I’ve been down this road before. Debating on whether or not I have a foolish allegiance to Android and Android devices. My poison of choice for the last 4 years has been Google’s Pixel smartphones. Part of me would eschew every other Android offering out there because of the Pixel’s pure Google experience. Favoring this user experience over devices that are more powerful, or perhaps more innovative. I never considered the possibility of getting an iPhone for fear that it would never truly live up to my expectations.
I’ve even gone to such lengths as to try the best that Apple had to offer, only to find myself back in the Pixel fold. Admittedly, everything that I complained about in my previous entanglement with iOS has been addressed one way or another, and it makes the iPhone that much more attractive this time around. Now, I could go with something like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, or the latest One Plus device, but the truth is, none of those phones are as appealing to me as the iPhone.
Google has suffered through some pretty frequent leaks of their newest Pixel phones, and they typically start at the top of the year. All the way back in February, bloggers and journalists started to gather information about the upcoming Pixel 5, and none of it sounded good. I wanted all of it to be wrong. I wanted Google to show me something that hadn’t leaked, but unfortunately, it was more of the same. I was faced with the harsh reality that the Google Pixel was no longer the king of the hill when it came to Android devices.
To start, I’m not going to say the Google Pixel 5 is a bad phone because it’s not. It’s actually a pretty solid device. It’s got great mid-range specs, and that ever famous Pixel camera. But with that, it also carries the nasty stigma of a phone that has essentially stagnated and hasn’t truly pushed the brand forward. In fact, the Pixel 5 almost acts as an admission by Google themselves, that they can’t compete with higher-end, premium Android devices. They are going to try to make the Pixel the king of the mid-range phones, but there is a ton of competition in that space as well.
Looking towards the new iPhones, they aren’t particularly ground-breaking by any means, but they do execute a lot of things really well and they’ve closed that gap between it and the things that I love about my Android. One of the biggest advantages of using an iPhone is the built-in speed and security within iMessage. Android is still lacking a true iMessage competitor, and even with Android devices adopting RCS messaging on their devices, they are still light years behind Apple. Google Duo is an excellent competitor to Facetime, but good look getting your buddies to download it for video calls. Google Pay is also awesome but Apple Pay is still more widely accepted. There has been one clear advantage that the Pixel devices held over the iPhone: The quality of the photos the phone was capable of producing.
Google has used the same sensor for their cameras since the Pixel 2. Instead of improving the sensor hardware, they’ve relied heavily on software and AI to help make their photos look so good. It’s a nice trick, but one that can only get you so far. By choosing to rely on mostly software, Google has allowed everyone else to catch up and reproduce equally good cameras on their smartphones. The difference here though is everyone else is using better sensors IN ADDITION to software to provide even better photos. Apple has been steadily working to improve its cameras and in the process has caught up with Google’s most popular Pixel features including improved depth or bokeh effects, and “night shot” photos.
Between the improvements in their software, the overall look of the phone, and the user interface, Apple has made up enough ground to convince me to jump ship. I love my Android phones, but I wasn’t swayed by any of the handsets released this year. This could be the start of a new permanent love affair with the iPhone, or it could just be a temporary fling. One thing is certain either way… I’ll enjoy it.