I’m on holiday for two weeks so I wasn’t expecting to be putting up any new blog posts but I couldn’t wait until I came back for this one so I had to sit down and get it together while it was still fresh in my head. I made the leap this week, after beta testing iOS 11 and feeling completely underwhelmed I moved to a device with stunning hardware and new software – the S8+.
I’m not going to review the S8+ as such, the coverage out there is not in demand and there are countless of top reviewers who gave their opinion when the device was released. However I do want to address my own experience in switching from iPhone to Android because I have been getting a number of questions from people who have told me that they are thinking of switching but are unsure if they would regret it or not.
It is completely understandable, especially with the price of handsets these days. Few of us are in the position where we can buy a phone, decide we don’t like it and dump another few hundred euros on a different phone. I know for me, I upgrade once a year so the phone I get now is what I’m staying with for at least a year. Thats why getting it right is important, what do you need to be prepared for?
Be prepared for something stunning
Lets get the applause for Samsung out of the way first. This is truly a stunning device, even more incredible when you see it in person. The curves, the infinity display, the slim design and it fits so comfortable in the hand. I can’t get over how good the phone feels and looks. Hats off to Samsung, they got it right with this one, there is nothing more satisfying than looking at that AMOLED display or setting it down on a wireless charging pad and off it goes, no cables needed.
It wins on nearly every point: screen, UI, design, customisation, camera…there are few things it falls short on and we will talk about that later. If you are a long time iPhone user you will definitely be able to appreciate what has been done here in terms of design, anyone can appreciate it.
Now for the specifics, what can iPhone users expect and be prepared for?
Hello Google Chrome
If you want your desktop and mobile browser to play along together then you better get used to Google Chrome. It boils down making the phone and iMac/MacBook easier to talk to each other in anyway you can and Safari just doesn’t talk with Android phones. This will vary depending on what you want, some people like to sync their browser data across mobile and desktop so they can grab and go – its all there.
Personally I use my phone for light on the go searching and so I don’t tend to pick up from where I left off on the desktop on a mobile device. So for me I can stick with Safari on the Mac and Chrome on the S8+ no problem because I don’t require that data to be synced between the two. It is personal preference as to what you want to do.
It is not a big deal but something to be aware of, I used Safari on iMac and MacBook simply because it is better optimised and uses less resources which can be a big boost if you are on battery power on your MacBook. Also I have personally found Chrome performance to be a nightmare on the Mac. However using Chrome means your desktop and phone will be talking to each other again in terms of bookmarks, passwords ect.
Don’t fear touch wiz
What really put me off as an iPhone user in the past is touch wiz. This was Samsung’s horrific bloaty junk that was layered over the OS. I can remember as an iPhone user looking at people getting the S6 or the S7 and thinking how horrible the UI looked. When I looked at the iPhone UI there was no comparison but for the S8 line, there is a different approach and I love it.
The UI is clean, modern, slick and fits the device so well. It is beautiful and yes there is a dark mode too. I guess this all stems from necessity this year to completely overhaul touch wiz. When you are putting the most beautiful display on a phone then you need something that looks crisp to run underneath that display.
Get ready to use Google services
Android phone…Google…makes sense right? You better get used to using Google services but thankfully it is not hard to get setup even if you think you are deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem. Calendar, contacts and so on can be easily backed up and copied over to Google with little fuss. Google Photos is now the cloud photo based platform for your photo storage which I had been using on iPhone anyway.
Apple Music is now on Android so if you have built an extensive music library you can easily shift over without having to move to a different music streaming platform. If you are using iCloud as your email account you can easily get that forwarded to gmail if you want or use an email app on Android that just lets you setup iCloud instead.
Apps can be hit and miss
There are plenty of third party apps for Android of course but developers tend to optimise for iOS first which makes sense. The developer ecosystem Apple has built is more supportive than the free reigns of Android. All the big name apps are there on Android of course so don’t worry about that.
The experience is just as good if not better. Using the Instagram feed on the S8+ display is awesome, there is more room to see content than ever before but there are also some mixed experiences too in the early days of a different aspect ratio.
So with a somewhat unusual aspect ratio for a mobile device, not all apps are optimised yet for it, the big names are so thats all good and as for those not optimised yet there is a button which will stretch the app to fit the display and still maintain the high quality of the app design. However in some places there are problems. For example, the Instagram feed looks stunning but the unusal aspect ratio in Instagram stories means that sometimes content can be clipped off the story by the corners, not a big deal and they will more than likely have it sorted soon but something to take note of.
Both mobile OS have lag…
I can feel the heat from the iPhone users at the thought of this but yes, iOS lags whether you want to admit it or not. The idea that iOS is always smooth as butter and never lags is simply not true. I have experienced it from a little stutter to a huge framerate drop on iOS and others have covered this topic before. Chris Pirillo has a YouTube rant on the frame rate problems he experienced at the time when iOS 10 was released and while my experience was not as bad as his…the problems definitly existed and the idea that iOS has always been butter smooth is just not true.
Neither of them are perfect, I think in terms of optimistation and performance iOS is slightly ahead but not by much. There are things you can do on the S8 to improve performance though. Tap into the developer settings and change animation scaling to 0.5x (you shouldn’t have to do this at all but the fact that the option exists is appreciated). I have had no problems with the OS on the S8+ to date, for me the experience seems to be on par with what I was experiencing on iOS.
Some of my gripes about the S8+
There are not many problems I have with this device at all as you can probably tell. Like I said you can reduce stutter and lag by changing the animation speeds. Another weird thing though is that the phone ships with the display set at FHD+ which is just above 1080p and then you can slide up to WQHD+ which is the maximum resolution of the display. Personally I think it should be set to WQHD+ from the box and the user should have the option to scale down, afterall those are all the pixels you are paying for.
The other strange thing is that when you bump up the display to 100% brightness you get a warning from Samsung on the phone asking if you want to do this and advising you against it for any prolonged period of time which is a little concerning. Apart from that I have no other complaints, the S8+ and S8 are practically the same in terms of features, the S8 comes with a slightly smaller battery of course but really it comes down to what you prefer. At the time of writing these phone are simply the best on the market right now.
Should you get it as an iPhone user?
Honestly that is for you to decide but if you are even thinking about it I would suggest looking at some reviews on YouTube and then head down and get your hands on a display unit in a store and try it out for yourself, then decide what you want to do.
For some people, they will be strongly hooked into the Apple ecosystem. iMacs and MacBooks can speak just fine with Android phones. Sure you have to do things in a different way such as using dropbox instead of Airdrop but they play along together just fine. When you dive into having devices like Apple Watches, Apple TV ect. That is when you are really hooked into the ecosystem and breaking harder for the sake of a different phone may not be as easy.
Bottom line, it is up to you!
Is there anything I miss from iOS?
Of course there is, I’m pumping up and hyping Android on the S8+ because I’m excited right now but of course there are things I miss. There is no iMessage, not so much a deal breaker for me because I simply don’t use it all that much. Many of my buddies are rocking Android and have been for years, I have been the lone sheep really so iMessage was seldom used. Airdrop was something I used a lot between iMac and iPhone and it works so well. However dropbox is just a change I have to make to accomodate and so far it has been fine.
There is nothing else I really miss apart from that, I have racked my brains thinking through iOS and trying to come up with a list of things I miss but the reality is I don’t miss much and thats why for me, with what I have seen coming in iOS 11 – now was the right time to move.