I did something that I never thought I do recently. After years, and I mean years, of using Android, I purchased an iPhone for the first time in my life. There were multiple reasons, but it boiled down to I wanted a more stable and robust ecosystem of devices, accessories, and support for my daily driver.
Let’s start with the least messy reason. I get bored. One of the things that drew me into blogging was the ability to build relationships with OEMs to constantly try new devices. I’ve used everything from BlackBerry OS, Palm webOS, BlackBerry 10, and then Android since smartphones really came to age in the early 2000s. Apple was the only one that I just never really dipped my toes into.
Part of this was driven early on by networks. The original iPhone being exclusive to AT&T was a huge blow for me being an early adopter. In my region of the country, and especially then, AT&T lags behind the competition. The first rule of smartphones should always be to choose your network first, then devices. If that shiny new toy has no connection it’s not worth much.
This led me down the path of alternatives mainly on Verizon. I landed on Palm for the first few years of the connected revolution. I was even an official ambassador in the webOS Nation forums during the short-lived HP takeover of my beloved webOS. I loved Palm webOS and still have a soft spot for all the features it created that are still used today in the modern Android and iOS operating systems.
When it died I had flirted with Android once before and seemed the natural fit. With the exception of a few years running BlackBerry 10, the past decade has been exclusively Android for me. I’ve seen all the iterations. From the QWERTY landscape keyboard days, to HTC fueled “phablets” that seem tiny now, I’ve loved most of my time with Google’s mobile project.
I was drawn to the non-Samsung devices early on. I felt Sammy made too much of an attempt to copy iOS in those infant years and was more drawn to the likes of HTC and Motorola. Motorola eventually became my gateway drug into “stock” Android with their toned down version of the OS.
The natural progression of this legacy has been the Pixels by way of the Moto X and then the Nexus line. The clean OS has, and still is, my favorite version of Android. Google deciding to finally champion this in house seemed great so I’ve owned nothing but Pixels since the initial launch back in 2016.
Anyways, enough of the history lesson, let’s get back to the present day. Over the last year, I’ve just seen more and more instability with my Pixels. From the meh performance of the Pixel 4 to the buggy mess of the Pixel 5 and 6, my confidence in Google has become less and less. From just overall sluggishness with each update to buggy things like 911 calls being somehow blocked, it’s just been way too inconsistent for me.
My last straw was two things this month. One, At a Glance is a great feature of the Pixel launcher. However, for at least six months it’s been a hot mess. It should have the ability to launch both the Google Calendar and Weather app respectively based on the two widget elements. Instead, during that time frame, it’s only been able to launch the Calendar even when you tap the Weather portion.
This went on month after month of updates from Google with no fix. Finally, with the March update, this was resolved. However, as soon as the April update hit, it was again broken for me. And to top that off, the dedicated Search bar on the home screen now randomly launches the song discovery option instead of standard Search.
These issues are indicative of the rollercoaster the Pixels have been for the entirety of its history. Google seems to take two steps forward and then three steps back all the time. Even the latest Pixels, which were supposed to be Google’s most focused effort yet, have been marred with bugs, delayed updates, and overall suspect performance.
I’ve been considering leaving my Pixel 5 behind for months now, but simply didn’t know where else to go. My investment in the Android ecosystem made me feel a little boxed in and honestly, the options to stay are pretty limited.
Samsung is the Goliath in the market but can seem pretty foreign with One UI. Even though it’s drastically closer to that of Google’s offerings it’s still full of convoluted menus and duplicate apps. And does anyone really want Bixby? However, the new Galaxy lineup is impressive and was a strong consideration.
That left OnePlus and Moto as the most viable options inside Android. I honestly don’t know what is going on with the more recent changes between OnePlus and partner company OPPO. The two were merging OS repositories, and then that got canceled, and now it seems to be back on with a delayed schedule. Either way, it was a pass for me.
I’d love to got back to Moto, but if anyone still truly struggles to properly support their customers with timely OS updates it’s Motorola. Even the new Moto G Stylus I recently reviewed is running a stupidly old June 2021 security version. I can’t honestly consider anything in the company’s lineup as long as this stands.
After weeks, if not months, of nerd soul-searching, the iPhone kept surfacing. I’m the final holdout in my family not in the ecosystem, and iMessage has this appeal. Apple prides itself on the ease of use and stability of iOS and I felt maybe it was time to make the switch.
The software wasn’t the only allure. The accessories and 3rd part OEM support are top-notch behind the iPhones. Even the first-party MagSafe options have me highly interested. This magnetic back strikes my eye as the natural progression of a combination of Palm’s Touchstone charger and the Moto Mods.
