What do you want your phone to do?


I had a discussion last week with someone at work, a person who hated Apple and who said he would never buy an Apple product.

I don’t know him that well, but he pegged me as a fanboy because I had an iPhone in my hand and an Apple Watch on my wrist. Fortunately, I didn’t have a pair of AirPods on to complete the look and the perception.

So, I asked him why he hates Apple and the usual arguments about price came up, but for him it was the lack of control and that, in his mind, Apple gave him no space to use an iPhone in the same way he could use his Galaxy S7.

I failed to get my point over about Samsung not being much different to Apple when it comes to ethics and so I asked him what he could do with the S7 that I could not do with my iPhone 7. Here is a rough summary-

I can use themes and change the icons and have widgets on the home screen.

The screen wraps around the edges. Just look at it, it’s amazing!

I can use memory cards.

Wireless charging! I don’t really use it because it is slow, but I can do it!

Cables are cheaper.

And so it went on with a list of features that made him choose the S7. He was very excited about the S8 just because and I then asked him again.

“What can your phone do that mine cannot? And by that I mean, what actual use does it offer that results in something having been done or created?”

The discussion that followed was one of those when two people are talking about the same thing, but from such different positions that you never get to the heart of the matter.

No matter how I look at it, I continually see and hear arguments that Android is better because of the silly stuff that sits on top of what you are actually doing. Yes, widgets on the home screen would be useful, but the swipe from the top of the screen on iOS is so embedded in my mind that it happens unconsciously. And my home screen stays as familiar as can be which is a time saving in itself.

Things like memory cards, wireless charging, screens that wrap around the edge and cheaper cables do not actually do anything tangible that helps you get through a day more efficiently. They are nice for sure, but they don’t actually do anything and sometime the simpler approach works best.

I’m not an Apple fanboy, but I am seriously invested in the iPhone and iOS as a platform. It has been too long and the only risk I see to that is if a selection of very important apps disappear overnight which is actually possible the way things are going.

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5 replies

  1. Totally agree with you (although I use an Android phone for price reasons!): having used both, I think a whole part of development energy in Android is used to tweak the system when iOs developers have to focus on apps doing things. For example, I’ve never found in Android something as useful and clever as iOs Draft!

  2. For early adopters, either when iPhone was just about the only game in town or for some years after when the distinction was still really wide, there might have been arguments here, but now it really is what you know that feel good and the arguments to hop the fence are thin on the ground. To mix a metaphor or two.

    Early on I perached the idea that yeah, Android might have some more flexibility here and there (like running bootleg Nintendo system ROMs) but I was pretty sure Apple would always present me with hardware and software near or at the top of the class, and that idea has held true for almost a decade now. (Heh, and back before the Android selection devolved into mostly just Samsung, I never saw that I would have continuity between subsequent phones, either putting all my old stuff on the new shiny device or dipping back and slapping a backup on a spare when disaster strikes.)

    If Voice Transcription was better on Android, that’s maybe one thing I’m envious of, but nothing else seems worth coveting to the extent of having to find new apps. Memory Cards used to appeal, but now that’s more wishing for a really consistent file system (finding out the iOS Dropbox app can’t open a zip was a frustration this weekend, since Dropbox has kind of become that defacto cloud-filesystem “memory card replacement” so to speak, for me)

    But still, learning so many new nooks and crannies, finally figuring out an acceptable way of getting an equivalent my itunes smart playlists onto it, etc – can’t see it ever being worth the cost, especially given our usual lament here that “ugh nothing new is happening with these phones”

  3. Some of the arguments I hear can be boiled down to the decision I made when I was looking to buy my first PDA. The choice was Palm or a Windows-based device (was that Windows CE?). And that distilled down to whether I wanted a device/OS designed as a PDA or a tiny Windows computer. I wanted a PDA not necessarily a computer with all its complexities.

    Now the question is whether you want a phone that does a bunch of other things, but in a controlled manner, or a more flexible computer that is also a phone. Depends what your focus is. I have a computer on my desk to do all the complex stuff. When I’m mobile, I don’t need that flexibility. I want something quick and easy to use. The iPhone fits the bill for me. Sure I’d like easier access to the file system when I’m trying to load stuff, but when I’m actually mobile, I’ve never wanted for more.

  4. I got into Android mainly because at the time I couldn’t afford an iPhone, and I like having a mini-computer in my pocket.

    What used to amaze me is how much better some of the same titled apps were (are?) on iOS. I remember years ago finding out that with Google Maps on an iPhone you got offered different route options to choose from, when on my Android I used to get just the one. I was flabbergasted that a Google product worked better on their compatitors phone!

    Now I just have it set up in a way that works for me. I’m sure I could make iOS work just as well for me if I put some effort into it. I’ve moved OS plenty of times, but for now I’m happy where I’m at and I don’t feel the need to change devices, let alone OS so much.

    • Would it be easy or difficult to switch to a different Android maker? Is it the android core thats important or the emblishments you get more used to?

      (Actually is Samsung good with OS updates? I know there was at least some time when Apple users could smugly look at random handsets running way old versions of the core OS and not getting timely security patches, since it was all up to the fruit salad of makers. Now that Samsung is so predominant (I think) I was wondering if that was still the case…)

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