Should I Take the Apple?
April 2, 2024 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Should I switch to an iPhone or stay with Android?

I have been an Android girl in an Apple world. Now I'm beginning to wonder if the grass is really greener on the Apple side.

Factors to consider: my immediate family all have Android phones and I want to be able to send them pics via text message which has been spotty at best with my friends who have iPhones. I have had ipads in the past but the Apple IOS operating system isn't intuitive to me. Is this something that I would get used to? Is it worth getting an iPhone to be able to get an Apple watch?
posted by tafetta, darling! to Shopping (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Intuitive is somewhat subjective. I like Apple for accessibility reasons but if you found iOS confusing on the iPad I'm not sure how likely an iPhone would improve things.

I do think iMessage is really nice however.
posted by Alensin at 7:39 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

I am an Android man in an Apple world. Team Green! I have had the opportunity to use a new iPhone for 3 weeks. I vowed to use it exclusively to see if I got used to it and to see if there was any benefit. I got tired of friends in group chats complaining I was not an iPhone user.

I am typing this on a Pixel 8 Pro. While I think the iPhone has some positives, I did not think the positives outweighed the benefits of my Android phone. I am a heavy user. I have unlocked the bootloader, rooted my phones, and I have flashed other (Lineage) OS's. You cannot do any of that with the iPhone. It allowed me to customize my phone using all of the Android OS, parts that are limited by the manufacturers such as Samsung and I was able to delete bloatware.

But the bottom line is that I much prefer android to iOS for everyday use. I am used to it. I suppose one can get used to any OS, but I had the same feeling when using an iPad it just was not intuitive.

I think this is all about person preference.

I have read about the steps (and limitations) of linking an Android phone to an Apple watch. I also know people that have a Google watch and a Samsung watch.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:58 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]

I was forced to make the switch a few years ago for work-related reasons and it’s… fine, I guess? I don’t really think one is inherently better than the other. I wouldn’t recommend it if you were super into phone customization and side-loading apps and stuff (but if you were, I don’t think you’d be asking this question in the first place). I do appreciate the relatively seamless integration into the rest of the Apple ecosystem (N/A if you’re not a Mac user, of course) and I think the iPhone is a nice piece of hardware, fit-and-finish wise. I was initially an Apple Watch skeptic but after using one for a while (again, work-related) I was surprised at how convenient it was. I think there has been at least one “what is the Apple Watch good for?” AskMe out there if you search for it. FWIW, the reasons for my switch to iOS are no longer applicable, and I’ve decided to stick with it instead of switching back. I’d estimate about 50% of that is inertia, though…

All my immediate family members remain Android users and I haven’t had any issues sending photos via MMS.
posted by btfreek at 8:00 PM on April 2

my immediate family all have Android phones and I want to be able to send them pics via text message which has been spotty at best with my friends who have iPhones

Apple looks like it will support RCS in iOS 18 this September, which should significantly improve the group text messaging experience between iOS and Android, including attachments like photos and videos.
posted by kdar at 8:12 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

The only intuitive human interface is the nipple; outside of that, you're learning patterns.

I have an iPhone for work but have long been an Android user (after the demise of Windows Phone and physical keyboards). I've never been attracted to the iPhone, which has the inferior home screen that's just a drawer for your apps, but in whatever order you added them.

Apple Watch is pretty great, and if smartwatches in general are attractive, the Pixel Watch, the Galaxy Watch, and WearOS-based watches are all available and can do what you want. As it happens, I just switched from a smartwatch to a regular ol' mechanical watch because I wasn't using its features that much, but that's me. I find that android-compatible smart watches just aren't known to people, particularly the people who would see me using my WearOS and ask about my "Apple Watch."

Want airpods? Earbuds from its competitors will do most of what they can do, and will vary in price from cheap to exceptionally premium. Will you get that 3D sound thing when you watch the Beatles documentary on AppleTV+? Well, no, not without iPhone and airpods, but it's a very specific feature that's generally not a killer app for most people. (I'm sure there's other content that supports it, but I haven't hard the urge to look.)

As mentioned above, RCS on iOS will be an improvement.

Do you want status in your peer group? Get the iPhone. But status doesn't make you feel better about the change; it just means that people who make fun of your Android will have to find something else to knock you down about.

