December 22, 2015

The android phone for an iOS user

This is an old post, nowadays I would recommend

We all know it, our phone is crappy and we want to upgrade it. For a lot of people this means a new iPhone, which I totally get, since the Android landscape is overwhelming. Of course BlackBerry and WindowsPhone are options, but since they have so little market share, you miss out on the good apps.


Buy a stock Android device, preferably a Nexus, or just get an iPhone.

Personal experience

In the past I had a Nokia (3310).. No I’ll stop here, that’s way too far back.

We start with my first android phone. Nexus S, a Google phone was my first introduction to the eco-sytem and I loved it! My second was a Moto G, which had Motorola Blur, a total nightmare! The software had such a heavy skin and so much bloatware, that, while having the same specs as my Nexus, was much slower!

Flashing ROMs

You have two options when you buy a phone which has an crappy ROM on it. Flash it (put a custom Operating System on it, which we call a ROM) or live with it. As you can guess, as a software engineer, I flashed it. My time spent on learning how to do it, debug it, was well spent, I learned the process, which makes me more aware as a programmer.

But the process is killing, the process usually cost a lot of time, you get a system that usually doesn’t update itself anymore and some features don’t work properly anymore or your battery drains more quickly.

For me, I strongly advice against doing this as a normal consumer, if you have a job, your time is more valuable than doing this stuff, trust me ;)

The problem

A lot of companies take android, but a layer over it and add a bunch of apps you can’t delete (bloatware). HTC admitted that their system had its problems.


Samsung is doing pretty good, their skin is usable, but their bloatware is enormous! A Samsung user has a lot of apps redundant, two for the same purpose.. My personal argument against the brand is Lollipop on the S4, the removed multi-user support. For some this may not seem an issue, but it is the mentality, disabling it so people are more likely to buy another phone.

For those who don’t know the feature, you can add multiple Google accounts to a Lollipop (and later versions of android) device. For me this is handy, having a work and private user. And on an android TV stick, multiple users are a must; if your wife searches for cooking videos on your account on youtube, you will be suggested those videos on your account, you just don’t want this! This all applies to location history, search history etc, keep your data yours, and your house mate theirs.


The solution is a clean Android device, also known as “stock android”. A bit like iPhone is, just a good product out of the box.

The pure android has less customization options and less apps pre-installed. But you can add them at any time! Apps are pulled from the Google play store, and extra skins, like the one Samsung, Huawei, Acer etc. offer, can also be found in the play store, but are not forced upon you. If you’ve never installed a custom skin, I would suggest trying the Google Now Launcher.


We see that the market is changing. Smaller companies do not have the money and time to create their own reliable skin, so they just present users the pure Android experience, which a lot of users do seem to like.

The reliable choice for many hard core Android fans has always be the Nexus devices. But for those on a budget, new brands are emerging.

When buying a new phone, specs can be overwhelming. A lot of things are marketed and not useful. Keep in mind that;

  • A phone screen with a resolution higher then FullHD only drains your battery, you won’t see the difference with the naked eye (maybe with VR).
  • Your phone may only need 1GB of RAM to operate, but the more you have, the more apps stay in memory, which makes switching between apps way faster! I recommend buying 3+GB, or at least 2GB. (written in Q4 2015)
  • Oled, AMOled? This displays colors less accurate, but everything black on your screen isn’t lid. This makes the screen consume less battery if you use a dark theme and dark backgrounds. I am a fan of this, but not everyone cares.
  • CPU? If you’re not a gamer, this doesn’t matter to you, if you have enough memory, the phone is also shipped with a good CPU nowadays.
  • Android version? Yes this matters, look for the most recent version. For the moment of writing this is either Lollipop or Marshmallow.
  • USB type C? Read about it, it is the future, but don’t care for now.
  • Megapixels in Camera? Keep in mind that you usually display it on a FullHD screen, which only displays 1920x1080=2MP.
  • Internal storage? About 5GB is taken by Android, so a 8GB phone is not enough. If you shoot a lot of images/videos, enable Google photos to auto upload them to the cloud for free, unlimited.

Good luck, if you doubt, ask an educated geek you know ;)

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