Though I miss my iPhone, the perks of being with Google and the cost savings of being on Google Fi (Google’s cellular network), make it worth it.
(Edit 12-3-18 Google Fi (Formerly Project Fi) is stating that iPhones are in beta-testing for the Google Cellular network. More on this here: https://fi.google.com/compatibility)
Let me start at the beginning. My iPhone 6 plus was the best smart phone I’ve ever owned even though it was famously prone to bending (mine never bent). It had an exceptionally large screen, it was thin, smooth, and flat. I had built up an essential kit of my favorite apps since I first bought an iPhone in 2012, which I paid to have ads removed from. I diligently updated the operating system (OS) on demand.
I was so proud of Apple when they declined to open a back door access for the FBI, but I was absolutely disgusted when an OS update slowed my phone. I felt betrayed. Why couldn’t my exceptional device just keep working?
On my cellular network, Verizon, I was plagued by billing issues. Though the signal was great, I could never make sense of my bill, and fees seemed to vary arbitrarily. I typically spent $100-$120/month on cellular service with Verizon.
Then, Google invited me to their second annual Local Guides summit in October 2017. I was wowed by Google, and really felt the love. Shortly after the event I switched to Google Fi, and along with it a Google Pixel 2 XL.
I switched because I was told the Pixel housed the purest form of Android. Manufacturers like Samsung and HTC force users into having certain apps and settings in place no matter what. The phone was waterproof (I later found out it’s just water resistant. No underwater photos for me.)
Google Fi and the Google Store offered an incredibly simple and fair user experience. Fi especially has radically transparent pricing. $20 for unlimited talk and text, $10/gig of data prorated to the nearest 500 mb, $5 insurance (doesn’t include theft), and negligible fees. I typically spend less than $4 on fees per month. All in, I spend about $40-$60 per month! About 50% of what I was paying Verizon.
I also got a $100 coupon for the phone, a free Google Home Mini, and unlimited full resolution photo/video storage until 2022.
Pretty sweet deal right?
Out of the box, the 2 XL had a lot going for it, it is a striking phone. The white and black looks great. It has a great camera and fantastic hardware all around. I opted for the grey cloth case and still to this day get compliments on it.
But it’s not all good. Now, one year later, I have a laundry list of gripes with my phone and the Android operating system. Some are small. Some overlap with Apple.
Due to the value I get with Fi, I’m happy to stick with this phone. If you’re considering a switch from Apple (iOS) to Android, read on to hear about shortcomings I’ve encountered.
- Paid apps don’t transfer over. I had a number paid apps with Apple that I paid a one time fee to remove ads from or to get additional features from including Sleep Cycle (a smart alarm clock), a customizable Camera App, a StarMaps 3D, MyRadar (a weather map app), and several others including some games. Paid apps don’t transfer. 🙁 What’s more, I was grandfathered into a one time fee for Sleep Cycle. Now on Android I’m stuck paying $30/year to keep the app ad free and add data storage.
Some apps simply don’t exist on Android – such as the City of Portland App. I still haven’t found a good star gazing app. Oftentimes it seems developers will build for Apple first then Android as as after thought. Imgur for instance launched their App on iOS in 2013, and Android in 2015. The Imgur android app is great btw. In fact, I’m a beta tester and have had a great experience.
- Some apps just outright don’t work. I downloaded the Adobe document signing app and it errors out and crashes every time I attempt to sign a document. I reported the issue, but will likely never hear back. I’m sure Adobe would take this issue much more seriously for iOS. On Android, everything seems so one off.
- Accessories are not as prevalent for the Google Pixel phone as for Apple devices. I was spoiled by all the options for screen protectors, cases, and headphones for Apple on Amazon. I have yet to find a 4 star or higher screen protector for the Google Pixel on Amazon that passes the https://www.fakespot.com/ test.
- And don’t get me started on screen protectors for the phone – there isn’t a great one out there. The curved screen requires that screen protectors use adhesives. These adhesives pick up pocket lint and pug hair around the edges, and due to the curved shape of the protector they easily tork and pop off even at small drops.
- Messaging gets whacky – you get a blue text bubble, rather than green when you text to iPhone users. You often have to tell your friends on iPhones to remove you from iMessage just so texts can can through.
- Android doesn’t have a native voice memo app. I really enjoy taking voice memos. It’s a form of journaling for me and way to take down ideas and get emotions off my chest. Unfortunately there is no native voice memo app so if this is something you want, you need to rely on the third party. This makes me nervous. On android I’ve been using an app called Audio Recorder which actually works pretty well, so maybe this is a mute point.
- Finally, Google launched a native podcast app this past summer, but it has limited features, such as no auto downloads, no changing the order of subscribed podcasts, kind of weird navigation and tools. I listen to podcasts daily so I do not want to use a third party app that’s chalked full of ads or that requires a monthly subscription as many do to remove ads.
- Dongles, my god dongles everywhere. I know this is an issue on Apple now as well, but I’m still not sold on Bluetooth headphones. I prefer to be wired. To date I’ve gone through a audio adapter dongle every couple months. Dongles sold on Amazon aren’t compatible with the Pixel, so I’m stuck buying direct from Google at $12 each. I order three at a time so I can meet the $30 free shipping minimum. I finally resorted to buying cord protectors on Amazon, which though a sloppy fix, I hope will extend my dongle life. (Ironically, 2 days after publishing this article my latest dongle has stopped working, just a few weeks into use.)
- Spell check is wacky. Googe oh wait, I mean Google‘s spell check has issues. The Google Pixel spell check literally did not warn me “Googe” is a misspelling. This happens quite a lot. I’ve even gone into my Google setting to verify I’ve not accidentally told Google to save these words. When it does warn me about misspellings, it often won’t recommend the correct word, worse still it shows me the misspelled word in the keyboard shortcuts, so I can apply it. This has caused a ton of texts, social media posts, and emails to be sent with misspellings.
- Super small thing, but the Google keyboard doesn’t recommend emojis. This is totally a person preference, but I would love to be given emoji options for words like “alarm” 🚨, “cow” 🐄, and “okay” 👌. Instead I have to go into the emoji section of the keyboard to find these.
- No customizable alert sounds – sort of. iPhone users totally take this for granted, you can go into the phone’s notifications settings and customize the notification sounds for all apps. On android, not so fast! Customization to notifications sounds can only be done in app settings and the developer has to enable this feature. I’ve found a ton of apps simply don’t have this feature, so I’m stuck with the same system wide notification sound across apps. Bummer, man.
On the flip side of all this negatively I am saving $50-$70/month with Project Fi. Google Apps and main stream social media apps work splendidly. If you’re already on Android, switching to Fi could be a good call if you’re in an area with coverage. If you’re an iPhone user, I’d weigh the Android challenges I’ve listed above in your decision making.
For me, these monthly Project Fi savings make the switch worth it.