When Michael told me he was looking forward to reviewing the iPhone 5C, I frankly got exited with him. He’s always been a fan of “the underdog” platforms, and if we all remember, that’s precisely what iPhones were back in 2007. Obviously times have changed dramatically even for Apple’s own estimates, and I guess that’s just another one of the reasons why he feels that the iPhone is just not for him after he finished his review. Now, one of the coolest things about us in Pocketnow, is that we all come from dramatically different backgrounds, we live in very different places, and we’re also given the opportunity to give you our own, unique opinion. He’s not an iPhone guy, and I still am, so let’s go through the reasons why.
Michael stood in line to buy his first iPhone, and by contrast, I never wanted to be an iPhone guy. I never really understood the people that owned Apple products in the past. Macs are expensive and were never as ubiquitous as PCs. iPods were always walled gardens that only gave me music at times when I could buy a Pocket PC for the same price (HP iPAQ h1940) and with lots more functionality. I guess for me it was never really a smart move to adopt Apple products when Windows products gave me more for my money.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Windows Mobile was pretty-much shot dead in early 2010 by its own creator when they announced a “Windows Phone 7 Series” that we wouldn’t see for the next 11 months, and when I was faced with an upgrade to my mobile contract, I had to pick between an HTC Touch Diamond2 on a dying platform, or an iPhone 3GS. Back then I already owned the last Windows Mobile phone I ever used, which was the awesome HTC Touch Pro2, so it made no sense to downgrade, and I decided to take the plunge with the iPhone 3GS while the Touch Pro2 became my second phone. Yes, I’ve been carrying two phones ever since.
So I want you to picture this for a moment: At WVGA, the Touch Pro2 already had a significantly better display than the 3GS at HVGA. The Touch Pro2 had a gorgeous slide out keyboard, amazing speakers, expandable storage, a replaceable battery, a better camera, and the operating system that I still love to death. You’d assume that I rarely ever used the iPhone 3GS during those days, since on the spec sheet, the Touch Pro2 was already superior than the 3GS after a year of usage, right? Well, that’s not entirely how things went.
Most people don’t remember this but Microsoft’s attempt to make Windows Mobile “touch friendly” was the disaster that killed it. If you ever used Android before Jelly Bean, you’ll remember that even Ice Cream Sandwich was laggy and inconsistent. I’m still amazed that last-year’s Motorola phones, which already run Jelly Bean have tremendous problems with touch responsiveness in their displays. What made me fall for the iPhone 3GS? Well, the damn phone just worked well every single time. If you’re new to smartphones, you won’t relate to this, but the iPhone ended my endless visit to the “soft reset hole”. It didn’t have a task killer, and well, it didn’t really need one. Yes, I’ll admit I hated its lack of multi-tasking in the early days, but the launch of the iPhone 4 with iOS 4 just a month after I got my 3GS, and the fact that I was able to secure that phone early simply nailed me as an iPhone user.
So after all that history, why do I still use an iPhone as one of my two daily drivers? Here are a couple of reasons:
One size doesn’t fit all
You probably weren’t expecting this one. I’ll ask you all a very simple question: Name one flagship smartphone from Android or Windows Phone that isn’t big? You won’t need Wikipedia for this one, there aren’t any. Windows Phone actually started-off right making decent-sized phones with great capabilities, but today, it seems that OEMs assume that if we want a powerful phone, we also want it to be big. Sadly, that’s not what all of us want. I do have bigger-than-average hands, but that doesn’t mean that I prefer bigger phones because of that. Yes, I miss the days of the Nexus One.
There are various reasons why I like the size of the iPhone. First of all, I use my phone a lot with one hand and I love to be able to do it without any effort. I can touch all four corners of a Galaxy S 4 with one hand, but it does require an effort. Another reason why “thin and light” are important for me is because I use my phone as a fitness tool, and trust me, if you run, you’ll even want your shoes to be light. I once tried running with a Galaxy Note II and you’d crack-up at just how ridiculous that experience was. And finally, one of the biggest reasons why, is because I have to carry two phones. Each of the carriers that I use provides me with a benefit that the other doesn’t provide. Having an iPhone means that at least one of my phones is going to disappear in my pocket, and not bother me.
