Why an iPhone?

I’ll be honest, I have never been a fan of Apple. They’ve made some really attractive looking devices and services, some of which I even use, but on the whole I’m not a fan. Less so today than just a year ago when I actually made the decision to switch to an iPhone. But even so, I still feel the decision was correct.

A Lack of Options

There appears as though there are a lot of options out there for devices, but when you really start to dig down into it the number of choices drops considerably. The reality is, there are only two companies to choose from. Google and Apple.

The Android update model is broken, it doesn’t work. Android OEMs can barely be trusted to support their own devices, even when they promise that they will. And even when they do, you still have carriers in the way, slowing or breaking the whole process. The only Android devices that I’m aware of that bypass this model and pledge guarantied support come directly from Google. They might be assembled and designed by third parties, but they receive first party support. These are of course the Nexus and Pixel lines of devices.

Windows Phones aren’t even a thought due to their tiny market share and Microsoft’s constant changes of direction with their phone OS. BlackBerry is even worse, they no longer even offer their own anything, they’re just an Android OEM now. Which I have to admit is sad, they were a great Canadian company and I worked for them for 6 years. While they didn’t invent the idea of the smartphone, they can definitely be credited with it’s success early on.

iOS has had a solid update model for it’s entire life. Apple has always controlled the whole process and hasn’t allowed carriers to mess with it, always maintaining first party support. Much like Windows Update which has always been provided by Microsoft no matter who manufactured your PC.

Schizophrenic Google

Google can never make up it’s mind about anything. They kill products people use, they promote and force upon everyone products no one wants, they make something great and then ruin it, they make four versions of the same idea, they add a feature and encourage you to use it and then remove it. How can I invest in that kind of ecosystem?

After being laid off from BlackBerry a couple years ago I bought my first non-BlackBerry device, I purchased a Nexus 4. A $300 device that was extremely good value, it was by no means the best device but for the money it was great. By the time I was ready to purchase a new device Google had essentially killed the Nexus line of devices. They still existed but there was no matching device, nothing that offered the kind of value that Nexus 4 did. Fast forward to today and that’s even more true, the Nexus line is gone entirely, and the Pixel phones that replaced them are more expensive still.

How is an iPhone Better?

So I just complained about how expensive Google’s Nexus phones were and how expensive their current Pixel phones are. But Apple devices are comparable in cost, why are they ok? The tl;dr is security, support, and business model.

Support

Apple supports their devices longer than any other manufacturer. When iOS 10 was released this year they supported the iPhone 5 which was released in 2012. iOS 10 will be supported until September 2017 which means the iPhone 5 will have been supported for 5 years before it’s EOL’d. The best you can get with Android is Google’s Nexus and Pixel devices which get 2 years of OS upgrades and an additional year of security updates. If you’re dropping $1,000 on a device anyway all things equal, wouldn’t you want longer support? Just in case?

Security

For years Android has been a bit of a running joke in terms of security, or it’s lack there of. Not a week goes by without another few hundred million Android devices compromised in some way. Having been so used to BlackBerrys where security was always considered to be first and foremost important, Android’s near complete lack of it was definitely an eye opener. Sure it’s gotten better over the years, finally now offering encryption by default on Google’s new Pixel devices offering encryption by default on all devices since Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), as well as quick turn around times on security updates. But the number of news articles about Android’s security flaws has remained the same. [Updated 2016-11-20]

One thing Android continues to lack however is a method of compartmentalizing storage. On iOS each application only has access to it’s own stored data unless it requests and receives access from the user. On Android an application requests access to the storage and if granted by the user receives complete access to all user readable stored data. A rogue application will gain access to your documents, your photos, cached files, whatever is user readable. While that’s much easier to deal with from a user perspective, and I admit that with the switch to an iPhone this difference annoyed the hell out of me for a great deal of time, white listed access to specific data on a per application basis is a considerably more secure method of data access.

Business Model

The final advantage Apple has over Google is their business model. They’re selling you a product, they’re not selling you. Google’s sole purpose is to squeeze every single bit of data out of their customers and then sell ads based on that information. And now that Google’s matching Apple’s pricing model, Apple has a clear advantage here. Pay the same money, get better support, retain your privacy.

So if you value security and privacy, why on earth would you buy Android?

-Spencer