Apple iPhone 13 Pro First Impressions

Posted on December 18, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 101 Comments

Unhappy with the quality of the Google Pixel 6 Pro, I’ve turned to the only other pure platform play in the smartphone market: the Apple iPhone. I go into this with a clear head and an open mind, well aware of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the iPhone compared to Android. And I’m always ready to call a mulligan should Google’s December Pixel update—which I’ve still not received, somehow—do enough to right that ship. Or should the iPhone not work out.

I wrote about my decision to at least experiment with the latest iPhone a few weeks back in Pixel Imperfect, 2021 Edition (Premium). But for those not of a Premium persuasion, here’s the short version: after publishing a decidedly mixed Pixel 6 Pro review with no clear recommendations because of the even mix of pros and cons, I continued to experience issues with this flawed handset. And as those problems continued, I doubted my allegiance to technology that frustrates me regularly and delights me only sometimes more and more.

There is, perhaps, an interesting and more general conversation to be had around our often unhealthy relationships with technology. But for now, I’m just focusing on myself: I want to use tools that work and meet my needs. So I’m going to look around.

To be clear, there’s no endgame here where I adopt more and more Apple solutions over time. Instead, I will instead continue to use exactly the same apps and services I always use, I will just be doing them—for now—on an iPhone and not a Pixel. And I will evaluate the overall experience against that of the Pixel 6 Pro and see how they compare. I would like the iPhone to deliver much of what I like about the Pixel while solving some of the problems. And should that all work out, who knows? Maybe I go back to the iPhone after a several-year gap. We’ll see.

As for the day one experience, it’s been quite positive. The iPhone 13 Pro is, of course, a handsome and high-quality machine, and the Graphite version I ended up with is pleasant enough. I’m much less a fan of its hard, flat, and thick edges—this is the iPhone 4 look all over again—and I couldn’t care less that they’re made of shiny stainless steel instead of aluminum since I immediately covered it up with a Sequoia Green leather case anyway. Also handsome.

Apple includes a Lightning to USB-C cable in the box, but it also started the trend of not including a power adapter in the box. This results in a smaller package but also required me to make an additional purchase. I went with a $13 Anker 20-watt USB-C charger that is both cheaper and smaller than the Apple part. To be clear, the iPhone 13 Pro offers just 20-watts of charging power, a hair under that provided by the Pixel 6 Pro. But in the good news department, it charges faster, at least according to Apple and the reviews I’ve seen. I’ll verify that.

On that note, I’m not a fan of Lightning and cannot understand why Apple doesn’t use USB-C here, as it does with the iPad Air and MacBook Pro I also own. Maybe next year.

I went with the normal-sized iPhone 13 Pro—as opposed to humongous Pro Max—because I feel that that’s the right size for a smartphone (for me). It’s about the same size as the Pixel 5a, I guess, just a bit shorter and a bit wider. It’s pretty dense, but it’s so much smaller than the Pixel 6 Pro, and I really like that.

Size compare: Pixel 6 Pro (left), iPhone 13 Pro (middle), Pixel 5a (right)

It does, of course, have that damned notch, which further reduces the usable size of the display, especially in media apps like Netflix. I watch video content at the gym for about 30 minutes most days, so we’ll see how that goes. (This might be the one area in which the Pixel 6 Pro’s larger display is preferable.)

The iPhone out-of-box experience is straightforward, and it should be reasonably quick for most people, especially those upgrading from a previous iPhone. I wasn’t doing that, however, and I opted for a slower, more manual experience in which I spent a lot of time going over various settings and then finding all the apps I usually use and arranging them roughly the same way on a single iPhone home screen, as I do on Android.

Two notes from that process. One, Apple throws a prompt about notifications the first time you run an app, which I really like. On Android, I spend the first several days getting unwanted notifications and then turning them off as they appear; with the iPhone, this is more proactive. Two, Apple has implemented its app anti-tracking technology, and while you can prevent apps from tracking you one by one, you can also flip a switch in Settings and just disable it globally. This is a great feature and one that Google will never duplicate because that’s how it really makes money on Android. (I had been using DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection to address this issue on the Pixel.)

The iPhone home screen is still less customizable than that of Android, and icons still fill in from the top left. But whatever: Thanks to the inclusion of widgets last year, I was able to layout my iPhone home screen very similarly to that of Android. And when you factor in the non-removable UI elements that Google inflicts on Pixel users—the Google search bar and At A Glance widget—it’s not really all that different. And Apple lets you configure a default web browser and mail app now, so I switched those to Chrome and Gmail, respectively.

After installing each app and positioning them wherever (or not) on the home screen, I slowly stepped through the process of signing into each as needed. This mostly went without any issues, though my Apple ID’s password stash is a bit out-of-date, so I needed to look up and add a few passwords. I’m looking at moving to a password manager in the New Year—1Password, most likely, so this may not be an issue soon. But it wasn’t a big deal.

Once that was all done, I shut down the iPhone and the Pixel, removed my Mint Mobile SIM from the latter, inserted it into the new handset, and restarted both. Mint Mobile has required some manual configuration in the past, but with the latest iPhones, at least, no configuration was required. In other words, it worked like it always should. So that was good.

Obviously, I need to actually use the thing over time, see what the notifications process is like, experience the apps and whether they’re different/better than their Android counterparts (as they often have been in the past), and so on. And I very much need to determine how well the camera system measures up; my understanding is that it should be roughly comparable to that of the Pixel, with each doing better in certain ways. We’ll see.

More soon.

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Comments (101)

101 responses to “Apple iPhone 13 Pro First Impressions”

  1. wright_is

    When I switched, I used the Apple Android app to copy all my data and apps over to the iPhone. It worked very well and automatically downloads all the free apps.


    Obviously, it doesn’t install paid got apps.


    In use 1Password, so logging into the apps was a breeze.

  2. Serling

    Try the Photographic Styles setting in the camera app, Paul. It is more than just a filter. It has more granular adjustments and can really give you the dramatics of Pixel in the Rich Contrast setting. You can even keep it in that mode permanently so it will always process photos in that manne.

  3. the_sl0th

    "...and cannot understand why Apple doesn’t use USB-C here..."


    Probably because they don't want to lose the income from 3rd party MFi subscriptions

    • jbinaz

      Didn't the EU pass a law that would require a standard connector, basically forcing Apple to switch to USB-C?

    • lvthunder

      It's all the things that connect to the phone via lightning. My remote for my drone has lightning on it. They have probably decided to only change the port on the phones every so many years. Plus they are probably hoping to go portless in a year or two anyway.

    • ianbetteridge

      I am sceptical about this. The amount that MFi brings in is tiny.

      • wright_is

        Yes and no. It might be "just a few million", but that is still a few million more than they would get with USB-C.


        But I have a feeling, it is because of all the existing peripherals that are Lightning only. People would be up in arms, if they had to replace all their docks, car cradles etc. because they have built-in Lightning plugs.


        For a new iPhone user, it is a pain (it really is, I have a USB-C iPad and a USB-C laptop, I had a USB-C smartphone, but now I need an extra cable for the iPhone. Irritating. I'm looking at wireless charging, but that is still a different way of charging and bulkier when traveling than just putting a single USB-C cable into the luggage. But it is a minor inconvenience. I won't be investing in any Lightning based accessories, because I don't see them being worth it, long term.

        • jdjan

          Get some USB-C to Lightning adaptors for your travel setup. Some come with little tethers to attach them to the cable meaning you never forget them.


