6 months with Android, after nearly 10 years on iOS

TL;DR - I miss NOTHING from iOS.

I was "at university" when the original iPhone came out, i remember watching the keynote and thinking "whoah, that's SO cool". A friend of ours came by later that year, apple box in hand.

Everything was so revolutionary at the time - the packaging, the USB charger, the MASSIVE touch screen that i don't think i'd ever experienced, and the camera! It captured my imagination like no gadget ever had. All that, and it was a phone as well.

I knew i had to have one, but I was a poor student at the time, so fast-forward a few years and i'd just gotten my first job, and i picked up a black iPhone 3G.

From there on, i've had iPhones since - probably every two years, i seemed to always miss the 'S' generation thanks to two-year contracts from UK networks, but up until the X, i've owned every iPhone since.

Apple stopped innovating and started charging more.

It's like they'd been talking to some demented silicon valley growth hacker who was just like "dude, you should charge more, people will totally still buy".

It says a lot about a company that makes phones, tablets and computers that their most celebrated innovation in years is a set of headphones.

Now, we get the touch bar - a feature that even the most casual of users i know hate. AirPower - a wireless charging mat that hasn't materialised yet a year from being announced, a bendy iPad pro, a pro-level iMac that is out of most folks' price range, and they charge £150 for their keyboards that they charged £40 for a few years ago.

The price rise for the new generation of iPhones was the last straw. Apple has positioned the iPhone as a "you should get a new device every year to get the latest features" school of thinking, and it's just unsustainable model for all but the top income earners among us.

You could tell that the prices were rising - what cost me £30-39 a month for my old iPhone7 Plus contract was going to jump to DOUBLE that amount for an iPhone XS Max, not to mention that, but the contract length increased by 50% on many deals from networks, to 36 month lock-ins. But i guess this might be the only way they could keep them even remotely affordable for everyday customers.

I always thought android was clunky, and insecure.

I've previously developed apps, so i've used my fair share of android devices to test apps on. I owned a Moto G, then a Moto C plus, mostly because they had the version of Android that statistically, most users were on at the time (not the latest, but not the oldest either).

The UIs weren't awful, but they still felt unresponsive, with terrible cameras. However, i'd never owned a 'flagship' android phone - i wasn't even aware that was a thing. A bit of research seemed to favour Samsung as the main competitor to the iPhone in the android space.

Then the Android P reviews came in, and it started to look...nice. They've finally started paying some attention to overall look and feel. My girlfriend had found out an instagrammer she followed used a Pixel 2 and she decided to get one when it came time for her next upgrade. I dug an old Samsung out of my drawer at work that a client had given me a long time ago to test their app (should have paid your invoice and responded to my emails, my dude). I started fooling around, changing launchers etc, checking out the android counterparts to apps i use daily, and they didn't suck nearly as much as i remember.

So, satisfied it wasn't the biggest mistake i would make this year, i bit the bullet and ordered a Pixel 3XL on launch day.


Obviously, google touted the camera on the Pixel phones as one of it's main features, but even after looking at DxoMark scores and countless 'real' photos taken on them, i was still nervous that none of them would match the sharpness and colour depth my iPhone 7+ had - it was the first phone i'd taken pictures on and people had actually said "wow, they're so sharp!".

The Pixel has an incredible camera, but it's power comes from the post-processing that google can do, not the image quality itself. When you took a snap on the iPhone, you could almost see the exact result straight away on the viewfinder, where as with the pixel, you tend to have to check the result through the photos app to see how it actually turned out. Most of the time you're either impressed or at least not disappointed, but just occasionally it'll surprise you with a blurry photo where you wouldn't expect it.

The portrait modes are especially impressive given that there is no second camera to get depth information from.


Let's face it, Android has always had a reputation for being insecure. As much as people bemoan apple's "walled garden", it's not often that you see the words "iOS Malware" in the news.

