Tech Talk: Why We Went Back To Apple (iOS)

Apple (PRODUCT)RED iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Lilac Purple Galaxy S9
After being long-time Apple products users, we decided it was time to free ourselves from the ecosystem and give Android another try. After 3 months of using Samsung’s flagship smartphone, we’re going back to iOS. Here’s why.

One of us used to be an Apple “Genius”. Seriously. So, yes, you could say there was a time when we fell into the “fanboy” camp. We had iPhones, iPods, iPads, iMacs, MacBook Pros…yes, we were a Mac-only household. Recently, however (really, after Steve Jobs’s passing), it felt like the company had gone in a direction that no longer resonated with us; it was no longer about the “intersection of the humanities and technology”, instead, it was about capitalizing on the cachet of Apple – and the more expensive the device, the better. Seemingly at the expense of the quality that Jobs prized and required. Software updates were buggy, which would rarely occur before Jobs’ demise, suggesting that they were pushed out before all the bugs could be worked out. Not good. It no longer seemed like the high prices Apple demanded were justified.

In addition, other phone manufacturers were gaining a reputation for having better cameras than Apple. Samsung’s Galaxy S9 has been touted as having the best camera on the market at the time, and since I take a lot of photos with my phone, it’s an important criterion when choosing a phone. In addition, I felt that the Apple 6S Plus that I was moving from was simply too large – it didn’t fit well in a pocket, which is where I usually carry my phone.

My experience was the Galaxy S9 didn’t live up to the hype about the camera: while a few of the (many) photos I took were fabulous, the color in most was off and unnatural (Samsung is apparently known in the tech world for its over-saturated colors) and it did a poor job of taking clear photos in a quick “point and shoot” situation – which happens very often when trying to capture animals. The camera seemed to often focus on the wrong point, as exemplified by many of the photos of glasses of wine I took with the phone: they’re blurry, even though they’re not moving (and I took several in a series to try to ensure that at least one would come out clear enough to post). In short, the phone’s camera didn’t meet my needs.

Looks ok from afar, but the wine itself is actually blurry

Even more of a disappointment – and concern – was Samsung’s lack of timely software updates, particularly those involving security. The Samsung Galaxy S9 launched in March of this year with the February 2018 security update pre-installed. Despite Google releasing monthly security updates, the very first update the Galaxy S9 received was in late June, and that update was released by only two of the four major US carriers at that time.

Sadly, this is not a new issue for Android. In February of this year, a mobile security research firm released a chart comparing iOS and Android security in four areas:

  • The shortest time to publish a security update following discovery of a vulnerability
  • The maximum delay in making the update available to all
  • Whether or not updates were independent of carriers
  • How long a device is supported with security updates

Not surprisingly, Apple was ranked number 1, while only two Android manufacturers managed halfway decent ratings. Android market leader Samsung was way down the rankings. For more information, and to view the table, check out this article: Smartphone security comparison gives Apple top billing, only two Android brands do ok.

To make matters even worse, in April there was another report from German security firm Security Research Labs, in which they found that in addition to delaying updates and patches for months, they sometimes also tell users their phone’s firmware is fully up to date, even while they’ve secretly skipped patches. You can read about it here: How Android Phones Hide Missed Security Updates From You.

In addition to all of this, you also have to remember that Google, and its parent company, Alphabet, make the lion’s share of their money by selling advertising targeted to users, which they are only able to do by collecting as massive amounts of data about those that use their services. While they can do this if you use their services or apps on iOS too, the security architecture of iOS prevents the same level of data collection that is possible in Google’s own Android operating system.

We appreciate Apple’s stance that their hardware and services are the product, not their users. Unfortunately, with Google, Facebook, and many other online services, you are the product. Think about it: how are they able to offer all those services for free?

While it was an interesting experiment to go to Android, we wouldn’t do it again. Why? Because we find iOS more polished and – much more importantly – more secure. Apple has, in word and deed, shown that it values users’ privacy and it continues to do so. We left Instagram earlier this year because we didn’t like how users’ private information was being collected and used by Facebook, Inc., so privacy and security are obviously near and dear to our hearts.

I continue to take a lot of photos with my iPhone 8 and I’m happy with them. I’m not looking for – or expecting – professional DSLR-quality photos with a cameraphone, just consistently clear, naturally-colored photos…and that’s what I get. Oh, and better security, too.

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