T-mobile Test Drive

I recently found out about T-Mobile’s program, test drive. This program allows you to use an iPhone 5S, which they provide, for a week on their network. All you have to do is provide a credit card. They will put a hold on the card for the amount of $700 plus tax. After a week, return the phone to the nearest retail store and the hold is cancelled. Make sure it’s a corporate owned store and not an authorized reseller. Also the phone must be in good condition upon return. They will charge you a minimum of $100 up to the original price of the phone.

I currently have Verizon and have been happy with the service. But recent events have made me want to look for another provider.

  • Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed more frequent buffering when streaming with Spotify. There have been reports of Verizon throttling connections to services like Netflix – so it isn’t far-fetched to consider them doing this to Spotify on their cellular service.
  • I cannot use Google Play edition phones on the Verizon network. The last phone that worked was the original Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
  • The monthly cost along with the bandwidth cap is starting to add up. I didn’t mind the price increase from my previous carrier (T-Mobile) as long as the data coverage is better, which it is. But after over a year of monthly cost increase, it’s adding up. To add, Verizon has a bandwidth cap, in our case it’s 4GB, which we easily can go over.

So I decided to check out T-Mobile. They provided a great service for us with the voice coverage but the data coverage was lacking. Which is why we switched to Verizon. Luckily they have the test drive program where we can access their network for a week and decided if it meets our needs. Here is the package I got in the mail.

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It’s a 32GB iPhone 5S space gray. It came with all the accessories, minus the Apple box. The $80 monthly access also includes an unlimited data plan. This is truly unlimited with no speed throttling after surpassing a specific amount of bandwidth. Their lower plans are considered “unlimited” at 5GB or less and once you reach that amount, you will get throttled to a lower speed. It’s an appealing package considering Verizon will charge you extra if you go over the cap.

So I played with my Verizon and T-Mobile iPhone 5S. I installed the Speed Test app and compared results. The 4G LTE areas for both providers are fast. I’ve gotten results as fast as 40Mbps down and 20Mbps up. They also have their areas of coverage and areas of limitations. The biggest difference is with T-Mobile, the phone just gives up and has no signal where as Verizon will continue to try and on many occasions able to connect or try its best to keep the connection alive – these are areas with the limited coverage.

It looks like T-Mobile is improving their coverage but has yet to win me back. I guess you have to pay a little bit more if you want better coverage. This is based on my usage and the areas I travel. I’m not implying that Verizon is the better provider for everyone. In my case, it is the better provider. T-Mobile’s test drive program is a great program and I wish more providers did this. I will try it again next year.

Going back to Android from iOS

I spent the last year on iOS. I had a Samsung Note 2 and switched to the iPhone 5S when it came out last year. Here are my reasons of the switch. Text wrapped like this In orange is my solution when switching back to Android.

  • I hate how slow (if it existed) the Android updates we rolled out on devices. With iOS, assuming you have the last 2 generations, you will have access to iOS updates as they are released. Yes, I can root the device, but I don’t have to do that with iOS to benefit from it. (I tend to upgrade phones almost every year. I guess it isn't a big deal gaining access to the latest Android version. I could always root it but I'm lazy. If there is a feature I'm after, I will consider it.)
  • iOS apps, to me, are of higher “quality”. (After a year, more developers are creating higher quality apps… hopefully. I could also stop installing free, ad supported apps that drain my battery and pay. Apps aren't that expensive and if useful, I should support the developer by purchasing it.)
  • iOS messages integrate across devices (Apple devices). This is great because I can send/reply/receive to SMS messages on the phone, my Macbook Pro, my iMac, or my iPad. (It looks like devices running Android 4.4 or higher have integrated Hangouts with messaging. I just can't bring over my messages from iOS.)
  • iOS has less bloatware (Stocks, Passbook, Newsstand – I guess to some these are useful). Compared to Samsung (TouchWiz), HTC (Sense), and the other manufacturers who add their own useless, resource taking extras on top of Android. I am aware of Google Play Edition phones but unfortunately they do not work for my provider, Verizon. (I considered switching providers to AT&T and T-Mobile so that I can use Google Play Edition phones but their coverage (data) isn't great compared to what I get with Verizon. Data coverage is more important to me.)
  • Many of my relatives overseas are using iOS. Instead of creating/showing them how to use Google Hangouts (which is cross platform), it was easier to communicate using FaceTime. (Initially, I thought I would use it frequently. I rarely used it on my iPhone. I ended using my iPad on wifi.)