This is 100% a matter of personal preference, but in your shoes I would definitely not switch; I'll probably be getting myself into a new Google Pixel this or next year.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:19 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

It's all personal preference, of course. If you are not comfortable with iPad, I'm not sure I would switch to iPhone.

For me, I grew up with Apple/Mac, but used Android exclusively for cell phones until the last couple years. I switched to iPhone as part of switching everything to Apple. I already had an iPad, so I knew the "new" UI and had no problems with it (my Apple experience was more 80s-90s).

Here's what I love about being on Apple: how well the devices work together, which is easier when the same company makes both the hardware and the operating system. For example, I have an Apple TV and if I start typing on it, my iPhone lights up and offers its keyboard, which is easier to type with. Another example is I can start playing music on my iPhone, walk into a room, and it will know which HomePod/Mini is closest and offer to cast the music to it. Basically, when two Apple devices are near each other, they know it and will offer to work together. Similarly, iMessage, which has been mentioned, is nice because it's the same on both iPhone and MacBook, built-in. You can start a texting conversation on one and seamlessly move to the other device and continue the conversation, without needing to install more software to do it.

All that said, if you're only looking at iPhone and not other Apple devices, I don't think I would switch. And if you are thinking about converting other devices to Apple, it will take a fair amount of time and money. But if you're willing to do that, Apple can be a delight.

(There is one other point, that is important to some, not so important to others - Apple's store is usually better about screening apps. They are probably overzealous at times, but it does normally mean less risk of software you don't really want on your phone (spyware, viruses, etc).)
posted by Meldanthral at 8:37 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

Like others, I think it's really a personal preference thing. I'm a long time iPhone user (since the 3G, which I graduated to from a Nokia 6500 slide). So I've never used the Android OS much and that is only since I met my wife about 6 years ago because she's a dedicated Andriod fan who sometimes needs my help configuring something. She has never needed help configuring her iPad. I don't like the Android OS at all, but I'm sure that's just unfamiliarity and I could figure it out if I wanted - I used to be very proficient with Windows OS once, so I can figure anything out.

Since buying that first iPhone in 2008, I've changed every device of mine and my family's (except my wife's phone and watch) to the Apple ecosystem and I love how they all work together so seamlessly and (to me) intuitively. This includes desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and watch devices. But that's my story. If you like the Android OS and don't want to change, then don't change because others think you should. I don't know why you're having trouble sharing photos with iPhones and have never had that issue.

However, if you really want to get an Apple Watch, you should consider an iPhone. My experience is that, for all the seamless nature of the Apple ecosystem, it's very much a closed system and nothing from Apple plays all that well with anything not. They will mostly work, but there will be things that might be important for you that just won't work or won't work properly. I do think the Apple Watch is something of a gateway drug, so if you buy one, expect to want more Apple things.
posted by dg at 9:58 PM on April 2

Best answer: I did exactly what you're proposing last September, and for the same reason — to get an Apple Watch.

I would not recommend it to you. Android is far superior, in my opinion, and iOS is not intuitive.

You will hate the keyboard most of all. It drives me nuts how awful it is. And you will miss some of Android's amazing features which I still cannot believe aren't on the iPhone. Chief among them is the ability to send scheduled texts by long-holding the send button, something I used multiple times a day; and having a consistent back button that is easily accessible. Seven months after switching, I'm still frustrated constantly by those few things alone.

But... I do love my Apple Watch, which I got so I can leave my iPhone at home when I cycle and have all my cycling metrics in large print on my wrist. Worth the trade off? No, I don't think so.

Oh, and if anyone's friends are mad about the green / blue bubble thing, you don't need a new phone, you need new friends.
posted by dobbs at 12:09 AM on April 3 [4 favorites]

The pixel watch works fine and I think it's visually more attractive than the Apple watch. I know people who swear by their Garmin smart watch. I used to have a Samsung one and it was also fine. As with other Android things, you have options, even if the overall experience is slightly less cutting edge feature wise.
posted by lookoutbelow at 1:31 AM on April 3 [2 favorites]

Until both teams support a similar advanced messaging platform you are going to have issues. Rcs support by apple may fix this, but im cynical and don't trust apple to do anything more than the legal minimum thats not actual useful and probably makes things worse, like most of their eu compliance stuff.

