Switching to Android, or, how I escaped my Apple brand obsession
Nearly 90% of smartphone users worldwide may choose Android, but having grown up in an Apple household, my iPhone indoctrination was decades in the making. My parents had an iMac G4 with the swiveling display, while I used an eMac that I often physically carried into my sister's room so I could connect to the only ethernet port and chat with friends on AIM. While I left for college with an old flip phone, I eventually got sick of texting on a number pad and got an iPhone 4, back when AT&T still gave you free phone upgrades every couple of years as part of a family plan.
Then came an iPhone 6, and most recently an iPhone XR, plus various MacBooks in the same time frame. I had adopted the Apple's various operating systems as part of my technical identity, and made it plain that I knew what I liked and didn't plan on changing, thank you very much. In other words, I was in deep.
I did use Windows, either at office jobs or using a Boot Camp partition for Steam games, but no one ever pushed me to try any of the best Android phones out there, even as companies like Samsung and Google released phones that truly interested me. Even when I started writing for tech companies — covering virtual reality, wearables, audio, gaming, and eventually breaking tech news — I was usually surrounded by diehard Apple users that prioritized iPhone leaks and patents over news from other companies. But that recently changed.
I could spend a good chunk of this piece diving into some of my growing frustration with the Apple devices I bought, mainly due to battery problems across the board; or how my latest MacBook Pro's butterfly keyboard devolved from sticky keys to actually getting jammed at angles into their slots so I could no longer type on them. But I'm not here to make an Android > iOS or Google > Apple argument.
My point is that my brand loyalty to Apple made me willfully ignore any negatives with its products or any potential alternatives. I knew how to fix common Apple problems, but didn't want to explore if other devices could avoid those problems while costing a lot less. I didn't know what kind of new negatives I'd run into with Android, or if I'd want to invest the time to master the new perks it would give me. Behold the sunk cost fallacy in action.
It took me many years to gain some critical thinking about how my fierce devotion, to Apple and other companies and brands I'd loved as a kid/teen, was counter-productive. That these companies will often disappoint you with their products or actions, and that I don't owe it to them to find the silver lining in something subpar just because I paid for it. It's obvious to me now, but growing up online watching warring fandoms bicker in forums and comment sections, it really seemed like I had to define my identity by my tech and pop culture interests. Not anymore.
I got a job at Android Central because of my experience covering Android-adjacent tech. But to do this job properly, I have to become a lot more familiar with the ins and outs of Android 11 (and soon Android 12), Samsung's One UI, OxygenOS and the rest. So I followed our own guide on switching from iOS to Android and took the plunge. This new role gave me the kick in the rear necessary to (metaphorically) tell Apple that we're no longer exclusive, and that I want an open relationship with the other mobile tech giants.
My fellow AC editors were kind enough to mail me some spare review units, including the Pixel 3a, Nokia 8.3 5G, Samsung Galaxy S9, and OnePlus 7 Pro before the holidays, and I've been rotating between them ever since. I'm a long way off from being an Android expert; but until then, I plan on treating my ignorance as an opportunity.
Every week, I'll publish a new "Switching to Android" diary entry about what it's like to switch over in Android in 2021. They'll include a range of topics: the various Android app stores compared to Apple's; iCloud vs Google Drive; accessories; software updates; OS customization; app/cloud gaming; and, generally, how hard it is to divest yourself, mentally and monetarily, from a company that has owned your business for decades.
I recognize that Android Central readers are more like my colleagues: passionate Android devotees who have been invested in Google's ecosystem for as long as I've been invested in Apple's. But I'm hoping I can provide some new perspectives on the tools and features that will seem commonplace to you. Equally important, I'm hoping these will be helpful to current iOS users considering whether or not they should follow suit and try something other than an iPhone.
Here's where you all come into the story. I'm extremely curious about our readers' opinions:
- Do any of you also have iOS-to-Android stories to share?
- How "loyal" are you to the Android brand?
- Are there any iOS vs Android topics you'd like to learn more about?
Feel free to leave a comment about your experiences! In the meantime, I'm excited to join the Android community and gain expertise to share with you all — without becoming too emotionally invested in it.
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Michael spent years freelancing on every tech topic under the sun before settling down on the real exciting stuff: virtual reality, fitness wearables, gaming, and how tech intersects with our world. He's a semi-reformed Apple-to-Android user who loves running, D&D, and Star Wars. Find him on Twitter at @Michael_L_Hicks.
I love my S21. fun phone. but it really is just that. a fun phone. iPhone is my real daily. Android is great. iPhone just does a few things better ... ecosystem
Lately the tech on android has been developing at an amazing speed and iPhones can hardly keep up and with that I have totally sealed the coffin on iPhones.
android --- can customize it better and the audio and ringtones are a lot better .
different designs and couluor and bloat wear you can get rid of
iPhones are all basically the same poor audio poor ringtones. The only one thing i can say is
great is battery life
Over time Android was able to pull me away as some of the apps I wanted to use just simply were not there...
I become a hardcore Android guy until Windows Phone came out...
I may be 1 of only 5 people in the world who feel this way, but to this day I feel Windows phone was the smoothest, smartest, easiest OSs mobile has ever seen. If MS could have marketed that better I would still be a WP user... For now I am back and am a Note fanatic. Amazing devices. I am also heavy into SmartThings, so I love the integration there with the Samsung devices.. I have had an iPad for work in the past, and simply cannot stand iOS, or all of the proprietary dongles and software restrictions... So while I may not be a super loyal Android guy...I cannot stand crApple...
What I am interested in is how much "freedom" do you really have with iOS as compared to Android.
Things like setting up your home screen. I am a minimalist and like to see my wallpaper(s) without a ton of icons hiding everything. I also do not use widgets.
I always wanted to try out how the stylus would integrate in my workflow (spoiler: it does not). While I think that Android phones are much more innovative than Apple, and I think that the platform is quite stable, I still think that my life was easier with an iPhone. This is personal experience btw, so it may not apply to you.
- iMessage and FaceTime. Most of my family is using apple product, and while I managed to convince some people to switch to Duo for video calling, honestly some older family members were not able to really do by themselves. For them FaceTime is already on the screen and works fine, same for iMessage.
- Android auto. I live in a country were is not officially supported, so I had to side load it. It worked randomly on android 10, in 11 it does not want to start, no matter what I do. It is probably my car problem as well (Ford) since it works ok on others. But honestly CarPlay always worked like a charm , no question asked.
- Randome reboot. This is the most annoying. My galaxy would do random reboot, usually when playing audio on bluetooth and GPS on. Which is mostly when I run. So you ran 45 minutes and boom, reboot. Data is lost and music stops. Had to do a master reset as advised on some forums, which did nothing except making me re-setup everything. I still like my Galaxy, but I do not trust his reliability 100%. The iPhone was unexciting and more locked down, but I had zero issues and never had to look for infos on XDA developers or other forum.
To sum up I would say, that if one day I would plan a trip with a backpack around the world, I would probably take an iPhone with me, not an android phone... :-)
The app ecosystem is much better, apps are more polished it seems dev put more effort into IOS apps, I also have a macbook so the integration value is obvious.
And I have seen this mention several times but yes the backup and restore is soooooo much better on ios. Another big value add is apple pay, here in the UK google pay has a cap whereas apple pay doesn't. Apple pay has become a need for me now, not a want but a need.
I still have android devices, but I don't see myself going back to fulltime, I will buy the cheapest pixel to see what google brings every year.