OK, the headline is a bit spicy, but it’s true. After 12 years under the Android umbrella, I finally flipped the switch to iPhone after holding out for so, so long. But why?
Because my Samsung Galaxy A12 budget phone sucked.
But let’s back up a little bit here and establish some backstory. (The air becomes wibbly-wobbly as we flashback...)
It’s the summer of 2009 and I’m aching for a smartphone to replace my hum-dinger of a flip phone, the one I’d just learned to text on. I’m on Sprint, a perpetual underdog of a phone carrier with the fewest hardware exclusives, and I need to join the 21st century.
Enter: The Palm Pre, a pebble-sized plastic slider phone and a Sprint exclusive. It’s out two years after the iPhone and a year after the Android G1, but it’s flashy, it’s new and it allows for easy multi-tasking, back when such a thing was absurd and destroyed your battery life. After playing with a fiddly demo device, I snatch one up immediately.
These days webOS is relegated to powering LG’s smart TVs, but in a smartphone, it was incredible. The only problem is that, purely in terms of hardware, the Pre was a piece of crap. The build quality was atrocious. My power button popped out of its corner socket, lost forever, leaving me to pop the slider mechanism to activate the phone. The phone’s two halves twisted slightly like an Oreo. The camera was trash, the all-plastic construction was the cheapest ever and my battery was usually at 70 percent before I even started my work shift. I had to ration its usage very carefully, thankful I had my Zune to provide tunes on the walks to and from work.
After a year of ownership, my Pre is on its deathbed and I need to replace it. In my heart, I really wanted a Windows Phone to integrate my Zune and a multi-tasking phone into one device. Unfortunately, Microsoft dragged its heels on getting hardware to Sprint and the iPhone was still a year away, so I settled with the Samsung Epic 4G because Sprint’s star at the time, the HTC EVO, was consistently out of stock. And so my love affair with Android began on that breezy summer day amidst a sea of Droooiiiiiddddd ads…
Enter: Basically every Android phone I’ve owned since. I’m clumsy and I also like to run long distance, so year after year I’m shattering Nexus after Pixel after LG phone between my buttery fingers and the nearest slab of concrete. Last summer, I borked the display of my phone so hard that it was completely unusable. Thin on cash, I needed the cheapest available replacement.
Enter: The Samsung Galaxy A12. Look, it’s enough phone to get you going. It turns on. It makes calls. You can hold it. It isn’t made of fire. It has a display. You can put an app or two on it, but please, please don’t push it too hard. Its paltry 32GB of storage means that as soon as you think about installing a new app, its performance dives through the floor. Even with an additional SD card, the phone struggles because any time an app updates, Android re-installs the app back into its slender internal memory. This meant, every other day, porting my 1GB+ Facebook and Duolingo apps back to the SD card just so I could use the bloody phone. It also meant waiting up to 10 full seconds to bring up the camera app from a standstill, leading to countless missed snaps.
But what do I replace it with?
Look, phones aren’t exciting anymore. We don’t even call them “smart” phones anymore because they’re all pretty smart. There’s a parity between iOS and Android now where there wasn’t 12 years ago. Android could do a lot of things well enough. Apple could do a couple of things extremely well. Now they both kinda do both.
Enter: The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. At first, I was scared that I’d be bullied into migrating to Apple’s services when I was neck-deep in Google’s ecosystem, like Samsung does on their Android phones. But the iPhone doesn’t do that. I log in with my Google credentials, download all of the counterpart apps for iPhone and with a few toggles and switches here and there, I’m done.
It isn’t just fast; it feels crisper and more responsive than many expensive Android flagships. Face ID recognizes me instantly. Apple Pay doesn’t feel like I’m six months away from needing a whole new app and service. The accessories situation is so much easier and I’m not scrambling to look online for a decent looking phone case because I don’t own one of the top five-selling Android phones. Many apps have extra features that their Android counterparts don’t. It just hecking works. I’m over the fact that it uses that stupid Lightning port, but not really over the fact that Siri is underwhelming and a Google search is typically one or two extra steps away now. Also, those high-quality Apple accessories are premium cash.
I have no qualm with those who use Android and if I needed a second phone for whatever reason, I’d pick up a new Pixel. But I’m getting older, my habits are steadying, and I’m not interested in gaining root access to the most vital piece of technology I own so I can side-load some junky ROMs and crypto-mine NFTs. I’m also just frustrated with Google trying five things and killing four after a year in some sadistic kind of natural selection. It’s frustrating when I don’t know what product or service Google produces will be dead just after I invest in it. That goes ditto with the WearOS situation when I’ve been dying for a not-terrible Android smartwatch for years and Apple has consistently been hitting it out of the park.
So long for now Android! May your bits be juicy and your bytes tender as I sail for bluer seas.
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