If you switch to apple, you are going to have trouble sending pics/videos to android folks, but will get better with iPhone people due to iMessage. Its all due to the very small size cap on mms text messages which are currently the only cross os text messaging system.

For whichever platform you pick, i would suggest an alternate messaging platform that is os agnostic and runs over the Internet for sending pics/video. Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, even email will send superior quality multimedia. At least for people on the opposing os.

Apples hardware seems superior to me, although i can't stand the os and find it unusable. I have been happy with my google pixel devices for quite a while after i got over the "premium" price jump they did a while ago.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:56 AM on April 3

There are other keyboards that you can get for iOS.
posted by soelo at 6:08 AM on April 3

You can't use an Apple Watch without an iPhone, either your own or someone else's who is willing to manage your watch for you. The Apple Watch is designed from the ground up as an accessory to the iPhone.

I switched from Android to iPhone five or six years ago. One reason I left Android was because I'm a tinkerer and was spending too much time rooting the phone, experimenting with different ROMs, etc. I wanted something locked down. To me, the iPhone simpler, while still being full usable. Right now I can't remember having any issues over one OS being more intuitive than the other.
posted by lhauser at 6:46 AM on April 3

There are a few things going on here that factor into the decision. Note that I'd personally never even consider an Android device whatsoever so keep that in mind as a source of potential subconscious bias in what I'm saying here:
  • If you spend a lot of time on your phone and you want to heavily customize that experience, you almost certainly need an Android device.
  • If you spend a lot of time on your phone and you don't care about UI customization, the horrible and confusing Android UI might be worth putting up with for the ability to easily sideload pirated software.
  • If you spend a lot of time on your phone just using it, an Apple device is probably ideal.
  • If you don't spend a ton of time on your phone and treat it like an appliance such as a car, where you just pull it out to do a thing and then put it away, an Apple device is probably ideal.
  • If you want the only viable wearable on the market, you have to use an Apple device.
  • If you want to avoid any walled garden problems, you have to use an Android device.
  • If you want relatively seamless but occasionally bafflingly failed multi-device integration, you're pretty much stuck with an Apple device.
  • If you want to use one platform or another's proprietary messaging "pretend it's texting" thing with everyone else who uses that platform's "pretend it's texting" thing, you have to pick that platform.
Again, personally, I've never seen an advantage to Android devices that applied to me; but I'm the kind of person who spends about 20 minutes a day on my phone unless I'm stuck in a waiting room. I just want to pull the thing out, perform a task, and shove it back in my pocket. If your use case is different, you're going to have to weigh things out differently than I do, for sure.

I think the big one here is the trouble you've had using MMS. Sending files across platforms seems to be a big deal to you and if your carrier is bad at it (which it sounds like it is) that's going to hamper your ability to switch platforms unless you switch carriers.
posted by majick at 7:31 AM on April 3 [3 favorites]

I am a heavy ipad user but a dedicated android phone haver, now a pixel fan. There are two reasons for this. One, I use phones until they absolutely MUST be replaced. I think I had my previous pixel 2 from release up until the 7 came out. And the only reason I upgraded was for my second reason: the camera is so much better. iPhone cameras are catching up but like, the comparisons between when my friends and I share photos taken at the same hangout with different phones are glaringly obvious. And true, I did minor in (film) photography with my art degree but I somehow don’t think my compositional eye is making the difference. But yeah. Device longevity and camera pickiness. I am otherwise a Luddite about my phone, I forget to charge it and don’t look at it for days and only use it for games and more intense apps when traveling.

Since you want an Apple Watch you apparently must have an iPhone for it. I had no idea, that’s so goofy. I feel like nearly every app and device and whatever works on both devices, so this is a… choice, certainly. When I got my first iPad it was a hand me down and I didn’t think I would like it, I had MacBook Pros in college but preferred Windows generally. These days I have a proper windows laptop for the like, two times a year I need it and literally everything else in my Extremely Online life is via iPad (or my android phone when out and about.) I got used to the interface kind of slowly but it made more sense once I started treating it like an ereader primarily. I think that you could probably get used to an iPhone the same way I got used to the iPad - find a function you want to consistently use and expand from there. Maybe for you that’s an Apple Watch related thing, idk, if I knew my heartrate all the time I’d have panic attacks about it, so that’s not for me.

