Why I find it hard to recommend an iPhone

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.

Yesterday, my colleague Paul shared a number of insights as to why he found it increasingly difficult to recommend Android devices to people who ask him what their next smartphone should be. I found many, if not all, of his points to be valid observations. However, I have a different persective when it comes to making such recommendations. Like anyone in the industry, I have plenty of friends and acquaintances that ask similar questions, “Max, what should I get next?” Almost as often, I’m also asked, “Should I just wait for the next hot gadget?”

I never answer the first question directly, and I always respond to the second question with “No.”

Addressing those questions in reverse, the reason why I tell people to not bother waiting is because 99.9% of the time, they are not gadget geeks like me, so as much as I would like to get in the weeds with them over detailed specifications, I know that is not a primary concern to them. Plus, we all know that in the arena of technology, something new is always right around the corner, so there is no point in feeding the “Osborne effect,” as aptly pointed out by my other colleague, Victor. Therefore, it really comes down to what they do with their device to begin with, and that’s why I do not directly respond to the first question without asking a couple of questions in return.

The easier, softer way


First, if a friend or acquaintance is heavily invested in the Apple, Google, or Windows Phone experience, has had such devices for years, and they are concerned about being able to maintain all their content, purchases, and apps, I usually recommend to them that they stick with the platform they have and upgrade hardware at their convenience. Yeah, they may be bored with the UI, or feel that “seven year itch,” but in the end, it’s a perfectly sound decision unless you really have a compelling reason to leave.

Two things


If someone is genuinely interested in trying something new, or they have more than a couple minutes to discuss their next purchase, I usually respond to their “what should I get next” question with my own question, “What are the two most important things you do most with your current smartphone?”

Without fail, the desire for a camera that takes good pictures is one of the two responses. The other item is generally something related to consuming media, or social networking. I can’t remember the last time someone said to me, “Well I use it to make phone calls,” and no one has ever said to me, “I’m really concerned about software updates.” 

I also ask them what their budget is, if they have one.

First thing (camera)


Back to the “advice” column, when someone says they want a really good camera on their smartrphone, there are so many great options, that it almost doesn’t matter. I am not the best photographer in the world, but I know good pictures when I see them. Indeed, the team at PhoneArena.com goes to extraordinary lengths to share insights about the camera quality in all device reviews. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have great cameras, so do the Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G4, and many other devices.

For people that live to take pictures and share them, the latter two have an edge when it comes to having more control over the camera features and settings, potentially giving you more artistic freedom.

The other thing(s)


For the “second” most common use my friends or acquaintances point out (media consumption, social networking) I am pretty ambivalent. Generally, though, when it comes to social media integration, and ability to “share” things, the Android platform and associated apps are far more flexible.

Cloud back-up connectivity for just about everything, from contacts, to game data, to media, has parity across all platforms. Nearly all the big-name apps are available across operating systems too (nearly, Windows and BlackBerry are definitely lacking in areas).

Budgets


This is where the real value of Android devices comes into play - price points and depreciation. I have had more than one person ask me what they could get with a budget under $300-400. The options are aplenty, and they often compromise little. It is a value proposition that simply does not fit Apple’s model. Devices like Alcatel’s OneTouch Idol 3 and the ASUS ZenFone 2 are incredibly powerful mid-rangers that are easy on the wallet.

I also encourage people to look outside of two-year contracts. The technology price curves are seeing enough downward pressure that even in a market like the US, where people still cling to subsidized pricing with the tenacity of a drug addict, paying full retail price for some devices is far more feasible. For those that want the top-shelf gear, reliable secondary retailers are often the first to start marking down prices. If you look carefully, there are near-new flagships in flawless condition available through sites like eBay and Swappa with steep discounts off new-retail prices.

That economic reality is a bane on Android OEMs, but it is a boon for consumers. The depreciation of Android devices makes the latest technology far more accessible. That bodes well for the bottom line on service plans too.

