Why I Picked the iPhone 4S: It’s All About Sacrifices

I’m the son of a former Nokia employee, an ex cell phone salesman, and current connoisseur. So I guess you can say that I’ve played with my fair share of smartphones.

And in my several-year quest to find the perfect handset, I’ve tried everything from the Nokia 7650 to the latest Android and WP7 devices. But I’ve only found one phone capable of being my everyday driver.

As you’ve probably already guessed by now, that phone is the iPhone. No, I’m not an Apple “fanboy” that blindly buys whatever the company releases. I just want the best handset available. And for me, that’s the handset that requires me to make the least amount of sacrifices…

When I came up for upgrade this fall, I wasn’t necessarily (believe it or not) set on purchasing the iPhone 4S. Although I was a previous iPhone owner, I knew that Apple wasn’t the only game in town. And the competition was looking better than ever.

First, despite all of the things RIM has done wrong recently,  I looked at BlackBerry. When I was in sales, I actually preferred using BlackBerry handsets to the alternatives. They had great battery life, a terrific email client, and a physical keyboard that was second to none. But to go with one on my personal line would be a lot different. I’d have to sacrifice screen size (I’d never be interested in a touchscreen BlackBerry), and more importantly app selection. Compared to iOS and [certain] Android software, most BlackBerry World apps look like they were made by kindergartners. It’s awful. So BlackBerry was out.

Next up was Windows Phone 7. Although WP7 devices haven’t grabbed significant consumer attention, the Metro OS has received quite a bit of critical acclaim. It’s quick, it’s innovative, and it’s consistent. But I’m still not sold. Even after several encounters with WP7 handsets, I still find myself struggling to navigate the OS — it’s a bit manic. And just like with BlackBerry, I would have had to sacrifice app selection with Windows Phone, which I wasn’t prepared to do. So it was out.

Finally there was Android. Google’s mobile platform has had several flagship handsets launch over the last few months, including both the Motorola Atrix and Razr, and the Samsung Galaxy S2 (my search ended months before the Galaxy Nexus launched). Android devices have a lot going for them. Some come with blazing fast processors, some are LTE capable — which means super fast internet speeds — and its app selection, although a gamble at times, is quite abundant.

But in exchange for these perks, I would have had to make several sacrifices. First, there’s consistency. While some Android apps look great and run in full screen, others are letter-boxed and look like they were made back in the 80’s. This is part of an even bigger fragmentation problem that really cripples the Android user experience. Then there’s battery life. I have multiple Android device-toting friends that literally carry a wall charger around with them — it’s that bad. And it’s even worse with LTE running. What good is a Ferrari if it can only go 150MPH for 50 miles before it needs gas again? But the biggest sacrifice Android would have forced me to make was reliability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had Android handsets crash on me. Not just apps force-closing, but a full blown, won’t do anything until I pull the battery kind of crash. It’s ridiculous.

Then I looked at the iPhone 4S. Its dual-core processor and an 8MP camera are easily on par with (if not better than) the competition. And its data speeds are comparable to those of AT&T’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S II, since both are HSPA+. But most importantly, it runs iOS. Apple’s mobile OS is by far the most reliable mobile platform I’ve ever used. I’ve never had to worry about it crashing, in fact I don’t think it ever has. And its app selection is head and shoulders above the competition in both quantity and quality.

What sacrifices did I have to make for the iPhone 4S? To be honest, I’m having a hard time coming up with any. I wouldn’t consider 4G one, because I’m on Wi-Fi most of the time and am also in an HSPA+ area. So I don’t ever see download speeds below 9 or 10Mbps. I wouldn’t mind if the screen was a little bigger. But that would mean that it wouldn’t be as portable, and I love how pocketable the iPhone is, so I think it’s a fair tradeoff. I also wish that my 4S had the battery life of my iPhone 4. But since it still lasts me all day, and about two hours longer than my girlfriend’s Atrix, I can’t really say that battery life was much of a sacrifice either. Yeah, I’m still drawing a blank.

Choosing the iPhone doesn’t make me a fanboy. I just wanted the best handset available — the one that forced me to make the least amount of sacrifices. If another company stepped up and made a more reliable smartphone, with better battery life and a more appealing app selection than the iPhone, you better believe I’d switch in a heartbeat.