One of the criticisms I regularly hear from my iFan friends is that I don’t know what it’s like in “their world”. I think some of them work under the pretence that, because I write for an Android website, I hate all things Apple.

In reality, I write much of the content I produce for Ausdroid on a Macbook, I’ve had an iPhone — first generation — in the past but honestly, didn’t adjust well to it at all. I’ve had an iPad in the past and had a great time of it, so great in fact I’m leaning towards an iPad when I next buy a tablet.

So when my friends challenged me to spend a month with an iPhone, it didn’t bother me too much so we swapped devices ending with an iPhone XR in my pocket.

First impressions of the current hardware

I’ve never denied that Apple makes outstanding hardware, in fact, I honestly believe they’re among the best in the world for quality hardware. Part of the problem with this is that they’re also amongst the most expensive in the world, creating a barrier to purchase for a lot of potential buyers.

Looking past the cost, one of the immediate things I noted about the iPhone is the balance of the device. It’s not super light making it feel like a toy, it’s not particularly heavy making it feel cumbersome to carry and it’s physically well balanced. It feels solid and feels good in the hand and I’m not unhappy about the change from my Find X2 Pro.

I’m also really happy to see that I don’t need to carry a specific charger to charge the phone, just the proprietary cable. So close to a standard, but yet so far but it is progress and I would love to see Apple onboard with the whole “standard” cables idea, but we’re getting there…

Software, shortcuts and muscle memory

With any phone, there’s an adjustment period to accept and something we’re used to at Ausdroid with the need to regularly change phones due to reviews. The physical dimensions of the phone are rarely the same, meaning the screen shortcuts aren’t quite in the same spot.

This was — for me at least — akin to switching a phone I’ve used regularly with a launcher I really like, over to one of the “less stock” versions of Android. Not as I like or want it, but not unfamiliar or unmanageable.

The hidden costs of switching platforms

I’ve already alluded to the fact that cables can be a problem because, well… I have one lightning cable in my house for my son’s iPad and that’s it. So to end up with the same plethora of cables ready to charge on a whim would literally cost me hundreds of dollars. Luckily I have a couple of wireless charging pads which are compatible with the iPhone.

But there’s another hidden cost I hadn’t thought about before agreeing to take on this challenge… my apps!

While I’ve not really had too much to stress about, I do have a not-insignificant number of paid apps on the Android platform. Apps I use regularly and consequently, in my transition I’ve had to either purchase again on iOS or find a free alternative such as the official Twitter app.

Week 1: How do I feel about the change?

It’s a big change to make to a different operating system and I’m seeing the barriers in moving either way. That being said, I’m not unhappy with the experience so far with the screen being really nice, a decent camera and it’s really responsive to touch.

My first and clear criticism is that the battery life is not great, even on a relatively “slow” day of phone use, I didn’t have much battery to spare by 11 pm. If I have a bigger day on the phone, I’m absolutely certain I’ll need a top-up before the day is out.

I know this won’t surprise the Apple faithful, but I’m really impressed by the integration that Apple delivers to users. The first I really knew of this across my hardware was SMS and call alerts appearing on my Macbook without any setup required. I’ll explore this further in the coming week though.

Obviously, as I’m only a handful of days into the adventure, I’m still learning what iOS and the iPhone hardware can offer me. There’s a lot of learning to do, still more setting up (linking smart devices etc) to do and I’m taking on the challenge with a really open mind, so far enjoying the experience.

Across the next few weekends, I’ll be publishing a wrap up of my experience through the week. Hit me up in the comments, or on Twitter if you’ve got any questions you’d like answered.

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John Merrit

Can you please provide commentary on the real world security benefits of the iPhone? The advertising blitz of “we make hardware, not ads” resonates strongly and make sense at a level. But thinking more deeply, how does this stop data mining on the internet? And does much data is mined off your Android hardware?

Privacy and security is the only reason I’m thinking of switching to iPhone, so any real world notes would be great thanks.