Updates are not end-all-be-all, computers get old and tired


Just like our desktop and laptop computers, smartphones get old, not in the sense of linear time, but they physically wear out. Flash memory has a finite lifespan with increasing error rates, the conductivity of the metal that carries the electrical impulses gets fatigued, and batteries start losing their ability to hold a charge. Limited ventilation traps heat which will cause wear on everything else.

When a computer begins to slow down, it is not simply because of the complexities of software updates over time, the insides are nearing a real end-of-life threshold. The same holds true for cars, people, really any physical entity when you think about it.

While it is also about money, wear-and-tear is part of the reason OEMs have started placing limits on how long they will support updates for certain devices. The threshold for diminished returns approaches at breakneck speed in technology, and some of those diminishments are tangible. The physical aspect is real enough that even Apple patented a technology that enables firmware to detect the age and condition of the circuitry inside so that it may adjust operational parameters to aid performance. Naturally, all that doesn't mean Android manufacturers don't have room for improvement when it comes to software updates - they can certainly do a lot in order to improve user experience, and getting updates to consumers faster is one of the possible ways.

User experience – your mileage will vary


Once upon a time, it was the unwritten law of the land that new iOS updates ran smooth as glass, while Android could be counted on to be an endless foray of bugs, bricks, and battles. The rollout of iOS 8 was anything but smooth, and with each fix, as if peeling away another layer of the onion, there seemed to be a new bug (the latest being GPS connectivity) revealed. Android updates continue in a stifled, fragmented march across the various manufacturers, but HTC and Motorola have made notable strides to stay current, and the Lollipop update itself has not been terribly eventful.

For everyone except us gadget geeks though, none of that matters. Most people don’t care if there is a 64-bit CPU, or when the next OS update is rolling out (they may pretend they do, but most don’t know why). They also don’t concern themselves with the notion of rooting or jailbreaking a device.

What they are more likely going to concern themselves with is how much they can make their would-be-new device theirs. Assuming they know the basics of moving apps around and using widgets, it puts the iPhone last on my list of recommendations every time. Take the iOS user experience, that grid, oh that static grid of apps, 4 across, fill from the top left, no matter what. I’ve already opined on Apple’s obsessive insistence that the single-layer iOS interface is as boring as Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher (as played by Ben Stein).

That UI will fit some people’s personalities, others will gravitate to something more customizable, even the ability to position a simple app icon anywhere on the screen. For the gadgeteers, we recognize the pros and cons of manufacturer “skins” on Android. Some look better than others. In just about every case however, they add features and functions that leverage the flexibility of the platform as a whole, something the iPhone cannot do.

Something for everyone


Remember, just because I find it hard to recommend the iPhone to people doesn’t mean I never do. What the iPhone lacks in my personal preferences of usability, it makes up for in simplicity, and yes, very consistent performance. However, Android and Windows Phone do not sacrifice so much in simple operation in exchange for a much more diverse usability.

Apple conceded the need for some variety in offering different sizes of the same device. The accompanying feature set of iOS 8 and the larger screens have been around on competing platforms for years. There truly is something for everyone.

When someone asks me what they should get, I just remember they probably look at technology through a very different lens than I do. And even then, I rarely happen to recommend an iPhone.

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120 Comments

1. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Too many clickbaits. But great article.

4. waddup121 unregistered

Android all day

11. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Android isn't the savior of smartphone. It has issues just like anything else.

38. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

No one said it was the savior, they're just saying it is better. That can be a completely subjective decision mostly but facts and statistics can tend to agree. Regardless, it seems this article was posted partially to appear less biased and partially for more clickbaiting. Honestly, both are disappointing to me. This one isn't detailed at all and seems as it was quickly written to do some damage control as well as capitalize. It pretty much throws down a bunch of retorts without actually seeming to believe in them or explain them decently. The earlier one was retarded in that, like with any hardcore Apple fan, the hypocrisy it possessed was through the roof. At some point in the article he mentions how Android has all these inconsistencies and it is all the OS's fault while the same problem with Apple's is the developers fault (you're coding it wrong). There really isn't a need for this anymore, to actually compare the two platforms as if they are changing your life. They are both about the same now with a minor emphasis on different aspects. I still wouldn't get an iPhone myself, but anyone else wanting one doesn't mean they're retarded.