          It's a kludge, but it gives me a work around until they offer a usb-C phone. Even then I'll need lightning for AirPods etc.

        • macguy59

          Apple can alleviate this somewhat by introducing USB-C to the pro models. Leaving Lightning to the regular phone and mini/SE

        • red.radar

          Agree. The faithful have lots of lighting accessories. Even my headphones and the remote to the Apple TV charges with lightning.


          I don’t mind USB-C. But I am glad it’s been a slow deliberate transition. I am hoping the transition finishes this year as most of my iPhone accessories are slowly converting or wearing out.


          it’s time to finish the transition or usb-c

  4. msimiliano

    I have the pixel 6, just switched from an iPhone 12 Pro Max, and after a rough start (related with fingerprint sensor) with the December update all is good.

    Not looking back.

    Did you try it on your Pixel? there is a huge difference especially with the fingerprint scanner, not although not yet perfect is muuuch better

    • jason_e

      The problem I have encountered is that Google seems to break as much as they fix with each update. The December patch didn't fix a lot of the Pixel 6 issues from what I read but it did break even more...lol. Of course this happens with iOS too so there is that but it seems to happen less.

  5. mclark2112

    I've been an iPhone user since day one. Palm and Windows phones before that. I have tried every other platform over time, and always came back to iPhone. I used to jailbreak too, but that has been unnecessary for years now.


    I have always felt that Android just felt less polished and slightly less consistent than iOS. And the whole Apple ecosystem just works. Like I've said before, I make my living on Windows, but Apple is what I use at home. iPhone, iPad, Watch and Mac, always synced and working well as one platform.

    • Paul Thurrott

      The consistency thing is fair. I think most Android users trade that for more options/customizing/etc. Either choice can make sense, I guess.

      • macguy59

        The maddening thing for me, is how often Google abandons platform (software) items.

      • wright_is

        I found it interesting how alike Android and iOS are in their customizability, at least in general terms, now. With widgets finally having landed on the iPhone, it is easier to set up a usable Home Screen. The annoying thing is still the from top-to-bottom placing of icons, with no way to permanently give an icon a position on the screen, fiddle with something above and the lower icons will get shoved around.


        But I quickly built a home page with my most used apps and a couple of widgets at the top to push them down. What is still missing on iOS is proper widgets. The widgets on iOS are just live tiles and you can't do anything with them, yet. For example, I have an Audible and a Pocket Casts widget on my Android Home Screen and I can just press the play button on either one to switch to that app for audio output. On iOS, it is just a "live tile" showing what is currently playing in that app, but there is no way to start playing it from the widget, you have to press on the widget and open the app to be able to press the play button.


        It is annoying and a minor step backwards, but I can live with it for the other benefits that iOS is offering.


        iOS isn't perfect, but there again, neither, neither is Android, by a long chalk. Currently, I'd rather live with the minor iOS UI foibles than the invasive privacy failings of Android up until this year, I had tried to curb as many of those traits from Android as possible, but the experience got more and more broken over time and Google (and Samsung, Huawei etc.) always found new ways to collect more information... I'm glad we have a choice.

      • dftf

        @Paul: I think most Android users are primarly there for two reasons, rather-than being able to customise the UI: price and hardware.


        Apple remains too-expensive for most people (assuming you're looking to buy new, not second-hand) -- the cheapest model is the iPhone SE "from £389". Most people are fine with mid-range Android phones around the £150-200 area.


        And Android phones offer much-more variance in hardware-features. Do you want a massive 13,000mAh battery? Go for it. Want a 240Hz (or greater) refresh display? Covered. Need one with 20GB of RAM? Again, covered. Likewise, if you need an ultra rugged-phone, insanely-good camera, insanely-fast wired charging or even one with a built-in projector or night-vision camera, these all exist. (Just be prepared to pay silly amounts for them, and expect massive-compromises of specs in other-areas!).

        • drewtx

          I think that argument of 'Do you want Feature X, or Feature Y? Android offers a phone for that' is a little spurious. Yes, for enthusiasts, I get it. But most people are not enthusiast; they just want something that offers a decent threshold of features and works reliably. I kinda relate it to cars; Sure I love driving, and I could buy a really cool Alfa Romeo, or a maybe soup-up a Subaru with an tweaked ECU and a blown exhaust - but I need to get to work and back every day so I'll drive a stock Toyota/Honda thank you very much. And that's not actually sacrificing anything (other than perhaps coolness), they have models to fit most budgets / drivers).

          • dftf

            "I think that argument of 'Do you want Feature X, or Feature Y? Android offers a phone for that' is a little spurious. Yes, for enthusiasts, I get it. But most people are not enthusiast [...]"


            Yes, and for those people (myself included!) the Android mid-range has plenty of options for them. My point was simply that if you have a need for a very-specific niche feature, like a massive battery, then Android then has you covered. With iPhone, isn't storage and RAM all that you can choose to upgrade, if you pay more for certain models?


            "[...] they just want something that offers a decent threshold of features and works reliably."


            Again, may I direct you towards the "Android mid-range". Most phones there will do what most-average people need them to do, and specs are ever-improving year-on-year. 64GB on-board storage and 4GB RAM are now the norms, along with 8-core CPUs. Only a few years back, 16GB or 32GB of on-board storage were still common to find, along with 2GB RAM, and quad-core CPUs.

      • shogun06

        Ironically, I just returned to iPhone for the first time since the very first iPhone, which someone provided me for free. Since then, I enjoyed the Google Pixel, followed by a series of Windows Phones from 7.5 through 10, followed by a strange journey through Android that included everything under the sun, from Motorola to Samsung to Huawei (Huawei being my favorite Android experience, by far).

        Returning to the iPhone felt easy, but honestly, the only smartphone experience I miss is Windows phone. The user interface was so much better, so much more elegant even, that I'm surprised no one has copied it yet. From the tiles to the calendar options to the email display (which the new outlook still hasn't managed to equal over 4-5 years), for me, it just never got better than Windows Phone 10 (aside from cameras, obviously).

        • robincapper

          Feel the same re missing Windows Phone and nearest I have got is Android with Niagara Launcher. It is simple, slick, and smart.

          Simple in that can Favorite 8 most used apps to the front screen and associate other apps with them. Eg Have the Samsung Health app Fav'ed but specialist cycling, exercise related apps on its pop-up.

          Slick: can access any other app in a single swipe (no folders to manage), can control visibility of status items on the home screen and status bar.

          Smart: When I attach an audio or casting device (physical or Bluetooth) default and user associated audio/video apps appear on the home screen. Disconnect and they go away.

          It makes the phone feel elegant, and smart. Something the default UI's cant match

        • kawaidon

          Have you looked at Launcher 10? Very nice, puts a lot of the benefits of Windows phone onto Android. I installed it on my first Android phone after having to replace an old Windows phone, and have used it every since.

  6. angusmatheson

    I have used an iPhone since 3GS. I tried to switch to Android last year and failed. I go from MacOS to Windows to various Linux all day along and never miss a beat. I love tinkering with technology. But the iOS to android switch was too hard. It is a testament to how personal the smart phone is - how ingrained the processes to our lives that such a switch is so hard and why people almost always just keep going with what they used before.

  7. Anirask

    The first thing I ran into that irked me after my switch last month (after about 8 years off iPhone) was that the Microsoft Authenticator stores it’s backup on OneDrive on Android and iCloud for iOS. And you cannot restore a backup between platforms…


    I ended up migrating most of my MFA to 1Password instead.

