Too Many Phones

25 September 2018

I started this year off with a Galaxy S8+ and iPhone 2G that I’d purchased late last year, and was content with my S8 as my primary device.

Since then, I’ve purchased two Pixel 2 XLs (one 64 GB, locked to Verizon, and a 128 GB Unlocked model), an iPhone 5C (new in box), an Epik One Pebble K400 (the cheapest Android Go phone on Amazon, only $40!), and most recently, a 256 GB iPhone XS in Gold, because why not.

Since my first smart phone in 2013, I’ve been fairly satisfied with Android. Initially using Samsung phones with their over-engineered TouchWiz UI, I quickly moved to the stock Android experience starting with the Nexus 5, and then later with the Nexus 6P. Once Google introduced the Pixel line though, I started to question if I still liked where Android was going. Google was essentially releasing the same Nexus devices as they always had, but with a massive price increase for seemingly no reason. I skipped the first Pixel phone, and even went back to Samsung with the S8, since it had so many more features for a similar price.

After the release of the Pixel 2, I tried my luck with stock Android again, and was… a bit disappointed. The stock experience felt very clean and fast initially, but the Pixel 2 XL has a surprisingly large number of bugs and slowdowns for a high-end stock reference Android device. This summer, I decided on a whim to buy an iPhone 5C (which you can apparently get new on eBay for around $100), and tried it out as a secondary phone for a while. Obviously it was significantly slower than my Pixel 2, and was limited in features since it predates Touch ID and is limited to iOS 10, but it was still a great phone for the price, and I started to somewhat like iOS again.

The Epik One Pebble K400 I bought a few weeks ago though, that is an impressive little phone. If you want a reliable, fully-supported Android Oreo phone with dual-SIM, you really can’t ask for much more for $40. I bought it primarily as a low-end testing device for app development, but also a bit out of curiosity for what a cheap phone these days can do. It’s incredibly slow, and the display and camera aren’t great, but it’d honestly do just about anything most people would need for a day-to-day device.

This September though, Apple basically said “hey we released the same phone with a new CPU but it comes in gold”, so I bought one. $1150 later, and I’m an iPhone XS owner. I haven’t yet decided whether I’m switching over to iOS as my primary mobile OS, but I have to say I like what Apple’s offering these days. iOs used to be so far behind Android in power user features, but it’s really come a long way in the last few years. Since iOS 11 introduced Files and Control Center, and they finally ditched the home button and huge bezels, the iPhone X, XS, and XR are all pretty fantastic phones. Overprice, surely, but fantastic nonetheless.

So far I really like my iPhone. Face ID is still worse than Touch ID in a lot of ways, but it’s implemented well, and as much as Animoji were a silly concept, I actually quite like the Memoji, with the more personal experience they add. The new gesture navigation is fantastic, too. After using Android Pie’s gesture nav for a few months, the iPhone X’s navigation feels far more fluid and polished.

There are still a lot of small annoyances I have with iOS. I’ve noticed over the last few days that push notifications arrive significantly faster on Android than iOS for most of the apps I use, and I’d love the ability to install apps from third-parties without using my own Xcode certs that expire in only a few days, but overall the iPhone is a fairly decent phone these days.