The Mobbit, or there and back again, or how I switched from iOS to Android and…

Hello my young and mature readers, today I am going to tell you a fable about my never-ending journey beyond the Cupertino’s walled garden into wilderlands of freely roaming green robots, chocolate river banks, and electrified air of freedom. Gosh, that was a long sentence, wasn’t it? I feel like I am Leo Tolstoy with his lengthy narrative lines.

Samsung S10e in it’s glory with it’s 5.8" flat screen and the punch-hole display camera cutout

But let’s cut to the chase, I am still using an Android phone and have not decided yet whether I want to switch back to an iPhone. Yes, I have had many thoughts to return. But it doesn’t matter. I wanted to share my experience and rollercoasty path of the love-hate relationship between my Samsung S10e and myself. Also, let’s discover together if only the price has the deciding factor in real life, and the soup made of feature-rich and hardware-packed ingredients has nothing to do with the blessed user experience. Since we all know, Apple falls behind in its features in comparison with its Android rivals.

If you have nothing against Google and it’s privacy policies, you should give Android a shot.

My love with Samsung and Android, in particular, didn’t start in one day; it was not that proverbial moment when you see the object of your admiration, and you instantly fall in love with it. It was more like a conscientious and educated decision on my end. In part, I think, I was influenced by many articles and online reviews, biased or not, so I had decided back then to compare everything and mitigate the pain of switching to a new system. I knew that modern Android wasn’t the Android it used to be even 2–3 years ago. In March 2019, when I purchased my Samsung, Android was a well-polished operating system with a far superior set of features than the iOS. If you have nothing against Google and it’s privacy policies, you should give Android a shot. So that precisely what happened to me that day. I was one of the first customers who got his new Samsung S10e on the very first day.

To start with, I wanted to tell you about what that educated decision was from my point of view. Primarily, I had created a chart, a table if you will, with all the apps I’d been using on my iPhone. Also, I had included features that I’d been exercising a lot. People are different… you tell me, eh. And obviously, what matters for me the most can be a simple trade off you wish to make, and vice-versa. I know, for example, my wife couldn’t get going without mobile payments, and the bank we were the customers of, had neither Google nor Samsung pay implemented. By the way, it doesn’t have it at the moment either. So that for her was a deciding factor to return on the iPhone. For me, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Also, I knew that the other FinTech bank I was a client of, should have come up with Google/Samsung pay shortly.

On my shortlist of most valuable apps and features I had the Overcast app in the first place, it’s a podcast player exclusively for iOS. Podcasting app? The anchor to stay on iOS, really? Yeah, being an auditory type human, I perceive information by listening to it better than anything. Overcast had that halo of openness and respect to the privacy and to podcasting as a whole, so I couldn’t find anything like that on the Google Play Store. The app I finally decided to settle on was Pocket Casts. It does its job well, although it might be finicky from time to time. Well… everything related to audio on Android can be finicky from time to time.

A year or so ago, I had anticipated the potential switch to the new ecosystem. I had to transfer all my passwords from iCloud over to 1Password. That brings me to my second point, not the app, though, since 1Password has multiplatform support. The point is, I had to make the switch to be ready to transfer all of my passwords over.

You probably would ask me about iMessage, but the thing is I didn’t suffer at all, because by the time of my switch we had migrated over to Telegram, pretty much 100%. The Facetime app for video calls with my family I have substituted with Whatsapp. I am told that for North America iMessage remains the most potent vendor lock. However, honestly, I think it’s overrated.

I love the app drawer; you can hide all apps there and bring the ones you use to the home screen

I bought my phone the very first day of availability and immediately started setting it up the moment I brought it home. It’s fair to mention that I got the luxury of keeping both phones, the old iPhone 6s and the new one since the iPhone was my work phone. That helped with the file and data transfer a lot; however, I never resorted to the Samsung Smart Switch app, which helps you with data transferring. I decided to start my phone fresh.

Since I had to get a new sim card the day after and my phone was already set up, I thought it wouldn’t take more than shoving a new sim in. Oh, I was wrong, oh men, how I was wrong. The moment I put the new sim card in, the phone blinked a message on the screen and factory-rebooted. Carl, factory-rebooted. I was so shocked and devastated, I wouldn’t be able to describe to what extent. I was going to return the phone which had discarded hours of my time I wasted setting it up.

