The Barriers of Switching Away from an iPhone

My iPhone 12 mini has gotten pretty banged up and I was looking for a new phone, and for a while I’ve been thinking about getting an Android device. A good bit of the reason for this is the cost of a new iPhone: the latest ones are ridiculously expensive in India and it doesn’t make sense to pay that much for a phone you’ll end up replacing in ~3 years or so.

There’s also quite a list of nice Android phones around which are almost ₹1lakh less than the iPhone models. The Nothing Phone 1 which has a very similar design, a clean OS and some gimmicky features was a serious contender, and so was the Pixel 7 series comes with so many cool Google-exclusive features. I also really contemplated buying a Galaxy Flip 4 when it launched because I still absolutely love smaller phones, and even the Galaxy Fold because the idea of having both a phone and a tablet in your hand is pretty interesting to explore!

In fact, I bought and canceled an order for the Flip, and almost bought the Nothing Phone 1 several times. This post (although it’s probably a rehashing of what’s been said several times on the Internet) is me trying to articulate why I eventually didn’t switch and what I did instead.


MagSafe

MagSafe is just absolutely brilliant. I have a magnetic dock in my car where I can just place my iPhone and forget about it until I have to take it out. The magnetic connection is stable enough that there’s been no dropping my phone even riding around the speed bumps and gutters in India. And no more fiddling around with cables. I also have a dock on my desk where I leave the iPhone when I work, again ensuring I never really have to worry about the 12 Mini’s not-so-super battery life. Suffice to say, I’ve really gotten used to the convenience of having MagSafe and going over Android when it doesn’t have it is difficult. Thankfully the solution is pretty simple: just buy a MagSafe adapter ring (intended for cases but works perfectly on glass phone backs) and stick it onto a phone that has wireless charging. The Nothing Phone 1 works pretty well with this setup, so this was not as much of a blocker as I thought.

Apple Watch

The iPhone also plays really well with an Apple Watch. The newest watch models connect reasonably well to WiFi on its own, but certain features still require the iPhone to work. The solution seems simple: switch away from the Apple Watch to a compatible Android Watch like the Galaxy Watch series or the Pixel Watch: but it’s not that simple. I use the Apple Watch to track my steps, sleep and fitness of course, but there are a lot of small conveniences:

  • Unlocking my Mac automatically when I press a key.
  • Authenticating stuff on my Mac by pressing the sidebar twice instead of using TouchID (which is difficult because I use my Mac docked all the time)
  • Unlocking my iPhone using the watch when FaceID fails for some reason.

I’ll lose these small conveniences if I switch away.

Continuity Clipboard & Airdrop

This is something I use everyday: transfer files from my phone to the Mac by using AirDrop, and copy in one and paste in the other. It works seamlessly and has only improved as iOS and Mac versions have received updates. It’s one of those seamless “it just works” moments in the Apple ecosystem.

The best alternative I have identified here is Ubidrop which seems to work very well for Android phones.

iCloud Files

So when iCloud was first released (or even before, remember MobileMe?) it was a half-assed file syncing solution. Now it’s a remarkably stable shared drive that works very well across all Apple devices. I have even moved my Downloads folder to iCloud on my Mac so most everything syncs between the phone and the Mac. It’s really nice having access to all your files wherever you are.

It doesn’t seem too difficult to switch away from iCloud: both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are good options and well supported on both Macs and iPhones with supported native extensions on both platforms. I’ll just have to bite the bullet and pay for another cloud subscription, sigh.

Photos

I have a whole bunch of photos on my Photos app, right from 2011 on. I’m not a huge fan of the native photos experience to be honest, but it works reasonably well and it does produce some decent memories that I surface using widgets on my iPhone home screens. My wife & I have also started using the shared library experience which shares photos taken right from the Camera app into the shared library.

Google Photos seems to be the no-brainer switch here. It’s got a more robust photo organizing and sharing experience, and it works very well on Android and on the Mac (using a web app).


The Costs of Switching

So if I really want to switch, here’s what I’ll have to do, ranging from easy to hard, and cost implications as well:

TodoEasy -> HardCost
Replace MagSafeEasy
Replace Continuity Clipboard & AirdropEasy
Move to Google PhotosEasy
Buy a new WatchMedium, but I’ll lose some continuity features with the Mac₹₹
Move to Google DriveMedium, setting up aliases and making sure the default folders (Documents, Desktop) is also synced on the Mac.

And there’s one that is hidden, but also very important. Because of how much of an iPhone user I am, my wife and my dad have both switched to iPhones. If I really have to get the same experience, I really have to switch them over as well.

So here’s what I did instead

I bought a new Apple branded MagSafe case and covered up my iPhone 12 Mini 😀

I’ll wait until the next iPhone releases when it might be more worth it to upgrade. Perhaps a USB-C iPhone and more customizations on the iOS 17 can justify these ridiculous costs. Or I’ll try to buy an iPhone on my next US trip.

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