The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

Summary: Would you take the easy path and go with a workable, if uninspiring iPhone 4GS? Or, would you take a chance on the wild world of malware and go with Android?

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As many of you know, I've been rocking an ancient, decrepit, wholly craptastic iPhone 3G (not even the 3GS!) for more than three years. That's like half a century in smartphone dog years.

I bought the iPhone 3G a month after the app store opened up, specifically to develop iPhone apps. I created 40 spectacularly unspectacular apps in a month (I was unwilling to put much investment into them, given the lack of certainty of Apple approval), and I've been carrying the 3G ever since.

My 2-year commitment gave out before the iPhone 4 came out, but my old 3G still worked well enough that I decided to push it for as long as possible. It started to reach completely annoying about a year ago, but by then, I knew the iPhone 5 (yeah, I know) would be out shortly. So I settled down for a long wait, which got worse as my 3G started to die. One of the last things to give out was my WiFi, which required a reconnect every five minutes or so.

In the meantime, Android started to get good. Real good. And fast. Real fast.

Once it became apparent that there would be no iPhone 5 (although the 4S seemed nice enough), I decided I was going to get an Android phone instead. Specifically, I was going to get either the Droid Razr or the Galaxy Nexus. Both were 4G/LTE machines and both could be had on Verizon, which does 4G/LTE quite well.

Reason #1 I didn't go with Android: No LTE for me

I want LTE. Let me be clear here. I want LTE real bad. But I don't want it just for use while traveling to the Bay Area or to the Big Apple. I want it here, in the middle of Podunkville, Florida. I want it in case my cable modem goes out, or if I want to work from a local restaurant or coffee house (we have one, it's not very good, but the caffeine works).

As nice as the Android environment is, the single most compelling reason for me to go there is LTE. Local, in-my-neighborhood LTE.

Therein, Dear Reader, lies the problem. There is no 4G/LTE here in Podunkville. Not from Verizon, and not from any of the other guys. It just doesn't exist. In fact, 3G only barely works. And, as far out as Verizon publicly forecasts, it doesn't plan to put LTE here.

Aside: you would think, on the Space Coast, right near where NASA launches its rockets, that you might be able to get good communications service. You'd think. You'd be wrong. 'Course, that could be because NASA's not quite what it once was, sadly enough.

So there's Reason #1 against Android. The single most compelling reason -- in fact, the completely unassailable reason for my moving to Android -- doesn't work here. Quite obviously, this isn't the fault of Android or the Android ecosystem, but that doesn't matter. No LTE, no compelling reason for Android. Bummer.

Reason #2 I didn't go with Android: Toxic apps

The second reason I didn't go with Android is that it's inherently more insecure, at least in terms of the consumer models. ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes talks at length about how Bloatware installed by the handset manufacturers is making Android insecure.

In November, CNET's Lance Whitney reported that Android-based malware had jumped by 472 percent. And just yesterday, CNET's Elinor Mills reported that the number of malware-laden Android apps doubled in the last six months.

I may not like Apple's app store or it's draconian approval processes, but we're not hearing staggering numbers like this from the iOS world. In fact, I may not really like iOS (I don't, not really), but I just don't have the time to fight massive malware onslaughts in my pocket.

So I bought an iPhone 4S

The other reason I bought the iPhone 4S is that we have a lot of existing stuff here in Camp David that works with it. All my old iPhone cables work, as do a bunch of the docks and other random add-on flotsam and jetsam that's accumulated over the years. I have a library of apps -- admittedly, most of them don't work or pretty much suck, but I do own them. Plus, I'm supporting my wife, neighbors, and other family members, who all use iOS devices, not Android.

So, from an "it's easier" point of view, it was just easier to get another iPhone. Honestly, that's a bit of a shame, but the big, compelling reason to switch, a faster network, wasn't available to me.

Stay tuned. In coming articles I'll tell you my impressions, and point out two gaping security flaws I've already found with the iPhone 4S, including one that bypasses your security code, and one that nukes your entire local area network. True stories.

See also:

For me, I'd accept the malware risk if it meant I had 4G/LTE speed. You know, that's pretty much how it's always been. I love speed, so I'd be willing to take more of a risk for the rush of speed, for the rush of 0 to 80mph in six seconds, for the rush of 4G/LTE on my phone. But without the speed rush, why take the risk?

