First ever switch from Android to iPhone as a daily driver, here’s what I liked and what I didn’t

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
I switched from Android to an iPhone as a daily driver for the first time, here’s what I liked and
As some of you might have noticed, I joined the PhoneArena team relatively recently: less than a year ago. Before that, I had as much exposure to smartphones as anyone else, or in other words, I was only familiar with the ones my friends/relatives and I used. So while I’ve been playing around with iPhones for various articles in the past months, I hadn’t really used one long term until a few weeks ago. That’s when I decided to finally give it a go and see if it’s really as great of a phone as iPhone users make it out to be.

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…

The switch

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.

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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

So, I’m using the iPhone – taking pictures, receiving some from friends, downloading memes from the internet, you know, the usual stuff. It wasn’t until about a week or so into my little experiment that I needed to check something in the Photos app. To my horror, I realized that all pictures are bunched up into a single album called “All Photos”. Not even a “Camera Roll” album for the pictures taken with the iPhone’s camera. I found that really odd as I’ve seen a “Camera Roll” album on iPhones before, so decided to investigate. Turns out, the Camera Roll album is replaced with “All Photos” once you turn on iCloud Photos.

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.

The keyboard 

Now, I get what Apple’s goal is with the keyboard – to have it nice and clean so that there’s no confusion about which button does what. However, I found it lacking when it came to functionality. Having to switch keyboard layouts just so you can type a comma or a question mark seems ridiculous.
If you’re using another language, it gets even worse, as emojis are considered their own language as well. So sometimes switching between the two you need takes 3 taps as the software would get you back to the original language after showing you the emojis. While most other things you get used to eventually, the keyboard is something that kept pestering me. And since we’re on the topic of keyboards…


I’ve seen more than enough autocorrect memes and horror stories in my time, so I was aware of its quirks, but experiencing it myself was something else. It has made me very careful about my typing, which is kind of the opposite of what it should do. I have to double check what I’ve sent just to make sure Autocorrect hasn’t twisted my words in some weird way. Sure, I could have turned it off, but then I’d have to put apostrophes on my own, no thanks.

The notch

Yes, it’s big, but that’s not my main gripe. What I don’t like about it is that it takes away notification space. I like having tiny icons at the top from different apps, reminding me I have something to check when I’m done doing whatever I’m up to. But on the iPhone, once the notification pops up and hides, it’s easy to forget about it altogether. Out of sight, out of mind is valid 100% for me here. I had to work on creating a habit out of pulling down from the upper left corner once in a while. Speaking of the upper left corner...

The navigation

I got used to the gestures rather quickly but despite that, I found myself having to use my left hand for certain actions a lot more frequently than I would on an Android phone. The swipe-for-back gesture isn’t really that convenient even on the iPhone XS, which is the smallest model and besides that, it often does something different than what tapping on the upper left corner would do. If you want to tap there with your right thumb, you have to loosen your grip of the phone to move your hand, which increases the risk of dropping the phone. It is far from an ideal solution. But that’s a good segue to my next point...

The price

While the iPhone I used wasn’t mine, as long as it’s in my possession I’m responsible for any damage that might occur. This means I’m treating it as if I’ve paid for it. In the iPhone’s case, that translates to extra carefulness at all times. And I’m already pretty careful, I can’t even remember the last time I’ve dropped a phone. But with a device as expensive as the iPhone XS, you can’t take any chances. So there was always this background anxiety about how I’m holding it, where I’m leaving it and so on.

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

Some might be surprised to see that considering I’m otherwise choosing to use the OnePlus 5T. However, one of the few things I don’t like about it is that it’s quite wide and the edges are narrow which make it somewhat uncomfortable to hold. The iPhone XS, on the other hand, is compact and fits perfectly in my hands. The curved display corners are a lot easier to swallow (I’ve always disliked those) when they follow the shape of the phone. It was also far less noticeable while in the pockets of my jeans and I didn’t have to necessarily take it out every time I sit somewhere.

The speakers

I’m used to having pretty much no expectations from smartphone speakers, probably because so many Android phone makers decide to cut corners with them. So when I finally had the opportunity to spend some time watching videos on the iPhone I was pleasantly surprised at how good the sound was. Nice and clear but also somewhat deep, at least compared to other smartphones.

The camera

Of course, my mind wasn’t blown by the camera of the iPhone XS, I’ve seen plenty of samples from it and other flagships. But it’s good to know that whenever you have to take a picture, it won’t let you down. And I was especially pleased with the videos it takes, mostly because my hands are somewhat shaky and good image stabilization is vital.

The Popularity

No, I don’t mean the show-оff factor that comes with iPhones. I’m not about that life. I mean that using one of the most popular smartphones in the world means that you have a wide range of cases and all sorts of other accessories that your mind desires. Even if you don’t make use of the variety of paraphernalia, it still feels good to know that if you have any questions or issues, there’s an enormous community of users you can go to.

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. 

But at the time of purchase, it feels like you’re paying top dollar for specs you’re not really making the best use of. That’s probably why the “affordable” iPhone XR has been the most popular model from the 2018 lineup. The overall experience is pretty much identical as that of the more expensive models, so users feel like they’re getting more value for their money (which they are).

All said and done, I’m leaving the iPhone XS behind without hesitation and going back to Android’s warm embrace. At the end of the day, choosing a device as personal as a smartphone should rightly be based on each individual’s preferences, and mine are pretty clear. Unless Apple makes some drastic changes to iOS or comes up with some unique feature, I’m not planning another visit to Apple’s closed garden anytime soon.

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