One of the most common questions I get about traveling is what kind of phone and plan I use on the road and most people want me to comment on iPhone vs android. For the longest time I had no idea. In the first year traveling through Latin America I didn’t have a phone at all and I loved it but then Coca insisted I get a phone in Chile and I must admit it really helped while I had an apartment in Buenos Aires.
I came back to Canada for the summer and moved up to the iPod Touch to travel through Europe. It was so helpful and while I contemplated how technology changes travel I realized there was no going back.
I tried to hang on to the Touch but when I moved back to Toronto and tried to coordinate things with friends on iPod Touch without reliable wifi I realized I had to move on. So I bought an unlocked iPhone 4S and within 24 hours there was no looking back. I loved the phone and when I traveled to Montana, Portland and other areas I simply bought a SIM card and popped it in so I never had to worry.
When Samsung offered to give me the GalaxySIII to use and review for November I was happy to try it out but I was completely on the Apple fangirl bandwagon. In my eyes the iPhone could do no wrong and I thought come the beginning of December I would return back to my love.
As usual I was wrong.
I should preface I am one of those people who panics when the phone rings and I may have only answered it a few times in the last year. For me the phone is about social media, texting and googling things to make an argument at a party. I have no desire to actually talk on it anymore.
As soon as I turned on the phone and saw the size of the screen I was impressed. I had never considered my 4S small until I realized how much more I could see with the GalaxySIII. But size isn’t enough to impress me, here’s how the Samsung Galaxy SIII fared in the last month.
The first days are the hardest, no one likes change.
The first thing I did was change the keyboard by downloading Swiftkey, while the Galaxy keyboard did remember my name after 2 days (my iPhone kept auto-correcting me to synergy for weeks) I found it difficult to use and Swiftkey is better.
No iMessage. Obviously this wasn’t a surprise. It`s not a huge deal as I have unlimited texting and What`sApp but some of my Apple friends with smaller texting plans were disappointed texting to me wasn’t free.
I needed to look for all new apps. I had 4-5 screens full of purchased apps on the iPhone, including my beloved Camera+ which isn’t available on Android. You do have to be careful when choosing Android apps as they don’t go through the same stringent scrutiny from iTunes. I dropped another $30 on Android apps but thanks to As the Bird Flies I found Camera FV-5 and Hecktic Travels for Camera Zoom FX I have found other camera apps which are just as good.
The great thing is that the Android community is so vocal, with a tweet, note on Instagram and Facebook people had fantastic suggestions for me. I feel like I have joined this group of anti-conformists – although who are we kidding now I’m just conforming to another group, but instead of being with the cool kids in school it feels like the quiet group who then goes on and rules the world.
The entire phone is a screen. There have been times when I traveled and I made the sacrifice not to bring my laptop but the screen feels large enough I find myself using it more and more instead of my laptop.
GTalk. I use Google chat all the time on email and kept wondering why I couldn’t get it for iPhone. I love that it`s available on the Samsung GalaxySIII and it has more than made up for iMessage.
There are some really great features that just make so much sense:
Smart Stay – The phone actually tracks your eye movement and keeps the display bright as long as you are reading.
Pop-Up Play – you can multitask on the phone! I have watched a video podcast while replying to a text.
Intelligent Camera – I have mostly been using Camera Zoom FX and Bird’s recommended Camera FV-5 to take shots but I have also used the panorama function and burst, which takes 20 shots at once and you can choose the best which is great for group shots or someone moving. You can also take stills while you shoot video but I haven’t used that yet.
Then there are some functional things that make sense. Such as if the phone rings or I want to turn off music I can just put my hand to the screen or turn it over on the table. Also I have it set so when the phone is turned over it never, rings or buzzes until you pick it back up. I think this is crucial when in meetings or eating out with friends as we all have the bad habit of putting our phone on the table and when someone gets a double buzz everyone reaches for their phone.
I could go on and on, each day I find something (like photos are automatically uploaded to Dropbox) that makes me love this phone.
The mannerisms of Android are a bit different to Apple and you have to learn them. I know everyone says Apple is intuitive but I now think we have been pushed into believing that Apple intuition is the universal intuition of humanity. It only took a few days for me to figure out how Android actions are different.
I was stopped by a lot of people who saw me with the phone and a few guys commented it was too big to put in their skinny hipster jeans pocket. I hadn’t even thought of it because the size of the screen is what I think makes it so great and I carry a purse and it fits in my coat pocket. I have a few male friends in Toronto who have the phone and they hadn’t even considered the size as they didn’t put their phone in their pants pocket – but if you did this could be an issue.
Every day it seems like I learn new things the GalaxySIII can do. Yesterday Michael from Art of Backpacking shared a post about combining an inexpensive USB cable to plug my phone into televisions, game consoles and keyboards (hello blogging on the road).
Finally, this is silly but I felt like Apple kept me hostage because of iTunes. I know there are other music players but iTunes is the best. I found the app DoubleTwist which allows me to keep iTunes on my laptop and it air syncs to my phone.
Some of my friends, like Lorenzo, are annoyed because I keep trying to sell them on how great the GalaxySIII is and all of the things it can do (Samsung didn’t ask that I offer unsolicited praise to my friends). I’d like to pretend that I will eventually stop doing that but every day I find new things it can do.
After two weeks I went back to my iPhone to do something and it felt stubby and small. I decided that it was time for me to move onto Android and last week I sold my iPhone 4S to a friend. I don’t know if I can comment on iPhone vs android as a whole but I may have been an Apple fan girl but now I’m on the android bandwagon.
Disclosure: Samsung gave me the GalaxySIII but all opinions are my own, they did not request that I write a favourable review or sell my iPhone for half the market value to a friend because I didn`t want to deal with the hagglers on Craigslist.