My first memory of Apple was playing Oregon Trail in the school computer lab.

My iPhone 3GS was two and a half years old. It had given me some problems of late, but on Sunday things took a turn for the worse. The power went out. No amount of charging could revive it.

On Monday, the bad news was confirmed…my iPhone was dead. The red-shirted Apple Store employee delivered the bad news from behind the Genius Bar.

I needed to get a new phone…right now. I had been wanting to check out the iPhone 4S and Droid Razr anyway, but I anticipated a huge time investment.

I had done my homework online, but now would take a hands-on look. The question was, how many stops would it take to get a new phone?

First Stop: Best Buy

Due to my bike route, I hit Best Buy before getting to the Apple Store on Monday. Best Buy would not be my first choice for buying a phone, but I had a pair of faulty Klipsch earbuds to return. I wanted to see if I could exchange them for a credit toward a new phone.

I was denied. The earbuds were purchased 90 days ago. Really it was my bad, because they stopped working about 70 days ago. I should have taken them in a long ago.

I wanted to check out the Droid Razr as I kind of knew what to expect with the iPhone 4S.

When I stopped in the mobile department afterwards, , I talked to Marcus. He was happy to help, and gave decent recommendations to start my hands-on search.

I was mainly interested in his opinion on their line of Droids, but the fact that Best Buy wouldn’t credit the headphones kept me moving.

My next stop was the Apple Store to see if my iPhone 3GS could be saved.

Second Stop: Apple Store

The Apple Store was the stop I knew I had to make in order to get an “official” diagnosis.

Thank god I saved all of my contacts in iCloud!

Of course, the store is packed when you arrive. But true to form, the red-shirted Apple Store guy greeted me, punched a few commands into his device, scheduled me an appointment for service on my phone, and led me to the Genius Bar to wait.

I had to wait 20 minutes past my “reserved” time, but I really didn’t mind. I pulled out my MacBook Pro and did some work. To no surprise, the Apple Store has a fast WiFi network and I got a decent seat.

Curiously, there seemed to be a lot of other iPhone among the other customers. The people seated to my right and left both had iPhones gone dead. One was a 3GS like mine while the other was a 4.

The Apple Store handled these folks with their staple of fine service, but it still gave me pause, and opened me to the idea of a Droid a bit more.

Third Stop: AT&T

I kept an open mind while I was walked to the AT&T store. I was not expecting great results, but I wanted to do my due diligence. I would determine whether I would leave AT&T for Verizon on this very trip.

My first impression was not a good one. It took more than 5 minutes to get the attention of a store representative…and I had to ask them for help.

I spent some good years with At&T, but was ready to try Verizon.

I looked at a few phones I had read about online, but no one approached me. This was a major surprise because they had at least 20 employees on the floor. In fact, I asked one of the employees and he said that the store employs 50 total people.

My decision was pretty much made at this point. I was going to switch to Verizon. I wasn’t sure whether it was Droid or not, but I was definitely going to Verizon.

I’ll give a little credit to AT&T though. Joe, the store manager, approached me as I got ready to close my account. He asked why, and tried to help. He did a good job, but it was simply too late.

Decision one was made, I was going to Verizon. Now it would be a decision between iPhone 4S and Droid Razr.

Fourth Stop: Verizon Wireless

I’ll confess that I had my eye on the Droid Razr starting a few weeks ago. I remembered the Razr that my wife had several years back. I thought that was an awesome phone at the time.

There was not a high pressure sales push at Verizon. I was channeled to the devices I wanted to see and allowed to look on my own.

I knew I was not coming out of the Verizon store empty handed.

I was struck by the difference between how each device felt in my hand. The Droid Razr was more superior than I would have ever thought. It was then that I saw how Apple really missed an opportunity by keeping the same design with the iPhone 4S as the 4.

The service at Verizon was good overall. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular, but it was definitely better than AT&T. That cemented my decision to go with Verizon.

As for the phone, it really was no contest. The Droid Razr felt better, looked better, and was faster side by side with the iPhone 4S.

The UI is not as crisp on the Droid, and the phone will take some time to learn. The promise of the new Ice Cream Sandwich OS early next year made me feel good enough.

I walked of the store a Verizon customer and Droid Razr owner.

Bottom Line

It took me four stops, and nearly 4 hours, but the journey from iPhone 3GS to Droid Razr was complete.

The technical factors in favor of the Droid Razr: looks, feel, and speed.

The factors in favor of Verizon: good enough customer service, a really cool device, and my desire for something different.

We’ll see what the future holds…




Jason Webster

Jason Webster is a social recruiting enthusiast and co-founder of Ongig, a platform that creates shareable, visually-appealing job descriptions. He has spoken at multiple social recruiting events, where his passion for candidate experience is the primary topic. Connect with Jason and Ongig on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

by in Customer Service, Technology