Apple offers the best hardware, but it also offers a compromised experience with using Google and other services. This is especially problematic with Google Now, which on iPhone is limited in features. For example, you can't launch apps or initiate use with voice alone.
The only exception to this primacy of services is camera quality, which is very important to me. After using the iPhone's excellent camera, I would not be willing to use a Nexus 4 because the much lower picture quality is a deal breaker.
Lesson 8: Google makes the best Android smartphone experience
Companies that make the better Android smartphones, such as Samsung, HTC, Acer, and Sony create their own user interfaces, which are inferior to the one Google puts on its own Nexus 4 smartphone, specifically in the accessibility and integration of Google services.
This has been the central conundrum in the Android smartphone space. The best hardware and the best user interface are never on the same smartphone.
This will change soon. Google announced recently that an unlocked "Google Edition" of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 would become available on the Play Store on June 26 for $649. Rumors are also circulating that the HTC One will be released in a "Google Edition" version.
Lesson 9: Google's integration is the killer app
Google offers a dizzying range of Internet-based services. Some are mediocre, some are as good as the best competitors, and others are far better than anything else out there (examples include Google Now, Google Maps, Google+, and the new Gmail search). But Google's increasing integration of these services is becoming a compelling advantage. The ability to, say, launch turn-by-turn directions on Maps from Now, to search Drive from Gmail, and how Google Now reads your Gmail to give you reminders makes all the integrated services more powerful and usable.
Lesson 10: It's easy to use nothing but Google products
You can't get the ultimate mobile computing experience by using nothing but Google products, but it's possible and enjoyable to use only Google products. I had a lot of fun with this experiment.
How my Google experiment changed my decisions
As a result of this experiment, I've decided to buy a Retina MacBook Pro and use it like a Chromebook running almost everything via Google's Chrome browser for OS X. Call it a Machromebook Pro. I would love to own a Pixel, but I need my iPad and can't carry three devices in my backpack as I travel the world.
I'm going all-in on cloud services, and sticking with Drive, Keep, and Docs, as I found them to be better than the alternatives I used previously.
If the HTC One "Google Edition" rumor is real, I will probably give up my iPhone and switch. If the rumor is false, I might switch to the "Google Edition" Galaxy S 4 instead.
Ultimately, what's most important to me in a smartphone is high-quality build, great performance and battery life, full Google Now integration, and the best possible camera. A big screen would be nice, too. I've found the toughest choice in smartphones between the iPhone's camera and full Google Now and Google integration of the high-end "Google Edition" phones.
Getting off Apple and going all Google has increased my respect for both companies. I've come to realize that the very best mobile experience right now is built on a foundation of Google services on Apple hardware. I wish only that these two companies could get along better, and that Apple would allow more Google integration on the iPhone. If it did that, I wouldn't have to switch.
This article, What I learned using only Google products, was originally published at Computerworld.com. Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at http://Google.me/+MikeElgan. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com. Read more about android in Computerworld's Android Topic Center.