Trying Out the iPhone 13 Pro after 10+ years of Android Only
By: GevDev | November 9th, 2021
Before I even get into the nitty gritty details, I want to preface this article by saying that I do not have any hatred for either iPhones & iOS or Android phones and I believe both operating systems do a good enough job to satisfy the needs of 95% of people. I am also not going to do a direct comparison of every single feature, but rather the features that are most important to me. I consider myself a power user, but that does not mean I am on my phone 24/7, it just means that I use a wide variety of features on my phone with the exclusion of gaming.
Just because the two operating systems provide the same smartphone functionalities that we have grown so accustomed to does not necessarily equate to people having the same user experience. THE UI/UX of the operating systems and the apps are where the majority of my pain points became evident when attempting to daily drive an iPhone after being an Android user for over a decade.
I am not going to go into too much depth and detail about Android functionality, and this is going to be more of a review of an iPhone from the perspective of a long time Android user. I will mainly talk about what I enjoyed about the iPhone, what I disliked about the iPhone, and which functionality was practically the same across the two operating systems from my point of view.
My current phone is currently a Samsung Galaxy Note10+ which I have had for 3 years at the time of writing, and I did not believe that it would be fair to compare it against the newly released iPhone. For a fair comparison, I purchased an iPhone 13 Pro as well as a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, intending to keep one of them and return the other.
TL;DR: (Spoiler Alert) I did not end up switching to the iPhone 13 Pro, nor did I keep the S21 Ultra. I ultimately decided to stay with my three year old Samsung Galaxy Note10+, keep reading to find out why.
P.S. Also, I got tired writing this article 2/3rds of the way and got less detailed, especially on the "Bad" part, but bullet points should explain enough in most cases. When I get the time/motiviation, I will come back and provide gif examples to what I meant.
- Most apps provide the same 99% functionality across both devices
- Major functionality is the same
- Phone calls
- Texts ( I don't think iMessage is that big of an adventage, though it is very nice)
Physical Size/Characteristics: I wish Android flagships came in a similar size to the iPhone 13 Pro, around 6.1 inches for the screen diameter. If you want the top end Android flagship phones, you also end up with a screen the size of your face. To my knowledge, there are no Android flagship phones that have the exact same hardware with the exception of screen size and battery size like the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. When going down a size on Android, you usually end up sacrificing things like refresh rate, camera count and/or quality, some arbitrary feature locked behind a software DRM, as opposed to the iPhone 13 Pro.
The smaller size of the iPhone 13 Pro feels excellent to hold in either of my hands and is usable one handed. I was tired of my Note10+ tiring my fingers and my hand overall after prolonged usage, which is why I went for the smaller iPhone.
On the other hand, even though the Galaxy S21 Ultra is narrower than my Note10+, it's actually a WORSE experience holding it with either one or two hands when compared to both the iPhone and the Note10+. That's nuts! Because it is narrower than the Note10+, it's not that comfortable to hold two handed and type with both hands. It is also very tall, and because of the five cameras, it's actually very top heavy and also the heaviest phone overall when compared to the Note10+ (6.91oz/196g) and the iPhone 13 Pro (7.19oz/204g), coming in at 8.07oz/229 grams. I constantly feel like it wants to drop over when I am holding it one handed and towards the bottom of the phone, the same way I usually hold other phones.
Battery Life: That's enough about comparing sizes though, let's talk about battery life. The battery life is amazing, and from what I've seen and read, the iPhone 13 Pro has the best battery life of any smartphone out there, outclassed only by its bigger brother, the iPhone 13 Pro Max. However, even though the battery life is amazing, it's not that great of a selling point for me since I almost always have a charger nearby and the battery life on the S21 Ultra is good enough to get me throughout the day.
Screen: The iPhone has a brighter screen indoors, but the S21 Ultra is brighter in full sunlight, however you can't set the S21 to its max brightness manually, it can only be done by having auto-brightness on. What the hell Samsung? Why???
Both screens are OLED and have a 120hz refresh rate, both are very responsive. Not much to say there other than the fact that it's soooo silky smooth. Very nice! I can't speak to how they feel for gaming since that's not my focus.
Camera: iPhone cameras have always been amazing, though this is in large part due to the software side as well. Many Android phones have the same or even better camera hardware than iPhones, however the pictures always come out looking worse, with the exception of maybe the Pixel phones, though that's up for debate. The camera is one of the strongest reasons for me to consider an iPhone, especially with the additional support to record ProRes footage.
