Why I'm Back to the iPhone

So I've decided to go back to the iPhone as my main device after swearing them off just a year and half ago (can you tell I'm fickle?). Why, you may ask? Well, let me give you a little background information on my cell phone history. My first real smartphone was a Blackberry Curve I received at my first job. It was far and away better than anything I had used before, but after the launch of the iPhone in 2007, I knew it could be so much more.

So with the launch of the iPhone 3G, I made my way to the promised land of Apple's iPhone. It was the best phone I'd ever used and yet it was also my most troublesome phone too. I bought the extended AppleCare protection and ended up going through five different iPhones before switching to Sprint for the EVO 4G the day that came out.

Going to Sprint was an interesting experience for me. I'd been with Sprint before getting a Blackberry with my work and Verizon and the service had been pretty bad (not intolerable) but Verizon was much better. Going back to Sprint I felt like they had greatly improved. Although I came to the conclusion very quickly that 4G was not worth it. At all. The 4G that Sprint employed (Wimax) is not that great. Not all that fast, doesn't follow you inside well and not at all worth the battery drain. But if nothing else, the coverage and cost of Sprint's network has been more than enough to cover my needs for cell phone use.

As for the EVO 4G, again, it was the best phone I'd ever used. Compared to the iPhone 3G, it was light-years into the future. Great big screen, decent camera, 1GHz processor, and Android. The reason I mention Android is because I'm a heavy Google user. I've had Gmail since 2004 (longer than I've had a Facebook account) and I'm still using the same email account I have from day one in 2004. My contacts, photos, emails, documents and a good chunk of my life is tied up in Google's services. It all works beautifully on an Android device. Native apps for everything and direct integration of all of Google's services, it's like a match made in heaven.

And yet I'm going back. And here's why.

One word. Ecosystem. Yes, ecosystem. You may be thinking, what ecosystem? Google has the whole package, phone, email, voice, contacts, pictures and everything else. And that's true, a good chunk of the ecosystem is in place. But Google has one big failing in this whole thing, they don't have stores. Yes stores. The Apple store is the big reason I'm going back to Apple's phone. When my iPhone broke, I could make an appointment, walk into an Apple store and get a new one and be on my way in 20-30 minutes. If I have an Android device, I have to make sure I have the insurance, otherwise I need to call the manufacturer and not take it to a Sprint store, then send it away, wait a week or two and get my phone back. If I do have the overpriced insurance, I can walk into a Sprint store and turn my phone in and come back in a few hours to get the repaired unit. If they can't repair it I have to wait for them to order in a unit, if the damage was my fault, I have to call another company, pay them $100 and then wait for the phone to come the next day. All in all, I'm paying more and waiting longer. Apple stores have replacement devices all the time (launch periods obviously don't count, but it's true for any phone anywhere) and make your time investment to getting your phone working very small.

That is very important to me. Being able to get reliable repair service without dealing with all the hoops Sprint, AT&T or Verizon want me to jump through. Now that iOS 5 is out and has addressed my biggest concern with Apple's platform (notifications), I fell comfortable going back to an iPhone and leaving my Android behind. The biggest thing I'll miss? Google Talk. Hands down the best thing about Android. But I can get a chat client for the iPhone and I'll be fine. If Google makes Google Talk act like iMessage on the iPhone, I may go running back, but only if there's a Google store where I can take my Android for service without going through the carrier.

So my new iPhone 4S should be here in another week or so and then I'll be back to Apple. I'll post my review here shortly after getting the device and my impressions on switching from Android back to Apple.