After a seven-year holdout, I bought an iPhone. After four days with it, I’m ready to throw it in a river.
I have repped Android since I got my first smartphone, an HTC Droid Incredible in 2010. Good phone! When you turned it back on after a flight, its location would reset for a minute to Taipei, as if it was hoping to go home. I will be honest and admit that there was some contrarianism involved in my purchase decisions. Everyone had a fucking iPhone and everyone was so precious about it. I was a server at Dean’s Restaurant and Pizzeria on the Upper West Side the day it came out, and every one of my tables was cooing over one. “It’s not heavy, but it’s not light, either,” one gentleman said, as he weighed the phone in his hand.
The Incredible lasted me two years. I bought one of its descendents, the Droid Incredible 4G LTE. That was followed by a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and a Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. Most recently I was on Google’s Pixel. The greater iPhone superiority complex persisted throughout these seven years. Regular people would ask me — in an otherwise normal situation, such as waiting in line for a public bathroom — why I didn’t just buy an iPhone.
For a while, this attitude was probably justified. The iPhone had way more apps and they were better, as was the camera. But after switching to an iPhone, it’s clear to me that the platforms have evened out. And I would say the iPhone is worse.
My problems with the iPhone basically boil down to one thing: It treats me like a goddamn baby.
Some people will point to some of my complaints and blame the makers of the apps I’m trying to use, rather than Apple. Sure, some of these things are due to decisions made by the app makers — but those decisions all trace back to the fact that Apple is overprotective of both its users and its market share.
If you want to stress-test your relationship with your smartphone, take it on a road trip. I first ran into trouble with the new iPhone while trying to buy an audiobook through Audible, the app I use to listen to books. I found the book I was looking for, but I could not find the button to buy it. I kept clicking around. Where was the button? Answer: There is no button, because Apple requires all purchases to go through the App Store so it can take a cut. Instead of agreeing to give Apple 30 percent, Audible forces iPhone users to buy books on the web and then download them to their phones through the app. (This is kind of a monopoly-on-monopoly clash, where two platforms have comparable market power and can therefore force users to go to the eight different places in order to buy something.) This all took me a long time to figure that out because it’s so stupid. Note: You can buy audiobooks through the app on Android.
If you want to stress-test your relationship with your smartphone, take it on a road trip
Next, I tried to Google something while driving using a voice command, and Siri refused. “I can’t search the web while you’re driving,” she told me. I’m not sure how she knew; it seems possible that someone would use the phone in a car without being behind the wheel, but she knew. And she’s right. Even voice-activated systems are dangerously distracting for drivers. Thank you, Apple.
But easily the worst part of the transition to iPhone is that I’m suddenly manually copying and pasting my login credentials for apps, something I haven’t had to do on a phone in a long time. That’s because I use a password manager that generates strong passwords and autofills them for you, which is much more secure than memorizing passwords (if it’s memorizable, it’s probably weak) or using the same password for everything. On Android, my password manager sensed password fields within apps and popped up to automatically to fill them in. On the iPhone, this function mysteriously no longer works.
Yes, it’s potentially dangerous to allow apps to pop into the password fields of other apps, but I’ve done my homework, and that’s how I want to use my phone. Only I no longer can. This issue comes up so often — on certain apps that require a password every time you open them, like my bank, as well as any time I download a new app — that it will be the death of me on iPhone.
Some people will say, just use Apple’s built-in fingerprint security feature to log into everything. But that illustrates my point: Apple wants you to use its version of a thing instead of anyone else’s version of a thing. Again, it does this ostensibly for your own protection and convenience, but also to maximize its profits by locking you into its ecosystem.
There are many other things you can do on Android that you can’t do on an iPhone. You cannot change your default web browser, messaging client, or maps app. You cannot set up multiple accounts — like, say, a personal and work account — on one phone. There are other things that Apple lets you do, but only if you clear a few hurdles first; on the Pixel, you can easily toggle between Wi-Fi networks or between Wi-Fi and LTE. On the iPhone, you have to dive into settings.
“Apple knows best” has been Apple’s attitude for a long time. There are a lot of rules which are purportedly for your own good. Steve Jobs described this restrictiveness as “freedom” in a famous exchange with then-Gawker writer Ryan Tate in 2010. This means Apple stops apps from scarfing your private data without asking, but it also means there is no porn available on the App Store, which Jobs described as “freedom from porn.” Then he backtracked: “Its [sic] not about freedom,” Jobs wrote to Tate, “its [sic] about Apple trying to do the right thing for its users.”
I will end with what is perhaps the most frustrating restriction, because it feels like a rule for the sake of having rules. Like many people, I usually have a photo of a dog or multiple dogs set as my phone background. On Android, I could drag my app icons around so that they would frame the photo, or at least not block the cutest part. On the iPhone, this is not possible. You cannot drag your app icons around to, say, make a smiley face. The icons lock into place, one immediately after the other, like the lunch line at a strict boarding school. Why does Apple insist that there be no empty spaces between icons? Let me have space, Apple! My apps need to breathe!
The answer, or course, is that Apple doesn’t want its users to have too much space. Doing so might encourage them to make bad decisions, such as downloading malware, texting while driving, watching porn, or not buying more things from Apple.
To my haters: The iPhone may be for you. It’s just not for me.
Vote now on which phone I should get next:
What phone should I get next?— Adrianne Jeffries (@adrjeffries) August 8, 2017