Switching to Android

I started using iPhone in 2011. I was using Blackberry before that. When I moved to New York, I bought an iPhone 4s and never looked back. But in the past few years, I’ve been thinking to switch to Android. The recent three generations of iPhone were just not that exciting anymore. On the other side, I use so many Google apps: Google Photos, Google Maps, GMail, Chrome, Google Calendar, Google Voice… to the extent I think it would be nice to have these apps more “natively”.

A friend who bought a Pixel and loved it, asked on social media: why still iPhone? I commented: “Because of Apple Watch and AirPods”.

Then I lost my AirPods… again.

So I bought a Pixel 3a. Now I have used it for a week.


Google apps are indeed more native. No more Apple Map when clicking an address link. No more “additional” apps for photo, email, calendar.

Android is definitely more friendly and open to 3rd-party apps: finally can use GBoard now (it’s never stable enough on iPhone). Can finally control Spotify with voice… App can interact with each other more freely thanks to the intent system.

Home screen can be customized to be more useful. Notifications feel like being organized better. The “always on” home screen display and “flip to shhh” are nice touches.

Google Assistance (voice control) is more powerful than Siri. Could actually be used to do some voice text input… I need more time to get into the habit of using voice control beyond setting timers.

Battery is better than my 1-year-old iPhone 8. Not sure that’s a fair comparison though. And USB-C is definitely nicer than lightning. It charges faster, and can share cables with laptop and other stuff.


No more Apple Watch or AirPods. I tried to wear my Apple Watch for a few days and found it just silly without a phone to connect.

No iMessage or FaceTime. It was more annoying than I thought, because I could miss messages.

No good ad blocker in Android Chrome. This was a surprise to me… Ad blocker works fine on desktop Chrome. I know Google relies on ads, but didn’t realize Android Chrome doesn’t support native ad blocker support.

User interactions can still sometimes feel slightly sluggish, or not as smooth as iPhone. Definitely much less gap than 5 years ago, but I can still sometimes feel it. And the momentum of scrolling through list items feels weird sometimes, like it overshoots a little bit… not sure if it’s due to habit.

Unfortunately, non-google apps on Android generally have lower qualities than iPhone. Google apps are great, top-tier apps are on par with their iPhone versions, but apps that are not that high profile often feel like an afterthought compared to their iPhone version. Ironically, the general high quality of Google apps on iPhone makes iPhone more of a “best of both worlds” choice.

Camera is supposed to be very good. Lots of bragging of its “Night Vision”. But honestly I don’t feel I have that much need to do night photos. On the other side, it’s kind of a turnoff to have “face retouch” default on, and it sometimes actually makes people look weird.

Last but not least, WeChat, the Chinese super app, doesn’t use Google’s native push notification service, so it has to stay alive in background to receive messages in time… So the system sometimes prompts “WeChat is still running in background”, and I sometimes see WeChat message notifications with 10+ minutes delay… It’s a complicated issue and hard to say it’s WeChat’s “fault”, but the overall user experience is just far worse than iPhone with this particular app.


So overall I have mixed feelings so far… I like the fresh feeling of using a new phone and a new OS. But I also miss iPhone for the reasons above.

So, I’ll likely stick with this Pixel 3a for a little longer since it’s a new phone. But if I accidentally dropped it in water tomorrow… I would happily switch back to my iPhone 8 and Apple Watch. Let’s see what Apple have for the next iPhone.


Switched back to my old iPhone 8 today (2019/07/15) because I just don’t find enough reasons for me to stick with Android, and I miss the general better qualities of iPhone apps…

Almost Time to Pick the Next Phone

My 2-yr contract will end by this Nov. So in 2 months I’ll have the chance to pick a new phone! It’s hard to understand how much this “commitment” is until I experienced this 2-year contract. Basically you’re locked to this carrier and this phone for 2 whole years! That’s a big deal, considering Chinese users change phones every 6 months in average. I’ve been very satisfied with my iPhone 4S , however I do feel a little tired of it after 20 months.

So I seriously started to consider the next option after the Apple iPhone 5c/5s event last week. That event was quite disappointing because almost all tapping points were leaked upfront. 5c is just a gay-colored 5, and 5s doesn’t have many revolutionary or exciting features. Fingerprint is useful but already everywhere (even on office doors); and M7 chip seems having some great potential but no one really knows it yet.

Despite my several unpleasant experiences with Android, mainly with company test devices, I started to look into current leading Android phones. Frankly Moto X is the one catching most of my attention. I don’t really care screen size as I think it only matters if you need to use lots of badly designed web pages or apps. And the features Moto X promotes are pretty cool in my eyes: always-on voice command, active notification and write-flip activated camera. However after checking several detail reviews, I noticed Moto X had an obvious weakness: camera… I consider myself a frequent Instagram user, so a bad camera is a big turn-off to me.

Then I looked back at iPhone 5s, and realized it’s the SAME price as Moto X or any other Android “flagship” phones. Although 5s’ “progress” is not that impressive compared to previous iPhones, iPhone 5s is not bad at all compared to any other Android phones. With the best camera, software collection, 1st-class display and hardware spec, I don’t see much reason to choose an Android over iPhone 5s…

Sprint is running a new user promotion of 100$ discount for iPhone 5c/5s, but current users who want to upgrade their phones (like me) aren’t included. I don’t understand how their business plan is… Maybe US users hop across carriers after 2 years anyway, so Sprint decided to only care about attracting hoppers from other carriers and not to care how many users hop from them? Fine. I’ll hop.

iPhone is a life changing gadget

I started to use iPhone after moving to NYC. It has been 2 months. I want to say it really changed some part of life.

First, I rarely open my laptop at home now. Almost all casual tasks can be done on iPhone, with an as good or even better user experience. Email, twitter, IM, video call, search, browse web, ebooks, a little bit music sometimes… All well supported by iPhone. The only chance I need to open laptop is for playing some pirated movies, actually. Or serious works like reading a long doc, but that’s more of an office case.

Second, I’m even more closely bound to Internet now. I have been a heavy user of Smart Phone (if BlackBerry can count :/) for years. However it was in China and it was stupid BlackBerry and poor 2g network. The bandwidth and the fucking GFW limited my mobile digital life to an eunuch level. Now, welcome to Zion… Unfortunately, or fortunately, I still have 1.5 hours Internet-free time each weekday because of subway. But it’s definitely not iPhone-free. Kindle app and Podcaster are my company.

Last word: I used an Android phone in US for a few months. It’s not the same thing. User experience matters. It determines whether you want to stick to phone or open a laptop, though the difference is hard to be measured.