Reading reviews of various android VS iPhone frequently comment on the poorer build quality of the various android manufacturers. While I can’t speak for other devices I’ve not tried, the Samsung Note 2 feels great, so please don’t let that turn you off.
Many of the android options allow expandable memory through SD cards. Initially, I thought this meant I could pop in a 64gb card and go from the equivalent of a 16gb iPhone to an 80gb iPhone. Not quite. The cards aren’t, by default, used for storing apps etc. By a bit of tinkering that usually requires rooting the phone, (the equivalent of a jailbreak) you can effectively make it so, though I assume that the vast majority of readers here aren’t going to be heading down this path. In the default configuration you can store things like movies, pictures, music, books and the like to them.
You can also replace batteries in most of these devices. I’ve always managed to get through a day of work and iPhone use with at least 30% of the battery remaining. My phone would charge next to my bed with an alarm set for the morning. The Note 2 comes with a 3100mAh battery, and is a bit better in terms of battery life. For those that are on the road and can’t find a spare charger, this might be of use.
Personally, I can’t really think of any time that it has been an issue. Some of the current high end android phones don’t offer expansion slots or replaceable batteries, such as the Droid DNA and the Nexus 4.
The Downsides of the Size
This is quite a significant area, and one I hadn’t expected to matter so much. It’s been the single biggest detractor to the Note 2. The bulk of the reviews I read / watched made mention of this, though cited it as a relatively small factor in the pros and cons of this device. Having come from the iPhone, the Note 2 is unwieldy. I did not appreciate how often I would use the iPhone one handed. Playing music, changing podcasts on the way to work, and scrolling was now difficult, and required two hands.
Navigating apps while walking around in the ED and wards is again unwieldy, and often requires two hands. I know this sounds like a crazy notion, and will no doubt be outlawed in the future by workplace health and safety, but I often find myself carrying one thing in my right hand and reading my phone in the left. In all seriousness, I actually resorted to using my nose to select things on the screen quite often.
It’s difficult to describe how frustrated I was in my first few weeks of using the note 2 due to the screen size and the poor uptake of apps using the available real estate. The size is effectively a double edged sword, on one side it’s wonderful compared to the smaller options out there. However, it really can make it unwieldy in certain scenarios, and every time you load an app that isn’t making use of the sometimes clunky size, it amplifies the frustration.
What About the iPhone 5?
While reviewing the Note 2 I also managed to squeeze an iPhone 5 out of my poor credit card. I was having iOS withdrawals, not having some of my go-to apps available on Android (covered in the next article), and hoped that perhaps the slightly larger 5 screen would be the best of both worlds.
This was my first iOS experience without a jailbroken device for almost 3 years, and it’s not one I’m fond of. Again, I’ll cover this in more detail in the next post; however, suffice it to say that I found the experience stifling.
The larger screen size is minimal. I think that it would have been much more noticeable if they’d increased the horizontal dimensions as well as the vertical. Quite a few of the medical apps haven’t updated to be compatible, and you’re left with black boxes of dead space. Most noticeably for me was Epocrates.
I also found the relocation of the headphone jack puzzling. I could no longer use the iphone in my car holder. Holding it with the headphones in was clumsy, with the plug pushing into my palm. The new lightning dock also necessitates either buying new accessories, or converter plugs.
Although the phone is well made, after a week of use I didn’t think the upgrade was worth the $900 price tag, and went back to my still serviceable and jailbroken iPhone 4.
Concluding Points On Hardware
Firstly, there are significantly more android options with respect to hardware. Some of my frustrations with size of the note 2 would have been avoided with a slightly smaller option, such as the Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy S3, or the Droid DNA. The size brings with it some significant benefits, as well as some negatives.
The iPhone 5 is really nice. All of the components are what you’d expect from a high end phone. It’s an incremental upgrade from the 4/4S, which is to be expected. For me, the upgrade wasn’t worth $900(AUD) from my old iPhone 4. However, I’m sure it would be for many people.
In the next article, I’ll try and go into detail on the software and ecosystem of both devices, which I feel is the single most important aspect of a smartphone in medical use. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have and if you want to know anything in particular.
In the meantime, I’ve curated a few good reviews and videos to demonstrate some of the possibilities.