Moving to iPhone: 10 Learnings

Mobile phones are an essential part of today’s Life, and choosing one is a tricky affair for many of us. After spending more than 10 years as a power-user on the Android platform, I made the (very hard) decision of moving to an iPhone, about five months ago. Surprisingly, after months of using the iPhone 12, I have found that most of what I needed to know was not available as information or resources, before my migration. Hence, this post.

This is not a review of the iPhone 12, nor an easy guide to migration from Android. There is plenty of content out there on those subjects, including Apple’s own switch page. Instead, this post will only highlight some little-known facts and observations that I would have loved to know before my purchase – it would have made my decision almost a no-brainer…

  1. First things first – Me and my family are heavily invested in the Google ecosystem, and use GMail, Google Photos, Calendar and Drive as primary services. With some difficulty, I found that it is possible to continue with these on an iOS device (as primary options now!), including the ability to share content across the two platforms. However, Apple is significantly optimized to offer its own apps for all this, and the process of choosing alternatives is not very straightforward. Sadly, I also found that asking decade-long iOS users was of little help in this regard, since they were users of mostly iOS services and apps.
  2. No, I do not miss the extensive customizability of the home screen on Android as I thought I would. If every thing works (and looks elegant), such a ‘compensation’ feature (on Android) tends to become quite unnecessary. On the other hand, the internet is also full of pet peeves with regard to some of Apple’s UX decisions – you may find (coming from Android) that some of the simplest interface elements you took for granted, (e.g. Today’s Date in your status bar or home screen) are not available in iOS (and unlikely to be for years to come!)
  3. iPhones are quite well-behaved and “polite”, filled with many, many thoughtful features that I found no reference of, in the hundreds of reviews I read before buying one. Some examples include the volume of the ringtone automatically reducing when you glance at it, multiple Focus modes for uninterrupted work, and the clock app’s icon actually showing the live time on the icon itself! Such thoughtful UX features and attention to detail make it an absolute pleasure to use, versus all other mobile platforms I have used.
  4. iPhones put a huge premium on Privacy and Security. It is very clear what permissions you are agreeing to before downloading an app, only approved apps are available on the App Store, your email id can be easily hidden from signups and still managed cleverly, etc. etc. Android simply has miles to go in this area, if it ever catches up.
  5. Apple has (almost) nailed computational photography, and photos shot on an iPhone 12 (or later) are quite stunning, if you known what you’re doing. I have compared images shot in a variety of difficult conditions with entry-level DSLRs and am shocked at the quality I consistently get from my iPhone 12 (not 13 or pro or pro max). Yes, there is some over sharpening and over saturation, but most consumers will welcome the results it generates in typical situations. As an amateur photographer, I wish they introduce the option to dial some of these parameters down in future software updates.
  6. Apple now offers a decent range of sizes and specifications to suit different budgets (which was very limited, until recently), and iOS 14 onwards has seen significant advances in bridging the gap between Android and iPhones in terms of features and functionalities – too many to list here.
  7. Battery management and memory management are quite fantastic (and automatic), plus Apple guarantees iOS updates for years to come, on every modern device. This makes the investment and Total Cost of Ownership quite reasonable (compared to mid-range Android phones), if you keep your iPhone for two years or more – I have done the math.
  8. Apple devices work really, really well within the Apple ecosystem. The benefits multiply manyfold if you own more than one Apple device – again, too many to list here. In my case, I am able to leverage this with an Apple Watch, Airpods Pro and an iPad, though my computers run Windows.
  9. There is almost no limit to the accessories you can buy from Apple and third-party vendors, for your iPhone. Though many of them are quite pricey, there are also many off-brand ones that can be found for a bargain.
  10. Despite big leaps in this department, currently my biggest peeve is Apple’s sub-optimal handling of notifications, which is far easier to manage on Android phones. I do hope they improve on this in upcoming OS updates.

Even after months of using my iPhone extensively, I continue to discover tricks and hidden features via YouTube videos, that help get more juice out of it. Plus, iOS updates continue to roll out many more tweaks and additions to an already fantastic platform.

In summary, things have come a long, long way since I wrote this post in 2010 on Android vs Everything else, and for the better. As a result, I suspect many more Android users will make the switch in the months to come…