First ever switch from Android to iPhone as a daily driver, here’s what I liked and what I didn’t
Now, before we continue, there are a few disclaimers that I should make. First, obviously, I didn’t buy the phone myself so I won’t be commenting on anything related to the iPhone purchasing experience, support, warranties and so on. Second, the only other Apple product I used during my iPhone time was a pair of AirPods. The interconnectivity of the devices within the Apple ecosystem is a big part of the appeal of the iPhone, but I won’t be talking about that either. Third, I decided to use the iPhone the way most users would, which means no “androiding” with third-party apps such as Gboard, Gmail, Chrome and so on. And fourth, the Android phone I switched from was the OnePlus 5T.
Okay, now let’s begin! First things first…
I’ve written our guide on how to switch from an Android to an iPhone so I already knew how to go about it. I installed the app Move to iOS on the OnePlus and started setting up the iPhone XS confident that it should work smoothly, right? Well, not quite.
As the time came for the phones to connect, they simply wouldn’t. I tried multiple times, then looked for troubleshooting advice online but those tips didn’t help either. Luckily, I had access to something the average user doesn’t: another phone with my account and data on it. With it, the process worked from the second or third try and I could continue on my way to the iPhone experience.
Once I got to the home screen, my first thought was that there’s too much stuff on it. Usually, I prefer to have only a couple of icons on the home screen and everything else on the secondary screen or in the app tray. This is when my first gripe with iOS presented itself. The inability to place app shortcuts wherever you want. Sure, I created an app folder and placed all the stock apps I’ll never use in it, but that doesn’t solve the rearrangement problem. Icons are placed at the top of the screen first and can’t be moved down, where you can reach them easier. I understand Apple’s strive for an orderly look, but restricting such a simple thing seems excessive to me.
Overall, how well you will transition between the two operating systems depends mostly on how much patience you have to move the smaller and less important things. Knowing that this is a temporary switch, I didn’t bother transferring songs that I use for ringtones and alarms, for example.
Anyway, after I decided I’d settled enough, I began my journey through the daily grind with an iPhone by my side. It didn’t take long before some obvious differences became noticeable. As is tradition, I’ll separate the things I liked and didn’t like into short lists. Keep in mind, I’m sharing my personal experience which is naturally influenced by my preferences about the various aspects of smartphones.
Things I didn’t like about the iPhone
The gallery app
Turns out, if you want to have your photos safe in case something happens to your iPhone, you have to settle for the inconvenience of having every image file on your phone stored in the same folder. Because, apparently, Apple letting you decide which folders you want backed up is too much to ask.
And a couple of petty complaints:
The battery indicator is pretty much a placeholder. It’s so small that the difference between 60% and 30% is barely noticeable. Without having the habit to pull down the menu just to see the exact percentage, I was occasionally unpleasantly surprised at how low my battery really is. Of course, there’s no setting that lets you have the number within the battery icon, so you have to just keep checking.
No always-on display or notification LED. If the screen is off, there’s no indication if you have a 100 notifications or none and there’s no way to find out without turning it on. Not cool. When doing stuff around the house I like to be able to see if there's a reason to check my phone by just looking at it from across the room.
But enough negativity, let’s look at some of the good things I’ve experienced.
Things I did like about the iPhone
The size and shape
And a few small things I liked:
That the icon of the clock app shows the time. It’s not really useful, but it’s a nice detail that I appreciated.
The ringer toggle. Few phones have it and I find it very convenient to be able to switch between sound modes from a hardware button.
The animations. Apps popping out of their icons and disappearing back into them looks cool, can’t deny that. The transitions between apps are also neat.
Some overall impressions
My expectations were that using the iPhone will be quite a different experience from the one you get with an Android phone. The truth is that, at least for me, that wasn’t really the case. Maybe it was because I’m not fully into the ecosystem or because I don’t use iMessage to communicate with my friends. But besides some of the quirks and annoyances I described above, in day-to-day use, the iPhone experience is comparable to that of a decent Android flagship. Most popular apps are almost identical on both platforms and stock apps like calendar, notes and reminders ultimately do the same things.
One thing that stands out, though, is the fundamentally different way iOS approaches user experience. I want to underscore the word "different" here, not better or worse. It's not a surprising difference either, as it is synchronous with Apple’s strive to make its products as simple to use as possible. I’m sure plenty of iPhone users have never given a second thought about some of the things I’ve mentioned in the “dislike” section of this article and are perfectly happy with their devices.
Coming from Android, however, you immediately notice the restrains iOS has put to basically protect the users from themselves. It makes you feel as if Apple has graciously agreed to lend you one of its precious devices to use temporarily and not that it’s yours to do whatever. And once you have that feeling it kind of lingers whenever you use an iPhone.
Another thing is that the iPhone’s hardware seems to be progressing a lot faster than its software, creating a gap between what the phone capable of and what you can actually do with it. Of course, that can also be said for Android flagships as well. And on both platforms, there are many things the hardware does behind the scenes to make the user experience what it is. Especially while using any sort of AR application, it quickly becomes obvious that the processor is firing on all cylinders. Still, those are niche cases, and when people with iPhones that are 3-4 years old have experience mostly comparable to the latest model, it leaves you wondering what’s even the point of getting a new device. On the flip side, that is a statement of the iPhones’ longevity, which is possible since the hardware can handle the increasingly demanding software.