Early last year I made the jump from my Pixel 4 XL to the iPhone 12 Pro. Since then I’ve received an iPhone 13 Pro Max and a Pixel 6 Pro, two phones I really like. Both take incredible photos and easily trade punches under most circumstances. Every day I face the puzzle of which one I want to use.
But I’ve decided on the iPhone so far after a lot of internal discussions. After more than a year on iOS, I’ve gotten used to its quirks, but more importantly, I’ve gotten used to its strengths. I’ve broken down many of these key strengths in my iPhone vs Android comparison, but that’s personal opinion.
What does the iPhone 13 Pro Max do that keeps pulling me back when I think about switching to the Pixel 6 Pro? There are four things that come to mind.
You often hear about the benefits of Apple’s ecosystem, especially if you use more than one of the company’s products. I use a 2015 MacBook Pro for work — another change I made last year after months of deliberation — so I have easy access to iMessage (which most of my friends use) on my phone, laptop, and watch. The pictures I take for review purposes are easily synced to iCloud Photos, and things I store in iCloud on my phone are easily accessible on my MacBook.
I also bought an Apple Watch Series 7, which further anchored me in Apple’s walled garden. Android smartwatches I’ve used since the launch of Android Wear pale in comparison to my Apple Watch. Battery life is great, notifications are easy to use and I love the health features.
I’ll admit that if Apple opened up iMessage for Android, or even supported RCS, I’d be more willing to switch back to Android. I also admit that I have a sunk cost fallacy regarding my watch. I spent several hundred dollars on this so I don’t want it to be pigeonholed. But I also don’t like the idea of going back to my Fossil Gen 5, which won’t get Wear OS 3.
Aside from some minor issues when I changed my Apple ID email address, I’ve had a pretty good experience in the Apple ecosystem. When I switched MacBook Pro, restoring my data to the new laptop was super easy.
Quality of third-party apps
You’ve probably heard this before. It’s a sentiment that’s been around for many years, but I never really bought it until I jumped to iOS as my daily driver. Simply put, I prefer the overall quality of third-party apps on my iPhone.
While indie apps can be very good on Android, the big name apps seem to do much better on iOS. Twitter is a prime example of this. On Android, it’s a sluggish, choppy mess. It’s a lot smoother on the iPhone, especially the iPhone 13 Pro Max and its 120Hz ProMotion display.
I found many more useful 3rd party apps on iOS such as: B. Adguard Home and Pi-Hole remotes for network-wide blocking of ads and trackers; Sofa for organizing my backlogs to read, watch and play; Apollo, the best Reddit app I’ve ever used; Helvault for inventorying my Magic the Gathering card collection; Prologue, a nice player for the audiobooks in my Plex library; and Yolmo, an app to help me learn how to code in Lua.
Granted, there are apps exclusive to Android that I also love: Sync for Reddit, Flud for torrents, JuiceSSH for managing connections to my servers, Moon+ Reader for accessing my Caliber e-book library, and QuickEdit+ for those text editing.
But over and over again I think the app experience is better on iOS. There’s a stronger sense of design cohesion, performance is more consistent across the board, and I like the variety of apps available.
This is another argument you hear in favor of iPhones. Before I made my switch, I was constantly hearing that iPhones “just work”. In fact, this phrase is something of a meme, but the truth is that it’s pretty accurate in my experience.
When I pick up my iPhone 13 Pro Max, I rarely have a problem. It always works as I expect, sometimes even exceeding my expectations. It helps that my iPhone is currently the most powerful smartphone you can get. Every game I play, every app I use, every input I make, everything works smoothly.
I usually restart my iPhone when I run into problems with my Verizon SIM, which come up way more often than I’d like. (If you’re in my line of work, problems with Big Red are inevitable as they switch phones for reviews.) And while I wish Siri was at Google Assistant level, I find Apple’s virtual assistant useful for most things enough.
I got used to how well this iPhone works. Android flagships are good enough now that I rarely have any issues, but I like it when a device’s operation becomes background noise rather than something I notice. I don’t think the Pixel 6 Pro is a bad phone despite the list of Pixel 6 issues, but I’m more aware of it than I am with my iPhone.
I’ll finish with something Apple introduced in iOS 14.5: app tracking. In short, iOS lets you deny apps the ability to track you through your phone. It’s incredibly satisfying when the app asks for permission, which you can say “no” to. (That’s not to say the apps that ask you for permission later aren’t annoying or pathetic, because they certainly are.)
Android has no such privacy setting. While Google cracked down a lot in Android 12 and Android 13, Apple has a head start here. I’m not trying to argue that the iPhone is a super secure device that respects your privacy. It is not. But at least it has a tighter grip on data collection from third-party apps.
Android isn’t the wild west it used to be, but it still needs to mature when it comes to user privacy. I like that Google has taken steps with the Private Compute Core, a separate area from the rest of the OS that handles more private things like on-device machine learning.
However, I prefer the sense of security that I get with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Is it unfounded? Maybe I’m okay with admitting that. But Android doesn’t leave me with the same feeling. The placebo effect, if that’s what it is, is a damn thing.
What I do not like
However, my experience with the iPhone hasn’t been entirely positive, which is why I consider returning to Android several times a week. My main gripe with my iPhone is notifications. Apple really needs to figure this out. The grouping is bad – the chronological order isn’t the most efficient – and I to hate that notifications disappear from the lock screen when you unlock your phone. It’s absolutely silly and needs to be changed.
Trying to clear notifications, one by one or all, is a huge pain. Android makes this process a breeze. Android also has more robust actions, e.g. B. replying to an email inline or deleting all emails at once. I save a lot of time triaging notifications on Android while it’s tedious on iOS.
Notifications are a huge part of smartphone usage and the shoddy, haphazard way iOS handles them is unacceptable. To remind myself, all I have to do is pick up my Pixel 6 Pro, sort through email and conversations, and put the rest of the stuff away. The same process takes much longer on my iPhone 13 Pro Max.
I also find that the notifications themselves look completely out of place. They just hang in the notification center and don’t seem to fit into the UI design as a whole. This is a personal nitpick, but I prefer how notification items on Android look like they belong. For example, on Android 12, the notification curve matches the notification shading curve. It’s a nice touch, it seems to be a part of the UI instead of being shoved in like iOS.
I think iOS needs a visual refresh as it looks the same as it did a few years ago. Android just went through a major metamorphosis and I’d love to see iOS do the same. It looks tired and dated like the current iPhone design itself.
Why I stick with the iPhone
While I really hate notifications on iOS, I’ve decided to stick with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. With the iPhone 14 Pro launching in a couple of months, I’m sure I’ll be heading back to the land of smaller phones. I digress.
For all the reasons I’ve outlined here, I think iPhones are better suited to how I use a smartphone. I love the app experience, I enjoy the Apple ecosystem as it does what I need on any given day and I like that iOS is a bit more privacy conscious than Android.
Nothing is perfect and I get really frustrated at times, but in the end, Android will remain my secondary mobile operating system. Unless something changes in how Apple opens iMessage (which won’t happen) or supports RCS (which could happen), I’ll stick with my iPhone.