I remember the first time I saw the iPhone. I was flown out for a TV segment. I was sitting in the green room with my wife when one of the guests walked in. He was holding a candy bar style phone, but the front was mostly glass. I asked him if it was the iPhone. He said yes and asked if I wanted to check it out. He handed it to me and I navigated through it for a few minutes prior to our segment.
Honestly, I was underwhelmed but intrigued. This was the short-lived Golden Age of feature phones and I felt like, at the time, most feature phones were just as capable as the first generation iPhone. Of course, that all changed when the App Store came around.
When the iPhone was first launched it was an AT&T, formerly Cingular, exclusive. I was on Verizon Wireless at the time and wouldn’t be able to pick up an iPhone until several years later.
My options were pretty limited when I was ready to take the plunge and get myself a smartphone. Verizon was pretty much all-in with Motorola and Android. This was around the time of the “Droid Does” commercials. I ended up deciding on a Droid X by Motorola. I loved that phone. The build quality was awesome. It was fast for the time. I bought a dock for the car that placed the phone into driving mode with big, easy to navigate and not kill yourself buttons. Motorola was trying to build an ecosystem with a variety of accessories. I guess they’re still trying to do that with their Moto Mods, bless them.
In 2011, Apple released the iPhone 4s. This was my first, and only, full-time iOS phone until now. I liked the build of the iPhone. The app selection was excellent, but I really missed the ability Android gives you to customize your experience. I tolerated the iOS experience until the release of the Samsung Galaxy S4. After that, it was all Samsung, all the time for me. I had a Galaxy S4, S5, S6 Edge, Note 5 and S8. I even dabbled into Samsung tablets. That little experiment was a disaster. Even Google has given up on Android tablets. Samsung should think about doing the same.
I didn’t anticipate changing ecosystems. Last year the wife and I switched to Xfinity Mobile. While the bill was absolutely fantastic and LTE speeds were great, voice calls were unbearable. The issue at hand here is that even though Xfinity uses Verizon towers, Verizon prioritizes their users and Xfinity Mobile users get the scraps. I don’t fault Verizon for this. I just want to make and keep a damn call. Xfinity Mobile took ages to roll out WiFi calling to iOS and has yet to make it available to Android devices.
When the iPhone XS and XS Max were announced last month Verizon was offering a deal for a buy one, get one $700 off. I figured it was as good a time as any to cancel my Xfinity Mobile service and move back to the Big Red Machine. I really wanted the Note 9 and up until the point I hit the order button I fought the urge to make the less logical financial decision.
So, how’s it going?
I’ve had the iPhone XS for a couple of weeks now. Here are a few things I like about it:
1. Build Quality
The build quality is excellent. The phone feels solid in the hand. It is about the same size as the Samsung Galaxy S8. I opted for the regular XS and not the XS Max. Not sure why anyone would go for the XS Max. Outside of the larger display, the XS Max doesn’t offer much of anything special in its hardware or software.
The display on the XS is amazing. I was suffering through some screen burn-in on my Galaxy S8. This display pops. It is stunning! I don’t even mind the notch. I find the built-in speakers to be quite good and call quality to be excellent.
iOS 12.1 is a great update. The phone feels stupid fast. That said, Samsung’s Oreo update was an excellent one, too. The S8 still ran as fast as the day I bought it, but, man, the XS laughs at anything I throw at it. I have yet to experience a single hiccup or stutter.
I really like FaceID with the exception of the double-click of the side button to confirm purchases or use Apple Pay. Really wish they would have a rethink on how to execute those tasks. I thought I would miss the fingerprint scanner, but I don’t. I really wasn’t a fan of TouchID. I liked having the fingerprint scanner on the back of the S8. FaceID is awesome, though.
3. Accessories and Interoperability between devices
Not unique to the XS, but more of an iOS thing. I like how well the XS works with my other devices. I have an aging MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro 10.5. I’m unable to test Continuity because my Late 2011 MacBook Pro didn’t make the cut. However, apparently, you can switch out the Bluetooth card module with a newer Bluetooth card module with Bluetooth LE 4.0 to get Continuity working. (I also might try installing Mojave while I’m at it.) iMessage is great. My daughter uses an old iPhone 5s we had sitting in a drawer attached only to WiFi. I can message her or my wife via all 3 devices. I was using Android messages on the web before with some success, but it was a bit of a struggle due to the unreliability of Xfinity Mobile’s service.
I purchased a set of AirPods. These things pair up easily with my phone, tablet or laptop and the sound quality is really damn good and the range of the Bluetooth connection is insane.
I also bought a secondhand Apple Watch Series 2 to see how I felt about the Apple Watch. I’m still kinda meh on the Apple Watch. Samsung’s Tizen watch OS is hands down the best watch OS out there, IMHO. I used to rock an OG Asus Zen Watch. My experience with the Apple Watch has been better than my experience with Android Wear.
What do I miss from Android?
1. Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay is soooo good! It’s so convenient. There isn’t a mobile payment system that rivals it. The ability to use Samsung Pay at NFC and most MST terminals along with its rewards program is what makes Samsung Pay the best in the business. Apple Pay and Google Pay are nowhere near as useful as Samsung Pay is.
I also use Samsung Pay to store my loyalty cards. You’re not able to do this with Apple Wallet without having to download the store’s app and hope that app plays nice with Apple Wallet. I use an app call Stocard as a workaround.
For as much flak as people gave Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, it was and remains ahead of its time. Many of the features currently being implemented into Vanilla Android already existed in TouchWiz for several years.
I used split-screen and picture-in-picture quite a bit on my Samsung devices. I miss using that on the iPhone. Despite the iPhone X, XS and XS Max having a larger screen than the S8, iOS lacks these features. Those features exist on the iPad Pro, but they’re quite limited.
I remember when having the ability to change your wallpaper was a big deal on iOS. Not much advancement has been made within iOS in terms of being able to craft your user experience from those days. iOS is still just a series of rows of icons and folders. Heck, you can’t even change your recording resolution within the camera app! You have to go into the settings app to do that.
Outside of making a few concessions, the change has gone surprisingly well. There is a ton that I miss from Android, but the interoperability between devices, the availability of top-tier apps like Lumafusion and Affinity Photo and being able to message my daughter via iMessage has made the change a pleasant one.
Will I switch back? Eh, who knows. My plan right now is to stick with iOS for a while and see how I feel next year when Samsung releases the Note 10.