atechbook editor Adrian Mühlroth has been an Android user since 2009. But the next smartphone comes from the competition – an iPhone 13 mini.
After 13 years and seven different Android smartphones, that’s it – my next smartphone is an iPhone. It took me a long time to get around to it. For me, however, the right decision is to switch sides. You can read why here.
Table of contents
- Already dissatisfied with Android for a long time
- The decision was not an easy one
- What I will miss about Android
- Here’s what I won’t miss about Android
- Conclusion: the switch is difficult
Already dissatisfied with Android for a long time
Although I’ve always used Android smartphones privately, I’m always jumping between worlds due to work. I currently use an iPhone 12 in the editorial office and a OnePlus 8 Pro in my private life. Whenever I pick up the iPhone and record videos with it, I notice anew in which aspects my 8 Pro cannot keep up. I had already toyed with the idea of switching to the iPhone 12 before its launch. At that time, I had certain expectations that the smartphone would have had to fulfill in order to convince me to switch. You can read why these expectations were not met in my opinion piece.
In short, I was convinced that the iPhone 12 didn’t deliver enough bang for the buck. Especially the Pro model, which came without, say, a 120-hertz screen. But since I needed a new smartphone, I bought the OnePlus 8 Pro at the time to give Android another chance.
Manufacturer OnePlus still had a good record back then when it came to updates and user experience – both things that are now a thing of the past.
The decision was not an easy one
Now I need a new smartphone again, because my OnePlus 8 Pro has a display damage and the replacement part alone costs about 400 euros. At first, I toyed with the idea of buying a Google Pixel 6 – but that would not have been a big gain over the 8 Pro. I also found the Galaxy Z Flip 3 interesting, with its compact design and foldable screen. However, the far too small battery cells in it put me off.
Another point that speaks against Android: I have been waiting for the update to Android 12 for almost half a year – which no smartphone has received yet except for a few Samsung models and the newer OnePlus 9 (Pro). I have experienced this with virtually every one of my Android devices in the past. Either the updates come very late – or not at all.
So my eyes have wandered back to the iPhone, this time the 13. Apple has implemented some improvements that bothered me about the iPhone 12. For example, the iPhone 13 Pro (Max) finally has a 120 hertz screen. A clear thing, then, that clearly speaks for the Pro model. Not quite. I was already surprised with the iPhone 12 mini that Apple could pack so much hardware into such a small case. However, the 12 mini also has a mini battery life. With the 13 mini, Apple has been able to eliminate that problem, and it lasts as long as the iPhone 12, which I use for work.
There is also the price. The iPhone 13 Pro costs a massive 1149 Euros. The iPhone 13 mini, on the other hand, costs “only” 799 Euros and has almost all the features of its big brother. Among the missing features, however, is unfortunately a 120 hertz screen, which is only available with Apple’s ProMotion in the Pro models.
Nevertheless, after much wrangling, I have now decided to buy an iPhone 13 mini. The two biggest selling points for me are the reliable camera with excellent video recording and the compact form factor.
What I will miss about Android
1. pioneering features
The advantage of Android smartphones is that many manufacturers compete for customers and therefore always come up with new things to entice people to buy them. That’s why new features are often first found in Android smartphones, such as 120-Hertz screen, ultra-wide-angle camera, wireless charging, and bezel-less displays. Some things like foldable displays, always-on displays, periscope zoom camera, under-display camera, and under-screen fingerprint sensor are still exclusive to Android smartphones. It is this kind of innovation, which is groundbreaking but often not fully mature, that I miss in the iPhone. The fingerprint sensor under the display in my OnePlus 8 Pro still looks futuristic to me. It is also much more practical than Face ID when I am standing in the supermarket with a mask and want to pay with my smartphone.
2. the possibility to install apps from everywhere
Android offers the possibility to get apps from sources other than the Google Play Store. These can be alternative app stores, but also simply sites from the Internet. For example, if a developer decides not to offer an app in the Play Store, it can be found elsewhere. There are various reasons for this – for example, the fee that Google retains on the sale or that an app does not meet Google’s specifications.
Virtually all of my devices, including the iPad Pro and MacBook, use USB-C for charging. For the iPhone, Apple continues to rely on the Lightning port, which is slow for both charging and data transfer. Why, Apple, why?
4. apps that are only available for Android
I use a number of apps on my OnePlus 8 Pro that are simply not available for iOS. Among them, besides smaller games, is for instance an important app that I use to control my Huawei Freebuds. If I want to install an update for the headphones, I have to use an Android smartphone from time to time.
