As a former hardcore iPhone user who is currently switching to Android in 2021, I document my experiences in a number of columns that aim to give a new perspective to iOS vs. The Android debate for hardcore Android users.
Source: Android Central
After a decade of using iPhones exclusively, I’ve spent the last three months switching between iOS and Android phones, and see what Android has to offer. I discovered that Android launchers put iOS 14 to shame, weighed core iOS vs. Android apps against each other and created a wish list of Android features that Apple should steal for iOS.
I meant to continue to break down the differences between these operating systems, but most Android Central readers already know the great strokes of how they compare to or perform on stage. Apple’s closed ecosystem and limited design user interfaces are such a breaker that no praise for faster apps or longer software support will get you to switch to iOS – while praising Android strengths to fans will confirm rather than informative.
I liked switching to Android, but I have to decide if I should do it stick with Android …
So to conclude by switching to the Android series, at least for now, it’s time to decide if I actually want to switch permanently. My colleagues gave me some Android phones from 2019 to test out, and I have enjoyed my time with them. But thanks to Android’s update restrictions, most of them will be obsolete by design a year from now. So while using and evaluating Android phones professionally going forward, I have to decide if I want to stick to iOS personal phone, ditch my iPhone XR for a new Android phone, or continue using both.
Long story short: Android would remain a part of my life now, even if I did not work for it AC. Despite some tremors I have about Android updates, I’m willing to deal with that issue for better customization and support for Google Assistant. So my main question was which phone should I switch to, after spending so much time with a collection of Google, Samsung and OnePlus phones.
Google Assistant: the best reason to switch to Android
Source: Chris Wedel / Android Central
When it comes to voice commands, Siri is honestly not as reliable as your reputation would have you think. By placing my iPhones and Samsung phones side by side, I asked them at the same time to perform simple tasks such as setting a timer or creating a calendar event, and both would do so in about the same amount of time. Aside from the weird hiccup, neither Siri nor Google Assistant had much trouble understanding what I was saying. Both assistants can even perform tasks in certain third-party apps, not just open them.
That said, Siri commands are more limited to Apple’s walled garden with core apps, plus some great apps like Twitter. It has detailed commands and shortcuts for first-party apps, but limits “unreliable” third-party shortcuts until you change some settings. And while you can change the default iOS email app and browser, Siri will by default be Apple apps you do not use, such as Apple Music or Fitness +, for all other categories.
Source: Andrew Myrick / Android Central
Siri is better than its reputation would suggest, but Google Assistant is still more useful and better synced to the apps I actually use.
I’m just never been addicted to Siri, but I’m used to using Google Assistant in my daily life. I like to have the ability to ask it about the Google Calendar schedule without unlocking my phone, or using Assistant routines to trigger custom responses to simple sentences. Because I trust Gmail, Drive, Keep, Maps, Meet and Calendar more in my daily life than Apple’s equivalents, it makes more sense to use the assistant associated with them.
Beyond apps, Google Assistant still does a better job of understanding different phrases, while Siri can be more literal. And when you ask a question to Google Assistant, it uses Google’s robust search engine and Chrome’s preview answer to quickly provide a visual answer to your question. In the meantime, Siri will usually give you a Safari link to the information, so you’ll have to push through to get your answer.
iOS has Google Assistant, but I prefer to have it baked into my phone instead of having to seek it out or use Siri as a middle ground. I still want to own a Macbook, so it would be disappointing to lose the ability to sync my phone with the laptop. But I would rather give Android a shot than be happy with iOS for fear of losing features. So my question was which of the best Android phones is best suited for someone who used to use iPhones.
The problem with switching: limited Android updates
Source: Alex Dobie / Android Central
There are all sorts of legitimate reasons why it’s easier for Apple to keep the closed ecosystem of devices and home-made CPUs protected from threats beyond longer, while Google needs to protect a wider range of systems and phones from worse players targeting Android because it has a larger user base. Older Qualcomm SoCs could not handle more than three years of OS updates for technical reasons, although Google and Qualcomm have promised four years ahead.