I took my pride and clutched my fists and did the whole set up again. The Samsung support team told me it was a thing because many people would set up their Android phones without sim cards for daily use as a secondary device. The explanation didn’t sound solid to me, because a few weeks later, one of my friends had gone through the same setup procedure and the phone didn’t reboot on him. Not sure, maybe it’s a feature of the Snapdragon version that we get to use here in North America. Anyways, moving forward.

Other than the factory-reboot, I didn’t have any issues setting up my new phone. I liked the process and was amused by the simplicity and novelty of it. It was a gulp of fresh water after the stained and dull home screen of the walled-gardened iOS.

I think I should mention the process I used to get my files and data transferred over from the old iPhone 6s to my new Samsung S10e. It fair to say, that for the newcomer the Smart Switch app would work the best. I know, it works flawlessly since my wife did it a few years ago. It doesn’t work the other way around, though. If you ever consider returning on iPhone, you better keep the backup alive.

Texts and messages, I didn’t care for them. As I mentioned above, I never used iMessage that much. I did abandon the existing chats and had removed my phone number from the iMessage settings to eliminate conflicts. Telegram stores messages on their servers in the cloud, so it was a matter of logging in into the app. WhatsApp users, though, will have issues, since the app doesn’t have the cross-platform backup, which is a shame. You won’t be able to transfer your existing chats that easily. Some third-party apps will help you do that, but I have never investigated that matter. I was ready to sacrifice and butcher all my WhatsApp chats on my iPhone. Remember, the new life.

Photos. There are many reliable ways of transferring photos of your pets and beloved ones. The one I used was Google Photos. I did the full camera roll backup on my old iPhone into Google Photos and got the app on my Samsung. Done. The way I use it now, it remains my backup location, while using the standard Samsung photo gallery since it preserves the original quality of pictures. I also had dug out my wife’s old SD card with the old photos taken by her. Now I have the full library on my phone.

Perfectly hidden earpiece. Also, you can see the outline of the factory-installed screen protector

Notes. If you are using the Smart Switch app, you should be all set, since the app will take care of that as well. I didn’t transfer over the proprietary iOS notes. I’d been using MS OneNote and SimpleNotes for years; everything was cloud-synced for me.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t worry about anything more than your photos, messages, and notes. Anything beyond that should be resolved by cloud sync. Most of the commodity applications do exist on both platforms. If you are going to switch from iOS to Android, please spend some time investigating the apps you’re using and whether they have Android versions or equivalents.

Camera module with the 12MP Wide-angle Camera and 16MP Ultra Wide Camera

Here is the honeymoon began. I was genuinely loving, admiring, and appreciating my new phone. I loved setting it up, tweaking, adjusting and moulding it up to my needs and my use cases. I keep loving it today. However, there are some issues, no… nuances I would say in my day to day use which I’ll get back to later. Also, I don’t want to tell you about all those specs and features which the phone has. You can easily find it on the Internet. I would better show you my daily use-cases and implementations to those features that I see have been essential to my perception of the phone. And have contributed the most to everyday performance.

Let’s start with the hardware the phone packs. It’s hard to reject the beauty and the high sense of taste the phone is built with. Samsung has genuinely gone far in industrial design. It has emerged its feel and vision of what and how the modern piece of mobile hardware should look like. It’s hard to underappreciate the curves, the glass, the light weight and the way it sits in the palm of your hand. The screen is so surreal in the right way, which makes you doubt your sight. No, it’s not a high resolution printed sticker slapped on top of the phone. Those are actual pixels of the gorgeous Dynamic AMOLED screen. I know, it doesn’t sound like a day to day feature but trust me, when you should deal with an essential piece of technology every day, multiple times a day, it’s better to be a good one. In contrast, every single time If I were to grab my wife’s iPhone XS, I would cry aloud in surprise how heavy and bulky this thing was. There is simply no way around the comfort of use.

A couple of months ago my friends, my wife, and I went out to a small town by Lake Simcoe where we rented a house. You know, it was one of those party get-togethers. Everyone had an iPhone, but me. When the time came the next day, they all had run out of chargers. They didn’t bring enough cords and power bricks, relying on the overwhelming popularity of the iPhone. So what I did, I plugged my phone to the outlet and flipped it over turning the bilateral charger on, facilitating a vacant wireless charging station for a lonely iPhone. The girl whose iPhone it was jaw-dropped and was mesmerized by the magic I just did. Of course, you say it’s a party trick, and no one will ever use it. But keep in mind that the Wireless PowerShare allows you to not only charge your less battery-equipped devices such as a smartwatch, wireless earbuds but also get to carry fewer wires and ports while you’re travelling. Imagine, you’re in a hotel, plug your phone in and drop your smartwatch on top of your phone to wirelessly charge it simultaneously. Isn’t it cool, ha?

