Apple is the brand to beat these days. With over 17.4 million units sold in the first quarter of 2017 for the iPhone 7 plus, a new iPad with a near 11 inch screen and the Apple Watch 2 sales increasing (according to Tim Cook) despite the near death of most smartwatches brands and companies, it truly is a wonderful time to be an Apple fan. But why does the company do so well despite having the most restrictive user interface in all smartphone os, prices that are elitist by any normal smartphone standards and hardly any breakthrough changes in design and technology since the iPhone 5? This is what we will look into today and understand why Apple beats Google’s much friendlier, much more open ecosystem and products.
Google’s android is a powerhouse. Using the interface is an absolute joy and is the closest of near computer operating system you will ever get on a phone. My personal device for the past 4 years has been the Note 2 and it has not failed to disappoint. Feel like downloading music or pictures? Download it direct from the site. Want to look up weather and news. Google assistant beautifully understands accents and commands in a way Siri can never do. Feel like changing the look or feel of the icons or the home screen? Multiple launchers like Nova Launcher, Go Launcher etc etc will do that for you with minimum technical know how required. Feel like upping the storage? Most android phones come with expandable storage now so a 16gb phone is no barrier to your life’s moments. Need to link up with your bluetooth phones, printers, music systems, watches, smart tvs? No problem, android is multi platform and does so in seconds. With things like android beam, NFC controls, screen sharing, UPNP/DLNA , USB 3.0 etc etc cross platform sharing has never been simpler. Even if you own a phone as derelict as I do, you can easily root it and gain access to things like overclocking your GPU and CPU not to mention the ROMS and themes to customise your phone to the extent that the Samsung phone I have now works with Lollipop as it’s primary OS and is a powerhouse. All the bloatware is gone leaving a sleek, buttery smooth experience.
However, there are problems. Samsung suffers not only from bloatware but also an inevitable slowing down of it’s devices with time. The Touchwiz interface suffers from the capacity to do more which also sometimes means to do unnecessarily more and that bogs down the system. S8 still gets slower than the iPhone 7 plus despite being a year younger. The updates still take a long time to come. LG has great phones with the more basic android touch but their flagship G6 is with a year old CPU instead of the much faster Snapdragon 835 and a price that’s nearly the same as the Pixel. Not to mention certain durability issues that have come up. OnePlus is good but their new flagship is without any distinguishing features except dual cameras and a better processor. The camera also is very basic, but the price is still to beat. Google hasn’t come up with a new phone in ages but the Pixel still suffers from the same problems as before, with no water resistance, overpricing and lack of availability. Sony has 4k screens with hdr which is pretty awesome really, but somewhat limited by the pixel density experience on such a small screen. Xiaomi is an up and coming brand that is bringing low price, high quality phones with many breakthrough features, but still terribly limited by the bad cameras...But these things are minor hiccups in an otherwise remarkable range of choices and systems. The main issue I’ve seen with using all of these is the performance and ease of use. While as a power user I love Google’s ability to give me ease to do as I want when I want and link up devices and change things in my phone. But it’s not simple. The phones are not future proof and thus degrade a lot over time in performance and ability. The batteries too used to go bad pretty soon pretty fast. And if you're coming from a device without a removable battery, well then you're out of luck. Management of your photos and videos is mostly manual which is ok for some but for others a more centralised approach is just more easy. Apart from the Oneplus phones and Google's own Nexus and Pixel line that have amazing integration of hardware and software, the performance compared to the iPhone has been disappointing with android phones, whether it be tasks like video rendering, high quality games or even regular multitasking.
Enter the iPhone. The system is mindbogglingly restricted. You can’t even link up to your tv wirelessly for most tasks unless you own an Apple Tv. There is no support for file management yet(except in iOS 11 which will be amazing). Overpriced and under equipped would be the name of the day as they have no wireless charging, NFC is limited, no external storage, no quad hd screens and Ram that is pathetic. Yet after using an iPhone for only a few months, I can’t go back.
Yes I can hear you Android fanboys screaming in rage after hearing all the problems with Apple. But hear me out. I’ve entered the ecosystem of Apple, as it were. I work with Macs and Ipads. And to be honest, life couldn’t be simpler for me. All texts and calls on my phone go directly to my computer or iPad when I’m working without any additional effort on my part saving me the hassle of looking up. iCloud stores not only my photos and videos, it’s linked across my devices, allowing me to pull up contacts, emails and apps from across the board. If I find a game or a book on the iPhone, it automatically installs it on the iPad. FaceTime and iMessage allow you to talk and text, not to mention video chat, for free across devices and without any additional installation of software, which, given the popularity of the brand in America, saves quite a bit. Even though this may sound like an exaggeration, the speed is mind blowing whether you browse Facebook or use photoshop. Apple keeps the apps active behind the scenes even if you are not using them and you open them exactly as you left them. There are no crashes, no need to reset, no need to close up just to free memory. The 3D touch and the non physical home button truly feel like things from the future. While yes the screen is not quad, the increased colour gamut adds a lot and let’s be honest, the quad is only good to an extent on such a small screen. Google’s own apps are readily available too now, and to be honest work better and faster on the iPhone, speaking to Apple’s ingenuity in the combination of hardware and software. iTunes and Apple Music are great platforms for centralising your music needs and though Google Music and others try to catch up it’s ease of use is still pretty great. But the most important thing I’ve found with Apple is it’s future proofing. Early on, the iPhone softwares advanced while the hardware lagged behind. The iPhone 3g on ios 4.21 was a mess. As was the iPad 1st gen on the 5.11 software. But Apple learned from their mistakes. The newer models even up to the 4 lost support only very recently. And even now, when I do boot up these devices they work very well for the basic functions I might need them for, much better than modern devices like the horrendous Kindle Fire HD, which has the slowest software performance I’ve seen in any device as of yet. The MacBook not only has a great battery life, but MacOs itself is much more convenient then Windows, not requiring me to wait an hour just for it to update or boot properly. Updates download in the background when it is convenient for me and install at my leisure. While yes, Windows does have the ability to turn them off, the essential updates do bug you a lot, and not doing so leaves you open to viruses. And viruses. While no there isn’t a totally safe machine, Apple does pretty well with MacOs and the lack of users clearly adds to it. While Apple may charge through the nose for it’s devices, the exquisite build quality and design clearly speak for themselves, the Job’s penchant to not build ugly machines clearly shining through. Not to mention the convenience of not having to pay for a separate Office subscription every year.
Now this may seem like somewhat of an Apple fanboy post, but it’s not. The fact is Apple is not aiming for the tech savvy. It’s aiming for the general populace which needs simplicity and convenience. There are third party apps on android and Windows that can do all the things I outlined and more. But despite that, people are going to go for something that has already been built in more than anything that requires to do actual effort on their part. So maybe you won’t get the perks of wireless charging, fast charging, Android beam or whatever new thing the techies throw at you from the labs in South Korea or California. But here is what you will get. Simplicity. Elegance. Durability. Things that we often forget in our search for technological prowess.
So who should get an iPhone? I think the most important thing to do is to simply try it out. You won’t understand why you need to be with Apple till you've tried it out. And while the ecosystem is restrictive, it is also surely, addictive…