Is bigger better?

IMG_6267Back in October of 2012 I purchased my first handheld device. The iPod touch 2nd generation. I was thrilled. I could listen to music on the go, play a few games here and there, and the orientation the screen even changed when I held the device in different positions. On the front there was a vibrant 3.5 inch 480×320 display, which made consuming media wonderful. I didn’t even question the screen size, it was the norm at the time.

After a few months of owning this, I got frustrated with it’s limited support in the App Store (because of an outdated version of iOS). I sold this wonderful little device for something way more beautiful: the chunky and very plasticy feeling iPhone 3GS. I could now download any app I wanted from the App Store, and I even had the ability to have a background wallpaper (revolutionary, right?). The display was similar to my iPod: lower resolution than current devices, but still the same size as most. Unfortunately, this phone lasted even less than the last, ending it’s life through an exploded battery (long story).

Samsung Galaxy Nexus S

Continuing to rethink things, I decided to try a new operating system: Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 on the Google Nexus S. With a screen size increase of 1/2 an inch, how could I go wrong? And being a Nexus, naturally I could always stay up to date on Android.  The size bump of the display seemed great, almost excellent. Although I concluded that 4.5 inches, just half an inch bigger, would be pretty much ideal.

About 10 months passed, and this phone became painfully slow. Luckily I found a great deal on a Samsung Galaxy S3. Now this guy really seemed like a mammoth. It had a 4.7 inch display. This brought a whole new feel to the device, it was so much more captivating. But as time went on, I again came to a new ruling: 4.7 inches is great, but around 5 inches would be absolutely perfect.

And that, brings me up to the present. The acquiring of an LG G3. This exceeded my most previous “around 5 inches” resolution. It has a 5.5 inch display. This was up with the big guys. I was a little worried that it might be a little too big. And if it wasn’t too big, I probably had reached my maximum.

Nope, not yet.

At first it seemed a little big, but I could definitely manage it. Use with one hand wasn’t perfection, but it certainly wasn’t hard. The actual experience of the big screen was fabulous, I again received the wonderful feeling of carrying a theater in my pocket. After a day or two the screen size became to feel normal and completely manageable. One handed usage really wasn’t a problem. And then I again decided: I think I could go bigger.

There has been a trend phones getting larger, and there’s a reason: large phones give you a much better experience than smaller phones do. I don’t think I really need to explain this: a big display creates a larger interface that can fit more stuff. And we’re all about fitting a bunch of stuff right? Not only this, but a bigger phone usually also have bigger batteries. But just try using a phone whose screen is even a little bigger than what you’re you used to, it’s pretty great. It gives a whole new feel to your user experience.

The 4.7 inch Galaxy S3 with a case is only a little smaller than the 5.5 inch LG G3 without a case.

Of course there are limitations to how practical large phones are. I mean we can’t go around having tablets in our pockets. A person with small hands can’t easily handle a 5.5 inch device, as well as someone with bigger hands can. But there’s also a sacrifice aspect involved: is it worth sacrificing one handed usage for a bigger display? In our multitasking society maybe not, but its certianly somthing to consider. People also misconstrue the size of a device because of large cases. For example, my Galaxy S3 with a bulky case is almost the same size as the G3 without a case. But that depends where you’re at with protecting your phone. Decisions have to be made. It all really boils down to what you can and can’t handle. For me, I just haven’t found what I can’t handle, and I think I’ll keep going bigger until I find my limit.

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Google Nexus S (Review)

After having a lot of trouble with my iPhone 3GS, and getting frustrated with iOS and Apple’s whole setup, I decided to purchase the Samsung Galaxy Nexus S. It’s one of Google’s older Nexus phones that they released in December 2010. I had never really used Android very much before, but I decided to give it a shot. And I turned out very pleased.