43. tedkord

Posts: 17362; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Better is an opinion. What's better for one isn't for anther.

76. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

I think mxy feels butthurt .

97. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I don't.

47. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Savior of smartphones? lol, no, but it has so much more to offer users than iPhone.

93. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Like bugs and malware? You are so correct.

95. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Funny you should say that because it seems that only Apple these days is making news about security risks and bugs. First wifi, then GPS... they have no clue what they're doing over at Apple.

98. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Like the memory bleed in lollipop? You're clueless if you think Android has no issues.

100. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

I never said it was without issues, I'm just saying it's the better option over Apple's iOS 8.

102. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Why would it be a better option when it has several major problems that makes some phones unusuable?

105. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

How many times do I have to say it, it is better than iOS 8. iOS 8 has far more issues than Android 5.1.1. Even the latest version that added Apple Music ruined GPS for the phones. Every update just seems to make the iPhones worse and worse, while each update for Android from the initial Lollipop release has gradually fixed the issues. Holy crap, I didn't think that you'd be so dumb that I would have to hold your hand while explaining such simple concepts.

107. Mxyzptlk unregistered

You're talking out of your rear end again. You really think android updates are always smooth sailing? People who updated to 5.0 are having a ton of issues. Yes 5.1 fixed some of them but your apparently to dense to remember that many people may not see 5.1 anytime soon because they just got 5.0. You're so pathetic trying to put down my intelligence when you continue to ignore the facts about lollipopgate.

110. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

It's so easy to "put down your intelligence" when you don't know the difference between "your" and "you're" and "to" and "too". This is crap you should have learned by before the 4th grade. And the severity of issues in the current version of iOS that everyone's getting it worse than any version of Lollipop released so yeah, there's that.

113. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Now you're just in denial. What part of "unusable phone" are you not understanding? I am not saying ios 8 was perfect but it was far more usable than lollipop was. You're just too dense to see all of the complaints. Maybe if you would just remove your head out of your rear end maybe you would see it. For the record I don't give a rat's @$$ what you think about my spelling and grammar. This isn't a formal affair. We are just a bunch of anonymous users commenting on a tech blog.

115. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

But it's alright for you to judge others for mistakes like you have on many past occasions? Such a hypocrite. And didn't Apple stop the original rollout of iOS8 because it was breaking iPhones right and left rendering them useless? That's what I thought.

118. Mxyzptlk unregistered

You mean like you are doing right now? Didn't Google delay the rollout of lollipop once issues started popping up in frequent numbers on the Google support pages?

121. discharge unregistered

I think mxyzptlk and Scott should be a married couple

72. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Who said it was the savior? You're just butthurt that someone recommended an Android device over your precious iToy.

92. Mxyzptlk unregistered

If I wanted another Android device that badly i would just get one out of a happy meal.

96. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

If you hate Android so much then why do you have a Note 4? Are are you just so stupid that you are you walked into a store to buy an iPhone and mistakenly about a Samsung device instead? There's an all new level of dumb for you.

99. Mxyzptlk unregistered

When have I ever said I hated Android? Give me a real answer not one from your rear end.

101. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Oh, I'm sorry, was the comment about if you wanted another Android phone you'd get it from a Happy Meal supposed to be a flattering statement?

103. Mxyzptlk unregistered

And him saying iToy is ok? Don't be a salty hypocrite.

104. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Oh look at you all trying to back peddle now.

106. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Just like you are right now

111. Scott93274

Posts: 6038; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

At what point am I back peddling? I'm calling you out for being a hypocrite and you just got caught. Granted I should know by know you're incapable of reason or any form of rational thought, so it makes perfect sense that you can't process something so trivial as being proven wrong. See, this is why calling you Kanye West is so DAMNED appropriate. Both of you have an inflated sense of self worth, can't see past your own egos, and realize that you're really just one big joke.

114. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Ok caitlyn jenner. It's not like you didn't just show your hypocrisy up above. You still have yet to answer my question before but I'm not surprised seeing how you continue to backpedal over and over.

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