Overall, this is a better photo/video/music device than any I've had, but just because it's a bit faster and it works well. I love the slow motion video, especially capturing my kids' sports events.

Navigation/maps are fine, though I wish I could switch defaults from Apple to Google. Not that Apple maps are bad, but I often want to get a look ahead at the route. Apple maps does not make that easy.

I love having Passbook again, and I use that extensively for airline tickets, movie tickets, and Starbucks. I also use Apple Pay at a few places, but since most don't accept it, it's not super handy. However being able to give my phone to my daughter to go get coffee while I get gas is very nice. It's also super handy. It wasn't as clean on Android, though I suspect the Starbucks app there would do fine.

The TouchID, which I thought was gimmicky, is great. I use it all the time, letting me unlock my phone while I'm walking or trying to move through a line without looking at the screen. I have a password manager that uses it as well and I love it. It's not a great security feature, but it works well enough for me for now.

The third party keyboards don't work. That's one thing I am disappointed in. The responsiveness of Swype and Swiftkey aren't' there, and at times they freeze up, especially in messaging. It doesn't have to happen more than a few times before I abandoned them.  I hope they fix this.

I do miss having the ability to resize icons, or move them around on the desktops. I'm slightly jealous of my wife's LG III, as she got an amazing loader that gives her different backgrounds on different screens. It also rotates through all her "desktops" in a circle. I'd like to have my icons around the edge of the screen and see the background clearer as I like pictures.

I'm not too concerned anymore about which apps are where. Since I can pull down and search, I do that often, and rarely look through screens. That's a feature I great appreciate.

The Future

I'd still like to see Windows Phone succeed a bit and evolve, but I also want it to get more apps and have more choice. That's still a failing that keeps me off it.

I am tempted by Android, except that every time I hear a camera click or text pause the music on my wife's phone, I'm glad I'm not using it. She did get a third party camera app that responds much quicker than the native one, so I suspect that real time interrupts and issues with the camera and music apps I had on Android are built in, but potentially handled with third party apps.

I may switch at some point, but for now I'm very pleased with my iPhone, despite a few glitches.

No comments: