The iPhone Doldrums – I Think I’m Ready for Something Different

iPhone Doldrums

A bit less than two years ago, I excitedly drove to my nearby Verizon store to give up my Motorola Droid and jump ship over to an iPhone 4s. I was sure this would be a great match, and my days of smartphone-hopping were over. And they were, for quite a while. But over time I’ve grown frustrated, and the iPhone has begun to feel a bit stale.

My main frustration has been with the battery life. My 4S started behaving atrociously about three months ago; I would routinely get under 8 hours of standby and maybe 5 hours of usage on just email and texting. A few times that dipped down to 3 hours of use and 6 hours of standby; obviously, something was wrong. I tried wiping the phone and starting from scratch, but that didn’t fix the erratic, angry battery. An informal poll among some 4S owners in my office indicated this is possibly related to iOS, as everyone has seen this behavior in some form or another, but without a fix it’s become incredibly frustrating.

My dissatisfaction is also with the iPhone’s user interface. In some ways, the consistent rows of icons are simple and effective, but compared to the competition they just feel static and a bit dull … stale. I don’t need much, but having the notification menu as my only insight into new emails, messages, calls and notifications outside of opening each app is getting clunky. There’s just nothing dynamic about the everyday workflow anymore.

So, lucky for me I am due for an upgrade in a few weeks. But what do I choose?

I was happy enough with Android on my Motorola Droid, but I am not in a hurry to pick up a Galaxy S 4. Touchwiz is not my favorite, and admittedly my feelings towards Google have cooled since they killed off Google Reader and for other reasons. I have an HTC Sensation 4G on T-Mobile, so I have kept one toe in Android, but to be completely honest, I have no burning desire to return. So that eliminates a huge swath of potential phones.

I was never a Blackberry user, and Judie’s thoroughly detailed Z10 review didn’t inspire me to change that. So all that is left to try is Windows Phone, and I can’t help but feel pulled towards the new Lumia 928. It is thin, beautiful, and it has an amazing camera — plus it’s a Nokia, and I have always had a soft spot for them. I played with a Lumia 928 yesterday, and the only thing keeping me from begging Verizon for a slightly earlier upgrade right on the spot was the movie we were about to see (Star Trek!) … and the fact that the store was sold out already!

At the same time, Windows Phone is at a distant third in market share and apps. I’ve checked though, and just about every app I use regularly is available on Windows Phone; for now I would be satisfied. I have no interest in giving up my iPad, so I would still have a toehold in iOS.

Could switching to Windows Phone 8 alleviate my smartphone boredom? Would you take the plunge and try a whole new OS based on a few minutes with one in the store? What would you do? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if I do wander off the Apple reservation I will be sure to document it here!

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

39 Comments on "The iPhone Doldrums – I Think I’m Ready for Something Different"

  1. I faced a very different situation: my unlocked iPhone 3GS (admittedly, four years old and having taken quite a bit of punishment) battery died completely. I’m living abroad, and I need a new phone. They don’t sell subsidized phones in this country, and if I move back to the States, I need to be able to take my phone with me and have it work over there. However, I didn’t want to shell out over $600 for a new iPhone. I could have a lower priced Android device, but I have a Macbook Pro that works quite nicely with the iPhone. And despite my curiosity about other Android phones, I have paid for apps on the iPhone that I don’t want to go away. So I bit the bullet and got the iPhone 5. I love it so far, though I do want a refresh of iOS. The icons ARE looking a bit stale.

    It depends a lot on what other devices you have, how much you use iCloud and other features, and if you have paid apps. I wouldn’t switch now for those reasons.

  2. loopyduck | May 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

    Why not try out the Lumia 928 for the full 14 day trial period? 🙂 It’s too bad Verizon doesn’t have the HTC One, though.

  3. You know I wonder if you could pick up a Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus and try the pure Android interface? They are still pretty nice even with them being old and you can pick them up on eBay for around 200 last I checked. They also run the latest Jellybean so even though it’s a old handset it might be worth a shot if you could get a sim for it even if it’s just for a limited time.