  8. daveevad

    Paul, I really hope you document your search for a password manager, on the site. I am constantly extolling the virtues of using a PWM to anyone who will listen (my circle is tired of my tech advice tho...thanks Windows Phone!).

    I ended up choosing Enpass, years ago, as my PWM, mostly due to a solid recommendation from the Windows Phone Central guys & its strong support for WP. Since my switch to Android (the lesser of two evils) Enpass has continued to be an excellent PWM. I truly love that my password vault is not stored on their servers and can, if I so choose, live locally or on a physical drive. That level of security, although nice, is not convenient so I choose to sync my PW database via OneDrive. I have grown to trust Microsoft's level of security so syncing via their service is a calculated risk I a willing to take.

    However, I would love to get your take on the process and have a comprehensive place to point people when I'm telling them that they "NEED TO USE A PASSWORD MANAGER"!


    Thanks!

    • bls

      I'm looking forward to this as well. I've been using Keepass on Windows with the file in Onedrive, so I can get at it on all my devices.


      On the iphone I use Kypass, which works pretty well. It still has some less-than-beautiful UI bits. That In spite of that , I'm pretty happy with the whole setup. I definitely like having 100% control over my password file, rather than having it in the cloud ala LastPass, etc. Yes, LastPass protects it, but...it's not in a file that I can get my grubby hands on.


      Curious to see how 1Password has progressed.

  9. 02nz

    "To be clear, the iPhone 13 Pro offers just 20-watts of charging power, a hair under that provided by the Pixel 6 Pro." Tests have shown the phone will charge at up to 27W: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byIt3SmVfyg

  10. dougkinzinger

    "I want to use tools that work and meet my needs."

    +1, totally agree, and for me, my iPhone is that tool. I don't need heavy Android customization (though it might be nice), my iPhone is a tool, not an extension of my personality.

  11. _stevenelliott

    I have the 13 Pro Max. It’s big and heavy and works mostly great. I had a Pixel 6 Pro. It was big and heavy and worked less than okay. Do I love apple? Nope. I use no other apple products but the phone is reliable. I also have an s21 ultra unlocked that I use for dev on Fi network. It’s a great device with a working fingerprint scanner. I hate the curved screen.

  12. rmlounsbury

    Oh the amount of times I've gone back and forth between both iPhone and various Android devices. I'm sure I'll keep going back and forth as neither platform has pulled everything together well enough for me to declare either the Smartphone Supreme and stick with one.


    I just went from an iPhone 12 Mini to the Pixel 5a (heck in the last two years I've had an iPhone 11, iPhone SE, Pixel 4a, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, and iPhone 12 Mini). The common theme for the most part is a complicated dance between maximizing value and getting a good photography experience.


    I actually do prefer iOS overall to Android. The two biggest exceptions being the aforementioned issue with putting home screen apps/widgets where you want them to live and the app library. It annoyed me to no end that you can't control the app library layout and are stuck with Apple's idea of where apps should live in the library.


    But, I like the Pixel experience and the value the "a" series Pixel phones bring to the table. I also like the deeper level of customization available from Android. I might also be one of the few people on the planet that uses and likes the Windows "Your Phone" integration with Android. Oddly enough that experience is better than what I get from ChromeOS with an Android phone. But, that will always be a limited feature set for an iPhone and breaks that experience.


    I've gone all in on Apple (iPhone + MacBook + iPad) a few times and I do appreciate what Apple has done within their eco-system. But, ultimately I'm more of a Microsoft guy and for my experience I find Android + Windows a better place for me.


    All that being said, if Apple came out with an updated iPhone SE with the modern slim bezel screen and a better camera system I may kick the tires again. Even more so if Apple decided bring a slim fitness only band to market a long side the Apple Watch (like a Fitbit Charge 5). One of the bigger lessons from both my Fitbit and Apple Watch experiences is that I don't use any of the "smartwatch" functionality. I purely use them for fitness tracking and a watch and nothing else.

    • dftf

      Google's "A" range of Pixels are great-value, yes, assuming you're only-willing to consider Western brands of Android phones. Comparing their latest "A" phone to the likes of Samsung, Nokia, Motorola devices released at the same-time, then yes.


      But similarly-priced offerings from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, Honor, Oppo, usually blow most other devices out-of-the-water, at-least for the majority of the specs (camera may not always be as great, but for the same-price you'd usually get more RAM, more on-board storage, a faster CPU and GPU, a faster-refresh screen and faster wired-charging)

      • rmlounsbury

        I don't disagree that there are plenty of fine options outside of Pixel beyond the markets outside of the US. Unfortunately since I am in the US options from Oppo, Xiaomi, and Honor are simply not accessible for me. So, from my scope of needing a mobile device in the US I'm still firmly in the Pixel camp.


        OnePlus has value options. However, their adoption of Color OS vs. the more pure Android experience they originally had knocks them down a bit in my book. I've haven't considered OnePlus as much these days since they stopped trying to undercut other flagships and compete at nearly the same price point now.

  13. corbey

    If you don't like plugging in that lightning cable, Apple's MagSafe USB-C charging puck works great. And it's compatible with the Anker 20W charger.

  14. pauldain

    I know you're hesitant to go "all in" but I'd really be interested in your take on the ecosystem vs. an individual device. Perhaps focus it on Apple Health & Fitness+. Get an Apple Watch and use Fitness+ for 3-ish months.


    Could be timely given that you're dipping a toe back in with an iPhone.

  15. siverwav

    Well that’s interesting. I’m still on my iPhone XS pro Max and may have a look at the 14 next year. It’s a big investment and a lot more locked down than the Nexus I used to run. But at least you know Apple will not get bored and wonder off. My last big tie to Google is Google Photos and Drive, but the apps work fine. Unless the pixel was a real disappointment I would expect you to return the iPhone in a couple of weeks. You really don’t like Apple and it’s not a good look with your fans.

    • SvenJ

      I don't have any problem with Paul using an iPhone. I do, and am Windows otherwise. He already loves his iPad (that's Apple you know). iPhone's work fine in the MS services ecosystem, and generally just work otherwise. I am a bit dismayed the first thing he did was crud it up with Chrome an GMail. There goes the tracking avoidance.

  16. ghostrider

    I've come to the conclusion there isn't a single phone in the world that Paul would be happy with right now - always something (mainly camera, often battery), but he's always chopping and changing. No phone is perfect, but at some point you have to say 'it's good enough'. Paul seems to want a 7 day battery with supercomputer performance and a gigapixel camera running some botch up of iOS and Android. It's becoming tiresome, but I guess makes for some articles that get a lot of attention, and if you've got the money to throw at a new $1k phone every month then so be it, but the rest of us generally have to make do for a couple of years.

    • dftf

      "No phone is perfect, but at some point you have to say 'it's good enough'."


      I'd say many Android phones in the mid-range are now fine for most people. As one example, the Motorola Edge 20 Lite 5G offers 8GB RAM, 128GB built-in storage, a 385ppi 90Hz OLED display, an 8-core CPU, video-recording up-to [email protected] (or [email protected]), a 5000mAh battery with 30W fast-charging, NFC, USB C... and still offers a headphone-socket. All that for £299.


      "[...] if you've got the money to throw at a new $1k phone every month then so be it, but the rest of us generally have to make do for a couple of years."