Here are my reasons why I’m going back to Android.

  • To conserve on bandwidth usage and hitting my monthly cap fast, I ended up downloading Youtube videos locally to decrease my Youtube usage when away from a wifi signal. Unfortunately, with iOS, you have to go through iTunes and 1 computer. I use several computers daily from my laptop, my desktop at work, and my desktop at home. It’s such a chore to get the videos over to my phone since I always have to use my laptop because that’s where my phone is sync to. In short, you are a slave to iTunes and one computer. Android devices mount as an external device on your computer, doesn’t matter which one. I can easily drag files over. I’ve heard of people using BTsync as well.
  • 16GB capacity is becoming unusable nowadays – at least for me. Apps are getting larger, taking more pics and videos. You can get an Android device of double the size and sometimes more, for a lower cost. Even if you get a 16GB Android device, the money you save, you can purchase a Micro SD card to increase your storage. You can’t do that on an iPhone.
  • Google Now has improved and I feel it’s better than Siri.
  • The data part of the iPhone gets disabled when you’re on a phone call. Emails don’t come in, MMS, you can’t browse the internet. Android allows you to do that. It is not limited to the network, it’s iOS.
  • Android handles multitasking better. These are very expensive smart devices. Let them make your lives easier not just play Candy Crush or taking selfies.
  • In iOS, you are limited to transferring photos and other iOS devices. You can’t even use bluetooth to transfer files to and from iOS and Mac OSX. This simple task becomes trivial. It may be allowed when iOS8 is released but it’s still limited to Apple products.

That somewhat summarizes why I’ll be going back to Android. This is not to steer you in any direction. I’m merely sharing my experiences. Keep in mind that the way I use my devices may differ from you, so our expectations will not be the same. I was waiting for the IFA 2014 event in Berlin to see what Samsung will announce (Note 4). Unfortunately, the new features on the Note 4 didn’t really impress me. So I plan to get a LG G3.

I guess one last great thing about iPhones is the high resell value.

My iPhone 5S

I first had my taste of iOS back with the iPhone 3G with AT&T. The phone experience was great, but the service coverage was horrible. Unfortunately, that tainted my feelings towards iOS and ever since then I changed cell phone provider and used Android OS. Years later and a handful of frustrations, I decided to go back to iOS. I felt it was a good time being iOS 7 is releasing along with the iPhone 5S.

I’ve had the phone since release day (September 20, 2013) – been very busy with things so I couldn’t blog about it. Plus I wanted to spend a few days (weeks) before posting and get familiar with it. So, release day I waited in several lines. The first line I tried was a Verizon store near the house. I arrived before 8am but the staff informed me that they are only selling to new customers, upgrading customers, and add-on customers. Basically, those who will sign a contract. I didn’t want a new contract since I’m currently in one and would not qualify for an upgrade. Leaving upset, I tried another Verizon store.

To my surprise, this Verizon store didn’t care what your situation is. I told them I will be buying full retail, will they sell me one? They said yes. Apparently it was only that first location that was doing this. I called Verizon and complained. Hopefully someone got in trouble. So now I’m in line but it’s taking way too long and I had a meeting to attend. I decided to try my luck during my lunch break. This line wasn’t as bad as the Apple Store in the mall. The line wrapped around several stores – I’d say it was at least 2 blocks long with over 200 people outside and probably another 50 inside.

Lunch time came around. I tried Best Buy. Did you know that Best Buy’s retail price of the phone is $50 more than everyone else? Well, it didn’t matter as they were putting names down rather than lining up. So I got my name listed and went to get some food so I can eat while I waited.

At the same plaza, there was a Verizon store. I figured I’ll line up here and see which will come first – Best Buy or Verizon. Best Buy said they would text me when it was my turn. Almost 2.5 hours later, I finally got it. The only color available was the space grey. The silver was sold out as with many retailers and the Gold was never available. Only Apple had the Gold on release day. I didn’t care much for the color since I’ll be using a case anyway. So I went with the space grey 16GB. Here are some pics.