    I am with you on TouchWiz and I wish the Google version of the S4 worked on Verizon. I am up in the fall but I am not really looking to switch to another device just yet since I am sure some new devices should be coming soon.

    I am not necessarily Android for life. I’d really like a better choice now. Blackberry and Microsoft aren’t it for me that muich I know and even though I’ve never used an iPhone much I wouldn’t go to it because the interface feels stale to me even in the short amount of time I’ve had with iPads at work and my wife’s iPhone.

    What I really wish is Tizen would step up and release a GOOD device in the US. I know those are incredibly geeky, but then I am one so….

    Just not happy with the choices on Verizon right now myself but with that said, as much as I hate TouchWiz I’d probably get the S4 or the Galaxy Note 2 (or the 3 when it comes out….).

  4. That might be good. Maker sure you set a calendar event to remind you to take it back!

  5. TMEhrlich | May 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm |

    I often feel the same way. It does get boring with incremental updates annually. I am ready for something new, but so invested in iOS, it is difficult to leave. Your post is making me consider my options though!

  6. I’m with you. I’m pretty locked in to iOS and will no doubt stick with the iPhone, but unless they make a huge jump in some way, this is the first time since 2007 when I am not really anticipating the next release. More memory would be nice, but nice enough to shell out $400? I doubt it, honestly. Probably would spend money on a retina screen iPad mini, but a new iPhone? Unless it’s some kinda awesome improvement, hard to imagine.

    I don’t want to jump OS’s, though. The whole family runs on iPhones, so it’s just simpler. But I have an iPhone 5 with the 16×9 screen and 64 GB of memory; Apple would have to do a lot to get me to spend money this year. We’ll see.

  7. That’s really the issue. As Judie put it in her first Smartphone User Guide on eBay, don’t underestimate the importance of others in the family being on the same OS.

  8. For me the issue isn’t so much about the product as it is the company. I mean, Apple is a pretty lousy company – from being the company that essentially saved the music business and then saved us from crapware bloated phones, they are now one of the most antagonistic companies to artists and authors and other companies. They have no problem using the ‘app store hammer’ to leverage power, as shown in recent court documents, and so on.

    In terms of ecosystems, I am pretty spread with iOS, Android and Amazon (and some MS) attachments so no matter where I go I would be OK.

    As I have never been one to ‘fiddle with my desktop’, and have wallpaper changers and so on, I don’t get much of the hand-wringing over ‘staleness’. Perhaps it is my engineering mindset, but I am looking for functionality across my range of needs, and iOS meets those – in fact it is hard to cite a need NOT better met with iOS. Music production? iOS is the only viable solution. Games have a broader selection on iOS. Apps are almost exclusively iOS first. Hardware interfaces? iOS. And on and on

    Not to trivialize Android … you can get launchers, custom ROMS, multiple app stores, replaceable batteries, added storage, and a wide array of possible phones (well, 5 phones made up 99% of sales in 2012), and so on.

    But the thing that will kill Apple for me is … Apple.

  9. I agree with this more than I do the notion that the iPhone is “stale”. I don’t think the majority of people out there feel the staleness the way the tech bloggers and the tech savvy do. The fact is that iOS works and it works better, more smoothly, and more reliably than most other mobile OSes out there.

    I’ve gone back and forth between the Lumia 900 and the 920 and the iPhone, so I feel I can speak about that move and what it means from an iOS user perspective.

    The fact is that I love WP8 and the live tiles, but there are still little things that keep dragging me back to the iPhone, and unlike other commenters on GD and here, it’s not the content or the apps – well not entirely. There are still a few apps – like my bank app (Wells Fargo) that are still MIA on WP. There are some nagging nuisances, like the fact that updates don’t always appear like they should in the Store (this is a known bug – lots of complaints on WPCentral and the Nokia forums, for example). There are weird glitches like the fact that the phone pairs with my car, but BT audio doesn’t come through correctly – the iPhone, however, works flawlessly – the irony, of course, is that the car system is an MS-based system!