      I'd imagine many of the visitors to this site likely do have-around $1k of disposable-income each-month they could just buy a new phone with. Which then strikes me as odd that those same-people lament Google for how they only offer 3 years of security-patches from-launch, whereas Apple are still-supporting the 6-year-and-3-months old iPhone 6S series. Why do they care so-much about longer update-periods, if they're going to ditch-and-replace their phones so-regularly? Doing so creates zero-incentive for the manufacturers to ever change...

    • darkgrayknight

      What you've referenced is starting to approach just what I'm looking for ;)

      Really though, I miss Windows Phone still. I have a Samsung Note 9 (I can't buy the latest every year) and have a custom Launcher that is Windows Phone like, though better in some ways.

      The parts I miss:

      People Hub (back when Facebook Messenger and Twitter were joined with SMS and you could continue conversations in the other platforms or contact them if they were online or just use SMS if they weren't.

      Cortana - setting appointments and reminders based on location/time/etc. This was so much easier than Google/Bixby/Alexa. I use Alexa for reminders, but having text messages or emails highlighted with clickable dates/times that would set a calendar appointment was fantastic. The bonus of Cortana was access to its actual notebook of settings/privacy/etc. so one had control over what it had access to.

  17. brettscoast

    Paul will be interested in your experiences on the photography side of things going forward pixel 6 pro vs iphone 13 pro.

  18. dftf

    Okay, so two main-thoughts here:


    For Paul:


    What specifically are you looking-for in a phone?


    In this article you mention how on iOS you were prompted to manage all app-notifications at-once. While Android doesn't prompt, you can go to Settings > Notifications > App Settings and do the same-thing there. And you note some UI elements on the Pixel Launcher home-screen you don't like. But on Android, you can always install a third-party launcher. So on the software / user-experience side, can you not just use third-party apps, and explore the Settings menu yourself, or are you only-willing to score your experiences based-solely on the stock-offerings?


    You also say this isn't the beginning of you "adopt[ing] more and more Apple solutions over time", though isn't a main USP of "going Apple" doing just-that, as integration between their devices is one of the main selling-points? If you're not looking to do that, why not just switch to a different make/brand of Android phone before leaping straight to Apple? (Not that I'm against you doing so.)


    Obviously no-one can argue with your hardware-issues for the Pixel 6 Pro -- it will obviously suck to have an unreliable fingerprint-reader, a display you don't find appealing and for it to charge slower-than-expected. But surely these issues weren't true of every previous Pixel phone you've had, so why not, you-know... just stick with an older Pixel for a while and not always have to be using the latest-one? Everything from the Pixel 3a and-up are still-getting monthly security-patches.


    I don't know, maybe I'm alone-here but I just can't-help-but-think "why does Paul always have-to-have the very-latest Pixel phone, and if it doesn't perfectly suit his needs as his primary-phone he seems unwilling to either stick with an older Pixel device still getting patches that does, or to consider any-other brand of Android phone?"


    For all other commentators:


    Most of you are either already an iPhone user, or many of you are saying that you're considering moving to an iPhone in-future.


    I currently have the Google Pixel 3a, and it's still going fine. I still find it fast, it still takes great photos, even in darker rooms, the 64GB storage has not proved an issue so-far, I've no issue with the charge-time and it offers me a headphone-socket. I do find it a little on the large-side, though, but at-the-time I needed a new phone, the smaller Pixel 4a (non-5G) wasn't born yet.


    When the monthly-updates cease for my 3a next-year, I'll look for a new-phone then. I'm happy using Windows and have very-little interest of ever switching to macOS. And I don't see a need to have all of my devices "smart" or "integrated". So assuming an iPhone that would be used standalone "as-is", and not part of a wider Apple-ecosystem, (though where I could consider some Apple subscription services), what points would any of you offer me as to why an iPhone would be a better-consideration than another future Android phone, of any brand? What are the significant-differences I'm missing out-on, or issues with Android that a third-party app can't solve (such as a different home-screen launcher)?

    • wright_is

      I'll take your points, even those aimed at Paul, if I may:


      In this article you mention how on iOS you were prompted to manage all app-notifications at-once. While Android doesn't prompt, you can go to Settings > Notifications > App Settings and do the same-thing there.


      I think the point is that Apple actually makes this easier. It defaults to everything disabled and asks you by first use, if you want the notifications turned on. This is a much more user friendly way of doing it than defaulting to everything on and making you hunt through settings and turn it off. With iOS, you can still go back and fine tune in settings afterwards, but in the initial use of the app, you can set what resources it can see and use (cameras, microphone, location, file system etc.) and whether it can make notifications. That is a better experience than wallowing through endless pages of settings.


      Does it mean Android doesn't let you achieve the same goals? No. But iOS takes some of the pain out of the process.


      And you note some UI elements on the Pixel Launcher home-screen you don't like. But on Android, you can always install a third-party launcher.


      Again, it is the stock, clean launcher that Paul likes, me too. But it is not perfect. Replace it with something else and it will usually have bells and whistles you don't like as well. I've used many over the years and usually ended going back to the stock launcher of the phone I was using (Nexus, Huawei Mate or Samsung Galaxy).


      You also say this isn't the beginning of you "adopt[ing] more and more Apple solutions over time", though isn't a main USP of "going Apple" doing just-that, as integration between their devices is one of the main selling-points? If you're not looking to do that, why not just switch to a different make/brand of Android phone before leaping straight to Apple? (Not that I'm against you doing so.)


      Because some of the issues, for me, go beyond the UI, it is the breaking of the privacy sphere that annoys me most. I have tried killing as much Google and Samsung crud from my phone for the last 2 years, but it is still not acceptable.


      Going all-in on Apple does make some integrations easier, but it isn't the only reason for using an iPhone. A lot of people use an iPhone and don't have a Mac or iPad. At work, we have iPhones, but Windows PCs and no tablets. At home, I use Windows and Linux and, until recently, Android. But I junked our Fire Tablets (2015 models) this year for iPads and finally gave up on the pernicious spying of Samsung and Google and switched to an iPhone this time around.


      just stick with an older Pixel for a while and not always have to be using the latest-one? Everything from the Pixel 3a and-up are still-getting monthly security-patches.


      I can't answer that one for myself, but reading between the lines, the older Pixels were okay, but Paul wants the best photography experience, whilst keeping to the vanilla Android experience and that means the latest Pixels. Huawei built better cameras, but due to the embargoes, they lost their ability to compete, just as they had overtaken Samsung and Google in image quality. Samsung is good, but the UI is cluttered and the additional Samsung services need to be individually disabled when setting up to get anything near a clean Google experience.


      iPhone offers a cleaner experience from the get-go, but it also has some deficiencies, compare to Android. But it goes the other way as well.



      I don't know, maybe I'm alone-here but I just can't-help-but-think "why does Paul always have-to-have the very-latest Pixel phone.


      Two things, he is a tech journalist, so needs to have the latest to review it. And the camera, as above. With the 3, 4 and 5 series that didn't matter as much, you could stay on an older one, because they didn't change the camera on them.



      For all other commentators:


      Most of you are either already an iPhone user, or many of you are saying that you're considering moving to an iPhone in-future.


      I last used an iPhone with the 3GS, went through Windows and Android for the last decade. I finally gave up on the invasiveness of the Google experience and switched to iPhone this year. One thing was, always disabling Google services on my wife's phone, at her request, then explaining to her, why some things didn't work.


      I currently have the Google Pixel 3a, and it's still going fine.


      Which is why choice is a great thing. Not everybody needs the latest and greatest smartphone and not everybody wants or needs Android, or conversely iPhone.