The Play store however seems rife with it - apps that will upload your contacts and SMS details if you're not careful. Google has done what apple did originally and added permission dialogs in for sensitive individual actions of late - access to photos and contacts etc, where as originally it would show you details of what it would be able to access once when you installed the app. And i have to say, i never read beyond the first few lines of these dialogs myself.

The play store also seems to have introduced Play Protect verification for some apps, so that at least you can be safe in the knowledge that it's not going to do your phone harm.

I haven't had any problems so far with security, at least none i've noticed, so fingers crossed.


This was the part that i was most nervous about when switching. Let's get something out of the way, i LIKE google's material design system in theory, but i don't like how it's implemented in a lot of software (and websites). I thought that at the very least, it would lead to more cohesive feel to apps than i've experienced in the past.

Nope, there are still tonnes of apps that are using their own UIs that don't conform to the Material theme, some of them are even google's own apps - if they can't ship their own apps with their own design system, what chance do third party devs stand?!

But, luckily, for the most part, apps seem to run solidly on Android, with none of the latency that i experienced with older phones (likely due to OS updates and the fact this is a flagship device).

They do - in places - lack the fancy graphic animations, transitions and more that iOS provided, and that some iOS developers take such time to perfect, but they do work, and more than well enough to get by with day by day - most run with such little difference between the iOS and android apps that there's no difference, and that's nice.

I'd say the one thing Android lacks at the moment is a keyboard as good as apple's - with apple's keyboard, typing was completely natural, and their correction algorithm seemed to correct most mistakes for me, without having to go back and change bits. Google Keyboard leaves a little to be desired (and the default look without the key boundaries is a bit shit), but you can alter settings for most things.


This is where Android really outshines iOS. Don't like the shape of your homescreen icons? Change them. Don't like where the clock is on the homescreen? hide it. Don't like the launcher? Change it - even Microsoft has shipped a fairly awesome launcher for android that i used on the old Samsung i mentioned earlier.

Apple favoured locking down the system rather than it being customisable, maybe future versions of iOS will change that, but they're so tied to the springboard launcher it's hard to see them making ever making HUGE changes (also, see my apple innovation comment above).


I thought i'd miss iMessage - myself and my partner, as well as many of my friends use iMessage to communicate, and the first time i realised that sending a picture through android's messaging app would cost me money (as it's technically an MMS), i almost threw the idea out of the window.

But after my partner got her Pixel 2 - we started communicating through WhatsApp more, and text became just for quick messages. I have friends overseas, and we started using WhatsApp more, and by the time i was ready to get rid of my iPhone i was using it so little i didn't miss it anymore.

Essentially, i don't miss it, because you can either use Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and more - nobody is tied JUST to text messaging anymore, at least, nobody you want to send Pictures / Video / GIFs to are.

Nifty Stuff you don't get on iPhone.

Split screen is nice for if you need to read something in one app while using another, it's not fantastic, but it's nice to have the option.

Ambient display is useful as hell, so you can tell the time / notifications without having to pick up and unlock your phone.

Android's control panel contains far more options than apple's control centre, and apps can add widgets to it.

An actual file system means you can download files to your phone that you couldn't on iPhone and then forward or access.

USB-C charging means i can use my laptop cable to charge my phone etc, although I reckon the next iPhones will be USB-C.

Still a ways to go.

There's still a ways to go - the play store needs a BIG overhaul, it currently looks very dated, and the content on the front page doesn't change very often. I tend to search for apps in the browser / the built in google search instead of heading straight through the play store.

Google pay doesn't have the option to secure payments with a fingerprint by default which is something i think it sorely sorely needs.

The gesture navigation in Android P is a good attempt at a step forward but still has some refinement to do i think.

Also - i bought the pixel 3 on the back of google's call screen announcement, and there's no sign of it shipping for UK phones yet - that's kinda shitty!

In conclusion

Smartphones are at an impasse - you can get one that is "good" enough for FAR less than you need to spend on an iPhone. I don't miss anything from iOS yet.

Don't waste your time on a £1000+ smartphone when a £500 one will more than match it, and a £200 one will do 95% of what the £1000 one will.