There are lots of other smart watches now and I’m not into them but I can see the appeal. I think you need to figure out if your device priorities align with your aspirations and do research about it. Maybe an android compatible smart watch will do you well. Maybe getting comfortable with iPhone interface will remove friction from your life. Maybe you value device longevity and look into how long different companies are going to support their current phone models, or environmental impact and look into how they source their mineral components and provide for safe device disposal. There are lots of factors to consider and no right or moral answer.
posted by Mizu at 7:41 AM on April 3

I have an iphone for home and an android for work - Samsung maybe - I don't even know. I don't find them particularly all that different. If you are just a normal phone user, they are very similar and it's pretty easy to switch back and forth.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:16 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Best answer: On intuitiveness: if someone had never used a phone before, I would tell them to get an iPhone. It is easiest to learn.

But as someone who has always had Android phones, I do find iOS confusing. And I think it's likely worse the other way around. It's like Windows vs Mac.

On multi-device integration: I wouldn't switch to an iPhone because I'm so locked in to the Google ecosystem and it is so closely linked to Android, especially well with vanilla Android (like the Pixel).

On ease of set-up: both systems are easy to transfer old phones within the same OS. The last couple Android set-ups have been basically a copy of my old phone without any set-up. But you'd be setting up from scratch with a new iPhone.

For messaging between devices: I certainly find it easier messaging with my family members who have Android. For those without, I have to resort to another messaging service to send photos and video. But it's not a deal-breaker.

On customization: I appreciate the degree of home screen flexibility and use widgets heavily (including weird stuff like a home screen widget that is just HTML text for key reminders). I also organize my settings drawer (the top drag down one) to my liking. I don't believe iPhones can do this quite the same way.

The Android app ecosystem is larger but with a lower level of quality on average (see e.g. the janky HTML home screen widget). There are some iOS only apps, but the differences between the apps available for the two have decreased.

On keyboards: there are more options, but I'm very attached to the Google one. It had swipe to text first (though I think Apple has this now?), and also the voice to text is higher quality than the Apple equivalent (though with worse privacy).

My understanding is that the iPhone experience is seamless when using their desired apps and services, but if you want to use other stuff, Android is more agnostic to those choices.

Apple wins, no doubt, on privacy, cutting edge hardware, like their super powerful chips that app developers will presumably be able to use eventually (except camera where I do think Google's software + hardware combo still wins), visual style, integration with iPad and Macs, ability to have Apple Watch (rather than another smart watch), intuitiveness for new users, overall simplicity, probably less weird quirks.

But I'd be mad if I had to switch. Partially because I'd rather not learn new things when I like my things, and partly because of things that Android has that are not available for iPhones.
posted by lookoutbelow at 9:33 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I've never been attracted to the iPhone, which has the inferior home screen that's just a drawer for your apps, but in whatever order you added them.

You know you can customize the iPhone home screen by adding widgets, placing apps wherever you want, grouping apps and so on, right? All you have to do is click and hold an app.
posted by slkinsey at 10:13 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Slight correction, but it's an important distinction: It's not that you'll have trouble sending pictures and video to Android users. It's that Android users will have trouble viewing the pictures and video at the same quality that your camera produced. Apple adopting the RCS standard should help with this, but the disparity in quality exists because iOS is meeting Android in the middle.
posted by emelenjr at 10:24 AM on April 3

Best answer: Going to give a slightly contrarian answer. After decades of Android, I recently moved to an iPhone. I like it!

The downsides of iOS are well reflected here. The keyboard is miserable compared with Android GBoard - and while iOS technically allows other keyboards, they're hobbled by Apple's restrictions, including GBoard for iOS which is not good. The home screen is almost ridiculously limited in terms of customization; on a big 6.7" screen like the iPhone 15 Pro Max, you're still inexplicably stuck with 4 icons across. No easy swipe or button to go back (and the back action is all the way at the top). Siri isn't up to Google's standards for voice recognition (although you can use the Google app on iOS to compensate for that to some extent).

Modern Android is far from "horrible and confusing" as described above, it's generally mature and functional and generally provides a faster and more workable interface for text and voice entry, or finding what you need. These are real things. While I can do everything I need to do in iOS, and have totally adjusted, I am quite confident that I would still be able to everything just a little faster in Android 12.