      When the monthly-updates cease for my 3a next-year, I'll look for a new-phone then. I'm happy using Windows and have very-little interest of ever switching to macOS. And I don't see a need to have all of my devices "smart" or "integrated". So assuming an iPhone that would be used standalone "as-is", and not part of a wider Apple-ecosystem


      And it doesn't need to be used with macOS, a majority of iPhone users have Windows PCs (or no PC). Just look at the numbers, over a billion iPhones in circulation and around 150 million Macs (judging by market shares - Microsoft say over 1.5 billion Windows PCs and Mac with 5 - 8% market share).


      But a lot of those users are "creative types", who are, by definition, high profile, so you see more Macs on TV or in podcasts, for example.


      what points would any of you offer me as to why an iPhone would be a better-consideration than another future Android phone, of any brand?


      The big one is privacy. Apple offers more (but not perfect) privacy. They aren't making the bulk of their money by spying on your activities and selling "it" to the highest bidder - not directly, they are just selling advertising slots, in general, based on your profile, but that profile and the algorithms around ad-placement are what makes them the money, so they won't be selling your data directly.


      They also allow more spying by third parties on their devices than Apple does. If privacy is important to you, the iPhone makes a better starting place.


      In general day-to-day use, I haven't noticed really big differences, just minor things, some better on iOS, some worse. In general, I feel much happier using iOS than I did with Android and constantly running around trying to close privacy holes.


      Longevity is another. Google give 3, 4 years support now? Apple have given at least 6 years of updates in the recent past.

      • dftf

        "[iOS] defaults to [all app permissions] disabled and asks you by first use, if you want the notifications turned on. [...] In the initial use of the app, you can set what resources it can see and use (cameras, microphone, location, file system etc.) and whether it can make notifications."


        That's how modern Android works too. The first-time I open an app, it will ask me if I want to allow permissions such as camera-access, location-access, storage-access, and so-on. And you can often specify "ask every time", "only this time" or "only while using the app" for some types of accesses, too. Fair-point, they could add notifications into that first-run experience, sure. Oh, and if you've not used an app for a while (I think after 60 days?) it revokes all permissions for that app also.


        "Again, it is the stock, clean launcher that Paul likes, me too."


        I also like it. Though Google don't seem very-invested in it. If you search for "Pixel Launcher" in the Play Store and look under the "What's new" heading, it says the last update was 17 April 2017.


        "[...] it is the breaking of the privacy sphere that annoys me most. I have tried killing as much Google and Samsung crud from my phone for the last 2 years, but it is still not acceptable."


        While I would agree Apple should be better here, if we're simply comparing the stock experiences, I would remind that on Android you could unlock the bootloader of many devices, and flash your own OS if you wanted. If it was an OS you could see the source-code to, such as a Linux-based one, then that would be an even-bigger guarantee of privacy than relying on either-party.


        "[...] but Paul wants the best photography experience [...]"


        Maybe he should go-for a standalone digital-camera then? ;)


        "[...] whilst keeping to the vanilla Android experience and that means the latest Pixels."


        Does it though? Most Nokia phones now run a near-stock Android. Many of the Chinese-brand ones, like Xiaomi, tend to also. And some Motorola devices too. (Your easiest way is simply go for a phone which has the "Android One" branding, as they have to offer a stock-experience, along-with the 3 years of security-updates and 2-years of Android OS updates, to use that branding.)


        "Samsung is good, but the UI is cluttered and the additional Samsung services need to be individually disabled when setting up"


        It doesn't take that long to go-through the first-time and "uninstall" or "disable" (depending on which option is offered) on the preinstalled apps! And you can turn-off everything on the home-screens you don't want. So that's actually better than on Pixel, where the "At A Glance" and "Google Search Bar" elements both cannot be. (Plus I do really like how Samsung lets you create folders in the app-drawer, not only on the home-screens).


        "Two things, he is a tech journalist, so needs to have the latest to review it. And the camera, as above. With the 3, 4 and 5 series [...] they didn't change the camera on them."


        Yes, I appreciate he needs the latest tech to review, given his job. But he doesn't necessarily have to then use that tech as his primary-device if it doesn't suit. And as for the cameras: are the new ones on the 6 series significantly better?


        "Apple offers more (but not perfect) privacy. [...] If privacy is important to you, the iPhone makes a better starting place."


        Well, that we know of. I'd say no-one here has seen the source-code for iOS or macOS (excluding the UNIX part of the latter), so you are only going on trust alone. And I wonder how-many of those Apple users then choose to install things like Facebook, TikTok, Twitch, or some Google service and then hand-over their data voluntarily anyway?


        "Longevity is another. Google give 3, 4 years support now? Apple have given at least 6 years of updates in the recent past."


        Yeah, no-defence for Google on this one. They still only offer 3 years (unless things have changed in the Pixel 6 series, now it's their own chip?); it's Samsung who now offer 4 years, but only for "premium", "flagship" or "enterprise" class devices. So only for their expensive models, basically.

    • rob_segal

      The camera on the Galaxy Note 10 is pretty good most of the time, but I would like better camera performance, especially with zoom and video. That's why I'm considering the latest Galaxy Ultra and iPhone Pro. Both have better cameras. I don't like Samsung's software, but it has gotten better. I had high hopes for the Pixel 6 Pro, but Google keeps having issues with their phones. I lost hope they'll release a stable phone.


      The reasons why I would chose an iPhone is the ecosystem, better quality apps, and integrated experiences with macOS. Microsoft's Your Phone app with a Samsung phone works okay and Google's messages web app works really well, but neither is better than the experiences Apple provides within their ecosystem of devices. The iPhone is more refined than Android and I still find that it performs better, too. Small things with the iPhone will bother me. That, I already know. No always-on display, for example.

      • wright_is

        Yes, zoom is the weakpoint of the Samsung cameras. I had the S20+ and its zoom mode was useless, the images looked like muddy water colour pictures above 4-5x zoom. You couldn't really use it. Even in relatively low light, the iPhone Pro isn't too bad at maximum zoom (15x). It is less than the Samsung, but the image is still recognizable.


        This is the problem with smartphone cameras generally, they have a limited focal length and no real zoom capability. With a camera, you slap on a longer lens, with more class and a bigger diameter and you use a tripod to stabilize the image and the quality of the results is often amazing. A 1,000€ smartphone just can't compete with a 1,500€ piece of lens attached to a 2,000€ camera body. AI processing can only do so much with a poor quality image.


        The cameras on 'phones have to play to their strengths, which is fairly good quality images in the "normal" range, which is, nowadays, wide-angle of a 20mm equivalent through to about 110mm, which is actually a damned impressive range, considering the lenses aren't built of the fine quality glass and have the proper focal distance of a "real" lens - they have to use toughened glass, because they are constantly exposed to scratchy surfaces and greasy fingers. But anything over about 3x magnification is just a gimmick at the moment and won't really produce worthwhile results, unless you have a tripod and a lot of patience.


        One thing I did notice with the iPhone 13 Pro, the camera is very susceptible to fingerprints on the lenses. That is something that the Galaxy never appeared to suffer from, but the quality of the iPhone images is superior.

  19. gbilton

    I just switched to an iPhone 13 mini from a Pixel 3, your problems with the Pixel 6 and it being so much bigger than then my pixel 3 made me rule it out for my next phone. Also, the lack of a 6" or smaller premium Android phone made me look at the 13 mini and seriously consider switching platforms. My experiences are pretty much what you have described.

  20. spacein_vader

    What does calling a mulligan mean? I'm assuming it's a US thing that doesn't translate this side of the pond.

