I Regret My iPhone 6, Now I Want Android

I never thought I needed an iPhone, until I did — until all my friends had them and I listened to music all day, every day, everywhere. But that was three years ago, and now I'm thoroughly bored and almost stifled by Apple smartphones. After about a month of owning my iPhone 6, I found myself loathing iOS's lack of freedom, limiting hardware and software, and boring ecosystem. Here's why my next smartphone will run Android.

Android Is More Customizable

One of the biggest reasons I loved iPhones was iOS. It's clean and efficient, and when iOS 7 launched in 2013, it was downright beautiful. Now, while it remains minimalist and lovely, it's not exciting anymore.

After using and reviewing Android phones at Tom's Guide, I find myself drawn to Android Lollipop and the options it gives me, along with brand-specific software features, to customize my smartphone experience.

Currently, my ideal Android phone would be a Moto X or a Nexus 6, which use stock Android to its fullest. I really love the Glance feature of Lollipop, which lets you see a snapshot of your notifications when you wave your hand over the locked phone. The great thing about Glance is that it doesn't unlock your phone or fully wake up the locked screen, which saves time and battery life, while giving you the same information that pressing the Home button on the iPhone would.

Android smartphone manufacturers also like to add their own skins and features on top of Android, and some of them can be quite useful. The Moto X has a great feature called Moto Assist, which learns your habits and can do things like read out texts when it knows you're driving. While the iPhone has a Do Not Disturb feature, Moto Assist takes it one step further by letting you choose the important calls you want to come through while you're sleeping, and sending out autoreply messages when you're occupied in a meeting.

Another Android customization feature I've grown to love is widgets. In my prime Apple fangirl days, I would scoff at those huge sections of the screens obstructed by a hokey calendar, a weather bar or a chunky clock. Now, I want the option to use them because they make my smartphone experience more efficient. On my iPhone, I check the AccuWeather app at least three times a day (30-minute torrential downpours are not uncommon in New York City), but I wouldn't have to do that if I had a weather widget on my home screen.

I would probably tweet more if I had the Twitter widget, too. Currently, by the time I open the Twitter app and scroll through my most recent updates, I've either forgotten what I wanted to tweet about or overthought the verbiage of my 140 characters. There also isn't a Twitter widget for the notification window in iOS, making it nearly impossible to get a full snapshot of your feed's activity.

Android Is Less Controlling

One of the reasons why iOS is clean is because Apple restricts what you can do with it. While the operating system gets many apps first, you can only use the App Store to download programs to your iPhone. Conversely, Android lets you download any app you want from the Google Play Store, Amazon's app store and even directly from your computer using APK files.

Also, I haven't plugged my iPhone 6 into my old MacBook Pro since I first got it — because that's a great way to get a migraine. Since I don't use iTunes much anymore and I don't use Photos at all on my computer, all the default Apple programs that pop up when the iPhone is connected are useless to me.

MORE: 10 Reasons Android Beats the iPhone

The one thing I will have to do eventually is get my photos off my iPhone, which will end up being a longer process than necessary. When Android phones are connected to a PC, the phones appear simply as an external device, similar to a flash drive, which makes it much easier to transfer files. While iPhones do this when connected to PCs, they do not when connected to Macs. Rather, you're forced to dig through all of Photos' guts just to get to the original files to save them on an external hard drive.

In terms of sharing, Android is also more convenient. You can share everything from photos to Web pages to map directions in any app you have installed including Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. On the iPhone, you can only share to specific channels that a particular app supports. Also, I appreciate how Android lets you share to Google Drive, and specific parts of social networks, like sharing content via a direct message on Twitter rather than just tweeting it out.

I've Become a Google Girl

I still love Apple notebooks, and I may purchase a new one in the future. However, most of my online life is run by Google. At work I use Google Docs and Spreadsheets in conjunction with Evernote to get my writing done. I also don't work on a Mac in the office — I have a company-issued Windows computer.

The main screen on my iPhone is dominated by Google apps — Hangouts, Maps, Chrome and Play Music all in one row. I also have Gmail, which houses my personal email.

Mail is the only native Apple productivity app I use on a regular basis, but only because I want to keep my work messages as far away from my personal business as possible.

Aside from the Camera, Photos, Clock, Settings, Phone and Messages apps, the rest of the native iOS apps are in their own folder on the second page of my iPhone, which never gets opened. If you work primarily on Apple devices, the iPhone becomes much more useful, since it syncs seamlessly to your OS X device. But for me, Google services run everything.

