The Big Switch: An Android user’s first week with an iPhone 6s

  

Why did you get an iPhone? What do you think of it? Should I switch from Android to iPhone? 

As a long time Android champion, these were the sort of surprised questions I started getting when I told people I’d made the switch to an iPhone 6s. Rather than fill Facebook with a series of unconnected posts, I thought I’d try and put my initial impressions in to a single blog post.

So firstly, why did I jump ship?

I have a confession to make. My decision to switch was at least partly based on novelty.

 I’ve been pretty happy with the succession of  HTC ‘droids I’ve owned over the years. But I’m also someone who enjoys learning new things, and part of me has always wondered what it would be like to use an iPhone day to day. As an iPad owner I’m already familiar with iOS, but a phone is a much more personal and intimate device. My decision to switch was at least partly fuelled by a desire to try something different. 

From a handset perspective, now seemed like a good time to switch.

I started out on Android back in 2010 as it delivered a lot more bang for buck. There was also a lot of stuff that iOS devices just didn’t do at the time. So it was that I began my succession of HTC devices. 

But things have changed in the six-ish years since I purchased my HTC Desire. IPhones are a lot better these days, and there’s no HTC  phones in market that really excite me. What about Samsung I hear you say? I love the look of the S7 Edge, but it’s a little too big for slipping in the pocket of a pair of shorts. The standard S7 is a beautiful phone, and if it weren’t for the above mentioned quest for newness, it’s probably the phone I would purchase.

I did briefly flirt with the idea of the iPhone SE. It’s compact form factor is quite appealing. However in situations where I don’t have my glasses, I really need the bigger screen of the iPhone 6s.

So what are my week one impressions?

The back arrow and widgets are my most missed Android features

What I wouldn’t give for an Android style back arrow at the bottom of the phone. Until I moved to the iPhone, I didn’t appreciate how helpful a feature it was for one handed phone use. The location of ‘back’ navigation in many  iOS apps seems to be at the top of the screen, which means using a second hand. While some apps let you swipe across the screen to go back, this isn’t universal. While the lack of a back arrow isn’t a deal breaker, as a long time Android user it feels like an area where the famed usability of iOS is let down. 

And widgets! Ah widgets, how I miss thee. My Android home screen gave over more space to widgets than to apps themselves. That meant when I unlocked the phone, I had instant access to a range of helpful information and functions. With the iPhone,  I need to open up apps or swipe my way in to the notification centre to get things like the weather – something my Android could display on the home screen.

Thumbprint unlocking – how did I live without it?.
Yes, I know current generation Android phones come with thumbprint readers as well, but I’m coming from the HTC One M7. I still think the unlock pattern of Android is better than a PIN. But for convenience, it’s hard to go past unlocking with your thumbprint. It’s a handy feature on the iPad, but considering how many more times in the day I unlock my phone, I’m wondering why it took me so long to switch to a phone with thumbprint unlocking.

Switching phones was the catalyst for going walletless

Once again, this is something that I could have done on Android, as it comes down more to the case than phone. It might even have been easier on Android given Apple Pay currently only works with Amex in Australia. I’ll have a seperate post (or maybe posts) on this at some point, discussing the benefits and potential pitfalls or relying only on your phone and the couple of essential cards you can slip in a flip case with card slots.

There’s also the little things to love about iPhone

For me, one of those little things is that the headphone jack is on the bottom of the phone. What that means for me is when I slip the phone in to my pocket, I’m not sticking my headphone jack in to the fluff at the bottom of my pocket. That fluff wrecked the headphone jack on two previous phones, so something that might seem small to others, is actually a real positive for me.

I’m looking forward to happy snapping on the iPhone

The few photos I’ve taken on the iPhone 6s have looked great. I’ve now splurged on the Hipstamtic Starter Pak, so I can’t wait to find time for some Hipstamatic fun. Android of course has its own great photo apps, like Retro Camera and Vigenette, but both seems to have stagnated a little of late. In contrast, Hipstamatic looks to be very much alive and growing. The iPhone screen is also beautiful for viewing images on. A bright, crisp and clear display makes pictures really pop.

Speaking of popping, I’m still to be convinced of the merits of 3D Touch 

Apple likes to promote the ability to ‘peek and pop’ on the iPhone 6s. Essentially, 3D Touch means you can press slightly harder than normal to ‘peek’ a preview of say a link or an email, or more firmly still to ‘pop’ it into its own window or tab. So far, I’ve found it more annoying than useful. Rarely do I remember to peek or pop. Instead, I find myself pressing slightly too firmly  on something I want to click on, and not getting the expected behaviour. This most commonly occurs when I am trying to rearrange apps. I’ll press on an app to make it wiggle ready for moving, and instead press too hard and get no result.

Perhaps it will be a feature that grows on me, or I’ll find an app where 3D Touch gives me a really useful new ability. But for now, it’s something I could easily live without.

The iPhone 6s is a great phone, especially as an iPad companion, but not necessarily a standout by itself

So where have I landed after a week and a bit with the iPhone 6s? I think it’s a great phone. It’s fast, has a beautiful screen, plenty of apps and feels comfortable in the hand. The bundled headphones also produce great sound.  As an iPad user I’m starting to find the synergies in having two iOS devices. The iPhone 6s feels like a quality piece of kit – which it should for the price Apple charges. 

But as a stand alone phone, the iPhone 6s is a premium proposition. Even the entry level smart phones these days can perform your typical tasks like running social and messaging apps, browsing the web , taking photos and yes…making phone calls. At the premium end of the market, Samsung is flying the flag for Android. Even Windows is making a bit of a comeback, perhaps aided by the merits of Surface in the tablet market.

While I’m loving my iPhone, and it makes a great partner to my iPad, I do think the smartphone market is at a point where it really is a Coke v Pepsi decision, where the ‘right’ phone for someone to own is really going to come down to personal tastes.

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