It was quite a month…
Who’d of thought
If you’d told me a month ago that I’d be pushing my Apple phone to one side and happily using an Android phone and enjoying it, I’d have told you to think again. Never…not me – I’m a fully paid-up Apple Fanboy.
One of my faults (yes, I do have some!) is that I can be quite blinkered. I had never thought of looking at any other phone – it simply had to be Apple and iPhone.
I had always assumed that anyone using Android just hadn’t seen the light – they were the misguided souls, not me. In my mind, I agreed with Apple TV when they give the good guys iPhones and the baddies some androgynous, bland mobile. They did the same in Succession earlier this year as well. Did you notice that the ‘family’ got iPhones and the outsiders didn’t?
Well, until a few weeks back that was me all over.
Being a friend
My month of deviation started when my podcast co-host lent me a Google Pixel 7 Pro. He just said to have some fun and make some content with it. Inwardly I was thinking what does he know? I’m a Mac & Apple boy – always have been and always will be.
So I dutifully took the phone with me, purely out of politeness you understand, and promptly pushed it to one side thinking I have an idiot of a co-host, and carried on writing purely about Apple, iPhones and Macs. Why would I create outside my niche?
The trouble was. With those blinkers of mine firmly in place, I had failed to realise that some of my content wasn’t working and things needed to be shaken up a bit.
Keeping it fresh
One day curiosity got the better of me and I picked the Pixel up and thought why not give it a crack – I mean it was sitting here, right? Turns out that was a very good day.
I honestly feel it was, in a small way, the making of me. Suddenly I was a reviewer as I had perspective. I could compare cameras, OS and even Siri versus Google. It’s been a fascinating month and one in which I’ve learned a lot and tried to share some of that journey with you.
Although I know I get published on Medium in a Mac publication, I think there is space for a little deviation and comparison. The Apple days will come around soon enough, iPhone season will be here in the blink of an eye, and there will be plenty to write about, but I figured it was time to spread my wings a bit.
And since I’ve made that move to the dark side, the volume of reads on Medium and views on and subscribers on YouTube has risen sharply – so hopefully folks are enjoying my voyage of discovery – even the mistakes & errors too!
Turns out Apple’s ecosystem is a real thing and one in which Androids are way behind in.
Now that I have had a foot in both camps it all starts to make some sense. I know my case is not necessarily a standard one, but my Apple walled garden has been built brick by brick over many years to the point I now find myself.
One device relies on the other. The iPhone is right at the heart of the ‘problem’ as it feeds so much else. CarPlay is driven by the phone and I have three HomePods which need the phone. Apple TV works even better with an iPhone as it can be used as a remote, so breaking free from iPhone altogether is still not only something I’m sure I’d want to do but it would be a tough call anyway. Pretty much everything would have to change. Moving from my iPhone would almost render my Apple Watch redundant too.
Beyond those hidden, almost invisible ties are the more obvious and tangible ones. I know the way iOS works and can navigate around it quickly and fluidly – and for the most part, it works well.
If you read me regularly then you’ll know it was one week ago today that I had my worse Apple day for quite some time. iOS 16.6 had automatically updated leading to the point of my having to perform a complete restore on my phone. What the hell went on that day I have no idea, but the ramifications were far-reaching.
Just when you think you have everything sorted out, another problem will raise its head – for me, it was going out to grab something to eat that night only then to find out I hadn’t re-linked my bank cards.
My Apple Watch suffered as well with a slow laggy install of its new OS and even now the haptics aren’t working quite as they should be. Look, I know any company can have a rogue update, but the irony was this was happening just as I started to look at ‘the other side’.
Part of the fun this past month has been in finding answers and workarounds.
Two of Apple’s features I love and use all the time are the Universal Clipboard and AirDrop. These were two features that were unique to Apple – or so I thought. When you’re in a corner, you start to be resourceful and look for answers, and you know what, they’re out there if you look hard enough.
So I found myself needing to get photos from my Nothing 2 or Google Pixel 7 Pro to my Mac. One way of doing that would be to download them from my Google Photo cloud library, but me being me, I didn’t want to wait…I wanted to do it NOW! That’s when I found out about a great app called SnapDrop. It’s not as fluid and simple as AirDrop, but it only takes a few extra clicks of the mouse to get the same results. It works well enough and now I have got used to it, I can move photos around almost as quickly as I could with AirDrop.
The same was true for the clipboard too. An app called Clipt came to the rescue and works in much the same way so now I’m able to copy text between devices again.
Where once I’d not even questioned the fact that alternatives could be out there this last month I’ve gone out and found answers – quite liberating really!
The good and bad
Not everything is great with either iOS or Android. Both have strengths and I can see that now.
But where I believe Apple were once the clear leader in the smartphone market, that gap has now been closed. Apple seems to have stagnated and rested ever so slightly on their laurels whereas Samsung, Nothing and Google caught them napping and sprinted up behind them to within touching distance.
Can I notice that much of a difference between the A16 Bionic chip of the iPhone 14 Pro and the Snapdragon 8 in the Nothing 2? No, not really. Both are quick and responsive – these processors are just so fast! Flicking from screen to screen and app to app is effortless.
The screens of all three phones I have here are great too and all perform well. They are bright sharp and colourful. This isn’t meant to be a review but rather an oversight of how close the competition now is and that Apple should be wary.
A clear winner
Apple has a gem on their hands with their cameras though.
The only flagship phone I haven’t tried out is the Samsung S23 which I know is rumoured to be amazing, but if you want great photos and video in particular, then the iPhone is a winner by a country mile.
In this week’s video, I put it this way – with iPhone, you just get great results it’s hard to take a bad photo or video the cameras are really that good. But with the other phones, you have to work that bit harder. You can get pretty good results but you have to be willing to dig around a bit under the hood.
The video in particular that the iPhone gives you is just mind-blowing. Shooting a ProRes video on there is almost giving you DSLR quality – just stunning. The Achilles heal for Apple though has been getting these lush files from the phone. When you are talking about 20GB files they take some shifting and AirDrop certainly can’t handle it.
This year iPhone 15 Apple is supposed to finally be slaying the lightning port and replacing it with USB-C instead. The two pro phones are getting Thunderbolt speeds too so finally we might be able to meaningfully use ProRes video.
In short, if you are buying a phone just for the camera I’d choose Apple especially if your needs, like mine are semi-professional, but the Android alternatives will give you good enough results for general-purpose use.
The past month has had its challenges that’s for sure, but looking back on it I probably wouldn’t change a thing about it – other than the iOS meltdown!
Picking up and using an Android phone has been like a breath of fresh air – for me, but also hopefully for my content as well. I have loved finding out what the alternatives have been and it has helped freshen up my work.
Now I know what ‘the other side’ is doing it has helped me to focus on my beloved Apple and where they could look to improve their iOS and the iPhone too. To think without that moment of madness in early July, none of this would have been possible.
The trouble is, now I am looking more critically at Apple as I want them to blow me away come September. Enough of kicking back, it’s time for them to dazzle and shine. They are still the leaders in my book, but the chasing pack is not that far behind.
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