Apple Is Boring

Apple hasn't truly innovated in hardware design in years, mostly just refining it along the way. ... I can't help but think that my iPhone 6 still has the same feel as the iPhone 4. While Apple's designs are far from offensive — in fact, it's gorgeous — they're just not my style anymore.

With so many choices of Android handsets, my style changes the more I research them. The first Android phone I fell in love with was the Moto X, for its elegant yet understated design. It was no surprise to me, then, that my jaw dropped when I saw the Nexus 6, which is essentially a supersized version of the Moto X with a gorgeous 2560 x 1440-pixel, quad-HD display, sophisticated aluminum design and that signature Android back button. Large handsets grew on me even more when my boyfriend traded in his iPhone 5 for a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which has a perfect 5.7-inch display for watching YouTube videos.

Also, Android Lollipop is more intriguing than iOS, thanks in part to its Material design. The operating system manages to be minimalist like iOS, but with a distinct personality. I love how the icons and images have been flattened, but still retain enough dimension to pop off the screen. The shapes are rounded and friendly, and the entire OS appears modern, but not so trendy that it will go out of style too fast.

I also appreciate the integration of Google Now into Android. Whereas Siri feels separate from the rest of iOS, Google Now is the type of digital assistant I like. It's not just a voice assistant like Siri — which I never use because I don't like talking to inanimate objects. Rather, I see it as my personal version of the Google search engine. Its voice assistant is faster, giving me answers to my questions without any cuteness.

I find myself using Google Now more and more, especially in the newest version of Chrome OS, mostly for the information cards that know enough about me to provide important information throughout my day. For example, it will sometimes tell me when there's a concert nearby that I might want to go to, or when a local event is happening.

Ultimately, Android's excitement comes down to the fact that it's tied to Google — the amount of information at your fingertips is truly extraordinary. Yes, you can get the same info on the iPhone by going into the Google Search app or even the Chrome app, but Android's fluidity and intelligent nature can't be matched when you need to look something up on the fly.

My Decision

iPhones have served me well until this point in my life. In my early smartphone days, I didn't know what I wanted — but I opted for the iPhone because all my friends had the iPhone. That was then. Now I know what I want, and I don't care about looking cool to anyone. A smartphone is primarily a functional device, not a fashionable one. Android phones provide a good balance of thoughtful design, personalization, efficient extra features and smart information integration, making them the phones that work the best for me.

Follow Valentina Palladino at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.

Valentina Palladino

Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech. 

  • sizzling
    I moved from an iPhone to a Windows Phone (Lumia 930) and have been very happy with it and the freedom from the Apple ecosystem.
  • valentinalucia
    16289286 said:
    I moved from an iPhone to a Windows Phone (Lumia 930) and have been very happy with it and the freedom from the Apple ecosystem.

    That's great! Personally, I got so used to the limitations of iOS after a while that I didn't notice them. Then I started using Android phones more at work and realized how much I was missing.
  • Vlad Rose
    I personally like Android phones over Apple phones as well. The one defense I will give with the Apple phones though is there tends to be less headaches with software updates.

    I just recently upgraded my Note Edge to Android 5.0 and am having battery life problems to where a factory reset is recommended. This is not usually an issue with Apple phones. While it is not too much of a problem to have done, I know it would be a nightmare for my parents to do on their phones.

    It really comes down to if you prefer flexibility (Android, myself), or simple and controlled (Apple, parents).
  • damianrobertjones
    Android is a mess. The amount of people that complain about it, friends etc, is staggering. Google is also starting to 'close' everything as they also want to keep you under control.

    Good luck with it kids.

    P.s. Paid article. It's stupidly obvious. People just want to use their phones instead of forever messing with it. This site can't even be bothered to review the Surface Pro 3
  • user5498
    Hard to say.. WP initally looked like it could be promising, but I find it limiting in it's own way - if it was rootable, would probably be pretty good, but stock as it is, using it much can become clunky and cumbersome at times - takes so long to move around just to do a few simple things, and not customizable enough to add the shortcuts and such you'd like; but ofc being a W8 device, it leans more toward the new metro-y deployment, and less get-stuff-done usable windows that used to be great. Not to mention the comparatively slim offerings for app choices - part of that no doubt being lower developer motivation to cater to a smaller market.

    iPhone is not bad, especially w/ jb to give you a decent amount of functionality and user control - not to mention actually being able to access filesystem to get stuff off w/o having to go through convoluted backup restore and whatnot (more a WP issue - esp w/ no root option); but there's always the apple-syndrome of paying exorbitantly more for what you get device-wise, on the grounds of I guess the aesthetics, or "cool" "in" and "hipness" that apple seems to always be trying to cloak its products in.

