After ten years of Android (Samsung Galaxies S4, S6, S8+, S10e), I went back to iPhone a couple of weeks ago. I thought I’d share my story and experiences. The TLDR is: despite the over-sized hype around everything Apple, Android users are not missing much. I am posting this here in the Android section, because some of you might be Apple-curious. I am here to tell you: meh. Grass always looks greener.
Why I made the switch
- Size - Since my Galaxy S8+, I really wanted to get away from large phones. The S10e was the smallest Android at the time and now, the iPhone 12 mini is even smaller.
- Business model - While I switched away from my iPhone 4 to the Galaxy S4 due to Apple products feeling much to constrained, the Google business model has grown to feel creepier and creepier. Apple is still constrained, but the model is more customer friendly - there I went.
- Broken apps - Android has become better in terms of the app market, without a doubt. But apps like Lastpass still do not really work seamlessly and consistently EVERY SINGLE TIME. They work about 90% of the time. Did not work at all with the newest Firefox. That gets old.
- Curiosity - I wanted to see how the iPhone had evolved.
More or less critical experiences
- Curiosity - Over 10 years, the iPhone feels like it has evolved exactly zero. It feels like the most lackluster development effort I have ever seen. Kind of like a Porsche 911 - all advances inside, hardly any visible. Which may be high praise, but the overall perception between an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 12 mini is … … hard to spot. Sure - the chip may be faster, but if you’ve had the chance of simply keeping the same apps - who would have noticed?
- Speed - People are fainting left and right about how fast the chip of iPhones and the new Macbooks are. My subjective impression: perfectly negligible. If you are using your phone for phone stuff (I have around 4 1/2 hours of screen on time per day which might make me slightly more than average intensity user), the chip is … there. It works. That’s it. It does not feel faster.
- UI Design Decisions - Sure, why not pick on that. What people hold most dearly? Well - it’s Apple. It’s sleak with a slight tendency to stubbornly follow boneheaded ideas. Sort the app drawer? Heaven forbid! Rotate the home screen? What are you, savage?
- Screen - The screen feels eerily desaturated compared to am Samsung. In Samsung land, reds are RED and blues are BLUE - in Apple land, the screen looks more tired. Which is great for reading in bed, but the rest of the day, you wonder where the colors went.
- Touch - Increase the touch-sensitivity of your screen to work with touch-screen gloves? Hmm seems like a no-no on the iPhone. Would be very welcome. Either that’s a specific characteristic or iPhone screens are simply less responsive.
- Speakers - Less loud than the S10e. Which matters when taking a shower and listening to TWiT.
- Notch - is one of those things that makes the iPhone simply feel like its stagnating.
More or less positive experiences
- Contacts and Calendar observing open standards - I know, right? What a weird thing that Apple is better in allowing CalDav and CardDav but Android is not. This is actually useful if you want to move to your own solution for contacts and calendars like a NextCloud.
- Solutions - Some solutions appear more evolved thatn on Android. E.g., the screen time feature feels thoroughly developed and nicely illustrated. Also, the iPhone comes with a host of included Apple apps that feel like tentacles reaching out to grab and hold you down in a comfortable, easy state of submission - from health to finances, from fotos to TV. The perfect, complete cult phone.
- Lastpass - Apps that require special access work better on iOS, in my experience. Here, it works 99% of the time and if it does not, it is more clear that the page to log into is at fault.
- FaceID - …works well.
- AppQuality - You get a sense that most developers really like developing for Apple and some appear to rather have to develop for Android, too.
- Switching to iOS seems easier - … than switching out. I do remember the painful first year out of the Apple ecosystem. That took a while. Coming back feels easier.
I will give the iPhone 12 Mini a good chance over the next couple of months. But with some luck, Samsung comes back with a lovely, oversaturated small phone next year and I shall switch back. But then again, that would be wasteful and not very responsible, so I shall not do that. Let’s see how strong those Apple tentacles are and whether I will remember why I changed away from Google. How I wish there was a third, independent mobile OS…
Hope some of you found this experience helpful in deciding whether to go for a switch these holidays. Of course, this is only one opinion of one user. Many are quite literally over the moon about this phone. I have to say that the reality distortion field has grown weaker.
No matter which choice: have fun with it!