I've been an iPhone guy for years. Probably the last time I didn't own an iPhone, I had a flip phone. I've held many Android phones in my hand, and I’ve been tempted to switch but the simplicity and familiarity of the iPhone always lured me back. No longer. On Tuesday, Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 7. I won’t buy it—nor will I buy any other iPhone again.
I don’t plan on leaving the Apple ecosystem completely. I love my iMac, and I have yet to find a tablet that rivals the iPad. But because of some major usability problems with the iPhone, I’ve decided that the next phone I buy will be a Samsung Galaxy. I can’t continue to use a phone I have to babysit day after day.
The last two iPhone models I've owned, the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6, have been extremely fragile. I went through two screens on the 5, after the phone fell out of my pocket when I sat down, and I’ve trashed three screens on my 6. The first two times, it slipped out of my pocket; the third time it broke while I was moving out of my apartment into a new home. Nothing extreme, which is precisely the problem. These were minor drops. I'll admit, I don't use a case—I think the phone looks and feels better without one, and I assume the risk—but what I really want is a phone I can drop, without a case, from a reasonable distance that won't shatter like fine china. Is that too much to ask? Maybe it is.
I've had a Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge as a work phone for the past few months, and while it isn't my primary phone, and it isn't in my pocket at all times like the iPhone, I've dropped it more times than I care to admit. I've never had an issue with the screen cracking. (I've read up on it and yes, the Galaxy is supposed to be as shatter-prone as the iPhone.) A skeptic might say that the iPhone's glass—fused as it is to the screen to make it brighter and the phone's profile thinner—creates a better viewing experience. But the Galaxy’s screen is gorgeous—larger, brighter, and sharper than the iPhone's, and the curved edges make you feel like the entire phone is a screen. To give you some idea of how easy the screen is to view and type on, this entire article was comfortably composed on the Galaxy.
Many of the features iPhones have only had since more recent iOS updates, Android has had for years, like predictive typing, so Android is going to be miles ahead improving these features as Apple is just getting started. Android has had home screen widgets that let me manage my appointments, remind me of my major tasks, and help me keep up with the New York Mets for some time now. Apple just added them, and they’re not as customizable or useful.
The apps I use regularly are all available on the Android store. Some of them even look and have features that the iPhone simply doesn't. I use a lot of Google Apps, like Docs, Drive, and Sheets. I especially like Google Photos. I’ve grown so frustrated with Apple’s photo management. I’ve tried and failed numerous times to understand how to simply reclaim all the space from my phone. Why is there a "camera roll" and a "photo stream," and why isn’t there just one unified place to push all my photos off my phone and into the cloud? Why can’t I easily back up all my photos to a external drive or my desktop? I’m hopelessly tied to Apple’s photo system since many of my images are there. They’ve got my kid’s first steps, my twins being born, and at least a half-dozen Christmases. They’re holding my memories hostage! But lately I’ve been using Google Photos as my primary photo repository. Having an Android-based phone would make it even more seamless.
Look, everyone knows the iPhone batteries are awful, and yet Apple inexplicably does nothing to fix them. The Galaxy battery is light years better. I can go at least a full day or more with moderate use without needing a charge, and the ability of the Galaxy to drill down into how much of a battery hog any particular application is on the phone is extremely useful. If I want to be more conservative about my battery use, I can know what apps to avoid or shut down. Battery life is probably the second biggest issue I have with the iPhone, and a major reason why I’ve decided to switch. I must have acquired at least five different backup battery contraptions since owning an iPhone (all of which I fail to remember to charge before they become necessary).
I love the iPhone's aesthetic but it's not enough; I need functional design, too. If I can’t use my phone because it’s cracked or out of juice, what good is it? It’s a Porsche with no engine.
We’ve shared some great times together, Apple. You were there when I proposed to my wife and when my kids were born. It’s not easy to do this, but we’ve grown apart and are not the same people and devices now than we were then.
We think differently now.