One of my biggest surprises of 2022 wasn't the likes of the Surface Laptop Studio or the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island. Rather it was more personal: specifically, how I've managed to stick with my iPhone 13 Pro for a whole 12 months, despite having been a long-time Android user.
I've well documented my switch from Android to iPhone, highlighting the good bits of iOS and iPhones and casting an eye on the shortcomings of Apple's smartphone. And while I championed the consistency of the iPhone experience, I was pretty convinced that I'd end up swapping back to Android in a relatively short time.
That's not because I thought Android would offer me a better experience, just that the hardware from the likes of Samsung, Oppo and Google is just more compelling than iPhones, which have only evolved in small steps over the past few years.
I had thought that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra would have me ditch the smaller and less-featured iPhone 13 Pro pretty quickly. But as much as I think the Galaxy S22 Ultra is awesome, and also a really good gaming phone, I didn't end up swapping to it.
However, I had thought October would change things, with the arrival of the Google Pixel 7 Pro. While far from an evolutionary leap over the Pixel 6 Pro — my phone of 2021 — the tweaks to the latest Google flagship phone really won me over. But it still wasn't enough to make me ditch my iPhone 13 Pro.
Unbeatable iPhone experience
So are Apple's flagship smartphones really that good to keep an Android fan and general lustful new gadget guy from swapping to a newer phone? Well yes and no.
I can't argue that the iPhone 13 Pro is a lovely phone. I really like the flat edges, though I know not everyone is a fan. And the 6.1-inch display means the phone is nearly the perfect size for me; I can use it one-handed, but there's also enough space to play the odd game or write a quick article while commuting. The cameras also put in some fantastic results, trading blows with Galaxy and Pixel phones, while leading the way for video.
But then again, the lack of major changes from the likes of the iPhone 11 Pro to the 13 Pro and even the 14 Pro with its Dynamic Island, means the iPhone is arguably a bit dull on the hardware side.
There's no interesting camera bar, slickly curved display, or extra telephoto cameras. And while more than capable at handling everything one might really need from a smartphone, there's a lack of features on the software side to make digging into an iPhone’s settings and options really interesting. Also, Siri is a bit of a dunce compared to the Google Assistant.
So why have I stuck with the iPhone 13 Pro? Well it's all down to how seamless the experience is.
I hate to peddle an Apple cliche, but every time I pull out my iPhone it ‘just works.’ Face ID is almost flawless, the 120Hz display is never janky (unlike some Android phones), and even the relatively new widgets just work well.
Furthermore, the camera app is one of the best around; it’s fast and lets me get the photo I want practically all the time (only the macro mode can be a little temperamental, but that’s not uncommon on other phones and it could be down to my clumsy and unsteady hands).
Granted, I will find myself sometimes preferring a Pixel or Galaxy photo over the iPhone 13 Pro’s shot. But Apple’s phone and computational photography delivers constant 9 out of 10 photos. I’ve found Android rivals can be more inconsistent, though occasionally they hit some high notes when it comes to phone photography.
But this consistency is what makes it very hard to swap back to Android, even though the likes of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 are very compelling. I know that if I need a phone to rely on and one that’ll work well with nearly any form of smart ecosystem, then the iPhone is the device I’ll reach for without question.
But I don’t need the iPhone 14 Pro
However, all this comes with a form of catch; I think the iPhone 13 Pro is such a solid phone that I have no interest in the iPhone 14 Pro.
Thanks to the nature of my work, I could get in the latest iPhone to test and run as my ‘daily driver.’ But I’ve not taken the plunge.
As interesting as the Dynamic Island is, it still feels like a bit like a first-gen feature. It looks super-cool in Apple’s promotional videos, but it’s yet to get a huge amount of app and third-party support. And I’ve not seen anyone really use it with gusto in real-world use; Richard Priday’s iPhone 14 Pro Max looks great, but I’ve yet to see him really extoll the virtues of the Dynamic Island.
It also doesn't really claim back the space lost to the notch of previous generation iPhones, so I feel the Dynamic Island is a bit of a square peg in a round hole right now. I’m curious to see where the tech goes next, but it's not a compelling reason to ditch the iPhone 13 Pro.
Nor is the 48MP main camera. Sure it’s the best camera on an iPhone, as is always the case. Yet again, in practical use, say uploading photos to Instagram, I think many would be hard-pressed to notice the difference between a photo snapped by the iPhone 14 Pro vs the iPhone 13 Pro.
Waiting for iPhone 15 Pro
All this taken into consideration, alongside my desire to try and cut down on electronic waste and the environment image of incremental phone upgrades, I'm firmly in the wait for the iPhone 15 camp.
That in itself is surprising, as I never thought I’d find myself considering waiting for a next-gen iPhone, rather than greedily eyeing up Samsung Galaxy S23 rumors. But that demonstrates just how much the iPhone has got under my skin despite how dull I can find it compared to the best Android phones.
So while I might moan that Apple doesn't innovate with iPhones like it used to, there’s no denying just how good iPhones really are in practical use and why they top our list of best phones time and time again.