As an iPhone user for a long time, I tend to take security updates for granted, and do not like the idea of an automatic ticking clock that tells me when I need to replace the phone. Many Android users buy new phones and replace last year’s phones annually, but I’m less worried about keeping the hardware groundbreaking and more concerned with software life. That’s why the latest Google news, and Samsung’s promise of four years of security updates, made the idea of switching easier to swallow.
Source: Android Central
I spoke briefly with Android software developer Kieron Quinn, who ran through the climax with issues I might encounter if I continued to use a phone with an outdated operating system. He said that while “you sometimes see root exploits being used in nature, it is mostly malicious actors (like states) who try to use it against a group, as opposed to ransom” or well-known, unpatched security exploits. Instead, it is “outdated apps” that he considers the more overlooked and problematic issue. While companies tend to support some older Android versions, you will eventually get into vulnerabilities.
Knowing that the 10R is older than my other Android phones, but will probably survive them all as a secure device, is certainly a deterrent to switching no matter how much I like using Android. My colleagues have previously argued that Google needs to promise five years of Pixel software updates to make phones more alluring as an iPhone option, and I absolutely agree.
As long as Google and Samsung offer the same number of years of support, my next phone purchase will probably be either a Pixel or Galaxy S series. I really like the OnePlus 7T – even though it’s getting Android 11 right now – but I’m waiting for the manufacturer to follow suit and extend the update plan before committing a grand to the OnePlus 9 Pro, no matter how excellent it is.
So my real choice came down to Google or Samsung, and based on hardware differences, stock Android vs One UI, and my own preferences, my choice is a no-brainer.
Why I’m planning to switch to Samsung, not Google
Source: Android Central
Samsung tends to take Android’s best features and then add its own spins to make them even better.
Do I love using Android launchers and icon packs to spice things up on my Android phones? Absolutely. I also think that the phone’s appearance should look good by default, and that Android 11 on my Pixel phone does not pass the test completely? Also yes.
The look is subjective, and outside of iOS, it’s easy to make the Pixel UI look more visually appealing. But when it comes to stock Android vs. Samsung One UI 3.0, many more experienced Android users than me prefer Samsung’s OS for better customization options, which at least assures me that I’m not completely off base. This is probably why Android 12 borrows the One UI’s one-handed interface to make it easier to use, for example, large phones with one hand. Samsung tends to take Android’s best features and then add its own spins to make them even better.
Source: Joe Maring / Android Central
But it’s not just performances that matter to me. I’m legitimately frustrated that Apple is not refraining from preventing my favorite game streaming apps like Stadia and Game Pass Ultimate from being officially supported on iOS. For the sake of more convenient AAA gaming while relaxing in bed or away from home, I pay top dollar for one of the best Android gaming phones – provided I know it will last at least four years.
While the Pixel 5 is a reliable mid-range phone, it does not have the latest Snapdragon 888 technology, 120Hz refresh rate or a memory upgrade beyond 8 GB like the latest Galaxy S21 series. We suspect that the Pixel 6 will be another value flagship, and unless Google launches a hypothetical 6 XL that blows us away with specs, Samsung is pretty sure to get my money’s worth.
You could easily argue that Pixel phones are still the best for point-and-shoot photography, and my light Pixel 3a takes far better pictures than the iPhone XR. But in our comparison of Android cameras between Pixel 5, OnePlus 8 Pro, Samsung S20 FE and S20 Ultra, the differences between them were more subjective and varied from lens to lens. I’m not going to deal with too much FOMO with a Samsung camera, since I can still use Google Photos’ AI editing tools to optimize quality.
Apple, it’s not me, it’s you
Apple has made some important advances in the last couple of years to add popular Android features, such as iOS 14 widgets and standalone security updates. And I still use Apple products and apps that are not compatible with Android, which can make this transition a serious adjustment.
Still, after seeing what Android can do, these changes feel a little inadequate; As I said in my previous column, there are some things Apple could very well add to close the gap, but some crucial features I’ve grown to like are quite the opposite of Apple’s way of doing things. So I do not see the point in waiting for them.
Therefore, I will at least try to make a Samsung phone work as a full-time device, instead of just juggling it with an iPhone. If it does not end up impressing me, at least I know I can be comfortable and safe with an iPhone. But I hope that by switching to Android, my phone will be something I can actually rely on for more than just basic tasks.