March is my iPhoneiversary. After using an Android smartphone for my entire adult life, I made an impulse decision to upgrade to an iPhone 5 last spring.
In early 2013, I had been having increasing troubles with my LG Revolution and wanted a change. When the phone began to randomly shut down, I mistook frustration with my phone for frustration with Android. I finally did what many of my friends, family, and coworkers had been encouraging me to do, and traded in my Android for an iPhone.
For the first few months, I had no regrets. I loved snapping photos with the iPhone 5’s 8 megapixel camera, which made it easy to zoom and edit. I loved finally having the same phone as my mom and sisters, and—after years of being the odd one out—chatting with them about the best and worst apps. And I loved its sleek, stylish appearance.
Steve Jobs designed his line of phones to be the perfect customer experience. As a result, there’s not much you can do to adjust the way your iPhone works. In Apple’s mind, it’s already been designed to be perfect for you.
What I miss about Android was the multitude of options you have to switch it up. With an iPhone, you can add a custom background and ringtone, and move the apps around to your liking. With an Android phone, that’s only scratching the surface.
On Android, a theme is more than just a background, but an entirely new OS design. Themer App is just one service you can download to dramatically change every aspect of your Android phone’s look. Heck, if you want to, you can even make your Android look like an iPhone. It’s not just aesthetics either, it’s also how you interact with your phone. You want to be able to access your favorite apps by swiping from the side of the screen? You can do that in Android. Want to put favorite apps or settings in the notification pull-down? You can do that in Android.
I also miss being able to be the master of my own phone. Judge if you like, but I always would root my Android phones, the better to tweak them. Meanwhile, jailbreaking an iPhone is much more difficult to do, and even if you accomplish it, what you can do post-jailbreak is limited.
In the same way, I miss being able to pull my phone apart, take out the micro SD card, and load it with music and pictures as I saw fit. Sure, not every modern Android has this capability any more, but many of the latest generation do, notably the upcoming HTC One. Good luck trying to physically take apart an iPhone, of any generation.
When I bought an iPhone, I didn’t realize that it would have no widgets at all. In the controlled environment of iOS 7, users need to actually open apps in order to use them. And while that doesn’t sound like much of an inconvenience, it’s a big change for a widget-loving Android user.
If you have an Android phone, chances are you spend almost as much time looking at your widgets as you spend inside of the actual apps. I used to have a calendar app on my main screen, so I could see my daily Google Calendar to-do list at a glance. I was never fooled by the perpetually partly-sunny icon on iOS’s weather app, because with Android, I always had my weather widget open.
My iPhone screen looks exactly like everyone else’s iPhone screen—a grid of colorful little squares. I’ve moved the squares I use the most to my main screen, but other than that there’s not much I can do to adjust it.
Even a year in, I’m still kind of afraid of my iPhone. I handle it more like a fragile baby bird, forever nestled in an enormous OtterBox case that literally doubles its size.
Inside its case, my iPhone hardly fits in my hand (though that may have something to do with me being a petite woman), but I figure it’s better than the alternatives. I’ve seen too many people squinting through their shattered iPhone screens, because it’s not time to replace the phone yet and they’ll just have to cope. Whose idea was it to encase a phone in glass anyway?
Looking at my cumbersome current phone, I sometimes think back to the carefree days I spent with my series of Android phones. Sure, they were clunky and made of bourgeois plastic, but I never used a phone case and I dropped them constantly. Having an iPhone has certainly taught me to be more careful with my possessions, but I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells just to ensure my phone retains a minimum level of usability.
Finally, the main reason I should have stuck with Android was the sheer number of options I had to find a phone exactly to my liking.
So I wasn’t happy with my LG Revolution anymore. I could have tried a Samsung. Or a Motorola. Or a Galaxy Note. Or a Nokia. Or an HTC One. Android is a marketplace where dozens of different phone makers compete to design a phone that works for you.
But let’s say I don’t like the iPhone 5, and want to stick with iOS 7. My choices are minimal. I can upgrade to the iPhone 5C or 5S. (I hear the 5S comes in gold.) Even so, you get my point—no amount of gilding disguises the fact that it’s just an updated version of the same product.
Of course, there’s no way I’m going to trade in my iPhone before my provider lets me switch. Aside from what that would cost, my phone is still fully functional, and I really shouldn’t complain. Instead, call me up about it in a year. I’ll answer on my shiny new Android phone.
Photo by JD Hancock