I am considering a new phone and right now my choice is between iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy S3. I'm not overly concerned about apps since most of the stuff I use is available for both environments. I like the Samsung for its larger screen (4.8" vs. 3.5") because I use the phone to read email and web sites quite often, but I use a Mac at home and so I'm a little worried about connectivity / compatibility.

What I'm looking for is a worry-free, as automated as possible, solution to the following questions. I'm not afraid of spending some time setting stuff up, but after that it has to work reliably and automatically. I don't want to spend half an hour daily to manually connect USB cables, copy or convert files and sort out duplicates.

If there are third party apps that do all or most of this (e.g. SyncMate, MissingSync, etc) that you have personal experience with, please share it. I know these apps exist, but I don't know how they perform in practice, and they don't say whether the Galaxy S3 is supported (yet).

  1. Calendar sync: AFAIK, works if you sync iCal to Google and Android to Google. Right? a) How about multiple calendars? b) How about recurring events? c) How about reminders, notes attachments to events? d) How about multiple participants and their acceptance / refusal replies?
  2. EMail sync: I do not use GMail and don't plan to, mainly because I run my own mail server which can do IMAP. Is it possible to use your own IMAP service under Android, without losing any other functionality?
  3. Contacts sync: The most important feature (this is what brought me to get an iPhone originally). Has to be 100% reliable, I have >500 contacts in OSX's Address Book, all with multiple phone numbers, addresses, photos, and notes. Is it correct that you can only sync your Android address book with Google if you use GMail for your email?
  4. Data backup: ITunes takes care of backing up your whole iPhone setup when syncing so you can restore everything to a new device when necessary with a single mouse click. Also, there are apps that can restore and extract infos (like SMS, addresses, etc) from the backups on your Mac. How does the Galaxy, or Android in general, handle backup of data, apps, settings and the like?
  5. Tethering: When I'm on the road I want to go online with my Macbook using the phone. With my iPhone 3G, this works beautifully. How does Android handle tethering and is it usable with OS X?
  6. Notes and todo sync: Is there anything that can sync with the default Mac Note and Todo list or suitable third party apps?

Any other things I might miss when switching from iPhone to Android that I might have missed?

1 Answer 1


First, I am an pure Android user. I have never owned an MAC, so I can't comment on everything.

  1. Since both use iCal, some kind of sync should be possible. But I wouldn't recommend that.

  2. IMAP is no problem and you lose nothing. IMAP is supported by Android's mail client and K-9.

  3. You don't need GMail for contact sync. I would recommend using Google contacts.

  4. Android's philosophy is much about cloud backup and restore, therefore it's a feature of Android. But since Google can't fore the Apps to use that or even force the manufactures to enable the BackupAgent it's not 100% available for non-Google Apps/Devices. But if you have root and TitaniumBackup, the device can easily be saved and restored completely.

  5. No problem at all here. It should work with any modern Android device.

  6. Can't comment on that

I think that if you buy an Android device you should also use the Google services (besides GMail in you case, but that's no problem. I also don't use GMail, but everything else). So for 1. 3. and 6 that is Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Docs (now Google Drive, good for notes) and Google ToDo. If you ok with having your data within the Google cloud. But the synchronization is just awesome. You can use every Google service with the Google WebApps (or Chrome Apps) from you MAC

Other solutions are most likely some 3rd party tools that try to build a bridge from the Google world to Apple. Which may or may not work, may needs to be purchased, etc. There are just to many pitfalls that impair the experience.

  • Thank you for your answer! I'm not afraid of using Google's services to sync my devices, I just don't (really) want to resort to web based apps for everything since I'm still offline too often to do that. Regarding 4: Does the "cloud backup" work like iCloud, in that you can basically restore everything to a new device from the cloud when necessary? Regarding 5: Is tethering a standardized feature? I had the impression that between iPhone and Mac, it is somewhat of a private protocol, but that might just be me.
    – Jens
    Jun 8, 2012 at 20:25

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