Everyone is always worried about which Android phone to get. In an Ideal world everyone can get a Nexus device to get updates on time and use Android in its purest form, but Nexus doesn’t meet everyone’s needs or budget and has always has had its own flaws. today I’ll try and address some of the issues and see if the whole Nexus vs Skinned Android is a deal breaker or not.
I’ve been a stock Android user for most of my smartphone usage in the past 6 years.
I started off with a Samsung Galaxy Spica which came with stock android and then moved on to a Nexus One. I was blown away by the performance of the Nexus One and became what you can call a Nexus Fanboy.
Later, I bought the Nexus S as soon it was launched; imported the Galaxy Nexus as it wasn’t sold in India and did the same with Nexus 4. I was convinced that even with their flaws like subpar camera’s in Nexus phones and bad battery life, stock android experience and timely updates and great price points more than made up for everything.
I always believed Nexus devices were best Android phones and never understood why anyone would buy anything else really but then the LG G2 happened. This phone was dream phone for tech lovers and people who wanted bleeding edge technology. It came with that beautiful screen with almost no bezel, large battery, Snapdragon 800 with 2GB ram and great camera with OIS.
The skin was not something I wouldn’t call pleasing to the eyes. Anyways, I ended up getting one and it changed my view completely. It made me realize that I was living with constant compromises with my Nexus devices.
First thing I did was get a Launcher I was familiar with on my Nexus 4 and set up my new G2 just the way I used to used my Nexus device. With the launcher and icon pack I had a home screen which now mimicked my Nexus device and started using it as my daily driver. This is when it dawned on me that 90% of usage on our android phone is inside an app or in the notification drawer and home screen. The more I used the device, the less the skin got in the way. Over time I completely forgot about it and just started to enjoy some of the LG Features. Little things like clipboard for copied text, floating window for video player, the editable quick toggles and most importantly the great camera and battery life something a Nexus has failed at, again and again.
Then Google launched Android 5.0 Lollipop and I was itching to get back to a Nexus, so I got the Nexus 5. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Here I was on the latest and greatest update of Android on what was probably the best Nexus device made till date, I was supposed to be enjoying this device and update because finally Android looked great and I loved it, but I was missing my LG G2. I missed not having to worry about battery life when I’m out, didn’t like that I was constantly thinking if it will last a day and missed the brilliant screen and went back to my G2 as soon as it received the 5.0 update. With new LG UX I was blown away at the improvements. It wasn’t that bad looking anymore and the features just increased along with Google’s added ones with the update.
I started testing a few other OEM devices from HTC and Samsung to see if it’s the same and I realized the OEM skins have come a long way from the Android Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich days and they don’t really get in your way anymore and in most cases they actually enhance your experience.
Sure they might not be as smooth as Nexus device or get updates that fast but in most cases the skins aren’t really hindering the performance and great battery life, camera and many added features make up for it.
Keeping that in mind it’s still not that ideal because at the end of the day we aren’t 100 % sure if its skins getting better or just the hardware being able push its way through it. Since even latest and greatest Samsung phone Galaxy S6 has complains about it lagging now and then, and slowing down over time. While Nexus 5 with three Generations older hardware still handles everything you throw at it with nearly zero lag but this seems more of a Samsung issue than all Android OEM’s. Because some OEM’s have definitely improved considerably like HTC, LG and Sony who have scaled down their skins considerably over the years and made them look better at the same time adapting to new Android design guidelines with each new update.
In an ideal world every company would take the Motorola approach where they offer near stock Android with just added apps to enhance the Android experience or maybe make their skins optional and let the user decide if they want to use it or not. This way most of the OEM apps can be updated via the Play Store instead and the Android updates can be faster on all devices since they don’t have to work on updating all the apps or re-work their UX for every new Android update.
After extensive usage and testing I would I’d say it still comes down to each person’s needs.
Want the smoothest android experience and first one to get the updates? Go for Nexus device.
It’s still the phone to get if you want to use Android in its purest form. Need a great camera , screen, battery life and don’t care much about waiting a month or two for updates, then pick the one with the best hardware to suit your need. Just don’t worry about the skins they are all now at a stage where most of them are great and aren’t really a deal breaker anymore.