Lots of people switch between different smartphones. For some, it's an upgrade to the latest version of their preferred device while for others it's a jump from one platform to the other. When it comes to switching, there are some people who are so committed to one platform that the thought of jumping ship seems fanciful. So when the former editor of Macworld Australia, Chris Oaten, dumped his iPhone for an Android device I was pretty surprised.
Since leaving the editor's chair at Macworld Australia, Oaten has devoted himself full-time to professional photography with a particular specialisation in time lapse work through his company Insight Visuals. There's a Vimeo channel where you can see some of this more recent work.
As I spoke to him, he was on his way to client site to swap out the memory card in a camera he's had set up at a contruction sight for almost two years.
Oaten's decision to move away from iOS to Android is interesting, but even more so is the device he decided to go with. He chose the Panasonic Lumix CM1 - a model that was released over two years ago.
When it came to why he shifted away from an iPhone, Oaten said "The price of iPhones, indeed most new phones, has become obscene. It was a business decision. After a difficult year with health issues, I needed to trim the budget to allow for the installation of a solar system, which in turn will reduce operating costs. This precluded a new phone on a plan when my current contract expires in February".
After visiting the local Telstra store and trying a few different phones out, Oaten said there were lots of very nice products but he just didn't want spend as much on a phone as he would on a laptop. And, as a photographer., Oaten wasn't looking for a smartphone that could take photos. He was looking for a connected camera. After reviewing the Panasonic Lumix CM1 some time ago, he figured that he'd found the kind of connected camera, rather than a smartphone, he was after.
"I really wanted a camera with comms capability, as opposed to a comms device with a camera capability. The CM1 actually feels like using a real camera and the image quality is excellent. In fact, I've started a new Insta account, just for pics from this phone".
Oaten already had a Panasonic LX100 camera in his arsenal and he said the CM1 is much like that camera.
"It's just like having a micro four-thirds camera with excellent optics. It's built about being a camera first and phone second. You can set ISO, white balance, use aperture, choose shutter speed - it feels like using a real camera as opposed to the cameras in most smartphones where the user experience is based around the software rather than the hardware".
As you'd expect, the transition hasn't been without its challenges with Oaten noting that neither Google nor Apple make it particular easy to work across platforms seamlessly. But that's been part of the fun, said Oaten.
"I was actually ready to move outside my comfort zone with the iPhone. I began using Macs at System 7.2 and back then it was a fun time to be using computers. If you had issues, such as a buggy extension, you kinda had to figure out the fix for yourself because outside of IRC, there wasn't the wealth of online resources there are now. Picking up an Android device and having to learn a new OS, its security vulnerabilities and other idiosyncrasies is actually fun".
One thing Oaten has noticed is that while both platforms have their share of crappy apps, Android apps in specific niches are more stable and offer better features. For example, he has invested in Syrp motion capture equipment and the iOS apps used to control the gear are "buggy as hell". But the experience with the Android apps is far superior.
However, he still uses an iPad 2 with a CamRanger. This is a WiFI router that uses his dSLR's USB port. Oaten uses it to have a large preview image and remote control of the camera when he's shooting live at a location. That's a tool he won't be giving up he added.
One of his favourite Android features is the swipe keyboard. As well as working full-time, Oaten has been studying and finds taking notes at uni to be far easier than with the default keyboard available in iOS.
"It's great for taking notes in uni lectures, though people used to give me the stink eye 'cos they thought I was gaming! But, seriously, Apple dropped the ball big time on swipe texting. On a mobile phone, it makes a massive difference to usability and speed".
He also says app switching is far easier in Android.
Anthony Caruana is the current editor of Macworld Australia