Switching from Android to iPhone

By Johnny McCabe

(John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
(John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Anybody who knows me understands that I have a lot to say about smartphones. Even those that read my articles probably have a pretty good idea as well about this point. For me, the reason is simple: After only a few short years, this technology has been integrated into every part of global culture, and the way we interact with it makes up a huge part of our day-to-day experience.

With that perspective in mind, I like to think I have kept a healthy distance from the “brand wars” that so frequently dominate the tech landscape. My personal workflow is founded on a diverse range of hardware and software from both Apple and Google, along with many more manufacturers and developers. However, as my last column foreshadowed, I recently made the momentous – and divisive – switch from an Android phone to the new iPhone 6S.

My old phone, the 2013 Moto X, was far past the end of its life, a sputtering, dinged up workhorse of a thing, and by far the best phone I have ever owned. Designed by Motorola during its brief apprenticeship under Google following a philosophy of “it just works” that had been unheard of amongst the Android community up to that point, it was a poster child for Google’s purest vision for the software.

I got it off-contract for a song and dance as a birthday present to myself. Not only did its incredibly average internal specs and screen promise stellar battery life, but it came with a ticket into the inner circle of Android: the elite club of near-instant software updates, untouched by service carriers, previously open only to Google’s Nexus and Google Play Edition lines.

For a while, that was exactly what I got. I waited mere days for the update to Android 4.3 KitKat, and marveled at how much Google’s software made a meaningful difference in my life. Google Now kept me up to the minute on traffic on the way to and from UMass, contextual weather informed me when to prepare for rain or snow and intelligent notifications automatically silenced my phone during class. However, as the months dragged on, and the announcement of Android 5.0 Lollipop came and went, my Moto X began to lag behind the pack. Its features were as useful as ever, but its mediocre specs became more and more questionable as Google’s unfulfilled promises piled up.

In the meantime, Apple kept steadily iterating on its own software and devices, as regular and metronomic as the precession of the stars. The iPhone 5 and 5s came and went, and with the iPhone 6 and iOS8, Apple incorporated more and more of what I loved about Android: contextuality, communication between apps and more robust notifications. As my update rolled around a few weeks ago, I was faced with the choice of either a slightly older Android phone, or one of the new Nexuses, the 6P or the 5X. The 6P’s specs are impressive for sure, but I was reluctant to part with the smaller footprint of my Moto X. And the 5X, while cheaper and smaller, would already have outdated specs at launch, just like the Moto X. I could get the iPhone 6s for the same price from my carrier, albeit attached to a two-year contract.

In the end, I went with the iPhone – however, I still miss my old Android. While I grew exhausted with Google’s irregular update schedule, there are still things I miss about what Android could do when supplied with a never-ending diet of my personal information.

I still navigate fluidly between Apple’s and Google’s software ecosystems and don’t see myself giving up Gmail and Google Calendar anytime soon. However, Google needs to stop letting Android settle for second-best, because when they do, it forces people like me to either settle or switch. I’ve settled for a while, so it was time to switch. I don’t think the Moto X was my last Android phone – but I do think it was time for a change.

Johnny McCabe is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]