Why I Won't Switch to iPhone 15: A Dedicated Android User's Perspective

The author, a long-time Android user, finds the iPhone 15 lacking compelling reasons to switch, citing casual photography, underutilized hardware, iOS dislikes, and the benefits of Androids choices.

As a dedicated Android user for over a decade, my journey into the world of smartphones began with a notable departure from Apple's ecosystem. I waved goodbye to my first and only iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, and haven't looked back since. Over the years, many of my colleagues at Tom's Guide have documented their experiences switching back and forth between Android and iOS, but Apple has never presented me with a compelling reason to make the switch again. Even with the release of the iPhone 15, which boasts numerous improvements and upgrades, I find myself unmoved by the prospect of leaving Android behind.

One of the primary reasons for my lack of enthusiasm for the iPhone 15 is the absence of any standout features or innovations that would justify making the switch. For those with older iPhones, especially those predating the iPhone 13, the benefits of an upgrade are fairly self-evident. However, many of the major enhancements feel somewhat wasted on someone like me.

Don't get me wrong, some of the upgrades on the iPhone 15, particularly the Pro models, are impressive. Take, for instance, the tetra-prism telephoto lens introduced in the iPhone 15 Pro Max. While it may not be the same as the vertical periscope module found in Android phones for years, it achieves a similar goal—providing more optical zoom without bulking up the phone's thickness. The iPhone 15 Pro Max's tetra-prism boasts a 120mm focal length, but here's the catch: I'm an extremely casual photographer.

To be brutally honest, my knowledge of camera technology and its inner workings is laughably limited. I've never bothered to dive into the technical aspects, and thus far, it hasn't significantly impacted my life. Like my approach to headphones, I'm more concerned with the end result—how good the final photos look—rather than the intricate processes and settings that lead to those results. Apple does manufacture some of the finest camera phones on the market, combining hardware and software to produce exceptional images. This is crucial because subpar photography was one of the reasons I abandoned OnePlus phones. However, there comes a point for me where I'm content with "good enough" rather than striving for the absolute best.

The same principle applies to a phone's processor and other internal hardware. Apple's A16 Bionic was already a powerhouse, and the A17 Pro appears to surpass any hope of Android chipsets competing. Yet, I couldn't care less, not only because I'm accustomed to a phone powered by the intentionally underpowered Tensor chipset. The A17 Pro would be entirely overkill for my needs.

The most demanding game I've ever run on a smartphone is Stardew Valley, and I don't play it all that often. If I do indulge in mobile gaming, it's usually a casual puzzle game, or I'm streaming from another device, whether it's my own console or a cloud-based server. The idea of playing AAA games on my phone doesn't excite me, and on the rare occasions when I need to tackle resource-intensive tasks, I prefer to do so on my laptop.

Furthermore, as a firm advocate of using a protective phone case, I fail to see the substantial benefit of swapping stainless steel for titanium. It may look shiny and sound impressive, but it doesn't seem worth the added expense, even if it does result in a noticeably lighter device, as Mark Spoonauer noted in his review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

My biggest gripe with the iPhone 15, like every iPhone before it, is that it runs on iOS—an operating system that I deeply despise. While Apple has introduced numerous impressive features in its latest iteration, iOS 17, none of them fundamentally alter the software's core operation. Specifically, the issue of iOS's inconsistent backward navigation remains unaddressed. I've previously aired my frustration with this particular annoyance, and despite Apple's introduction of a "backward" gesture several years ago, it remains primarily implemented in Apple's own apps and systems. Everything else becomes a guessing game—whether the developer implemented it or if you'll have to awkwardly stretch your thumb to the top-left corner to navigate back to the previous page. It's genuinely perplexing that Apple has not rectified this intuitively flawed aspect of its user experience.

Furthermore, there's the overall lack of familiarity to consider, given that I've been using the Pixel launcher for two years. However, this isn't an exclusive issue with iPhones. Given that most phone manufacturers customize Android before deploying it on their devices, all Android users will inevitably need to adapt to new systems at some point—assuming they aren't unswervingly loyal to a single brand. No tech company warrants such unwavering devotion.

Of course, there are plenty of advantages to owning an iPhone. When you share your phone with millions of people worldwide, you enjoy certain perks. Accessory support is one such benefit, with each new iPhone launch inundating the market with a slew of accessories and products catering to new buyers. In fact, accessory companies often attempt to market their products even before the new iPhones are officially announced. As popular as Samsung phones are, for example, they simply don't generate the same accessory frenzy.

Apple's repair infrastructure is another impressive aspect, particularly if you reside near an urban center in Europe or the U.S. I can leave my house right now, and within half an hour, I could be at the Apple Store, seeking assistance for a damaged iPhone. While not all issues can be resolved in-store, and appointments are often necessary, this level of convenience is unavailable with Google Pixel phones. In fact, I'm uncertain whether the same level of support exists for Samsung devices, despite their widespread availability.

Another advantage of owning an iPhone is the long-term software support. Admittedly, this can be a double-edged sword, as I recently discovered while frantically deleting content on my iPad to free up space for the iPadOS 17 upgrade. However, iOS 17 currently supports phones dating back to 2018, with security updates reaching even further back—a stark contrast to the Android ecosystem. The best one can hope for with Android is typically 2 to 4 years of software updates and 3 to 5 years of security support, depending on the specific phone model.

Nonetheless, these advantages pertain to owning an iPhone in general rather than the iPhone 15 specifically. While there are certainly enhancements in this year's iPhone lineup that I can acknowledge, such as the Dynamic Island feature introduced in the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus to make better use of the notorious camera lens cutout, these upgrades do not fundamentally change the experience. They are incremental improvements that, while appreciated, do not justify a switch.

Similarly, the Action Button on the Pro models, while a welcomed addition, has its limitations. It can only respond to a single tap and lacks the tactile satisfaction of a physical mute toggle. Nevertheless, it represents Apple's embrace of the idea of user choice in recent years, a positive development.

One of the standout features of the iPhone 15 lineup is its battery life, a critical aspect that should be valued above all else. In this regard, the iPhone 15 Plus and iPhone 14 Pro Max have outperformed their predecessors, offering impressive battery endurance of 14 hours and 14 minutes and 14 hours and 2 minutes, respectively. While these times may not claim the top spot in the realm of the best phone battery life, they significantly outshine most flagship Android phones, particularly Google Pixels. Frank

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