    So it tends to be the little glitchy thing that pull me back to iOS over and over every time I try to move from the iPhone to my WP device.

    So again, I think the weariness is more in tech-savvy people than in most users, and I think that Apple would be foolish to move away, in any significant way, from their current OS model, but I do think a little visual overhaul would be nice(but a functional one would be a disaster) – a little sparkle wouldn’t hurt!

    And yes, I agree that Apple has been more and more draconian with their policies and controlling their properties. But Google has been somewhat dishonest about how “open” they truly are (reality is they are not “open” when it really counts), and I can’t say their OS is any more interesting to me than iOS. That leaves us with MS and MS is now the underdog – who would have ever expected that? If they could boost their polish and stability just a bit, I think they could still become a much bigger player – they are already taking off in places like India and Italy, why not the US too?

    This industry always keeps us guessing!

  10. Well, we will find out if I like the Lumia…I just convinced Verizon to give me an early upgrade and ordered a white 928.

    Fingers crossed this is a successful leap!

  11. Awesome, can’t wait to hear … And if someone told me 15 years ago I would one day be rooting on Microsoft as the underdog, I would never have believed it!

  12. I am sure there will be glitches. But I had my fair share of them on the original iPhone, and again with the Motorola Droid. Even the current iPhone iteration has bugs. It’s all a matter of what glitches you will and will not accept.

  13. Isn’t THAT the truth, Mike! 😉

    Carly, I know I said I was irritated with Microsoft for leaving the Lumia 900 high and dry where the version 8 OS was concerned, but I do like the new crop of Windows phones.

    That said, I tend to agree with what Mike and Chris mentioned above. I’ve run the gamut of the major phone OSes over the years and each has had something to offer me, so myself I haven’t evolved a brand loyalty per se. That said, I do think consumers want some level of consistency and may not be as prone to tech-boredom as we might be…witness the backlash against the Windows 8 GUI, or even the Vista/Win 7 differences from XP initially. I suspect there are just a lot of people who simply aren’t comfortable having to learn the ropes of a new OS or utterly practical people who don’t fall for the superficial “Ooh! Shiny!” bells and whistles appeal, they are the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” crowd.

    It is problematic juggling all those different OS app investments though, as they really DO dampen the incentive hop to a new OS.

  14. And we who are active in the tech world are more likely to “re-pay” for apps we love to have them on multiple platforms!

  15. Well good luck! I love my Lumia 920, that is for sure, but I have been unable to make the switch stick 100% of the time. Maybe you will have better luck!

  16. Coming of age (technologically-speaking) during the era of Microsoft dominance, I have a reflexive, built-in suspicion of All Things Redmond. Today at work, for example, we were all encouraged to use Lync (instead of, say, Skype or G+) because of security. And I almost said, “Oh, noes!” But the truth is, I find Lync no worse (or better) than any of the b’zillion other chat utilities; I’m just suspicious cuz it’s Microsoft.

    Well, that, and their mobile software when I had an HTC Universal was just so astonishingly lame that I have trouble trusting them again.

  17. On an interesting side note – AT&T has started providing unlocks for some people who bought Lumia 920s last fall when they came out. I got mine unlocked and the process was relatively painless. This is important because I want to be able to use local SIM cards if I take the device overseas (also why I don’t like using CDMA carriers like Verizon or Sprint – lol).

  18. Mitchell Oke | May 22, 2013 at 4:46 am |

    Hey Carly, I was in a similar position a couple of months back (had 3 iPhones before my iPhone 5) and decided to pickup a Nexus 4 to dip my toe back in the Android waters.

    Now I’m happily rocking an Android device as my daily device.

  19. Carly… you clearly struck a nerve. Bravo. Even I was inspired to pop my extra sim card back into the HTC One X and start using it today. I do love many thinks about Windows Phone 8!!

