June 7th 2012 8:31 pm

Heads up! A newer version of this product is out!

final rating

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Criteria Comments Rating
  • Ease of use For the most part, it's fairly simple, but stuff like notifications and settings can be a bit confusing. good
  • Speed Paired with the iPhone 5, it's damn snappy. great!
  • Configurability Coming from Android, iOS feels pretty restrictive. I really miss being able to customize my homescreen and tweak notifications sounds/types. poor
  • Ecosystem (apps, drivers, etc.) iOS gets a lot of exclusive apps and seem to perform a lot better compared to Android. great!
  • Openness Definition of open is subjective, but things like no custom ROMs, Apple vetting all apps, and fewer customizations are things that knock this score down. so-so
Detailed review
I've been an Android user for a little over two years, coming from a Motorola Droid X (my review: gdgt.com­/motorola­/droid­/x­/reviews­/4ee/), and I do have an iPad 2 from launch. So this review is going to be a pretty heavy comparison between Android and iOS on a phone. Also, it's pretty unfair to compare my experience with Android on 2+ year old hardware vs and brand new iPhone 5, but I'll do my best to be fair with my assessment. I wrote a review for the iPhone 5 hardware: gdgt.com­/apple­/iphone­/5­/reviews­/t7e/

Big points to make:

iOS, paired with the iPhone hardware, set the bar for how a great OS should feel. Using iOS 6 has been really great in terms of speed and responsiveness. Scrolling is like moving a physical object with my fingers, the keyboard functions without an ounce of sluggishness. From what I've seen on newer Android handsets running ICS or Jelly bean, Android has made huge leaps forward, so maybe this is less of a differentiator.

One thing that I've always envied about iOS is that new apps would always launch for the platform first, so I'm really happy that I can get my early adopter on. But even if an app is on both iOS and Android, the iOS version can come with other extra features. An example of this is video posts in Path (path.com). App UI, both 1st and 3rd party, is consistent for the most part. It's nice that the whenever you want to go back, that button will most likely be at the top left of the screen.

One Android feature that I used daily was the sharing menu. This allowed you to take any piece of content and share it with other apps on your phone such as email, text, or other apps that hooked into the sharing feature like Pocket (getpocket.com). Sharing is pretty limited on iOS 6, choices being email, text, twitter, facebook, and other stuff that I don't use. I miss the quick ability to view a tweet or webpage and add it to my Pocket with two taps. With iOS, it's many more steps. This sounds trivial, but when you lose this feature, you realize how powerful it is. Apps in iOS feel siloed in comparison to Android.

Notifications are horrendous compared to Android. On Android, when you get a notification, a small icon is displayed in the top bar which is super helpful to remind me to reply or look at something. Notifications on iOS are hidden away, so it's easy for me to forget to look at something. Also, sometimes notifications display on the homescreen, but they go away once I unlock my phone, even if I don't interact with said notification. I've also have an issue when tapping into a notification in my notification bar and it doesn't go away next time I slide the tray open. Oh, and those close buttons in the tray are too damn small. Apple, please just copy Android.

Quick round of other things:
  • I actually like the app switching better on iOS than Android.
  • I wish I could change my keyboard. I miss SwiftKey a lot.
  • I also miss Google integration, but having Twitter and Facebook integration makes it a little less painful.
  • I don't miss my widgets.
  • I miss being able to install apps via the web
  • Settings menu is shitty. I wish app settings were set in the app itself.
  • I miss auto-updating of apps.
  • PassBook? More like AssBook. AMIRITE?
  • Unified inbox is great, but the mail app UI is slightly confusing, like figuring out how to mark an email as unread/read.
  • I haven't used the Maps app that much, so I'll update this review when I actually have to navigate somewhere.
tl;dr: iOS 6 is definitely solid, but I really miss features from Android.
review history
Updated overall rating
Ease of use rating changed from 3 to 4
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review
Updated detailed review

Comments (2) subscribe to this review's comments


This has pretty much been my experience too. On newer hardware (HTC Rezound and Nexus 7) I find Android's speed to be generally excellent.

I had the opposite experience with sharing. Nearly every app I installed gave me yet another option to share and on top of that, choosing the share option meant >10 seconds waiting for it to load. That meant I the number of things I shared became fewer and fewer. Admittedly, it's more likely that this was down to the limitations of the hardware rather than the software, but it still soured that part of the experience for me. Great review, though.