So what do you think? Would you take the easy path and go with a workable, if uninspiring iPhone 4S? Or, would you take a chance on the wild world of malware and go with Android? TalkBack below.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, iPhone, Malware, Networking, Smartphones, Wi-Fi

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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190 comments
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  • Have you heard of Windows Phone

    At the risk of stating the obvious, you can easily avoid both by upgrading to something new and different: WP7.5.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

      @Tim Acheson You're delusional. Windows Phones are actually horrid. But his reasons for using iPhone also ring hollow. 4G LTE is available on Android, maybe not on Verizon, but Android is not Verizon. Android also does not have a risk of Malware if you stick to mainstream applications. iPhones not letting you side load applications is not a security feature, it's a lack of functionality. The fact is, he likes iPhones and he's comfortable with them and he really doesn't want to try Android so he made up reasons and blogged about them. (iPhones aren't bad, just as good as Android I suppose, just more restrictive) But not everyone can handle a big person phone.
      Socratesfoot
      • No. Android users are NOT more mature than Apple users (big person phone)

        @Socratesfoot ... Nor are they smarter. More geeky maybe. Live for the tech challenge? Perhaps. Nothing wrong with that. Still I don't understand the intelligence argument made by some Android fans? After all if you have an easy way to get a task done and a more difficult way how is it a sign if greater "intelligence" to knowingly choose the harder!?!

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • Did you read the article?

        NOBODY offers LTE where he lives. And your second argument is bogus. What you're saying is that it isn't good enough to trust Google's Android market place, no, you have to vet each app on that marketplace and decide if it's reputable enough or not to be safe to download. And you completely failed to address his most important point. With Android, you have made yourself slave to the carrier. And don't talk to me about rooting your phone. You can't in one breath talk about vetting software for reputable apps to avoid malware and in the next breath tell me to go into the internet's gray areas to download a hacked rom for my phone.
        baggins_z
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot ACTUALLY, you are delusional. Pull the stick out of your butt and be willign to try something new and not talk about things you have not actually used for more then 10 seconds. Windows Phone is far and away more usable and is as feature rich as both Android and the iPhone.
        clcrockett
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot
        Please pull your brains from your foot, our sincere request.
        Ram U
      • Reading comprehension and retention seems lacking.

        @Socratesfoot: Take another look at what the author said about 4G LTE.
        "There is no 4G/LTE here in Podunkville. Not from Verizon, and not from any of the other guys. It just doesnt exist."
        Three very simple, very basic sentences that totally destroy your argument aborning. If 4G LTE had been available where he lives, he would have bought an Android. Simple as that.<br><br>You also grossly underestimate the malware risk, since some of those attacks come disguised as "mainstream applications."<br><br>You have the right to your own opinions, but your opinions are not necessarily those of the author--or myself. Or anyone else.
        Vulpinemac
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot
        You're delusional. Windows Phones are actually pleasant. There are some arguments he made that don't make complete sense but easy enough, no LTE no Android. As someone else mentioned if he needs to constantly help his family with iOS issues (take note, issues, need help... Never had to with WP7) which is another reason why he needs his iPhone.

        Now, you make some rather arrogant statements about the superiority of Android. First off, Linux is great when it is developed by great people. Unfortunately there is nothing great IMHO about Google... Spyware city, and if Android is so great, why root it with a different ROM? Wouldn't that mean it isn't quite right and you need to keep hunting for something that is workable? Sounds like s*** to me. With iOS and WP7 no need to root to get another ROM to try and get things best as possible as the phones already are best in class. No lag, good battery life and no need to download auto task killer. The phones just take care of themselves.

        Also, you mention you don't have to worry about malware eh? No malware ever in the Android Marketplace? Google wouldn't let that happen right? Hmm, this is a funny article you must have missed while absorbing your infinite wisdom...

        http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/android-malware/

        Best quote...
        "Wysopal suggested that Google should begin vetting apps like Apple does for its platform.

        ???This was inevitable. The model has to be that the applications need to be vetted before they are available for download,??? he said.

        Google declined to address Wysopal???s statement on the record. But it provided its developers??? conditions agreement and a CNET story about the security of Android and Apple apps."

        Yup, Google, the honest and innocent that does all right and no wrong. Any person or company should be honest and open. Even if they are stupid (you're holding it wrong) they need to be voiced so the general public has something to go by. Google made no mention of working to fight malware or anything of that nature. SMS bug that just sprouted with WP7, MS hard at work for a quick fix which will be out in no time and the update wont break any functionality of the phone or its apps. Apple does the same like iOS 5 with the battery issue... Hard at work to fix it... Google? OH IT'S OPEN SO WE DON'T GIVE A S***... ;)
        audidiablo
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot
        You're delusional. Windows Phones are actually pleasant. There are some arguments he made that don't make complete sense but easy enough, no LTE no Android. As someone else mentioned if he needs to constantly help his family with iOS issues (take note, issues, need help... Never had to with WP7) which is another reason why he needs his iPhone.