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After a few weeks of using iOS again, it felt great compared to Android. I’m finally back using a software that will get updates – unlike Android, unless you get the vanilla package (which is limited to GSM phones) or rooting it – which makes it even more unstable.

I’ll be posting about my experience soon.

Accessing other calendars from Google in iOS 7

I recently picked up an iPhone 5S running iOS 7. My wife and I use Google Calendar to share each other’s schedule. She was able to see my calendar on her iPhone 5 (iOS 6) but it disappeared when she upgraded to iOS 7. Here’s how you can get it back.

All you have to do is open http://www.google.com/calendar/syncselect in your device’s browser. It may ask you to log in to your Google account. Afterwards, the page should list your calendars as well as your shared calendars. Just check off the calendars you want displayed. It should automatically display during the next sync.

Goodbye Android OS

bye android

I have been using smart phones powered by Android for many years now. My first Android phone was myTouch Slide 3G. It was a great phone with a built-in keyboard. Next, I had the Sensation 4G. Another great phone from HTC. Sense UI is great as well. The third Android phone I had was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus (vanilla from Google). Though I miss Sense UI, this by far was my favorite Android phone. My last phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – unlike the previous ones, this ran on the Verizon network.

Before starting my run with Android, I owned an iPhone 3G. It was with the AT&T network. At that time, AT&T was the only carrier that had it but unfortunately, the coverage was horrible. I really liked iOS but I guess the network coverage left a bad taste that it affected my decision for future smart phones – as well as AT&T’s exclusivity with the iPhone. I should’ve went back once Verizon started to carry the iPhone.

What I loved about Android:

  • It integrates with Google services seamlessly. Why Google? Because Google and its services seem to work with multiple platforms (Apple and Microsoft).
  • Battery can be replaced. Though I have yet to take advantage of this. All my batteries never needed to be replaced or upgraded.
  • Expansion of memory with the use of micro SD card. This was a big deal before but as many services are in the cloud, I find it less appealing. No need to store movies locally when there’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Go, just to name a few. No need to store music locally when there’s Spotify, Google Play, iTunes Radio, Pandora, just to name a few. In fact, for me, storage will be primarily used for photos and videos. 8GB internal memory may be questionable but many phones come with 16GB.
  • So many different offerings from different manufacturers.
  • Lower cost of the phone.
  • Wireless sync with Google (recently, iOS no longer requires iTunes for syncing).

So why am I going back to iOS after all these years? Here are my reasons.

  • iOS just seems to be a smoother user experience than Android.
  • Most iPhones get OS updates. For example, iOS 7 is compatible with 4, 4S, 5, 5S, and 5C. That’s at least 3 generations of phones. What Android phone has this? Let’s not include rooting. We could include vanilla Android phones from Google but it’s GSM compatible only – the 3 generations of iPhones are all carriers – so is it a fair comparison?
  • To enjoy vanilla Android, you must have a GSM carrier. I’m on Verizon, so that’s out of the question.
  • My last phone, Samsung Note 2 (Verizon) has been plagued with the wifi bug on 4.1.2. After weeks of this problem, no solution in site. After getting my new iPhone 5S, I ended up doing a factory reset and it looks like it fixed it. I didn’t want to do a factory reset before getting a new phone because the restore in Android isn’t as I expect (see next bullet).
  • Restoring data in Android gets unexpected results – compared to my experience with restoring in iOS using iTunes. My phone never restores the same since the last update. Apps are all over the place. Some apps are reinstalled, some are not. Isn’t restoring from a back up supposed to be how the device was from the last back up? Well it’s not with Android, at least in my experience.
  • Siri is smarter.
  • My Note 2 has a quad core processor and was considered a “flagship” phone. Where’s my Android update??? I’m still stuck in 4.1.2. Rooting is not an option! Why root to get the latest? I paid for this phone, I shouldn’t have to root.

After all the frustration, I think I’ve had enough. Goodbye Android, hello iOS… again

My iPod Touch has been jailbroken

Using iJailbreak I am now able to install 3rd party applications on my iPod Touch. The hack is based on niacinand dre’s hack for the iPhone which uses an exploit found in the Safari browser. I nervously did it this morning and 10 minutes later I was able to download a long lists of free 3rd party applications. Now I just gotta figure out how to get ssh and sftp on there so I can get some NES roms installed. Here’s some pics I took.

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