I really like the Android operating system’s customization, and it’s whole feel. The graphic design of the software also looks better than iOS 6. The specs of the phone are behind with today’s standards, but seriously with a 233ppi screen you have to get about six inches away from the phone to actually see the pixels. The viewing angles are excellent as well. So I’m not complaining. The 4 inch screen is a much better size then a 3.5 inch screen were you have to get your face really close to see what your looking at. I wouldn’t say that a 4 inch screen is the perfect size though, 4.5 inches would probably be ideal (for me at least).

As you can see in the photos the screen slightly curved, allowing the phone to be placed face down without the screen touching. Which means no case! It has a volume rocker, and a sleep/wake button. As opposed to the iPhone, the sleep/wake button is on the side of the phone instead of the top. If you think about it, it makes a lot more sense, but it does accidentally get bumped on occasion. It’s a little thicker than most of today’s phones, which definitely takes away from the “cool factor,” but I don’t mind that much. One thing that is definitely a bonus for me is that it has a removable battery (the battery was one of the things that was giving me problems with my iPhone).

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The battery doesn’t quite last a full day of usage, so I might want to invest in a extra battery. You also might have noticed in the photos that instead of having its own charging port design like the iPhone, it has the standard Micro USB port, which makes it more compatible.

It has a VGA front facing camera and a 5MP back camera. The back camera is actually quite nice and has some options that Apple leaves out, such as: manual white balance settings, and exposure compensation, which might not matter to people who are only recording events and such, but for me, (being someone who fancies themselves as a photographer) these extra settings can make a difference. The camera is pretty sharp and it also can focus surprisingly close. Look at the following as-is image to see what I mean:

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The phone also has a “flash” which is really only a LED light that shines and doesn’t actually flash (like most phone cameras I’ve seen). However it’s very bright and works well as a flash light.

The Nexus S was the first Android phone with (I believe, correct me if I’m wrong) 2.3 Gingerbread, but over the years it has been able to update to 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, which isn’t quite the newest version, but from what I here 4.2 and 4.3 are mostly just camera updates. Whether or not Google will keep updating the software on the phone, I don’t know. Overall the way Android works is much more like a full OS (such as your normal computer would have), especially in how it handles applications. Because of the widgets and the fact you can put anything anywhere on the home screen, the OS is very customizable. Android overall is a more multitasking friendly OS. You can see this in the 4 (or 3 depending on the phone) touch “buttons” that are on the bottom of all Android phones, creating more maneuverability, which in turn helps multitasking. There is a downside to the buttons, because it’s very easy to accidentally touch, taking places you just didn’t want to go to. Google keyboard is a great plugin for your keyboard, that allows you to swipe you finger over the letters in the word that you want, making it so you don’t have to use two hands to type fast. And the top of the keyboard it gives you three suggestions of the next possible words you might want to add, it’s really smart, and speeds up your typing quite a bit. Typing also gives you a response by a little vibrate when a key is pressed, knowing that you did indeed press a key. The vibrate can be a little unusual at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll like it.

One thing I can’t let out is Google Now. You might say that Google Now is Google’s Siri. However Google Now is different, in that you’re only able to ask things that give you useful answers, such as “How tall is the Statue of Liberty?”  I know, it’s fun to ask it if it can marry you, but is that really useful? When you first open the app it shows you “cards” of different things you might want to know, like the weather for today, or the score of your favorite sports teem’s last game. It’s also pretty smart, for example, one day after going up near Madison it popped up with a card asking me if it was my daily commute, which it isn’t, but it is smart, and knows what your up to. But do I really want Google to know what I’m up to?

So here I’ll conclude. Because of Android’s customization, maneuverability, and overall good feel I have come to like it a lot more than iOS. I’m also coming from an outdated device so of course a the Nexus S is a lot better. I would recommend Android to anyone who is experiencing problems with an iOS device, looking into purchasing a mobile device, or someone who’s just upgrading. If your coming from an iPhone 4 or 4S, the Galaxy S4 would be a huge improvement in hardware and software (yes, even though it has TouchWiz) and I’m sure you’d be very pleased.

I guess I didn’t cover much, I only talked about the things that really stood out to me. But if you want to read a better written, and more in-depth review check out Joshua Topolsky’s review on Engadget.