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iPhone 5 vs Google Nexus 7: the choice of a new generation Featured
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Apple’s iPhone 5 (or 4G/4GS?) is soon to arrive, with its 4-inch screen, 4G LTE, NFC and other iSurprises, yet with Google’s Nexus 7, will this device turn the hell of Android tablets into Android heaven?

When Apple launches its iPhone 5, new iPhone, iPhone 4G or iPhone 4GS (with the name in obvious doubt post the iSurprise of the “new iPad”), one thing’s for sure: people will clamour to get it, and will have a wealth of stunning software ready to use on the device, coupled with the safety iOS delivers.

On the other hand is Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, soon to be offered in multiple retail stores around Australia, at prices that are typically higher than US pricing, even though the Aussie dollar is strong than the US.

As is often the case with products sold in the US these days, other countries that aren’t the US are now subsidising the cheap prices that US consumers pay, despite the fact the US dollar has tanked so much that even the Aussie dollar is worth more (or at least hovers around parity).

Heck, even the Euro dollar is worth more than the US dollar, despite all the crazy Greek, Portuguese, Irish and Spanish financial hoo-hah that has caused many to wonder when the EU will stop being the EIOU.

So, as Australians get set to pay more for Google Nexus 7 tablets and presumably pay higher iPrices too, thanks to government taxes and policies that simply make the cost of doing business higher in Australia (and thus give companies a good excuse to charge higher prices, some of which presumably goes to subsidise those lower US prices), Australians will have to decide what they want more: a larger iPhone 5 or a smaller 7-inch tablet.

Of course, choosing neither is also a course of action – consumers who already have smartphones and tablets may decide there’s no great need or rush to upgrade.

But one thing’s for certain: the iOS experience for apps and general usage is greatly superior to that of any Android device, smartphone or tablet.

Friends of mine have Samsung Galaxy SII phones (not the SIII), and on these phones, apps have managed to change the home page of the browser to some alternate to Google, popping up ads that suggest you’ve won some new gadget, while messages pop up into the pull-down screen also suggesting you’re a winner.

It smacks of the adware plague that PCs get, and is something I’ve never seen iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads afflicted with, and goes to show that Google’s openness on its Android platform comes at the expense of users – especially those who have absolutely no idea how the changes occurred or which apps are responsible.

Then there’s the dearth of tablet specific apps on the Android platform. Sure, there are more than when Android tablets first appeared, but if you want to enjoy an actual tablet software experience, going with Android is a questionable choice, for the apps just aren’t as sexy or mature as on the iPad.

Even the actual running of apps on an original Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tab is not guaranteed to be smooth when compared to apps running on an iPad. The same Galaxy SII owning friends have a Galaxy Tab 10.1, and one of the racing games downloaded ran for a while before crashing back to the home screen, while another had its audio cut out for a split second while in the actual race, before coming back.

This is the kind of thing you’d expect from a PC with god knows what kind of graphics card or other hardware is within, but it’s certainly not something you expect from an iDevice.

Sure, I’ve seen iDevice apps crash too, but that’s often because the either the app is out of date, or the iOS version isn’t the latest one. Updating the app and the iOS version has, for me at least, always fixed the problem.

I even downloaded and paid AUD $20 for what appears to be the best Bridge game, Bridge Baron, on that Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – a game that is hardly going to tax the Galaxy Tab in any way, shape or form.

However, as the comments for the game noted, buying the game from Google Play simply doesn’t work – the game says it is not licensed properly - despite having JUST being purchased FROM the Google Play store, then gives a 1800 number in the US to ring, and unceremoniously quits, sending you back to the main Google screen.

Thank goodness there’s a “refund” button on Google Play, for it was pressed immediately after trying to make the damn game work a few more times, even after turning the whole thing off and on again. It was a thoroughly unpleasant experience and doesn’t bode well for the Google Play store at all. Indeed, the Android experience last night, compared to iOS, was truly cringeworthy - I was actually feeling embarrased for Google - it certainly made Windows Phone devices look vastly more tempting in comparison!

So… while Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is certainly welcome, and will hopefully help to turbo boost Android tablet app development, while also boosting the robustness of the Google Play store, the choice of a new generation is most likely going to be not only Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5, but also its iPad Mini 7-inch tablet.

If, that is, Apple decides to make one. Until then, if you’re truly thinking of a Google Nexus 7, why put up with the pain of a first-generation device?

It may well be a tad cheaper than the AUD $429 iPad 2, but is the pain of few tablet apps, an unsafe app experience complete with fake apps and potential ad/malware and a nicely graphically upgraded but obviously still unstable Google Play store worth the trouble?

For me, the answer is a clear no. Yesterday’s Android experiences were a great surprise, and I marveled at how Google has let the Android OS experience slide so much for consumers, at how Google is happy for spam “fake winner” ads to pop up on its devices, something that turns your pocket smartphone into an annoyance, and not a joy to use.

If you had to choose between plonking down the cash for an iPhone 5 or a Google Nexus 7, you’d have to ask yourself what’s more important – a low price for a device whose ecosystem is still ecododgy, or a flagship pocket computer whose ecosystem ecorocks?

Waiting for that mythical iPad Mini 7-ich tablet may well be an even better choice, too, if it’s a larger screen size that you want, but as things currently stand, based on experiences with Android on smartphones and tablets to date, Google’s Nexus 7 tablet does little to promise things will be any better.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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