  21. jchampeau

    I've been a LastPass user for many years now--since the premium version was $12/year. Can you imagine anyone charging that for anything at this point? Anyway, they monitor the dark web for email addresses you have saved in your vault, which I think makes their offering a better value than 1Password.

  22. drewtx

    Paul, you have also written about wearables recently; please also consider trying Apple Watch while you're test driving this iPhone.


    I was a reluctant adopter of iPhone about 5 years ago. I'd previously had Windows Phone (FTW!) and the a few Pixels. But a new employer only allowed iPhones.


    A couple of years later I had an AFIB issue and bought an Apple Watch with the ECG feature; while not literally a 'life saver' it has been very reassuring to be able to records events and share them with my cardiologist.


    Fun Fact: Just before Apple released the Apple Watch 4 with ECG I got a ECG 'Loop Recorder' implanted just under the skin of my left chest area. The Loop Recorder synch via Bluetooth to a phone app, and uploaded that data every 24 hours. It never allowed me - the patient - to see the data. And there was a monthly $20 'service fee' for my cardiologist to access the data. It was obsolete as soon as I got the Apple Watch 4. After 2 years the battery ran out. And just last week I had a procedure to have the Loop Record removed. That procedure - basically just pulling out a very large metal splinter - cost me $1300 out of pocket (with health insurance). I don't recall what the Loop Recorder initially cost me, or how much the procedure to implant it cost. But yes, it cost $1300 just to have it removed.


    Just that removal charge could have paid for about three Apple Watches. And the Loop Recorder wasn't even able to give me Stock Alert notifications!


    My daily driver is an iPhone XR which still runs fine. Over the years I've added various iPads (incl. Minis). And recently an Apple TV device.


    In the great notional rivalry of 'Apple verses Microsoft' I'd still class myself as a Microsoft fan boy but of course the reality is that it is not a binary decision. I work in Enterprise IT (where Microsoft rules) and I use PCs at home for gaming and 'domestic productivity'. But in terms of Devices and, increasingly for me, recreational Services (Music, TV, Fitness) Apple and their ecosystem is king.


    • Chris_Kez

      Paul has said many times that the Apple Watch battery life makes it a non-starter for him. Personally I don’t find it any more onerous to charge the Watch than my phone. Folks have been charging smartphones every day for a decade. 🤷🏽‍♂️

      • Paul Thurrott

        The more you have to charge, the merrier! :)

      • davehelps

        I get about 40 hours of battery life from my Apple Watch series 6.

        Disabling wifi and using only Bluetooth and 4G gets it up to about 48 hours.

      • wright_is

        Yes, but the smartphone is generally something you constantly put down somewhere and it stays there often for hours on end - E.g. when I'm working, it lays on my desk and I pick it up again to go home. If I don't get calls in the meantime, I don't touch it.


        The watch is always with me. I only, generally, take it off at the weekend when I go in the bath and that is when I recharge it. Otherwise it stays on my wrist 24 hours a day.


        That said, I've been considering getting an Apple Watch, it could recharge in the 40 minutes or so in the morning, while I am drinking my coffee and reading the news on my computer...

      • drewtx

        I totally agree. For me, the battery life concerns are a non-starter; it's just like charging your phone.

        I wear it pretty much 23.5 / 7. I rely on its alarm to wake me up (via Wrist Tap) every morning. Admittedly, I have it set to not have the Screen Clock on all the time, or even on Raise to Wake; I actually don't want a glowing display on my wrist the whole day. I'm an IT guy. I spend my whole day sitting in front of a computer. I don't really need a watch to tell me the Time. But, notifications, stocks, fitness, heart, weather, countdown timer, just so many uses everyday. Also, in fairness, my current one is 2 years old and comfortably makes it through 48 hours of use on 1 charge. (And all of that is set to Silent - so these are all Wrist Taps that require a little mechanical bzzt every time; that has got to tax the battery more than a Beep). I'm not even sure if I'd want something that lasts a week on a charge; that actually seems harder to remember to do. I pop it on the charger when I remember (e.g. while in the shower, or eating dinner) - and that keeps it topped up. I'm sure that blasé attitude will never come back to haunt me ;-)

    • SvenJ

      You're going to suck him in ;) iPhone, Apple Watch, already uses an iPad. Before you know it he'll be ordering a Mac Pro and a Pro Display XDR.

    • wright_is

      That is really interesting, and great to hear that the Watch can not only replace a dedicated medical device, but it is also cheaper and offers more functionality.


      I would say that I am a tech fanboy. I use what is currently doing the best job for me. For years, I considered Apple too expensive and not flexible enough. But I really appreciate my privacy and trying to get Android up to a point where it, well didn't protect my privacy, but let the minimum amount of information out about me, was a real struggle and I had to start using an iPhone at work last year, after seeing how iOS has moved on, I decided to switch to iPhone for my private device this time around.


      In a couple of years, the goal posts might have moved again...


      On the desktop, I've used Macs and PCs since 1987 (1994 at home for PCs, before that various 8-bit computers, then Amigas) and Linux since 2001. With Microsoft's user hostile attitude to operating systems and browsers this year, I put Linux on my main PC and I actually splashed out for an M1 Mac mini - the first Mac I've bought in over a decade - the last one was the first generation Intel iMac 24".

      • drewtx

        I do agree that many Apple products are very expensive. (And I'm coming from the perspective of an decent middle-class income in the USA; a mid-tier IT Support Guy). But I also feel that over the last - hmm maybe 5 years? - they have got better in some areas. The Watch itself is competitively priced. And they offer lower spec (previous years) phones. My daily driver is an XR I bought at the end of 2019 - and it was already an 'old' model then. (I say 'bought', I got it free when I switched carriers). There was a time when I appreciated the value proposition of a mid-tier Android phone (say around $500 US a few years ago). But those are by no means Flagship phones. And you can now get an SE for $399, or an 11 for $499.

        I'm almost at the point where I feel Apple are democratizing technology - at least in the phone and wearables spaces. But I have not yet had the fortitude to make that claim in public. And again, I'm not a 'fanboy'; I guess I'd claim to be - at best - a pragmatist. Great to discuss!

        • dftf

          drextx: "I'm not a 'fanboy'"

          Also drextx: "I'm almost at the point where I feel Apple are democratizing technology"


          Yes, such a democracy. Well, you know, expect for when they force certain apps to only offer Apple Pay and hide any screens in the app that say how you can sign-up outside the app. Or how you can only get apps from their App Store (unless you're an enterprise-customer, then you can side-load). Or how they can release their own apps that undercut rivals, or price them the same (but that amounts to the same-thing, as Apple is clearly not going to charge itself a 15% or 30% fee). Or not publish specific APIs until they've made best-use of them first. Or not allow you to use any rendering-engine for apps on iOS other-than WebKit (whereas Firefox on Android does use its own engine, not Google's WebView). Or ban third-party repairs, or at-least make it difficult to do. And then there are the various adverts for other Apple services that you can find throughout the iOS UI. And being the only company to persist in having to use its own cable-standards (though inconsistently, as some devices do use USB-C -- and before anyone says, yes, cheapo Android devices often still come with USB Mini, but that at-least was a standard at one time).


          Oh, and don't forget it's only been in the last, what, 2-3 years that Apple has allowed users to set a default browser and e-mail app (since either iOS 13 or 14, I think). Couldn't you do that since, well, forever on Android? (Even Microsoft are now making the former hard-to-do in Windows 11).