The more you feel how the hardware is polished, and pieces of it are fitted to each other, the more you notice the flaws and drawbacks of the software. By all means, Android has done a lot to get into that refined stage where it is usable. Android has its advantages over iOS. I am talking more about the way the system interacts with you. I will give you an example; the iOS team studied the psychological perception of the system by humans. The cue-reward loop makes you satisfied with the software interaction. Even if it’s slow, the perception will tell you the otherwise. When you scroll left-and-right your app icons on the home screen on iOS, it adds motion blur contributing to your understanding of speed. The operating system seems more nimble, interactable, responsive than it is in reality. Android lacks in that department; however, it’s fair to say, the system itself is much faster than the counterpart. I used to wait a lot to get my apps started on the old phone; now, it’s ridiculously fast. Occasional stutters and lags on Android and the lack of feedback from the operating system in response to my actions, make it less polished at least, a more choppy at most.

Another scenario that I don’t appreciate would be how Android manages to switch between the podcast audio output to a voice call and back to the podcast. I realize that it might be an issue of one of the apps involved in that (Telegram, Pocket Casts, Audible); however, it doesn’t make the problem less annoying. For instance, I would drive in my car, listening to a podcast or a book when an income call shows up. I would take a call, and once I am done, the podcast wouldn’t start playing again. I am driving in silence. The iPhone didn’t have such a flaw. It would resume playing once I am done with the call.

Minimalistic home screen, right the way I like it
Minimalistic back panel

Hey, here is the thing, I often catch myself thinking whether I should return to iOS, but every single time I am doing this, I kind of talk myself off of that bringing up that stupid price tag the iPhone bears. I know, is it just the Android for poor? I had a conversation the other week with a friend of mine, he was asking me about why did I get the Samsung S10e, the smaller and more affordable version of the new Galaxy line, over the S10 or even S10+. Although I did reply with “the flat screen,” “the capacitive fingerprint sensor,” and “the smaller and more manageable size” cause. For some reason, I couldn’t fully answer the question. That question had been bugging me a lot. And, would have I purchased an iPhone had I more money to dispose of? Spoiler alert, “no.” At least now, it’s a “no.” Wait for the end of my review for the answer to why.

Well, it’s hard to say who is the winner in the endless game of guns. By guns, I mean cameras of course. Samsung has nailed it. You can probably find a better camera for specific scenarios, but it’s not on an iPhone anymore. Pretty much every single top tear Android flagship would be equipped with a great camera. Even the low tier Pixel 3a does it better than the Apple product. Yes, the new 11 pro max (and the other regalia) seems like it has many promises, but it’s only getting up to the point where the other rivals have been in the last year or two. Anyways, everyone chooses the candy they want.

Now I am coming to a realization that Android gives something more than the cutting edge hardware and already-good-enough software which excels in many use-cases. It gives me that freedom to choose the hardware vendor, the application market or store, the source for my applications. It gives me the right to decide which app to use as a default for specific scenarios. I get to choose which file to open with which software. I get to pick the way the screen looks. And I am not talking about weird launchers and tasteful icon-packs. I am talking about a simple thing, such as where to place an app icon on the home screen. Which app to put on my home screen and what to keep in the app drawer. I get to choose the placement and size of widgets on my screen.

On iPhone, you have apps; on Android, you get to do things effectively.

Also, I have realized, that everything boils down to the understanding of a simple thing: on Android, you do things effectively, whereas on iOS, you are confined within the compartments of the apps. On Android, the apps merge and leak out of its shells to fill the phone with a useful and convenient environment. Not always psychologically pleasing, but getting the job done effectively and quickly.

If you are not tied to the Apple ecosystem, whatever that means, you are open to different experiences around you related to your mobile device. If you tried Android phones three-four years ago and were not satisfied, I think it’s time to give it another chance. It’s not the Android you used to know before or it’s fair to say, it’s not the Apple we used to know before.

I observe the world around me, note imperfections, and strive to fix them. Or at least I try. The original author of "The Rules," started in 2010 in Russia.