TL;DR — I realized the iPhone’s lack of a back button was a huge user experience problem for me and having switched to Android, I’m much happier.
A year earlier, I had pleaded for a company, any company to release a touch-enabled phone. The iPhone was revolutionary. No other phone came close.
And so I was happy with the iPhone for many years, opting to upgrade to the 3G, then to the 4. The iPhone is still a great phone, but after using the HTC One X Android phone for the last 6 months or so, I feel that the iPhone has a fundamental design flaw which results in a less than optimal user experience.
Let’s say you’re in Twitter app and you tap a link. It launches in Safari and away you go. When you’re done, you double press the home button (a clumsy maneuver, really) and then tap the Twitter app. That’s 2 presses and a tap just to get back to where you were when you tapped the link. That’s ridiculous. It should be one tap to get back. And that’s exactly how Android’s back button works.
When my iPhone 4 home button started to malfunction, I started to realize just how limiting having one button is. Especially when you have to press it 3-4 times for it to work once! It got so bad I had to enable the accessibility features.
I started to look at my other options. Beyond Apple. Scary, I know.
All the iPhone apps I cared about were also available on the Google Play store and looked similar. Most of them had recently been redesigned and looked identical. And there were only a few I’d need to buy again. So apps weren’t a showstopper for me.
My main sticking point was the screen. I absolutely loved the Retina screen on the iPhone 4. Fortunately, all the reviews of the HTC One X were praising its screen and its near Retina resolution. This was looking like the phone, but I figured I’d wait for the iPhone 5 release before pulling the trigger.
I see the new iPhone still has a home button, currently the bain of my existence. HTC One X is looking pretty good.
— Brad Touesnard (@bradt) September 12, 2012
The day came to buy a new phone. I visited the Apple Store to try the iPhone 5, half expecting to be convinced and walk away with one. But although it was a beautiful piece of hardware (with a working home button), I still couldn’t get over the pain to get back to the previous app. So, I walked next door, nervously bought the HTC One X, and not a day has gone by in the past 6 months where I’ve regretted it.
And now the HTC One has been released, which has a beautiful brushed aluminium body much like the iPhone 5 and a big improvement over the HTC One X hardware. I fondled one at a shop last weekend and it is stunning. If I were in the market today, this is the phone I would pick up.
I’m not making an absolute claim here. I’m not saying that Android is better than iPhone. In fact, there are more awful Android phones out there than good ones. I’d recommend an iPhone over all of those. But for me, a great Android phone like the HTC One is a far better experience than an iPhone 5.
I should also be clear that this does not apply to all iOS devices. I’m only talking about the iPhone here. With the iPad you can use 3 fingers to swipe between apps which makes for a nice user experience. There’s really no need for a back button. And if I were buying a 10-inch tablet today, there’s no question I’d go for the iPad with Retina.
If Apple solves this user experience problem in the iPhone 6, I would definitely consider switching back. I just hope it doesn’t involve squeezing 3 fingers onto a 4-inch screen.
I can haz back button?