Q: Now that I know what the new iPhone is going to have, I’m really leaning towards getting the Samsung Galaxy S4 but I’m concerned about switching to a whole new platform. How difficult is making the switch to an Android phone after being on an iPhone for so long? — D
A: This question was answered on September 13, 2013. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Apple’s iPhone used to dominate the smartphone market when it came to innovation, but the recent years have seen a handful of competitors developing extremely compelling alternatives, with Samsung’s Galaxy S4 being one of the most compelling.
Today’s Ford vs. Chevy or Windows vs. Mac question has definitely become iOS vs. Android as the smartphone market evolves.
Just as when a diehard Ford owner switches to a Chevy or a long-time Windows user switches to a Mac, there is the initial learning curve which can often create a good bit of frustration.
Since you’ve been a long-time iPhone user, you are used to how things work, where they’re located and how they get changed.
I’m actually right in the middle of this transition myself (I recently switched from an iPhone 5 to the GS4) and I too was a long-time iPhone user.
There are some basic things to consider before you make your decision, starting with apps. Spend some time looking at the apps on your iPhone to see which ones you can’t live without and make sure the same app or an equivalent app is available in Google’s Play Store.
Most of us rarely use 90 percent of the apps on our phones, so this may not be that big of an issue or it could be a deal killer if you have mission critical apps.
The more you live your life in the Cloud (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) the easier the transition will be. Your music, video, contacts, messages etc. are pretty easily transferred to a GS 4 with Samsung’s Smart Switch utility (samsungsmartswitch.com) but don’t expect perfection.
You’ve also accumulated lots of iPhone accessories, cables, car chargers, docking stations and cases that you’ll have to replace when you switch, so be sure to include that in your calculations.
If you approach the change from the standpoint of figuring out how to make an Android device work like an iPhone instead of learning how the Android works, you’re going to be even more frustrated.
Notifications, settings, configurations, where the back button is and a whole host of subtle differences will have you somewhat disoriented for the first few days and likely wondering what you were thinking.
I tell you this so you can manage your expectations, but it’s kind of a breath of fresh air when you push through the dip.
If you can approach this as if you had never owned a smartphone before (try to leave your Apple baggage at the door), you’ll acclimate much faster to the Android way of doing things.
There are lots of subtle things that are just a little more intuitive for me once I got used to the workflow differences and the Internet is filled with Android how-to guides for former iPhone users.
If you’re going to switch smartphones, than you’ll also be switching from some of Apple’s services to the Google equivalent (Drive, Calendar, Chrome Browser, Google+ for photo backups, etc.)
The more invested you are in Apple’s ecosystem, the more involved it will be to make the transition, so don’t expect it to be quick or painless.
If you’re open minded about change and are willing to spend the time it will take to make the transition, you’ll be just fine. If you’re not good with change, get frustrated easily or just don’t have the patience to learn a bunch of new things, you should probably stick with an iPhone.
Ken Colburn is president of Data Doctors Computer Services and host of the Data Doctors Radio Program, noon Saturdays on KTAR 92.3 FM or at www.datadoctors.com/radio. Readers may send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.