Going Android (and T-Mobile)

Background

From the introduction of the original iPhone until a few weeks ago, I have always used an iPhone. I’ve had every generation of the iPhone and have used every version of iOS through iOS 6 (beta). Heck, I have even had every model of the iPad, too.

I tried switching to Android 2.3 in December 2011; it did not go well. Android was an unpolished mess designed for a 16-year-old boy. For a number of reasons, to be explained later, I decided to try again. This time, however, I decided to go a bit further. Instead of simply “switching to Android” I decided to do three things at once:

  1. Switch to Android 4.x from iOS
  2. Port my phone number to Google Voice
  3. Swtich from Verizon to T-Mobile

I decided that a few of the things I learned may be useful to others.

Switching from iOS

There were three problems I encountered on this front.

First, iMessage was a pain the first week I switched my number and carriers. Specifically, iMessage seemed to “bind” to my number, even after I switched my phone number. My friends were all still sending me iMessages even when my number had been ported to Google Voice. They removed and re-added me to their contacts and it did not work. In the end, I had to turn iMessage completely off to resolve the issue. This was pretty annoying and I can see how it will likely turn into an issue when the hipsters decide Apple isn’t cool anymore.

Second, I had to move all of my contacts from iCloud to Google. Totally my fault there. Just remember to move your contacts or to keep them in some safe place. :)

Third, Google Voice doesn’t integrate amazingly well (by default) with the Android SMS app (more below).

Moving to Google Voice

You will likely read a lot of claims about what Google Voice does and does not do. Here is a list of what works and what does not work using GV with Android 4.1.

Works

  • Calling people[a]
  • Text messages[b, c, d]
  • Voicemail[e, f]

a – The random Google Voice number your phone dials to make the call can, sometimes, be really confusing
b – MMS does not work (below)
c – Text messages get split @ 160 characters (annoying)
d – To get Google Voice cleanly integrated with the SMS app in Android I had to root my phone (no big deal) and install the Google Voice Integration from Google Play – it costs money but it works pretty well; just make sure to have Google Voice disable sending GV texts to the messages app once you turn it on or you get duplicates of every message
e – Transcription is terrible (but funny)
f – I had to get T-Mobile to disable my T-Mobile voicemail (see T-Mobile section)

Does not work

  • MMS (picture messages)

When I ported my number Google said it takes ~24 hours. In the end, my port took about 30 hours for voice and about 60 hours for text messages. Plan on having some downtime.

T-Mobile

Overall, T-Mobile has been decent. Their costs are pretty good. While their coverage is very week (Google it for yourself) it’s decent inside of big cities. There are three issues I will point out.

First, the T-Mobile guy insisted I would not get HSPDA speeds because my phone was unlocked. He was wrong and annoyingly insistant.

Second, I had to get T-Mobile to disable my voicemail (via technical chat only – they could not do it in the store when creating my account) so Google Voice voicemail worked.

Third, T-Mobile’s account and support websites use two different logins (silly) and also suck (design is from 2001 or so).

All things considered, those are really the major things that “went wrong” or led so some level of annoyance. In the grand scheme of things, however, it’s worked very well and I am pretty dang happy.