    So it seems the best choice may have to be android; while I don't like google and their blatant disregard for personal user data, privacy, etc. that they exploit for their own benefit. I liked android better when it was a new open source idea and contender - a true alternate option brought about by the community - but I will admit it probably wouldn't have gotten to be as prevalent had it not been backed by a giant. As it's the system on so many different phones, it really gives the most flexibility, and is kind of the only choice if you want a device from most any alternate phone manufacturer. It seems to offer enough customization and user control as it comes stock, plus the root option really makes it the most versatile.

    At any rate... well.. guess there's mozilla os...
  • Philfreeze
    The more freedom and more customizable arguments aren't very thought through. Most people will never ever customize their things more than just moving the icons around. Just take a look at your desktop pc. Did you ever download a skin for it so you have different taskbars etc? Probably not, the only thing you did is the same as the options on a iPhone. You can move your symbols and set a background image.

    I for my part will stick to iOS just because I don't need more. I don't want these extra options which I will never use because they just make other things worse if you don't use them. Still, I can see why some would prefer Android but I really think that most Android users don't use Android because they think it is better than iOS. I think they just use it because it is pre-installed and then they get used to it and won't switch back because iOS would be different. It is the same as it is with Windows
  • tomsguideUS
    16290593 said:
    . This site can't even be bothered to review the Surface Pro 3
    Hi Damian, Our sister site, Laptop Mag, reviewed the Surface Pro 3: http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/tablets/microsoft-surface-pro-3 Laptop Mag features all of the same staff as Tom's Guide and is exclusively for laptops (and tablets that claim to replace them)! We hope we'll see you more here and on Laptop Mag!

  • hang-the-9
    16290593 said:
    Android is a mess. The amount of people that complain about it, friends etc, is staggering. Google is also starting to 'close' everything as they also want to keep you under control.

    Good luck with it kids.

    P.s. Paid article. It's stupidly obvious. People just want to use their phones instead of forever messing with it. This site can't even be bothered to review the Surface Pro 3

    http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-tablets,review-1966.html although it's linked to a different site for the full review.

    Android versions are a bit out of hand, but that is because they let vendors customize it and run what version they want on their devices. It's pretty much the same thing that causes Windows to have more issues for many people, there are too many versions out there with lots of different hardware and software running on it.

    If you want a simple, hit a button and run an app they give you system, Apple is the way to go. For any type of tweaking or many options for hardware and software, MS / Google is the way.
  • Titillating
    Somebody voices their opinion in an op-ed and suddenly they're getting paid to have an opinion! Putting aside the fact that it's rather insulting, it's really just not even necessary. It's not like anybody said Apple was bad; Valentina simple explained why she had outgrown Apple's ecosystem and was ready for a change.

    Going along your logic, one could claim that based on your comment, you're obviously being paid by Apple! It's a two-way road and it's absolutely ridiculous no matter which way you take it.

    It's like saying I'm being paid by General Mills because I prefer Cocoa Puffs over Cocoa Rice Krispies and want to tell everybody why Cocoa Puffs are awesome. Short version: because you'll go cuckoo for them.
  • russnlp
    I was thinking of switching to iphone after a series of problems with 2 models from the Sony Xperia range. Both had poor call quality and dropped out when trying to use bluetooth. Both Xperias became increasingly unreliable within days of the warrantee expiring.
    I also tried 2 different Lumia phones. They had better call quality than the Sony phones, but only connected to one of my 3 Bluetooth devices. While it did connect to the voyager the voice call doesn't work on the Lumia whereas it did on the Xperia The Lumia ringer volume was too low to be heard when I left the phone in another room so I missed a lot of important calls. Plus I couldn't find any of my favorite apps, Shush is a must! Then there was the continuous harassment by adds on my windows Lumia to the point that I'm ready to bin it after 2 weeks.

    So now I'm tossing up on seeing if I can get my 12.5month old Xperia fixed so that it will talk to my bluetooth headset or whether to bin the Xperia too and buy a Samsung or HTC.
    Any recommendations?
    I drive a lot and my hearing is a little affected from too many rock bands, so call quality, bluetooth accessibility and voice dialing are essential. Also I love to use Shush, the App that allows you to silence your phone then have it turn back on at a set time ie when the meeting or movie has finished.

    Thanks Russell