TODO: ProRez Unlisted Uploads, Side By Side picture comparisons for camera
Haptic/Tactic Engine: Man, the vibrations on the iPhone are otherwordly, makes my Note10+ and the S21 Ultra feel so boring whenever they vibrate. I don't have much else to say other than WOW.
Responsiveness: It's hard to quantify this since it's more a feeling, but iOS does feel more responsive, more polished, for lack of a better term, than Android. Navigating around the OS as well as using apps within it feels smoother. If I were to guess, part of the polish has to do with Apple's focus on finer details in the OS, and part of it has to do with developers paying more attention to iOS users than Android users, since iOS tends to be a bigger portion of their revenue. (Citation needed for the last statement, I know this was true in the past, I don't know if this statement is still true today)
The responsiveness of gesture navigation is also significantly faster/better on iOS, with the exception of some apps not supporting going back by swiping from the left.
Autocorrect: The autocorrect is ducking amazing in iOS, enough said. Only minor gripe about it would be that sometimes it is too eager to overcorrect. While it's not as accurate on Android, I appreciate the fact that on Android, things are not autocorrect until I move on to the next word as opposed to being autocorrected on the fly in iOS.
Parking Location: I appreciate the automatic saving of my parking spot after I disconnect from my car's bluetooth or carplay. Google used to have this and got rid of it. Why? Who knows...
Galaxy Watch Notifications: I swear, notifications on my Galaxy Watch worked better through the iPhone than through my Galaxy Note10+. I actually got notifications as opposed to only getting half of them when using my Note10+ or S21 Ultra, no idea why that is.
- Face ID
- Dedicated switch to silence/unsilence
There is a lot to cover here... Though none of these are a major issue individually, I feel like they add up.
- Missing fingerprint reader
- Back Button functionality missing
- Even though you could swipe from the left edge to the right to go back, not all apps support the functionality and even for those that do, the functionality is not consistent.
- BIG! Missing number row, missing punctuations. can't long hold letters for missing symbols
- No haptic Feedback when typing, can't enable it in settings
- Capslock has to be double tapped quickly or it automatically assumed shift only
- Night Shift doesn't have an Always On option, have to schedule it to be on for a 24 hour cycle. E.g. from 8:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Janky.
- App Library automatically grouped stuff for me, what if I don't want groups? I want a grid layout of all my apps, not just a single column list.
- Can't change number of times I can snooze
- Can't change how long until next snooze when alarm goes off
- Don't see a notification/toast for how long until alarm goes off when I set a new one
- Deal Breaker No gradually increasing volume
Can't see battery percentage unless I look at a widget or in the settings. This is a feature they took away... At least hide it under a toggle.
AppStore, can't uninstall apps from there, have to go through settings or long hold on an app.
Google Maps laggy. I blame this 95% on google.
Siri sucks, but Apple gets a pass mainly due to the fact that they collect less information on users, so less data to train their models on.
Safari, can't view image full screen unless I download it. WHY?!
One handed mode is a pain in the ass to toggle. Once toggled, it resets after a single action....
Deal Breaker No TTY Dialing
Some invidiual app settings are only accessible through the global settings, like the camera configuration. If settings were consistent, then maybe I'd understand. But as it stands, I have to check in 2 places to make sure I didn't miss anything. WHY?!
Apps have to be in order, can't just have stuff at the bottom without empty rows between top and bottom.
YouTube Music swipe left/right on the screen for next song does not work. This is your fault Google.
Double/Triple tapping the back works like 25% of the time.
- Can't see them in the status bar
- I can't clear some of them using the clear all button. Apple decided for me what I can and can't clear?
- No pinch to zoom????
- Zooming in/out sucks, takes too many taps and is dangerous because it forces me to take my eyes off the road.
- Can't see upcoming turns, have to look at phone instead.
- Map does not have a re-center button.
- No easy way to select common destination such as Home/Work. Takes 3 taps.
- If I accidently click "exit" on the phone, I get an unclosable popup on my car that I can only exit the navigation
- Google Voice search inside Google Maps carplay app sucks! Why even include a feature that is borderline unusable Google?
Things take more taps to get the same result as on Android.
As things stand, iOS is not quite enough for me as an Android poweruser. Perhaps results would be different if I wasn't so ingrained in the apps/ecosystems I am currently with, but that's not the case and it would take way too much time to decouple everything and switch over to the iOS ecosystem stuff.