  20. LOL, somebody lobby Microsoft to let Gear Diary members run their phones for a while (hey maybe Surfaces too) and each of us write a detailed post about usage, kind of like the way Mike did when he went iPad-only. 😉

  21. I just wish we could get discounts when migrating, or mimic Microsoft (and others) in the multi-license model. That is to say, be able to buy a single-OS version if you know you only will be using say Android, or be offered a multi-platform option where you can spend a little bit more but have a “license” for iOS and Windows Phone if you have multiple devices. I could envision such a scenario where say Carly gets the 928 running WP8, buys a multiuser license for app XYZ, and is able to get a version on her iPad and/or Android tablet (or phones) as well in one fell swoop.

    Obviously, this would be very complex, requiring disparate app stores to cooperate, and I’m not sure this could be easily achieved, if for no other reason than the shift in how software is deployed to devices. [Screed] Way back when in my Windows Mobile days, I could directly contact the developers to obtain my apps and licenses, or simply download a free app from a website. Developers could be more creative in their requirements and be free to develop features as they liked. The risk was that there was often no 3rd party to evaluate the software for security risks and such, contributing to the rise and convergence of music/app stores such as iTunes, Microsoft Store, Google Play (former Android Market…note the shift from generic name to brand name). As a consequence, rather than OSes seeking out developers and making concessions, developers have lost a lot of independence and influence over their own apps, kind of like a self-employed person now having to be employed at a company and conform to company rules. To be fair to the stores, though, they do offer some amount of app consistency and perhaps better security for end users, but whereas I think independent developers of yore had more an eye towards customer service and meeting consumer needs, the big stores now, some of which Mike intimated here with Google (, are interested in profit. [/screed]

    Hm, maybe a better summation of the above screed would be a mom & pop store versus big chain analogy.

  22. I agree 1000% Bryan! I remember those days too, and even though finding apps required more hunting, and they cost more, you had a lot more flexibility for time trials and license transfers.
    Progress. 🙁

  23. Doug Miller | May 22, 2013 at 10:01 am |

    One thing about Verizon’s 14 day return policy is that they only allow you to do one. So, Carly could try the Lumia, but whatever she decided to buy next could not be returned. Just so she knows…

    For me, one thing I would want to know is the breadth of accessories available. Everything – car stereos/entertainment systems, home audio systems – works with the iPhone, and there are tons of cases, external battery packs, etc., available. I’d want to know if such a rich environment was available to a Lumia before I decided to buy one.

  24. Well hopefully it doesn’t come to the 14-day return. 🙂

    From what I can find, the Bluetooth and charging accessories for the Lumia 920 should work with the 928. The only new item would be cases, and those will come trickling in.
    I’ve seen anecdotal reports of the phone being sold out in many areas, and it’s sold out at 4/5 local stores by me, so hopefully strong initial sales will drive some third party accessories. I think much of the initial move is pent up demand from people who were waiting for a high end Lumia on Verizon, but it’s still a positive start.
    Also, the charger for the Lumia is a micro-USB, and I have more of those than I have devices that use them (I swear those cables are proto-tribbles), so at least I don’t have to restock a whole charging array!

  25. Have you thought to wait a couple weeks to see what iOS 7 brings? Seems a bit premature to switch right before major announcements.

  26. Yeah, but so many apps are free, and even paid apps are only a few $. I will never forget paying $25 – 30 for games like ‘Call of Duty 2’ or ‘Broken Sword’ on Windows Mobile devices such as the Dell Axim x51v. Having to re-buy a $2.99 copy of Fieldrunners on iOS and Android? Boohoo! 😀

  27. This at face value is true—wait…you really paid that much for games for an Axim, Mike??? 😉

    Though, keep in mind that app costs are in a sense relative. Some apps, like Apple’s Pages, Keynote, Numbers run $30 for all of them together, and QuickOffice Pro is $20 for each Android and iOS version. A lot of Office-type apps run over $10 a suite, and while it is much less than a desktop version of MS Office, it is still a lot more than the free Clash of Clans or Temple Run.

