Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pros and Cons of an iPhone versus a Droid – and God is Sufficient For All Our Needs

A few years ago I got my first smartphone. It was a Blackberry Storm. I enjoyed it although it had some quirks. Occasionally, you had to pull the battery so that the memory would reset. So when it came time to renew, I upgraded to a Droid 3 by Motorola. It was a good upgrade at the time. It worked well and did far more than the Storm. Additionally, you didn’t have to remove the battery to reset the memory. Frankly, all you had to do was wait until the battery died, which wasn’t long. Fair enough, though. It didn’t last much less than the battery on the Storm. The Droid3, however, still allowed me to pull the battery if only to make myself feel better. I liked the hardware keyboard that slid out.

I discovered the problem a few months after I got the phone. The Droid 3 and another Droid phone would no longer receive Android OS upgrades. Sure, you could jailbreak it and install the upgrades yourself with some trouble, but that would void the warranty. I had hoped for the fix to some bugs, but to no avail. Both Motorola and Google have been unhelpfully silent. I can imagine the confidential meetings with each one pointing the finger at the other:

Motorola: “You didn’t make upgrades that were compatible with some of our phones!”
Google: “Your phones are too crappy for our software!”

So who gets jammed? The customers.

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed my Droid aside from a few stupid quirks. I’ve also turned my nose up at Apple products. I like having control over my computing devices. I don’t like being subject to the whims of a company who has me subject to their proprietary software. I like to be able to open up a computer or device and change hardware, install custom software without any hassle, etc. if you want to program for your Apple, you need to purchase a license. So get an iPhone? No thanks.

During this time, my wife has been through a Droid and a couple of iPhones. She has an iPhone 5 now and still had an iPhone 4 that was in good condition. The battery on the Droid 3 is dying. I could shell out $80 or so for another battery, but the keyboard is wearing out and the Android software is old and buggy with no hope of an upgrade. I also noticed that my wife and kids were Facetiming each other. (My kids have iPod Touches.) At a loss for which new phone I should go with, my wife suggested I try her old iPhone 4 to see how it compares. Now that I’ve had it for a couple of days...

...I’ve been making a short list of pros and cons:

Platform: The iOS has been bug-free so far. It’s made for Apple products and Apple products for the iOS. Any problem and you have only Apple to blame. So they make it work, and it works well according to plan. You can count on the iPhone getting the latest updates. You can’t count on a Droid getting the latest updates.

Speed: One of the more frustrating things about the Droid/Android is that when the memory even thinks about getting full, it loses all kinds of speed. I would sit there and repeatedly punch the Back key waiting for an app to close as though repeatedly punching it would make it move faster. I knew how slow it was by how many times I punched it before it decided to close. Occasionally, it would even freeze completely. Even turning it off was impossible. What did I do? Pull the battery. I haven’t had this issue with the iPhone yet.

Battery: The life of a normally functioning battery is probably about the same. The benefit of the Droid3 is that you can actually change it yourself. iPhone? Nope. Take it in and pay someone else to change the battery. Most smartphones are going to non-removable batteries anyway, so it’s not just the iPhone.

Memory: The iOS has a feature that I enjoyed on the Blackberry: you can easily shut down background programs and clear out memory. Android will let you see the programs after waiting several seconds for it to find them all. You can try to shut them down. You might be successful; you might not. If you are successful, the Android software just might start it back up again.

Additional memory: I like the fact that I could add or swap out supplemental memory cards. Not every Droid has this, but mine does. And I used it plenty.

Battery heat: Because the memory can be kept clean, the iPhone seems like it runs cooler than the Droid3. I knew when my battery was draining quickly because it would heat up like a skillet on my hip. I could cook supper on my Droid if the battery lasted long enough. You don’t need an app for that. It’s built into the system. All the Droids together might be able to melt the polar ice caps.

Apps: I was concerned that I would have to pay for a lot of iPhone apps. Nope. All my favorites, or similar ones, are still free. There are some I found that were even better than the apps for the Droid. So both are free and the iPhone apps seem to work better.

Syncing: I despise iTunes. I always have and unless something changes, I always will. I liked being able to sync music without converting half of my library on the Droid. I liked being able to sync without making copies of the songs I want to sync into a separate folder. Additionally, I like having direct access to the file system. Since I don’t have that on the iPhone, that’s one big thing that Droid has over iPhone. On the Droid, I didn’t have to sync to put songs on my phone. I could drop music directly into the directory on the phone and it was there when I switched the USB connection back over to “charge only”.

Facetime: Google Talk didn’t work. Every time I turned on background data I was pestered with messages saying that Google Talk couldn’t initialize. I didn’t have anyone to talk to on Google Talk anyway. I tried to get Google Talk to work if only so that I wouldn’t get that error message all the time. I sought help from Motorola and Google. No help. Meanwhile, my wife and kids were Facetiming each other. As soon as I set up my Apple account Facetime worked. Imagine that. Now I can pester my daughter when she’s doing her homework:

Me: “Hi, Hope!”
Hope: “Dad, I’m just in the other room.”

Virtual keyboard: I like a hardware keyboard. I’m always mistyping on the soft keyboard. But the iPhone’s soft keyboard seems to be a little easier for my big fingers than the Android’s soft keyboard. I might be able to live with it.

So, the iPhone is looking like a strong option. It’s not looking good for the Droid overall.

But that brings me to another issue. Sometimes we treat God like a smartphone.

We look for churches like we shop for phones, or cars, or houses… or even spouses these days. We like God as long as he works. But the moment he stops doing what we think he should be doing, we question whether our fidelity has been misplaced.

It’s only human nature to expect whatever god we worship to provide what we expect. In ancient days in the Middle East, tribes would take their gods into battle. The victor would demonstrate by winning that their god was the best. Tribes that were particularly victorious often had trophy rooms where they stored the gods they had conquered. It’s kind of like the drawer full of old phones that you’ve replaced because they weren’t good enough for you anymore.

But the true God of the Bible isn’t like these false gods. He didn’t need to be taken into battle per se. He went before his people. Sometimes he promised success in battle. Sometimes he promised that his people would be defeated for their lack of obedience so that they would come to a place where they would cry out for him in their need. Sometimes he called for difficult times, not because his people were disobedient, but precisely because they were obedient. And he used the difficult time his people went through in order to accomplish a much greater purpose that was not understood by his people at the time.

When we go through difficulties, we are not to treat God like a product that we invest in so that it serves us. We are here to serve God. Do we trust God or do we trust the conveniences that he gives us? Do we take him at his word that we will suffer for him and rejoice in that he will be with us through difficult times? Indeed, we should trust him for there is no other. There is no other god. There are only idols that vie for our hearts with false promises of convenience or some other well-being. And the idols themselves do not truly vie for us, but rather we for them. We invent promises and place them in the mouths of false gods.

Who would invent a God who brings his children through difficulties for his own glory? For unrighteous man, this seems cruel. But for a righteous God, the result is a sanctified heart. God is not a cell phone that we should discard him when it seems to stop working. He is the Almighty God, Creator of all things, who provides us with all that we need to be with him in the last day.

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