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Back to Android from iPhone 6 to Galaxy Note 5 - Part 2 Part 1 is at

Back to Android from iPhone 6 to Galaxy Note 5 - Part 2

Part 1 is at

I received my new Galaxy Note 5 on Monday. Love this device. The thing is just an amazing piece of hardware. The size is what I was expecting and hoping for. It’s big, yet not too big. It fits comfortably in my pocket and I don’t feel like I am lugging around a phablet. The bezels are the secret to this and the screen is just beautiful.

My first Aha! moment came when I snapped the picture above. It’s a modified picture of my Toy Fox Terrier called Nico. He’s a sweet pooch! The problem with the original picture was that his dog tag and my phone number were plainly visible. When looking at the photo I thought, hmm.. can I edit this? S-Pen out and editing the photo it took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to zoom-in, sample the background color, and then paint over the phone number. In the end, the photo looks just as good and the phone number is gone. This was an important Aha! moment for me and explains the power of the Note series over the others. I don’t think this would be as simple on any other non-pen device.

That said, I do have a few gripes about this phone that I have uncovered in the last 4 days. I share these in case it helps others or otherwise.

1. Email - I need an email app that can do 4 simple things: Connect to Exchange, show emails in conversation view, allow one-button archiving, and preview images in emails. This seems harder to find than it should be.

Samsung Email - the default Samsung email is a fair attempt at an email app. However, it doesn’t have an Archive button. Also, conversation view is always active - even if there is only 1 email in a conversation. This means that to view the email you have to tap twice, once on the thread, and again on the only email in the thread. Seriously? This issue alone made me look elsewhere.

MS Outlook - I used this daily on iPhone and have to say that the Android version is a little less friendly. A switch between views (i.e. Email, Calendar, Contacts) requires several taps since they are hidden in the side menu of the app on Android vs. the footer on iOS. Also, you HAVE TO download images to view them. There is no preview and any attachments of 2MB or larger freeze the app, forcing me to wait for download completion before I can do anything else. This app needs work.

Gmail with Exchange Services support - I tried Gmail and found that Exchange services are really lacking. There is no conversation view or Archiving and overall it just feels wrong to use Exchange emails inside Gmail.

Cloudmagic - this is the app I am currently using. It really is a nice app and I find it is almost everything I need. The outstanding issue is that conversation view is not working, even though they claim it works for Exchange. I wrote the company and they responded saying it “should work”, and are investigating further with details I sent them. In any event, image previews, archive, and other goodies are included that make this the best option for now.

All this said, I find myself wishing that iOS Mail was available for Android. It’s definitely one of the iOS apps that “just work”.

2. Bluetooth - it’s a disaster. I use bluetooth for 2 things in my car: making phone calls hands free and listening to music/podcasts.

Hands free dialing has been a pain to set up. First, there’s S-Voice. It wasn’t working at all with the voice button on my steering wheel. I disabled S-Voice and am now able to use Google Voice Commands with varying levels of success. I get an “Error” to display on my stereo which for some reasons gets screwy and forces me to turn off/on my radio or phone to get things back to square one. This really sucks. The iPhone works just fine.

Music/podcasts: every time I get in my car I have to first wait for my phone to connect to Bluetooth, then launch whatever app I want to use, then select the thing I want to listen to, hit play, then finally start driving. In contrast, on my iPhone, I simply get in and start driving. The iPhone simply launches and plays whatever I was listening to the last time I was in the car. I find this extremely convenient and intuitive. Why does the Note 5 force me to start over every time I get in the car? Just do whatever you were doing before! I know I can probably get the Note 5 to do something similar, but that requires tinkering. I don’t want to tinker.

3. Bezels - they are too small! Yes, I know… I like the bezel size, but also I don’t like them. The reason is that I find that I have to be too careful when I hold the phone. It’s way too easy to press the screen by mistake and to launch an app or do something unintended by mistake. I often look at the screen and find I am composing an email or creating a calendar event (which I was not intending to do!). This is simply because it’s too easy to touch something on the screen by mistake. Compare this to my iPhone which I simply grab and use without giving it another thought. On the Note 5 I have to be careful when I grab it. This is a waste of effort and I am starting to think of getting a thicker case that creates an artificially larger bezel in order to keep my fingers and palm away from the screen. Maybe this is the reason Samsung decided to create such small bezels? That is, it allows you to get a thicker case which will better protect your phone, while still keeping the phone smaller.

4. Capacitative buttons - they light up way too much! I know we are entering Christmas season, but damn it’s annoying to see them light up and blink every time I touch the screen. I installed the Galaxy Button Lights app to turn them off for good. I list this here as a gripe because it’s a “tinker”. That is, I had to tinker to fix something and it’s what I wanted to avoid this time around. It should be something inside Touchwiz instead of an outside solution to turn these off.

5. Device aware - I believe the sign of good hardware and software is when you are not aware of the device but instead you are simply using it. This is essentially how I feel about iOS in general. I just use it and am not aware of the device. I don’t need to tinker. With Android, I know I can get there, but out of the box this is simply not the experience. One has to take the time to read and research and find solutions to whatever it is you need. Then again, I am fully aware of the fact that I am likely trying to recreate my iOS experience on Android, instead of doing things the Android way. The rub is that on Android there are many cases where there is simply no standard Android way of handing things. This is the reason for the “Same, but different” concept. It doesn’t only apply to hardware, but also software. Bottom line, I am currently very aware of the device and the need to tinker with software for things that should just work.

Other than my gripes above, I really like this phone. The screen is really impressive and responsive. Android apps in general have improved. I am still giving it a shot and staying open minded. My comments and gripes are meant to help others, and hopefully, for me to get help from you. If you know of workarounds to my issues above, I am grateful for any help and discussion.

Thanks again for everyone’s support.

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