JeniSkunk

Prior to this experiment, you already had some connection to the Apple world, Phil.
How would this transition go for someone who has absolutely no connection to the Apple world at all and never has. Someone who has only ever used/uses Windows and Android?

Chris Rowland

Funnily enough I’ve been using an iPhone 11 Pro for six months now.

I don’t feel like I’m compromising on anything. It’s a great phone. Battery lasts all day. I can get all the software I want. Everything basically just works.

EspadaV8

I mentioned this to someone else, Apple have this “Just Works” aura around them, but my light switch “Just Works” and I sometimes wonder if that’s the same with Apple hardware. It “Just Works” because there is a lot less that it actually does.

Chris Rowland

I don’t think so. The iPhone 11 Pro I’ve used does everything I did with my S20 5G before it. It does more, though. Compatible with Apple Watch that’s better than just about every Wear watch I’ve used. Everything is just seamless and easy and in Android land I can’t say the same … and having used Android since it arrived in Australia I feel qualified to comment.

Anon

I think the buggy days of Android are long over. I have been using Android from the time one had to dual boot an HTC HD from an SD card to run Cyanogenmod! I agree that the limited functionality of iOS and standardised hardware meant that it had a significant edge over Android. But the rapid expansion of functionality through crowd sourcing development has now paid off and Android is a far more sophisticated operating system than iOS. Yes, there will always be bugs in any sophisticated system like Android that is so ubiquitous and allows such a wide range… Read more »

Anon

Some examples of compromises (for me) : no native Ok Google assistant, no Tap n Pay with CommBank app, undeveloped and limited feature version of Nine Exchange (critical email app for me as it gives notifications for subfolders), not proper widgets (and very few of Apple “widgets”), Samsung-like duplication of Apple apps (like Gallery, Mail, Maps) ,when I use Google Apps, navigation (back swipe action), lack of customisation of home screen…

Anon

I have tried this a number of times. I get seduced by the look of the hardware but I always come back to the same conclusion : there are just too many compromises that have to be made with the software. It’s like stepping back 7 years from where Android is now. I wish it weren’t so – I would buy an Android version of the iphone 12 mini in a heartbeat!

EspadaV8

I have literally just started the same thing. I had a bunch of Qantas points there were going to expire so got an iPhone 12 when they had a points sale. Only had it for a few days so far but alre finding things… Awkward is the best I can describe it right now. I use Firefox but because it’s just a skin of Safari it doesn’t behave the same. Opening a story from my RSS reader you can press the back button on Android phones and it would close the tab, iPhones don’t have that so now I get… Read more »

Thurstanh

Hi Espada, I dare say it would take a while to get used to iOS. There certainly isn’t as much configurability, but if you can let some of that go then hopefully other benefits will make up for it one such being the simplicity. Yeh the fact that browsers are limited to skinning is not great. I suggest checking out another RSS reader that can open inline, I mean it’s not as though it is even using the firefox browser anyway it is just the safari skin. Sorry I can’t suggest a good one as I never really got into… Read more »

chrislaarmansite

Cost: Yes, Apple devices tend to be pricier, but their cost of ownership may be lower than Android devices. You’re the first reviewer to mind the cost of an “installed base” of apps. I have often mentioned it in my comments, wondering if those editorial reviewers actually use their own devices beyond pre-installed and social media. Related is the matter of Android devices banned from using Google: you may find the software you want at (say) the Huawei app store, but it may well invoke paying once more – apart from being unable to use a Google account (Gmail). Battery:… Read more »

Chris Rowland

A fascinating comment:

I have often mentioned it in my comments, wondering if those editorial reviewers actually use their own devices beyond pre-installed and social media.”

I strongly suspect that many reviewers do not use their review phones as “daily” phones much if at all; many reviews seem quite superfluous, and when you do your own review and compare to others you often wonder “did they even turn it on?”