Almost two weeks ago I ventured out during Toronto weekend shopping traffic to buy a Samsung Galaxy S4. My plan was to swap over to this Android phone for a while since I’d never really spend any time with the mobile OS that has more market share than any other. It has been a glaring hole in my knowledge base, and needed to be corrected.
Since I’m not even two weeks into this little experiment, I’m still in the honeymoon period. There’s a lot to love about the phone, which I can elaborate on in a later post if people ask for it. But for now I thought I’d write about the things that bug me about the the GS4, which happen to line up with things I miss about my Z10.
The Z10 touch keyboard blows the GS4 away.From the very first day I couldn’t stand the Samsung keyboard, which isn’t stock Android. I installed the Google keyboard, which at least does automatic word substitution. But I can’t stand it so far. I hate typing on this thing. It seems to very often miss basic corrections. I happen to hit the “b” key instead of the space bar a lot. My Z10 fixes all of this flawlessly. The Android? Not so much. The GS4 is also a very slick-feeling phone, where I find the Z10 sticks to my hands better. The form factor is nicer to work with, and this makes me miss the typing experience on a touch screen BlackBerry. Simply put, BlackBerry has the best touch typing experience in the world. And I miss it.
I miss feeling like my device is robust. I’ve never put a case on any BlackBerry that I’ve owned. I’ve always loved knowing I didn’t need one. And I’ve been a BlackBerry user since 2000, so when I tell you I’ve never broken a device from a drop (ever), I think it means something. My Samsung is thin and fairly light, but it feels like it needs some kind of protection. It feels fragile. And if I put a case on it I won’t be able to stand the bulk. Last night a friend of mine even remarked to me, over a pint, “Dude ... you need a case for that. It’s a Samsung, not a BlackBerry.”
I miss the incredibly fast multitasking. No complaints that multitasking works well on Android, but it bugs me to have to hold down that home button and wait for what feels like eternity to get into the tile view of open apps. The flow of BlackBerry 10 is way faster, and when I’m looking to hammer out a quick email or tweet, but need to check something in the browser first, I love that I can do it all with one hand, and very quickly on a Z10. Android may be solid in many areas, but it can’t touch BlackBerry for multitasking.
It sucks not having one place to see all communication. The Galaxy S4 has a nice drag-down notification panel. It gives you quick access to key settings, and a nice list of recent app notifications including email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. But I still have to go to manage each communication in a separate app. I miss the universal inbox of BlackBerry 10. I miss instant one-finger access to the hub where I can see all of my communications and reply right from there.
What’s not on this list? I don’t really miss BBM too much because I didn’t have a huge list of friends on it. I can’t wait for it to go cross platform so I can get all of my iPhone and Android buddies to get on board. I don’t miss the Z10 browser since I find the Chrome browser to be just as good. This is good news, because it means BlackBerry finally has caught up on browser quality.
What’s the one thing I wish BlackBerry would add? Better voice dictation. I am a huge fan of the way Google has implemented this. I can speak and see the results of the dictation as I continue speaking. This makes it an order of magnitude better than having to finish speaking, upload data to the cloud, and send back the results. If BlackBerry can stick around and return to health, I’m hoping they can eventually convince Google to bring their suite of services to BlackBerry 10. That would absolutely rock.