About two weeks ago, my phone died. My beloved Nokia Lumia 920 essentially bit the big one and decided to call it a day. It works now, except the two years of work I put in to personalise it has pretty much evaporated.
That isn't such a bad thing except that it happened just a few months too early. Now, in the interim, I find myself having to use a new phone for the next months, before I actually go out and buy a phone to upgrade myself to the latest and greatest that is/will be available.
See, I like to have a two year phone cycle, and this December makes exactly two years since I bought my Lumia. And it's been a great device. Never slowing down or stuttering, letting me do what I wanted to do, allowing me to organise and save my data the best way I could (which essentially meant I didn't really lose anything important when my phone had to be reset). In many ways, it offers everything my new phone does, except that my new phone does certain things better.
Yes, I have finally succumbed to the Korean chaebol and will be working with a Samsung Galaxy S5 Duo till December (at which point it will go to my mother and I will go out and buy a phone I really want).
Let me be clear though, this is a very good phone. I last used Android two years ago, when my HTC Desire was stuck on v2.2, refusing to be updated. Fed up and in love with the UX of Windows, I decided to jump ship and invested time and effort into this new ecosystem. In many ways, there are lots of things Google can learn from Microsoft. Similarly, there is quite a bit that Microsoft can learn from Google.
For one, Android (post 4.0) has become the most polished and accomplished smartphone OS in the world (I have never used iOS but I cannot possibly imagine it being any way more impressive than Kit Kat). The level of customisation is unparalleled, and this with an OS that is essentially as closed as the other two (Google is moving away from open source slowly but surely). In fact, there just might be too many things going on in Android. I don't really know if I need to hand adjust half the setting on my phone, but I like to know that should I need to access them (and actually figure out what they mean), I can. Otherwise I do not touch them and everything works just fine. Just like my computer.
The parallels between Windows on PC and Android on smartphone are too many to count. But essentially, just as pretty much everything works with my PC, so does everything work with this smartphone. Google has finally figured out how to make good solid software.
Unfortunately, for me, Windows on the smartphone is just a better looking UX. The Live Tiles and the swipes and gestures are a lot more pleasing to my eye than Android's blocky grids. I do not require multiple home screens. I much prefer the 8.1 version of a single vertical tiles layout. It just works much better for checking stuff quickly.
Microsoft also essentially locked their software on OEM devices. Which is something Google is only now getting round to. Admittedly, by giving away their software for free and opening up the source code to anybody and everybody, Google managed to get big very fast. But it still says something when I cannot use the best version of Android on the OS's best selling smartphone brand.
Samsung is many things, and excellent at many of those things, but they are at best an above average software firm, nowhere in the leagues of actual software companies like Google or Microsoft. Using TouchWiz on this device isn't painful or difficult. It is, amongst other things, utterly cluttered and frustrating to know that even though I paid a whole lot of money for my phone, a cheaper Nexus device (which is hard to come by in certain markets, making it not worth the premium you end up paying for it because of exclusivity and shipping) runs the best version of Android.
Having said all this, it is fair to say that my next phone come December, the one I intend to spend the next two years of my life with, will most probably be an Android device.
As much as I love Windows and my heart bleeds at the death of the Nokia brand, the most exciting and bleeding edge developments are happening on Android phones. It's bound to be the case. When so many OEMs are working on differentiating their devices while still trying to offer the best software experience available, you will end up with the best designed, best hardware-d phones, more so than either Microsoft or Apple can do. And with the onslaught of Chinese OEMs, building as good (if not better) phones than the Koreans or Japanese and others, at half the price (which is where I most likely see myself procuring my next handset from), you suddenly start to ask yourself why exactly is it necessary to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that, in all honesty, I will only use for the next two years.
For now though, I still need to get used to the Android grid.