        • wright_is

          I agree, and the prices of Android premium devices have caught up or overtaken iPhones, and you still have to pay with your privacy on top…

          • dftf

            If you're so concerned with your privacy, unlock the bootloader on your Android device and try installing one of these instead: itsfoss.com/open-source-alternatives-android

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm obviously interested in the Apple Watch and the Fitness+ stuff. The Fitbit I currently use has its frustrations. But the battery life is killer and it does what I want. I would consider looking at Apple Watch again this past year regardless of what happens with this iPhone. But we'll see. FIrst things first.

      • SvenJ

        I'm sure you are following the rumors of a Pixel watch. Wear OS isn't stellar, but the potential of it absorbing a lot of Fitbit functionality is interesting. If the renders are close, it looks pretty good, and it isn't supposed to be that far off. It should have the advantage of being cross platform too, so the investment wouldn't be wasted if you throw the iPhone out a window.

      • avidfan451

        Just here to say that the Apple Watch Series 7, which finally supports USB on the end of the hockey puck charging cable, also charges way faster than any pervious version. You will most likely have to charge it more often than other devices, but it charges wicked fast now. I typically get two days out of mine just by keeping it in theater mode so I have to tap it to see the time, which is honestly not that bothersome. But everyone uses their technology in their own way, as you state so well in this article (and others).

    • Truffles

      That's an interesting story. Somewhere there must be a long list of specialist devices that have been made redundant by ubiquitous wearables.


      I too would like to see Paul risk addiction by experimenting with the inter-device usability features of Apple products.

      • drewtx

        On a recent episode of the TWIT podcast (shout out to Leo again) they were highlighting how the medical wearable space could be one of Apple's potential major growth areas in the future. Integrating those features into the Watch etc. For example, if they ever manage to do Blood Sugar monitoring that would be huge; that is already a huge area of spending for diabetics around the world. Here in the USA individuals - even those with health insurance - can spend over $100/mo for disposable 'needle pads' that adhere to their arm for the current generation of wireless blood sugar monitors. Imagine if an Apple Watch could do that.

  23. anderb

    You don't want that Pixel December update anyway. It's killed network connectivity for a lot of Pixel 6 users. Lot's of unhappy users on the pixel forums.


    Also interesting is that article you've got displayed on the Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel 5a is definitely the Pixel to get at the moment. Cheaper and more reliable, particularly if you keep it on Android 11.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Oddly, and coincidentally to that, one thing I'm considering is just using the Pixel 5a day to day and then bringing the Pixel 6 Pro along for trips. I've done this kind of thing in the past, but I could keep Mint on the Pixel 5a (or iPhone) and then use/enable Google Fi when I'm using the Pixel 6 Pro.

  24. Bart

    I switched to the iPhone 12 over a year ago and am still very happy with it. Though I do keep track of Android by having a spare phone, nothing has been exciting enough to get me away from iOS.

    Especially the app tracking feature within iOS is important to me. And knowing Google has got their paws all over Android, I feel less and less comfortable with it. Despite all the privacy nonsense Google has been advertising lately. Google needs your data; it is that simple. Apple wants your money, also remarkably simple. The choice is yours though.

  25. dallasnorth40

    When I looked at that first picture, all I saw was a notch.

    • wright_is

      I switched from a Galaxy S20+ to an iPhone 13 Pro, I have to say that after the first day or so, I notice the notch about as Mitch as the pinhole for the camera on the S20+.

      • dftf

        I really can't stand either a notch or pinhole-camera, and at-least on Android there is often an option to "hide display cut-out", which then makes all pixels in that area black. Sadly though, that option being there is very manufacturer-depedent. Nokia and Samsung usually always offer it, though Motorola, LG (back when they were a thing in phones) and Sony don't always. I'd imagine Google would, though they likely relegate it to the "Developer options" menu, and not a general area like "Display" or "Screen"

    • christianwilson

      I’ve been in the notch era of iPhone for several years. I have to be honest. I don’t notice it.


      I think it helps to think of it this way. The screen real estate is from the bottom of the notch down. The visible screen on the sides of the notch are like notification centers. Some apps ignore that design, but it has always made sense to me.

      • Paul Thurrott

        People always say that, but it does occlude a huge area of the screen, making it mostly unusable. So it does decrease the effective screen size, and that's big when reading or watching content. It's already on the small size. This makes it even smaller.

        • wright_is

          After using the 13 Pro for 2 weeks, I don't even notice the notch any more, just like I stopped noticing the pin-hole in the Galaxy are a week or so.


          If I am reading, I look at what I'm reading, not the notch and really don't notice it. likewise, watching videos, I concentrate on the video, and they rarely take up the whole screen anyway, there are usually black borders at the top/bottom (portrait) or left/right (landscape).

        • Brett Barbier

          Maybe this is like the difference between "the glass is half full" vs "the glass is half empty". For me, the area at the top of the screen on each side of the notch is basically a little bonus space where Apple shoved the status bar icons. Before these notch phones, the sides of the front camera was part of the top bezel, and thus not usable as screen space.


          As far as reading content - the notch has never gotten in the way, but I read while holding the phone vertically. Maybe in landscape orientation it does interfere a bit?


          As far as watching video - in landscape orientation, I find YouTube videos and TV shows never are wide enough where the notch is part of the picture. For movies, those are often wider than 16:9, and thus if you zoom the video to fill the entire screen (double tapping the screen to do this, since the default is to not fill it completely), the notch DOES jut into the movie. I rarely watch movies on my phone though (I've done it before on planes, but prefer to watch them on an iPad for the larger screen size).

  26. djross95

    Look forward to seeing how this works out, Paul. I'm considering a very similar move (Pixel 4a5G to iPhone 13). I was going to stay with Android and pick up a Pixel 6, but the endless litany of hardware and software issues has turned me off to that device. Google just can't seem to get its act together these days, and I can run all the Google apps I want on an iPhone. The one thing I'll miss is an always-on display!

  27. matt11to5

    The thing I dislike most about iOS versus Android is the notifications. They still don't bundle them the way Android does. Overall it's a great operating system - fast and fluid - and they even let you choose your own browser now. I'm sure you will have a few gripes, but an overall positive experience.


    I also use pixel, but haven't had the same bad experience you did. I opted for the regular Pixel 6 instead of the Pro.

    • maktaba

      iOS does allow notifications to be grouped by app. It automatically groups them by app whenever that app has a large number of notifications but grouping can be set to “Always” for each app from the settings.

  28. waethorn

    Have you ever been happy with Pixel phones?

    • Paul Thurrott

      I've been very happy about the cameras. Also the OS itself. And the Google Fi stuff.


      But yeah, most have had some issues that get in the way. It's a weird problem.

      • dftf

        Some of the issues you present in this article though you could easily remedy.


        On notifications, you say you "[...] spend the first several days getting unwanted notifications and then turning them off as they appear" on Android. Why not just install all your apps first, then go to Settings > Notifications > App Settings and from there you can turn all notifications off for particular apps in one go? (And for apps which offer categories of notifications, tap on the app in the list, make your adjustments, then tap back)? You can choose to do it in the "iOS-way" on Android if you wish to.


        And for the Pixel Launcher, you say you don't like non-removable UI elements, such-as "the Google search bar and At A Glance widget". While I agree I also don't like these you can simply use a second home-screen as your main one, and that will get rid-of the At A Glance, at-least. But you do also have the option on Android of using an entirely different launcher! If both elements bother you so much, why not switch? Isn't the whole-point of Android about choice?

