Debating whether to upgrade to an iPhone 4S

I am a proud owner of an iPhone 3GS. Well, in truth I was a proud owner until my two and half year old smartphone considerably slowed down when I upgraded it to iOS 5.x. The upgrade noticeably degraded the responsiveness of my mail client and web browser where each each screen tap made reading an email or searching a website so painstakingly slow that the iPhone became essentially unusable!iPhone-4s vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

For more than two weeks I’ve been testing the iPhone 4S and researching my options and I’ve decided to go with the Samsung Galaxy S II, an Android-powered phone. Why turn my back on Apple when the iPhone is king? Here are the 5 reasons why the Galaxy is better smartphone (in no particular order):

  1. Overall form factor. The Galaxy S II is one incredibly sleek device. It is thiner and lighter than the iPhone 4S — measuring at 8.89mm and 4.13oz (vs. 9.3mm and 4.9oz for the iPhone).
  2. Crisp, larger display. While the retina display, an LED-backlit IPS TFT screen, on the iPhone 4/iPhone 4S is ultra-sharp, the Super AMOLED+ screen on the Galaxy S II is equally sharp. But the big different is in the screen size — the Galaxy S II packs an additional 0.8 diagonal inches into their screen that it feels more like a tablet.
  3. Faster processor. Both phones are powered by a dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU but the Galaxy S II sports an even faster 1.2GHz processor (vs. the iPhone’s 0.8GHz CPU).
  4. Mobile application parity. While I have 50+ apps on my iPhone, I only use a select few on a regular basis. The most popular apps — like Facebook, Pandora, Skype, Kindle, Evernote, MapMyRun and the Starbucks Mobile app — have all been ported to Android so I won’t feel like I’m suddenly a second class smartphone citizen.
  5. iTunes independence. I’ve been using iTunes to buy and transfer music since I owned an iPod. But over the last few months I’ve been regularly using Spotify to the point that I’ve stopped listening to my own music. Additionally, I generally buy music from Amazon and I can listen to these tracks via the Amazon MP3 Player/Amazon Cloud Drive app that iTunes doesn’t matter.

With all that said, there are drawbacks of going with the Samsung Galaxy S II:

  • Unlike the iPhone, all of the carriers cram their own apps onto the  smartphone. Additionally, carriers control when you get to update your device with the latest OS. The good news is that Ice Cream Sandwich, the upcoming Android OS, runs smoothly on the Galaxy II S so I won’t feel the immediate need to upgrade in another 2 years.
  • The Galaxy II S is pre-loaded with a custom User Interface (UI) called TouchWiz 4.0. Hopefully, this UI will be replaced with a standard Android UI when Ice Cream Sandwich is released.
  • The new white Galaxy S II is not currently available but it is expected to ship by the holidays.
Lastly, I did look at Windows Phone but decided to hold off on buying one. While I really like the UI experience in Windows phone — especially the Live Tiles (aka active application) icons and panorama navigation in the Metro styled UI — the Windows Phone Marketplace is playing catch-up with the number of apps that are currently available vs. those on iOS and Android. I expect things to be different in 2014 but until then I’m going to settle on an Android phone as my primary smartphone device..
In the meantime, you may want to check out the latest stab from Samsung at Apple.