5. small details
Android smartphones often have a lot of little extra features that are rarely used, but can sometimes be quite helpful. For example, my OnePlus 8 Pro supports Reverse Wireless Charging, which allows me to charge other devices wirelessly – including an iPhone. I will also miss the excellent notification bar with DeepL access. Google is light years ahead of Apple here.
Also interesting: iPhone 14 without notch – does Apple finally have a solution?
Here’s what I won’t miss about Android
1. experimenting around
I used many of the customization options like different launchers, icons and themes in the early days of Android. Until a few years ago, rooting a new smartphone first was part of the process for me to unlock even more features that the Android manufacturers did not allow ex-factory. I often used this opportunity to unlock the system to install other versions of the Android operating system – so-called “Custom ROMs”. I installed the first custom ROM on my first real smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S. That’s because Samsung promised at the time to provide an update from Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread to Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich. However, the update never came, which is why I took things into my own hands.
In the meantime, however, I have reached a point where I no longer have the time or desire to deal with it. My smartphone has to work and get new security updates as soon as possible.
2 The manufacturer’s underground update policy.
I have had similar problems as with the Galaxy S with many other Android smartphones, such as the OnePlus 2 and the LG G6, which either never received promised updates or only years later. The mixed update policy has always been a sore point in the Android world. When Google provides a new Android version, smartphone manufacturers first have to adapt their user interfaces to it. This often takes a long time, especially if it’s not the latest and most expensive smartphone. Android smartphones have usually received a maximum of two new versions of the operating system.
Even my 8 Pro, which was OnePlus’ flagship at the time of purchase, only got Android 11 pretty quickly after its release. I am still waiting for Android 12, which has been available since August 2021. It is true that many manufacturers like Samsung now promise three major Android updates. But it can take a long time until they actually arrive. And even three years is no comparison to what Apple offers. Just to clarify: the Google Pixel from 2016 got three years of updates – while the iPhones 6s, which is one year older, runs with the latest iOS 15.2. That’s three Android updates vs. six (!) iOS updates, and the Google Pixel is doing comparatively well in the Android world.
3. worse Android apps
Many apps I use are made primarily for the iPhone. Not only do apps from companies like GoPro and DJI work better on the iPhone. Social media apps like Instagram and WhatsApp are also directly integrated into iOS and have better camera quality, for example. This is because iOS apps only need to work on iPhones, while Android apps need to support a huge amount of smartphones from different manufacturers.
4. Google’s tracking
With an iPhone, I can better isolate myself from Google. The company earns money by playing personalized ads and is therefore naturally interested in getting as much information as possible about its users. iOS naturally also collects data from its users – but does not sell it to other companies in the form of personalized ads. Apple is also a pioneer when it comes to data protection. Since iOS 14, the iPhone shows when an app is currently accessing the microphone or camera. You can also define for each app whether it is allowed to track the user. Android 12 has made progress here, but I still do not trust Google completely.
5. the lack of data protection
In addition to data protection, iOS also offers more security from malware than Android. The Play Store is notorious for malware-infested apps, and Google can’t get a handle on the problem. While there are always similar problems with the App Store, iOS is generally much more secure than Android due to its lockdown (even from the user).
6. the unnecessary bloat apps
I can uninstall almost any app that I don’t need. Android smartphones, like my OnePlus 8 Pro, often come preloaded with Google apps plus their own apps. For example, my 8 Pro comes from the factory with Google Photos and a gallery app from OnePlus that I can’t delete.
Conclusion: the switch is difficult
My time with Android was characterized by experimentation and a lot of change. I was always trying new things and jumping back and forth between manufacturers when I liked something better somewhere else. I learned a lot about rooting, custom ROMs, Android Debug Bridge (adb) and bootloaders during this time. But I’m also glad I don’t have to worry about that now – I just want a working smartphone.
The switch to the iPhone 13 mini was by no means easy for me. There are definitely things I can hardly do without that the iPhone does not offer me. In the end, I decided in favor of it because currently only the iPhone 13 mini can fulfill my three biggest demands: a compact form factor, years of update security, and an excellent video camera. With the new smartphone also comes benefits like market-leading performance and seamless integration with my iPad Pro, MacBook, and AirPods Pro.
I hope to use the smartphone for many years – not only through updates, but also Apple’s tight integration of hardware and software. An iPhone 6s I once bought used runs iOS 15.2 and is faster than some current Android smartphones. Hopefully, my iPhone 13 mini will fare the same way.