I do find watching videos or playing games to be more comfortable on devices with a bigger display, but my usage of a phone for these things is not enough for me to not prefer using a tablet.
iPhones are reliable
I might sound like a fanboy to you with my next statement, but it’s generally true: “What iPhones do, they do well”. Most people avoid them because competing Android phones have better specs on paper. Honestly, I don’t care if the Xperia Z1 has a 20-megapixel camera if the iPhone 5S’ camera can do a better job with just 8. Every time we review Android Phones and even most Windows Phones that are not made by Nokia, this is always hit or miss. The spec sheet is always amazing, but the results are just not.
I’ll give you a clear example: I’m a Sony guy, and in my culture, Sony is considered the best digital electronics company in the world. That’s the main reason why I’ve done most of our Sony Xperia reviews, since hey, my top of mind is still wired to trust Sony as a brand. Still, as much as I love holding my Xperia ZL in my hand, I can’t tell you how disappointed I become when I use it. It’s just pointless to have a display that’s a full-inch larger than an iPhone and with 1080p, a processor with two more cores, double the RAM, expandable storage, and five extra megapixels on the camera if even the old iPhone 5 beats the pants off of it in performance, camera quality and display quality.
I love that this is changing in late 2013 though. Jelly Bean has become just amazing, Optical Image Stabilization is really giving the iPhone’s camera a run for its money, and the Snapdragon 800 is making every phone simply awesome. I’m sure 2014 will be the year for every OEM to become reliable, but it all depends on them.
Owning an iPhone has its benefits
Till this day, I hate the fact that there are very little benefits between owning a Sony phone and a Sony tablet, or the same can be said about Samsung. At the moment, the iPad still continues to be the most popular tablet, and I love that there are benefits to it if I own an iPhone. Notice that in this entire editorial, I still haven’t mentioned apps, but here is where things make the most sense to me. Most of the apps and games that I buy for my iPhone, have a free iPad version. Surely on Android you can make the phone’s twitter app bloat horribly, but this is not taking advantage of the tablet’s extra canvas. If you buy a Windows tablet, your Windows Phone apps are worthless even on Windows RT.
I’ll hand it to Apple for figuring this out better than any other OEM. I’m even experiencing issues with the LG G2 that I’m currently reviewing where my hard-core games like Asphalt 8 don’t work on the Snapdragon 800 yet. If you buy an iPhone and an iPad, these are things you simply don’t have to worry about.
If I would add the Apple TV, Macs, AirPort Wireless products, iPod-ready accessories and even wires, it’s always convenient to know that your products talk to each other.
The bottom line
Are iPhones perfect? No; far from it. Is the iPhone the perfect phone for me? Well, if it was, then I wouldn’t carry a second phone, would I?
I like using an iPhone, and I recommend iPhones to my friends because they nail the little basic things that most OEMs still struggle with. In things as logical as the keyboard, I still have to load Swiftkey on every Android phone I use. It’s awesome that Android gives you that option, but these are the things you just don’t worry about with an iPhone, and in which competing OEMs need to be more serious about. I guess I just became tired at such a history of “half-baked” intentions with bad results. Seriously, who cares if I get Air Gesture on a Galaxy S 4 if it’s easier to slide a photo with my thumb?
I could go-on about the hundreds of thousands of apps, the integration these have with iCloud, the back-up and restore features which are state-of the art, but notice that I focused this editorial on simple basics. Do competing platforms have alternatives to each of these products? Some of them do, but sadly none integrate as well with each other as most of the Apple products do.
Am I bored of the grid of icons? Yes. Do I like iOS 7? Well, except for Control Center and iTunes radio, I don’t really see it as a great improvement over what iOS 6 was. Again, I stick to the iPhone because I know that I can run with it and the Nike+ Running app won’t crash, and if it does, it’ll do the smart thing of caching the run data, unlike how this has always been hit or miss on Android. Don’t even remind me of the time I ran 7 miles with my Galaxy S III and lost everything because I got a simple phone call during the run.
In a word, Apple is currently one of the only companies that I trust with my money. I guess that’s the main reason people do these crazy lines to buy a phone they’ve never used. It’s funny but as we went through all the Touch ID conversation in our recent Weekly podcast, we all came to the consensus that even if Apple wasn’t first to fingerprint scanning, if Apple did it, they’d do it right. Sadly, very few companies are currently this reliable. Still, as 2013 makes Android and Windows Phone better, that doesn’t mean that this couldn’t be my last year with an iPhone. Time will tell, and it’s up to each OEM to prove themselves. Samsung and LG are doing great leaps, and HTC is as well, so we’ll see.
What about you? Did you ever own an iPhone? Do you still have it? What made you switch? Leave us a comment.