So why do I love my iPhone 15 Pro from late last year? The hardware. It's remarkable.

The titanium surround and ceramic shield allow for a scratch-proof, compact, perfectly-machined phone that you can actually feel like you can use safely without a case. The battery life is fantastic, handily beating the flagship OnePlus phones I've had that were previously battery-life leaders. The 5x optical zoom on the camera looks great, even compared with the Pixels my partner was using. MagSafe not only allows for wireless charging at home, but snapping the phone on a cradle results in a wonderful little clock/calendar display, and allows for easy snap-on mounting in the car. Face ID works great (and I had an iPad with miserable Face ID that had previously soured me on it). They finally support USB-C now and not the terrible lightning connector. They look similar in photos, but the 15 Pro phones are radically different than the iPhones of the past, with years of iterative hardware improvements. (My partner's work iPhone 12 looks similar in photos but in real life works and feels like a relic, chunky, with that huge notch, with poor battery life.)

At the end of the day, the phone feels great in the hand, perfectly weighted, looks great, performance is great, and at some point, it's enough to gloss over the strangely terrible keyboard and other "they really should have worked harder on this in the past five years" interface issues. Hoping those get fixed in iOS 18.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 12:49 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

There are other keyboards that you can get for iOS.

Yes, and they're all garbage. I tried every single one. Even keyboards that were designed for Android and then brought to iOS (like Google's GBoard) do not function as they do on Android.

For instance, GBoard's Android keyboard has a period on the main screen. As far as I can make out, not a single iOS keyboard has this. It's ridiculous. (And yes, I know about the shortcuts to type it.)

On keyboards: there are more options, but I'm very attached to the Google one. It had swipe to text first

Hate to be all actually..., but this is not true. Android had swipe before iPhone, yes, but the keyboard was made by a company called Swype. Google's GBoard copied this function.

the horrible and confusing Android UI

This is laughably inaccurate.
posted by dobbs at 3:24 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

I got an iPhone several months ago and it's been overall a positive but part of that is because it's a FAR more expensive phone than the Moto Gs that I'd previously had. The biggest negative for me is that there's no way to cap your data and not even a functional third party tool. Apple only advises hobbling your connectivity to lower the rate of usage. For driving, Google Maps and other music apps don't respond nearly as well to voice commands.
posted by brachiopod at 3:36 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

If you want to make 3D scans of objects to bring into 3D printing or VR, there seems to be more apps on the iPhone. Also it has Lidar which some apps require.
posted by Sophont at 4:20 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

For instance, GBoard's Android keyboard has a period on the main screen. As far as I can make out, not a single iOS keyboard has this.

dobbs, while I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment and everything else in your post, Swiftkey for iOS does keep a period on the main keyboard screen (which can also be held and swiped for !@#, and ?).
posted by eschatfische at 5:27 PM on April 3

I always had an android. I had to use an apple for work for several years. I also was given an iPad as a gift and used it for a while. My verdict? God I hate apple and ianything with such a passion now. I will never willingly give apple a cent of money or own anything made by them ever again. Aside from disliking the way iOS does... everything and the fact the my perfectly functional iPad is now a brick because it's 'too old' (yet I can still fire up my android phone from further back than that and at least play games or use it as a mp3 player), I find apple's ethics and business practices infuriating and disgusting. Ymmv.
posted by unsettledink at 11:11 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to add that dobbs is totally correct about the iPhone keyboards (all of them) sucking. I really like IOS phones for everything except that.

No IOS keyboard or keyboard app compares to the swype experience I had on my Samsung way back in 2013. In fact, I frequently think the swipe to text experience is getting worse over the years, not to mention their 2-gram autocorrect options are laughably bad, especially after every new update. But use the gboard app and it’ll be just as terrible for swype entry.

Everything else is great, from the media universe to the ability to send to AppleTV, but I was way jealous of my colleague just swyping away all fast on his Google phone the other day.
posted by ec2y at 1:05 PM on April 12

dobbs, while I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment and everything else in your post, Swiftkey for iOS does keep a period on the main keyboard screen

Thanks. Will check that out!
posted by dobbs at 5:09 PM on April 12

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