  29. Donte

    The lesser of two evils IMHO.


    I am an iPhone user because Google hates privacy. Simple at that. Apple's stance on privacy is just marketing BS because they sell actual products and make money off of it. However, it is slightly better than Google right now. After reading about the 250 BILLION they paid to the dictator of China, it's all about the $$$$$$ for Apple as well. Tim Cook is woke when he needs to be and helps STOMP on human rights when it makes him richer.


    I have had both and could make either work just fine. Both have their pro's and con's. The cameras are the least important to me. Both platforms surpassed what my simple needs in a smartphone camera are, many versions ago.

  30. ponsaelius

    I eventually ended up with an iphone 12 mini. After years of Windowsphone, going to Android, I ended up on IOS.


    While Android can be customised much more there is some interesting twists to IOS. You can go all in with Apple. You could make the phone a Microsoft phone by installing all their apps. You can even make it a Google app platform. You can also select bits from all three. Mostly my home screen is Microsoft. I have a YouTube app. I use Apple maps. It's strange.


    While I can't customise an iphone in the traditional sense of the options in Android it does have a mix and match quality. It doesn't have multi-megapixel cameras but it does most stuff reasonably well.


    Expensive but regularly updated. You can pick up refurbished models from a year ago at a decent price, so it doesn't need to break the bank balance.

    • dftf

      "I eventually ended up with an iPhone 12 Mini"


      They don't make Android phones that-small now, sadly. The last comparable ones I can think-of are Sony's 2017 "Xperia XZ1 Compact" and 2018's "Xperia XZ2 Compact".


      "You could make [an iPhone] a Microsoft phone by installing all their apps"


      Can you? I didn't think you can change the launcher on an iOS device. You can install Microsoft's apps, but if you want your homescreen to also be Microsoft-based, isn't that an Android-only thing? (And on a similar-note, haven't Microsoft dropped all-support for iOS devices in the Your Phone app in Windows 11 now?)


      "Expensive but regularly updated. You can pick up refurbished models from a year ago at a decent price, so it doesn't need to break the bank balance."


      Apple devices do hold value-well, and certainly for many buying a refurb or second-hand will be the way to go, given around £390 is the cheapest you can buy any new iPhone for (at-least, from Apple directly).


      In contrast, the mid-range in Android is more-affordable, and specs are always getting better and will suit most-people. I took a quick-look to see what today would be comparable to my Pixel 3a, and the £170 Motorola G31 has the same storage and RAM, an OLED screen, decent PPI (more-than the usual 265-ish most mid-rangers have), a slower, but still 8-core CPU, a much-larger 5000mAh battery (3a is around 3000mAh) and still offers a headphone-socket. Sure, you do get slower 10W charging, only up-to 1080p30 video-recording, and the cameras are unlikely to be as-good as on the 3a. But the 3a launched at £399 (with the XL variant at £429). So given you can now get a phone that matches or exceeds parts of the 3a spec for less-than half the price now shows why many are happy to stay in the Android mid-range market. (Other options would be the similar-spec Samsung A22 5G at £209, or the Motorola Edge 20 Lite 5G at £299, which offers 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, and also does 4K video-capture).

      • drewtx

        Hmm that reads like a shopping list of self-justified compromises. "Sure, feature X is not quite up to snuff, but it was semi-Flagship 3 years ago and is currently 20% less than an entry-level iPhone". Arguably all true, but kind of missing the point on how many people - at least in the US - buy phones. Phones are sort of 'aspirational'. Yes, a $200 phone will do basically everything you need but people aspire to something closer to the current Flagship end of the market. And the cellphone networks will let you pay it off over 24 months. I'm not defending that approach - I'm just saying it's not a pure question of meeting a specific set of minimum 'on paper' tech specs.

        • dftf

          Your shilling for iPhone is becoming quite tiring, given you said earlier "I'm not a 'fanboy'". You sure do come-across that way!


          "Hmm that reads like a shopping list of self-justified compromises."


          Yes, what's the issue? When I purchase a phone I compare the tech-specs of various models in my price-range, read some reviews, check some sample photos taken from the cameras and go for the best bang-for-my-buck. I appreciate there will be some compromises, but so what? I mean even on the Apple side-of-the-fence, there will clearly be compromises between an "iPhone SE (2020)" and an "iPhone 13 Pro Max", won't there?


          "... but it was semi-Flagship 3 years ago ..."


          So having semi-flagship or even flagship features make their way into the mid-range over-time you see as a bad-thing?


          "... and is currently 20% less than an entry-level iPhone"


          Depends which iPhone we're comparing to. The cheapest is the iPhone SE (2020) "from £389". The Android mid-range typically starts at around £150-ish. The 128GB Google Pixel 4a is now £249 -- that's £140, or roughly 36% cheaper. (And if you're wondering "why are you not comparing to the latest Pixel 5a", that's because I live in the UK, and it never launched over-here due to the Covid supply-shortages. It's USA, Canada and Japan only, I think?)


          "Phones are sort of 'aspirational'. Yes, a $200 phone will do basically everything you need but people aspire to something closer to the current Flagship end of the market ..."


          For you they might be... for many-other people, they're just a tool, or something they use, not a fashion-symbol. Of course most-people always want something better, but that's just greed and is not exactly a great-attitude for the environment. Now sure, I'm not saying let's always hold-onto 10-15 year-old devices either: look at cars before they moved to unleaded. Of course change is sometimes better. But for most people, current Android mid-rangers will do everything they need, so why bother going for a £1000 phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (or Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, on that-side) when something like a Pixel 4a, 5a, or any-one of a number of phones from the likes of Samsung, Motorola or Nokia will do just-fine (or the iPhone SE (2020), on that side)?


          I mean, I find it odd too on this-point that for cars, you say in another comment:


          "... I could buy [an ...] Alfa Romeo or [...] Subaru [...] but I need to get to work and back every day so I'll drive a stock Toyota/Honda thank you very much. And that's not actually sacrificing anything (other than perhaps coolness), they have models to fit most budgets / drivers)."


          So, maybe if you apply your argument to phones, many people with an Android device are happy to sacrifice some coolness because the device fits their budget and let's them do all the things they need to do? ;)


      • ianbetteridge

        "Can you? I didn't think you can change the launcher on an iOS device. You can install Microsoft's apps, but if you want your homescreen to also be Microsoft-based, isn't that an Android-only thing? (And on a similar-note, haven't Microsoft dropped all-support for iOS devices in the Your Phone app in Windows 11 now?)"


        Launcher no, but you can change the default email and browser to Outlook and Edge. And you can customise your home screen using Microsoft's widgets if you wish. They are actually very good - Microsoft does good ios software.

        • dftf

          "Launcher no, but you can change the default email and browser to Outlook and Edge. And you can customise your home screen using Microsoft's widgets if you wish."


          I did realise you can get Widgets on iOS recently... but my point still-stands. You cannot replace your launcher on iOS whereas on Android you could get Microsoft's own official-one, or install a third-party one to mimic the old Windows Phone 10 UI. So you can still make an Android device "more-Microsofty" than you can on iOS.


          "Microsoft does good iOS software"


          I hear this argument all-the-time that software is "better on iOS", but is it, really? Doesn't Outlook offer the same feature-set on both, and likewise for apps like OneDrive, Word, Excel and Skype? I'd be interested to see any YouTube videos showing comparisons as "the same apps you can get on both Android and iOS just run better on iOS and offer more-features" is a claim many make, but I never see any actual examples of.

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