From an iPhone 5 to a Galaxy S4 and soon to be back to an iPhone 5S
I've always liked Android. My first smartphone was the OG Droid back in 2009, it was an amazing smartphone. After about a year, I upgraded to the Droid X. This was also a good phone, but not even close to as good as the OG Droid. After owning the Droid X for about 10 months, I had finally begun to get annoyed with how slow the phone had started to become. I saw this as the perfect chance to finally see what all the fuss around the iPhone was about. I traded my OG Droid for an iPhone 4. I upgraded to the iPhone 4 in the middle of it's life-cycle knowing that the 4S would be announced in the coming months, but I didn't want to wait. I wanted to try out an iPhone now, the Droid X was becoming unbearably slow. Once I received the iPhone I was amazed. It completely blew the Droid X away in performance, battery life, camera quality, build quality, display... pretty much every aspect of a smartphone. For me, this set a new bar for how smartphones should be. This was better than my OG Droid had been back when I first got it.
Eventually, with iOS updates, my iPhone 4 began to slow down. It didn't become laggy, per se, it just became slow. Apps took longer to launch, the browser took longer to load pages, switching between apps was tiresome. This was nowhere near how slow the Droid X had become, hell, compared to the Droid X the iPhone was still blazing fast, but I had seen how the iPhone was able to perform at it's peak, and I knew that it was definitely achievable, so I waited for the next iPhone that I would use my upgrade on. Eventually the 4S came out, but I skipped over it thinking that it wasn't "the one". The next year, the iPhone 5 came out. After watching the keynote, I fell in love with everything about it and preordered it that day. Upon receiving it and using it for the first time, it was definitely the iPhone I had been waiting for. I loved every single minute of owning it. Jump to May 2013. The Galaxy S4 had been released on Verizon.
I've never really liked the Galaxy line of phones. They all struck me as cheap and ugly, yet they still sold in millions. Since it had been about 3 years since I had last used an Android phone (during the Gingerbread days), I decided what the hell, I'll try out the Galaxy S4. If I'm going to go back to Android and give it a chance, I might as well get the highest end Android phone out there, right? So I traded my iPhone 5 for a Galaxy S4. At first I was in love with the phone. The big, beautiful display was amazing. The camera took amazing pictures, that even to this day, I am told by many friend's of mine that it takes better pictures than their iPhone 5's. There was a few problems that crept up in that first week of ownership, though. Battery life was not good. The iPhone 5 didn't have amazing battery life, but it easily got me through a whole day, and I'm a power user. The S4 on the other hand, could not. Then came the lack of storage. I had a 16GB iPhone 5 and traded it for a 16GB S4. All my images, apps, music, etc. fit on my iPhone with no problem. I still had around 5GB of space left on it. I transferred the majority of that to the S4 and it couldn't fit all of it. So much space was used by Samsung's Touchwiz UI and bloatware (along with Verizon's bloatware), that I couldn't even fit all of old media on my new S4. This was a huge annoyance, and still is to this day. Nonetheless, I had read up on this before and had expected this to happen, so I had bought a 32GB SD Card in advance. So far, my initial impression of this new modern version of Android was not good, but I blamed it on Touchwiz and all the Samsung/Verizon crap, however, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Soon after the phone's release on Verizon, a bootloader exploit was found and custom ROM's were released. I quickly unlocked the bootloader on my S4, and loaded up a custom ROM hoping that it would fix all the annoyances that I had come to dislike about the phone. It hardly solved any of them. Tons of space was still being used by Touchwiz and Samsung apps, although I removed those along with Verizon's bloatware, but the annoyances in Samsung's UI still managed to creep up at me. Things like the brightness automatically change to the lowest brightness when the phone hits 10% battery, the camera not being able to be used after the phone hits 5%, video colors being changed to odd hues for no reason (I disabled all adapt display and other screen settings and this still continued happening), keyboard lagging or not registering touches, messages not going through, and the list goes on. For a flagship device with the most high end specs, this was inexcusable. The iPhone 5 I had owned was a flagship device and suffered no slowdowns, missed touches, odd display issues, or any other annoying problems. This was utterly ridiculous. I flashed ROM after ROM trying to fix these issues, changed kernels, the whole bit. Nothing helped. Eventually around the beginning of July after the Google Play Edition S4 was released, a stock Android port was created for the Galaxy S4. I flashed it immediately to finally rid this phone of it's shitty Touchwiz filth. The stock Android port was everything I could have asked for. Fast, lag free, and beautiful. But it was also not without it's problems, data issues were present, and texts would still fail to send. The camera also took worse pictures than the Touchwiz camera did, and it was slower as well. Most of these issues were fixed in the stock Android port, but there is still the occasional data issue where it will disconnect and not reconnect until I reboot the phone or switch between airplane mode multiple times. The camera still doesn't take pictures as well as the Touchwiz camera does. Even still, this ROM made me realize how far Android had really come, and that it was actually hindered by Touchwiz quite a lot. Even after all this, I needed to switch back to the Touchwiz ROM as I needed a quick camera that took good pictures, and so I am back where I started.
This little experiment has really opened my eyes as to what the two OS's are like and why people argue about which one is better. Stock Android is a great OS, as is iOS. Touchwiz makes Android a horrible OS. It really does. So much so, that I can't even continue using this phone. The only way I can continue using Android is if Verizon get's a device that runs stock Android, or something close to it. This is where the Moto X is supposed to come in, right? Wrong. It appears to be a great phone and I've used it in the store and actually loved it, but there were two issues I had with it. The camera was slow, and it took bad pictures compared to the S4 and iPhone 5. After all of this, I've realized that if I want a device that consistently gives me top notch performance, battery life, and a fast camera that takes great pictures, I have to go iPhone, and so with that, I will be getting an iPhone 5S.
TL;DR: I owned a couple of Android devices that I got bored/annoyed with, so I switched to an iPhone 4, fell in love, eventually upgraded to an iPhone 5, re-fell in love, then became curious how Android had matured and bought a Galaxy S4 only to find that Android was being held back by Touchwiz and other manufacturer UI/UX's. Switched to a stock Android ROM, realized Android was an amazing OS, but still not without it's problems. Had to switch back to Touchwiz because of the port of stock Android's lack of optimized camera causing it to be slow and take worse pictures than the Touchwiz camera. I realized that I can no longer stand Touchwiz's shitty UI and will be switching to an iPhone 5S when it is released.
Note: This was typed at 4AM. I am very overtired, but can't sleep and felt the urge to write this post. There is probably tons of typos in this and a ton of details that I forgot to include, so don't expect this to be perfect. Also, I'm not a good writer at all, so take that for what it's worth.