I’ve been using an HTC One V for a little over a year now on the Virgin Mobile service. It was a serviceable smart phone, but was increasingly buggy and twitchy. Even cleaning every cache, removing unused apps, etc. would not fix the issues, which included more and more dropped calls and bad reception. I finally broke down and decided to take the hit and buy an iPhone 5 (yes, I know the 5S is coming out at the end of the month, but I doubt it’ll hit VM before the year’s end…and I really don’t need a fingerprint sensor on my home button…)
So, was it worth it? In a word: yes! I’m relatively platform agnostic, but over the last few years i find myself gravitating toward Apple products. It started with the iPad, which I still adore, and then my wife bought me a MacBook Air back in 2010. It’s still going strong with 98% of the original battery capacity, it’s still as fast, and it still works great. I like that the Apple devices talk to each other easily and — outside of the craphill that is iTunes (Seriously, Apple…fix the damned thing!) — I have no complaints. Yes, the interface isn’t as customizable as Android. Yes, it’s a “walled” ecosphere — I still get pretty much all the performance I want. Yes, they’re bloody expensive — the main sticking point for me.
I figured I would like the iPhone — it’s a small iPad with a phone, after all. Except the integration of the apps is astounding. Everything talks to each other. Siri isn’t the greatest search engine, but it makes it easy to use the phone without hunting for the right app — call Mom. Facetime with Paul. Where’s the local Chinese joint? It works. Just don’t ask it if there’s a local distributor for McEwan’s Scotch Ale; it gets confused.
The texting/Message feature is good, and Facetime is quick and stable for video calls (my mother was thrilled to talk to her granddaughter face-to-face.) The voice recognition is about 90% — pretty good for my screwy Pennsylvania-Scottish accent, which throws it on the strangest words.
It looks good, build quality is top-notch — something the HTC also had going for it — and it’s no larger than the One V was. I find iOS6 much more user friendly than the back/home/app button combo of the One V, and i think the stability of the OS build is immediately noticeable.
The big downsides: yes, the interface looks a bit plain compared to Android, which you can customize, but that wasn’t much of a selling point to me; I want to find what I’m looking for fast and be able to hit the icon without worrying about my fingers being too big. This might not be an issue on the billboard-sized Samsungs and Droids coming out, but I want to stick with something phone-sized. Second: No true multitasking. I found with my HTC that multitasking on the Android phone blew through battery life pretty quickly. It’s a good best we’ll see the same issue once iOS7 brings it to the iPhone. Another is battery life. It wasn’t great on the One V, but I only had to charge it every two or three days with average use. The iPhone looks to burn through a charge will average usage (for me a couple of calls, a bit of texting, and some data usage) in about two days. A heavy user would have to charge the thing every day. I assume the same with an Android or Windows phone, as well.
As to the Virgin Mobile service for the iPhone. You can pay $55/month for unlimited everything, but I run the $45/month for the 1200 minutes and everything else unlimited. After taxes and fees, I’m still only paying $50…about half of the big boys, including Sprint, on whose network Virgin functions. Even paying up front for the phone, full price, over the life of a contract period, I pay $932 less. And yes, you can swap the SIM cards and run on other networks. So is it worth a bigger hit at the start for the overall savings? Especially if you can use the PayPal Buy It Now (or whatever they’re calling it) promotion of six months with no payments or interest — yes. Pay it off in a couple of chunks. You’re much better off than with AT&T or Verizon, from a price point.
But what about the quality and coverage? Not as good. I get 3G in Albuquerque and the surrounding New Mexico area with a bunch of dead zones thanks to the massive areas of nothing out here between towns. (911 service, however, has been available in the same places I’d get it on other networks.) You do need to leave LTE on if you want to do anything data-intensive or the performance is glacial; with it on, it’s speedy enough for a Facebook check or to do a quick internet search for whatever. I haven’t bothered to try streaming anything yet, but I suspect it will be a bit jumpy. Call quality is good, for those of you who realized you can use a telephone to speak to people, instead of conducting a 2 minute conversation over the course of an afternoon by text.
Style: 5 out of 5 — you really can’t fault Apple’s aesthetics. Simple, yet pretty; the interface is simple and easy to use. Substance: 5 out of 5 — it’s the largest app store in the world, and you can find just about anything you need. The operating system is almost bulletproof stable, call quality is good, and it’s packed with a host of baked in features.
Additionally, the preview of the iOS7 features and new look is another draw — at least for me — to the phone.