        Now, you make some rather arrogant statements about the superiority of Android. First off, Linux is great when it is developed by great people. Unfortunately there is nothing great IMHO about Google... Spyware city, and if Android is so great, why root it with a different ROM? Wouldn't that mean it isn't quite right and you need to keep hunting for something that is workable? Sounds like s*** to me. With iOS and WP7 no need to root to get another ROM to try and get things best as possible as the phones already are best in class. No lag, good battery life and no need to download auto task killer. The phones just take care of themselves.

        Also, you mention you don't have to worry about malware eh? No malware ever in the Android Marketplace? Google wouldn't let that happen right? Hmm, this is a funny article you must have missed while absorbing your infinite wisdom...

        http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/03/android-malware/

        Best quote...
        "Wysopal suggested that Google should begin vetting apps like Apple does for its platform.

        ???This was inevitable. The model has to be that the applications need to be vetted before they are available for download,??? he said.

        Google declined to address Wysopal???s statement on the record. But it provided its developers??? conditions agreement and a CNET story about the security of Android and Apple apps."

        Yup, Google, the honest and innocent that does all right and no wrong. Any person or company should be honest and open. Even if they are stupid (you're holding it wrong) they need to be voiced so the general public has something to go by. Google made no mention of working to fight malware or anything of that nature. SMS bug that just sprouted with WP7, MS hard at work for a quick fix which will be out in no time and the update wont break any functionality of the phone or its apps. Apple does the same like iOS 5 with the battery issue... Hard at work to fix it... Google? OH IT'S OPEN SO WE DON'T GIVE A S***... ;)
        audidiablo
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot I think the new Nokia/Windows phones look nice, and the OS looks interesting (yes, I know you can put a 'social' oriented UI over Android, but that's different from having something baked in to the design of the OS).
        There's a nice online demo you can run on any WebKit based phone browser that illustrates it.

        It doesn't particularly interest me as I'm probably the opposite - I've disabled the unread email count, and most notifications, because I want to avoid distraction, rather than be bombarded with friends status updates. But I'm at least a decade too old.

        That said, I agree with you that the reasons sound bogus to me. I don't really see the need-for-speed with mobile broadband (I'm not downloading megabytes of data, on the other hand there's still high latency with mobile, even if you're getting peak bandwidth). Don't LTE phones fall back to 3G anyway - i.e. you're not going to be any worse off with an LTE Android than an iPhone on the same network.

        And while I might wonder about other people getting ripped off on the Android Market . . . well, I never personally suffered from Windows malware either. But then I didn't install a lot of pirated software, nor fall for opening attachments promising interesting pictures.

        All that said - I'm sticking with iOS for the same reason that I've bought various games consoles, while having a PC - the software catalog. I've seen Android hardware I like, but I've not seen any Android-only software that makes me jealous - yet!

        I presume it's only a matter of time, though.
        JulesLt3
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot You're exactly correct. Vetting apps on Android is easy enough especially for a tech guy. C'mon, using malware as an excuse not to go with Android is ridiculous for a tech guy.<br><br>Lack of LTE availability I can understand, but don't you think even more places will have it within the 2-3 timeframe you'll have your new phone? And yet your iPhone 4S won't be able to take advantage of it. If you had bought the Android phone, you'd be ready to go. So not getting the Android because of lack of LTE service is a hollow excuse as well.<br><br>And what about all the other advantages that Android hardware and eco-system has over Apple and iOS? A big one is the upcoming Android 4.0, ICS. Another is the much bigger screen. With the bigger screen, GPS Google Navigation is excellent and very integrated into Android. And let's not forget hardware ports you don't get on iPhones that are very handy and increase the functionality of an Android phone. Lastly, the great customizations you can do on Android without jailbreaking.<br><br>David G., you made the wrong stupid lazy choice.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot
        "Windows Phones are actually horrid" Personal view as all of this. I personall know three people that have Windows Phone and love it. We have two Androids and one iPHone. I have had problems with the Androids the are PITA, but they work. I bet most people commenting have not used all three of the latest. But darn if it is not fun to read the small minds.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • Indeed agree with you

        @Socratesfoot Lately I'm reading many personal opnion, that people try hard to create one strong reason, to reject it or that. Android it's pretty good at moment, though Apple it's still good also. Please MS fan boys, WM 7.X still have to prove that it came to stay, with good app store, good hardware (that it's clearly still doesn't have) and that it's a stable and reliable OS, that it will take some time. For me today Android it's the best option because the ecosystem it's not closed as Apple is. It's not perfect, like any other OS, though I like it.
        villacak
        • I have an original WP7 Samsung Focus

          I bought it the month WP7 was released and have since updated it to Mango.