  28. thenikjones | May 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

    Good luck with making the change, although I would not want to commit to 24 months to Windows Phone.
    I can see why iOS is seen as “stale” – it looks like my old Palm III after all 😉 – but really, how long do people stare at the Homescreen? I use my phone to do things, then put it away.

  29. Yes, yes I did … at least $25 for the crappy port of Call of Duty 2, no demo, no refunds, and total buyer’s remorse!

  30. I did that with the 920 and with Surface RT already. I got a Surface Pro recently and I’m likely to write that up soon too. LOL

  31. I agree. Since an Apple announcement is likely to be soon, I’d be tempted to wait and see “what’s what” before making any kind of move. There will always be updates and moves, but this announcement is likely very soon so why not wait?

  32. Chris- a few things. A. The “wait because something new might be coming argument.” is a bitter pill to swallow if you are not only bored with an OS but you also are seeing increasing hardware issues as Carly is. B. WWDC is rarely a forum for launching new hardware and, when it is, the actual ship date is rarely a week later. C. You can argue that iOS 7 might do the trick on existing hardware but WWDC is when the new OS is shown off NOT when it ships. Usually the final version comes in the fall and coincides with the new hardware. And- refer to B- Carly’s hardware had issues do a new OS on a phone with crappy battery life is still a phone with crappy battery life. In other words- I completely understand why Carly decided to do something now.

  33. Also, are we really expecting something revolutionary? Really? I know I am not. Evolutionary, system cleanup and efficiency gains and moves away fromskeumorphic designs and so on. But as noted, they control over half the US market and 20% of the world market with one phone, and so making a radical chnange would be silly. Just as Samsung, who has the same interface as 3+ years ago and just pushed up the barely evolutionary Galaxy 3s 🙂

  34. You nailed it Dan. Even if WWDC announces something great, it’s 2-3 months before it appears.
    My phone died twice in an 8 hour period yesterday. I shudder to think what it will be doing in 2-3 months.
    Besides, I agree with Mike’s comment that this is likely evolutionary and not revolutionary. The biggest rumored change is a break from skeumorphism, which is nice but not earth-shattering.
    And if anything more earth shattering occurs, I still have my iPad, and I plan to upgrade to another one at some point. So I won’t miss out entirely on new features.

  35. Doug Miller | May 23, 2013 at 10:40 am |

    Hmm, well, I figured the suggestion to wait to see what ios 7 might bring implied a suggestion that an upgrade to an iPhone 5 in a couple of weeks, which would be ios 7 upgradable when it becomes available, was assumed.

    Not that it matters now, of course.

    The battery issue is likely due to so many charge cycles over a 20-24 months period, which is making me think that my own upgrade decision will be for a battery that can easily be replaced (like the Galaxy S4) or is large enough not to matter (like the Razr Maxx HD) will be my choice when I upgrade in August, particularly now that Verizon is extending upgrade dates to 24 months from the current 20.

  36. I was just in the apple store picking something up, and I have to say-the iPhone 5 is just not that exciting for me. I am looking forward to a larger screen, but vertically larger just feels awkward to me.
    I think you are right about the battery cycles, but I also think its something in the latest iOS. Several coworkers who bought iPhones at various times have also had issues (only 4S people though) and I wonder if its a 1-2 punch of a weak battery and a bug that’s skimming power somewhere. Probably a good call to go with big or replaceable on a 24 month cycle though!

  37. It does feel long, especially at first, but I adore the 16×9 aspect ratio. I mean, I really love it. And that extra width when you’re playing games, particularly dungeon-crawler games, really makes a difference. FWIW.

  38. I know I am an oddball but I like playing games on my iPad. If its that detailed I like the bigger screen.

  39. Definitely prefer gaming on iPad. Though it is interesting when games work on iPhone.

    Personally I love the size of the 5 … coming from larger Android devices (Droid 4, Galaxy S3) it felt great in my hand but not too small.

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