iPhone vs Android in China: Part One, The First 24 Hours


Until yesterday, I used outdated versions of iPhone for the last four years. Before that I mostly fucked wit Nokias; the old school joints with the snake game. Those were the days before apps and before iPod, when the coolest thing you could do to your phone was swap out the faceplate. Nextel chirp all day.

All that changed last Thursday when a typhoon hit Shanghai during my walk home from the Chinese hamburger (肉夹馍) store and soaked my pockets and the iPhone 3GS within, rendering the screen backlight completely dead. I could only use my phone directly under the glare of the sun. My uncle at the electronics market on Fuxing Lu, home to fake Beats headphones, used Rolex’s, and probably some ivory, didn’t have a spare screen so I asked my auntie over there if she knew a good place to buy a second-hand phone. She knew a guy.

I’ve been wanting to try Android and partially exit the Apple ecosystem, so I bought a used HTC Sensation for RMB550 (about $90) and a 32GB micro-SD card for RMB125 (about $25). I came home and wasted about four hours trying to figure out how to upgrade to the latest version of Android. Apparently my device isn’t authorized, so forget it. Learned a grip of new jargon like ROMs, swapping, GooglePlay, rooting, flashing, and some other shit I don’t understand.

I’ve now spent 24 hours with HTC and Android, and here’s what I like and what I’m definitely not feeling.


I can download an album/mixtape/whatever on my computer and just drag it onto my phone like it’s a USB drive. No need to bring anything into iTunes. As someone who previews a ton of music this is so crucial, especially when I’m trying to keep iTunes organized and not import any bullshit. Really curious if I can download Soundcloud files directly to my SD Card. That would be HUGE.

Not Feeling…

Where is Google Play? Oh wait it doesn’t work on a lot of devices in China, specifically this second-hand joint (it’s not fake). Luckily a site called http://www.coolapk.com let’s users download files directly onto their phone and open em there, but they don’t always have the newest versions of apps like Instagram. Opening apps from the web does carry a much higher risk of getting a virus on the phone though.


Being able to make a folder of photos on my computer and drop it right onto the phone. Much easier than having to sync photos through iTunes. Really feeling the camera and big display on the Sensation.

Not Feeling…

I can still up nine photos to a single WeChat moment, but I gotta do the photos individually, a time-consuming process. Also, I can’t even view WeChat moments when my computer is connected in USB mode.


Really pretty weather display that probably devours my battery. Also, Android uses AccuWeather instead of the terribly unreliable and wildly unpredictable iPhone weather system. Thanks for that one Steve Jobs.

Not Feeling…

Where is Notes? Hopefully there’s some built-in app I haven’t found yet. I need this. Aesthetically, not feeling the GUI as much as iOS but I’ll trade a bit of prettiness for a lot of freedom.


Verdict? After some initial frustration, I’m definitely feeling some aspects of Android. Dragging and dropping files onto my phone without having to use iTunes is huge. The HTC Sensation itself, released in 2011, runs significantly faster than my iPhone 3GS, which frequently shut down for no reason whatsoever. Android’s learning curve is steeper and less intuitive, and the GUI doesn’t look as nice, but as someone who doesn’t use that many apps (Instagram, Weibo, WeChat, Chinese dictionary) and wants to preview new tunes without using iTunes, I’m feeling it. Just took a while to find the apps. More on this tmmr.

What do ya’ll think about Android in China? Have any of you switched from iOS to Android and did you stay?