Why you should get dirty in Apple’s walled garden.
It wasn’t my plan to betray Google’s mobile platform for iOS. I’ve always enjoyed Android — it’s customizable and “open,” encouraging competition between handset makers and app developers that leads to better products for consumers. If you told me a year ago that I’d be writing a story about buying my first iPhone, I would have called you insane. After all, I’ve been on Team Samsung Galaxy for almost 10 years.
But here I am, the proud owner of a brand new iPhone 13 Pro Max. It’s a little hard to believe given my long relationship with Galaxy phones. But this is real, and let me tell you, I’m glad I made the switch.
But why did I ditch Android for Apple? I was all but ready to get the Samsung Galaxy S22 only a few short weeks ago. As I’ll detail below, though, the time was right for me to make the jump from Android to iPhone. And while I’m still getting acquainted with my new device, I already know it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. I may even be in love.
Apple does not approve this message
First things first: This assessment was not written using a review unit provided by Apple. I bought this iPhone 13 Pro Max using an upgrade available on my family’s Verizon account and I’ve been using it as my primary handset for about 14 days.
Please also note: this isn’t an iPhone vs Android opinion piece. I deal with enough console war nonsense on Twitter to jump into another Big Brand debate. The purpose of this op-ed is to share my story and to let Android users know what it’s like moving from that platform to Apple. It may be the best decision you could make — it has been for me.
Here’s why I switched from Android to iPhone and why I’m never going back.
iOS provides a smoother experience over Android
As a tech blogger, I’ve had the chance to review Android and Apple products such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and iPad Air 5, respectively. I’ve also used the MacBook Pro 14-inch at various times. The latter was my first real experience with macOS and it was somewhat of an eye-opening encounter.
Reviewing Android and Apple devices has revealed how clunky the Android interface actually is. I’ve heard this complaint many times in the past but, since I’ve mostly only used Android devices (Samsung’s phones and tablets), I didn’t see a problem with Android. Now I understand what people have been telling me all this time.
For example, my Android phone and tablets would occasionally lock up or randomly restart. Apps could also become unresponsive and sometimes require me to uninstall and reinstall them. I’m a Windows user and face these same issues on PC. Android’s hiccups seemed perfectly normal. Operating systems are naturally messy, no?
Maybe I was being willfully ignorant, but looking back, I haven’t faced these issues on Apple devices. While being a computing writer has let me become more familiar with Apple, I’m not completely unaware of the company’s devices. I used the first generation iPod touch for many years and also own the 7th Gen iPad released in 2019. Both provided smooth and seamless experiences.
These Apple products just worked, which is something I couldn’t always say about my Galaxy phones and tablets. In retrospect, I knew the iPad 7 was superior to the Galaxy Tab A. As an Android user, I just didn’t want to admit it.
The iPhone experience
There’s one thing I can say for sure: The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a beautiful piece of technology that, especially in its Sierra Blue variants, will make you feel as if you’re using a device that was promised decades ago in a science-fiction zine.
Forgive me, but its butt looks fantastic
People have said these things about the iPhone for years, but the praise is earned this time around. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a big, cohesive device that — especially without a headphone jack — looks and feels like a little miracle.
There’s nothing I hate more than the dongle (the annoying plastic bit you need to hook into the iPhone 13 Pro Max if you want to use traditional headphones), but an absent headphone jack brings a cool sense of symmetry to the device.
Forgive me, but its butt looks fantastic, especially compared to the gap-filled mess in my Samsung Galaxy phones.
I’ve used many Android phones over the years (several iterations of Samsung’s Galaxy line, recent HTC and Moto phones, the OnePlus 9 Pro) and none of them have felt perfect.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max feels perfect
Yeah, the iPhone 13 Pro Max feels perfect.
Acclimating to iOS 15.5 wasn’t hard. In fact, it has been a natural transition since I’m already so familiar with the operating system’s basic functions. Aside from downloading and logging in to all the apps I had on my old Android phone, it didn’t take long for me to use the iPhone 13 Pro Max as if I’ve owned an Apple phone for years. Then there are the new (or new to me) features that have enhanced the iPhone experience.
FaceID is easily my favorite iPhone 13 Pro Max feature. Instead of manually entering a password to unlock my phone or to log in to apps, I can just look at my phone. I’m surprised how well this feature works. In fact, it’s kind of scary. FaceID has worked when I’m checking my phone at night with the lights off, while wearing a mask, and even when I’m glancing off to the side. The technology is borderline magic.
MagSafe is another “how the hell did I live my life without this?” feature. I bought Anker’s MagSafe charger and I love how it magnetically locks to the back of the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Best of all, I don’t have to remove my Spigen Tough Armor case for MagSafe to function. I’m glad this is a viable charging option because, for reasons unknown, iPhones still use Lighting cables… but I won’t rant about that here. I also like using the Spigen MagSafe wallet. While it only holds three cards, it’s a great accessory that spares me from having to carry both a wallet and a phone.
Presently, I only have two complaints with the iPhone. Apps aren’t listed alphabetically like they are on Android. Moving apps around on the phone screen is surprisingly cumbersome. Doing so feels like playing one of those sliding puzzle games from when you were a kid, only more annoying.
I also wish there was a blinking light that told me if I had notifications. But considering how I’m no longer distracted by a constant notification light, perhaps I shouldn’t complain.
Customization? I don’t need it
One of the main reasons people prefer Android over iPhone is customization. Where Apple keeps its ecosystem under a tight leash, Android allows for a deep level of customization. In all honestly, I’ve only ever used Android’s basic features. I have no inclination to manually install programs not found on the Google Play Store or to dive into the operating system and tweak things. Apple’s operating systems being restrictive isn’t an issue for me.
With that said, it’s not like I wasn’t able to tailor the iPhone experience to my liking. I use Google’s various platforms for work and my personal life. The first thing I did with my new phone was to install every Google app I needed, such as Google, Chrome, Drive, Maps, Photos and so on. I removed Safari, Apple News, and the built-in calendar from the home screen and replaced them with Google’s equivalents.
I’ve owned an iPhone for just shy of two weeks but I can safely say I won’t be going back to Android phones any time soon. Though Android is a perfectly viable platform that continues to improve, it still isn’t up to par with Apple’s operating systems. And as I said, I don’t care about customization. I just want a device that works and doesn’t give me headaches.
Before I go, I want to apologize to all of the iPhone users I’ve texted over the years. I shouldn’t have subjected you to those garish-looking green text bubbles. Sorry for making you put up with that.