          "it came to stay": MSFT has a pretty impressive staying power for things that they are committed to. They have completely redone the OS (though, unfortunately, though my phone will be upgraded to WP7.8, it wont' be updatable to WP8 - though, it's two years old this fall, so I'm guessing it will be updated with a new phone)

          "good app store": There's about 100k apps in the app store now. The only one I'd really like to have (that doesn't exist) is a Chase bank one, but it's promised

          "good hardware": I'm never had an issue with hardware. Mine is a little scratched up, but runs like a charm. My daughter's battery died once, but it's replaceable. She also worked at gas wells and dropped hers about 5 feet onto concrete. The screen has a nice spiderweb crack in it, but it still works completely. If you are complaining that it doesn't have dual/quadruple/64 cores, well, my phone feels as fast or faster than any of my friends/acquaintances/relatives' phones. Just because Android needs a jet engine to run well doesn't mean every OS does.

          "stable and reliable OS": Other than shutting down my phone when I get on a plane, I just about never power cycle or reset my phone. Except for when I was in the Mango beta program (I worked for Microsoft at the time), I have never hard-reset my phone (I know that I definitely haven't hard-reset it in the past year). I think I had a power glitch in the phone once last spring that caused it to turn off and on, and for a few days in May, my battery wasn't seated well and the phone went off on its own twice. How do you define "stable and reliable OS"? Does your OS offer you that kind of stability.

          WP7 isn't as "wild west" as Android, but it's not as closed and/or opaque as Apple. It also provides you with a choice of models and, to some extent, capabilities (not as many as Android, but a lot more than Apple). The upgrade/update story isn't quite as good as Apple's (but it's close); it's *way* better than Androids.
          Flydog57
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot - What a know-nothing douchebag. You claim that Windows phones are 'actually horrid'. No doubt you've never used one so you're not qualified to comment. I've used all three phone OS's and my current phone is a Samsung Focus Windows Mango phone. It may not have much market share yet but after using iOS on a 3G and Android on an HTC phone I'm VERY happy with my Winphone... Your comment about Android being a 'big person' phone just shows what a moron you really are...
        simul8guy
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot

        I have never seen anyone talk bad about Windows Phone, if they have used it in the first place. So this can come from someone who has not used it at all or is simply against anything Microsoft. Windows Phone is the best one out there, the UI is highly functional and sleek .. rest all look outdated
        ninjacut
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot
        This writer really pisses me off... He always come off as a jerkoff. What he really wanted to say is he REALLY wanted an iPhone so he bought one. Android trumps iPhone unless you want t install a bunch of games. As for this Malware nonsense, you have to be dumb as a bag of nails to download the apps that are malicious. I am quite sure the top rated, top tier apps I usually download to my Phone and Tablet from Android Market are Malware free. If you believe the malware on Android is out to get you then I have some oceanfront property in Idaho for ya buddy!!!... and change that douche bag photo David, you are embarrassing yourself.
        drayphly
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot The critics have given Windows Phone 7.5 a great endorsement so do some reading before spouting BS
        jatbains
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot I have an iPhone, WP7 phone and an Android.

        To be honest, the WP7 phone is probably the nicest to use.

        Android is the most flexible

        iPhone is the one that feels old fashioned and slow (OK, I have a 3GS, not a 4S, but the 3GS is still a current model).

        The iPhone isn't bad, when I bought it, I switched form WM6, as iPhone was better, then. I looked at Android and discounted it. In the meantime, MS have learnt from their mistakes and have produced a stunning platform, which blows iOS out of the water, in terms of ease of use. Android has overtaken iOS in terms of usability and flexibility.

        As to "toxic apps", Apple has had a few of those as well, but the Android ones are fairly easy to spot.

        I seriously looked at the iPhone 4, when it came time to upgrade, but having used my boss's 4, I didn't see any reason to upgrade from my 3GS. Then, sometime after iOS 4.3, it started to corrupt my Audible book collection on a regular basis and sync the corruption back to the iMac! It was after I had deleted and re-downloaded the active part of my collection for the 2nd time in one week, that I finally threw the iPhone in the corner and bought an unlocked htc Sensation (there is currently no Audible support on WP7 and Audible is one of the main criteria for my "main" phone (I have a private and a company phone, the private is my main phone)). The Sensation was like a breath of fresh air and a big step forward over the last time I had played with Android.

        I still keep the iPhone around, connected via WLAN, for testing things at work, but it is my least preferred platform, from the 3. It isn't bad, it is just that MS and Google have overtaken Apple, at the moment.

        I am fairly agnostic, when it comes to tech. If Apple overtake Google and MS by the time I look for my next phone, I might well switch back, but I wouldn't get a 4S at the moment.
        wright_is
      • RE: The two reasons I avoided Android and finally upgraded to the relatively boring iPhone 4S

        @Socratesfoot
        Sounds like you've never tried a Windows Phone, or you are completely delusional.
        kstap