After 7 months of torture I have abandoned Android and my LG G3 and returned to my Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. The 1020 now feels thick, even clunky, and after the G3’s 5.5″ screen the 1020’s 4.5″ screen feels tiny. But the “ahhhh” feeling when I started using Windows Phone 8.1 again, that is priceless. And the first time I took a picture, well again some real satisfaction compared to Android. I really want a new flagship Windows Phone, but apparently that will have to wait for a few months. But the real story here is why I switched back.
Android just never worked for me. Want me to say something good about it? It has the apps. If they actually work on your device. I admit I’m sorry I went for the LG G3 over a Samsung Galaxy S5 for three reasons. One is that the S5 has fewer app compatibility issues owing to its popularity (aka, the G3 suffers from Android’s fragmentation problem). Another is that the G3 has been unreliable, requiring pulling the battery about every other week to deal with a system hang. But mostly because if used with a non-LG charger the G3 will beep every minute once it is 100% charged. This is not good for sleep. There is no reliable way to eliminate this beeping, except perhaps by rooting the device. That is BS.
My biggest issue with Android itself is how poorly it supports the Microsoft ecosystems, both the business (i.e., Exchange) and consumer (i.e., outlook.com) based ecosystems. Want 1 of 100 examples: I get a text from someone and want to save their mobile number in my outlook.com contacts, which is where my personal contacts go, and I’m out of luck. I ran into things like this repeatedly over the last 7 months. If you are primarily, preferably exclusively, wed to the Google ecosystem then Android is fine. Otherwise, caveat emptor.
It was clear from the beginning that Android was not designed for productivity use. For example, you can’t get your next calendar appointment to display on your lock screen without using a 3rd party app. When I tried such apps I ran into the fragmentation problem, with the most popular unable to install on my G3. I gave up. Even after I unlocked the phone, display of appointment alerts was somewhat flakey. Sometimes the alert pop-up would display but it would be unpopulated so I couldn’t see my appointment. Android Lollipop was supposed to address this, but….
The last straw was the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. One day I get a pop-up on my G3 saying there is an update available, but no details about the update. I’ve gotten these periodically and I accepted the update expecting it was no more than a bug fix. Nothing happened that day. Or the next. But then I needed to check my calendar for my next meeting in the middle of the day and found the phone rebooting. It was out of commission for several minutes and it turned out that Lollipop had been installed. Perfect (NOT!) timing. And then figuring out what had changed, how it interacts with my installed apps, etc. became an issue.
Ever since the update my phone has been less reliable, requiring me to pop out the battery every couple of days. And the new features I was waiting for? Not really usable. Notifications can be displayed on the lock screen, for example, but unless you want them pretty much all to be readable they pretty much all display as private with the phone needing to be unlocked to see the actual notification. So you know you have a text message, but you don’t know anything about it. I’d at least like to be able to know who it is from. You might as well turn them off completely. And if you want it to display the text message? Well, expect all manner of personal or corporate information from various apps to be displayed on your lock screen as well. Basically Google decided to skip providing sufficient granularity for what is displayed on your lock screen.
The absolute killer for me though is that Android Lollipop has made the alarms on my phone unreliable. Like many other people I now rely on my phone as my alarm clock. That started while traveling, and eventually I just decided I didn’t need an alarm clock as the phone was easier to set up and did a better job of waking me. This was true of my iPhone, my Windows Phones, and (after a bunch of tweaking) my G3. But after the Lollipop update I can no longer use my G3 as an alarm clock. Sometimes it plays a couple of notes then auto-snoozes. Sometimes the alarm fails to break through Do Not Disturb mode (even though I set it to do so). Sometimes it just doesn’t go off at all. Indeed last week I missed an airplane flight when the alarm didn’t go off. When I looked at the clock app indeed the alarm was set properly, so I can’t tell you what happened there. All I can say is that when I got home again I moved the SIM card to my Lumia 1020 and won’t look back.
Even finding settings on Android is a productivity killer of the highest order. I am sure I could solve 90% of my complaints with Android by putting in a man-week of effort playing with settings, researching and trying out numerous third-party apps, perhaps even rooting the device. In fact I probably made errors in this blog entry simply because life is too short to waste trying to figure out how to get Android to work.
I’ve focused on a lot of things here that could be specific to the G3, or to my G3, and certainly to my lack of time for tweaking the heck out of Android. But to be fair I need to say that I just don’t like the Android experience. If I’d gotten Android to address my needs I would have tolerated the user experience, much as many Windows PC users have for decades loved what it does for them while disliking the actual user experience. But I never got there.
When I went back to full-time employment what I needed was a productivity device, not a hacker toy. Android is the best hacker toy, but both the iPhone and Windows Phone are an order of magnitude beyond it on providing the right experience out of the box as productivity tools. Windows Phone has the edge here, but of course the iPhone has the edge on apps. If you can’t live with the restricted app library on Windows Phone, get an iPhone. Just don’t waste your time on Android.