I’m not saying that Apple is the best going. There’s still a lot about the company ethos and practices I don’t care for overall. However, I do feel it’s time to see what the other side of the fence is all about. So far I see many parallels and amalgamations of some of my favorites from the past from BB10 and webOS.
It also doesn’t mean I’m done with Android. I still have tablets and a Pixel 3 laying around I’ll be using intermittently. It was just time for a break as my daily driver. Who knows, in six months I may be back with why I returned to the Pixel family. I still love Android, but I think we need a break.
I need to put something here
As soon we see Apple offering iOS for other companies as an option for OS, you can compare then iOS and Android. Otherwise, is like comparing Apples and Oranges. It’s easy to say you can achieve performance when you do this thinking on your OS as part of an appliance, that you can’t run anywhere else (how many non-Apple iOS devices exists), because then you can tune all components, software and hardware for maximum performance. Android can be done that way, as you need to think it as part of a bigger ecossytem, not the Walled Gardens and Reality Distortion Fields from iOS.
As you need to think on a big ecossystem, you need to project your software with abstractions layers, and then leave the implementation for those layers’ software for third parties, some of them less focused and engaged on do a good job than others. On the other hand, thanks to this, you can have people compete to improve things, as there’s some space of maneuver so people can try things and see how market answers, by put better cameras (even if the OS “didn’t expected” them) or extra memory, or so.
Just my .02
Andrew, thanks for the post. I bought a Pixel 5 a year ago and before Pixel 6 was available after over 4 years with an original 2016 Pixel and Google Fi. I felt like my Pixel 5’s performance was inconsistent and often annoying from the beginning then saw it decline even further with subsequent monthly upgrades. I’m a Mac user and iPad user. My family has teased me about my phone choice since 2016. Do you think a switch to iPhone and Verizon would be advisable? I love Android OS and fear that I won’t be comfortable with iOS.
Hey David. I think it’s always debatable but already being in the Apple world actually might help. I still love Android but for me it was time to move past the inconsistency.
Fabio, I agree that there are multiple levels they don’t align as a one to one, but saying they can’t be compared is just as bias. They are the only two major players in the mobile phone market. They are as one to one as it gets in that regard.
I agree iOS is more of an appliance but that doesn’t discount that the openness of the Android leads to conflicts, buggy experiences, and poorly supported updates. It does lead to competition and has allowed the price point for consumers to drop for purchasing connected devices which is great.
There are some great choices for users these days, but for me, Apple is where I’ve landed. Android is very much a marriage of Linux and Windows for mobile to me. The openness of Linux leads to myriads of choice and customization. And Google’s licensing mimicks the Windows market a bit. However, there’s something to be said on the focused plan, execution, and support Apple is able to offer inside that Walled Garden that many find appealing.
I’m curious, though, is to your thoughts on Apple one day expanding a subscription offer for updates. That was presented in a recent S&E call as Apple is wanting to adopt more of a subscription-based model to better compete with Microsoft. I agree, though, largely that the Apple ecosystem is more robust, fluid, and less compromised. I had various devices that were not Apple over the years but now that I’ve had Apple, I don’t have plans to return to non-Apple products.
Of course, we all have bias in choosing technology. We can’t forget that. My bias is largely based on what my friends use and what ecosystem I’ve grown the most accustomed to. Welcome to the blue bubbles.
That’s interesting. I haven’t heard that about the subscription. I would have to see what that looks like in reality before having an opinion really.
Your reasons don’t make sense. Not consider Samsung because of Bixby? Just don’t use it. Not consider OnePlus or Oppo because of lack of clarity about them merging? So what? I think the problem is more of a lack of options. There are a lot of Android phones from other brands that you probably don’t have access to that rock.
Thanks for reading. I’ve used all those options as I’ve mentioned. They just don’t make sense to me as an option at the moment.
This article describes my thinking exactly. I bought into the Google ecosystem followed by Android in 2010 with the OG Droid. At the same time, I have always preferred a MacBook Pro for my personal computer. I have enjoyed Nexuses and Pixels over the years (with one regretful dalliance with Samsung). And, ironically, I have found the Pixel 5 to have been the best of Android for me – despite being underpowered. I was excited about the Pixel 6, but I didn’t indulge because of all the bugs, increasing with subsequent OS updates, written about in the blogs.
My work-issued phone is an iPhone Xr. I don’t like iOS as much as Android – don’t get me started about the frustrating Gboard experience on iOS – however, the phone is solid and has never failed me. Given the direction Android seems to be going, I am switching to iPhone this year. To continue to support the Google products scattered around my house, I’ll need to make the iPhone as “Googly” as possible.
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