Usually around this time every year I am looking forward to the unveiling of the next iPhone, I have been an Apple fan for years but I am also no stranger to Android and I have always kept an eye on what they were up to. For the past number of years I have maintained that the pure Google experience on Android is best but the S8+ has me extremely interested.
Get comfortable because this could be a long one, the first draft of this post was why I was considering making the switch. Then I got to play around with the S8+ and I’m sold. As you can tell from the title, it is no longer a debate I am having in my head – I’m moving to the S8+
We have to state this before going further: At the moment all rumours around the iPhone 8 are exactly that – rumours. Nothing has been confirmed and we are working off speculation at present. Let me start by pointing out why I feel myself falling out of love with the iPhone.
I left the iPhone before for around 2 years previously and indulged in a number of Nexus devices, they were stunning phones and I really enjoyed the experience they provided to the customer. iOS 7 is what brought me back to Apple, it was a fresh spin on a dated OS in the hands of Jony Ive.
It was the biggest shift in visual design since they released the iPhone and I loved it. iOS 8 refined what iOS 7 brought in and iOS 9 solidified the experience again adding new features and enhancements. iOS 10 brought new visual changes, nothing as radical as iOS 7 and still I enjoyed where the OS was going and evolving. I had no gripes. iOS 10 had a redesigned lock screen, messages were overhauled and widgets were introduced to the today screen.
Then Apple revealed iOS 11 this year at WWDC and I couldn’t be more disappointed with what I saw, I wasn’t expecting a big overhaul but I was expecting a lot more especially considering that this years software marks the ten year anniversary of the iPhone.
I was hoping for a serious upgrade in iOS 11, a more intelligent, well refined Siri. I was hoping to see some kind of shift or something new coming to the home screen design which is now stale and boring. Rows and rows of icons since the iPhone launched? I want to see something different and new being done with that space. They don’t have to go down the full blown Android widget route but do something with it, rows of static icons are boring!
Really, iOS 11 is an update for iPads than anything else, if you have iOS 11 running on an iPad later this year you will probably be impressed but as for iPhones? I was completely underwhelmed.
What we got were basic improvements to Siri, nothing really stunning or spectacular, a new natural voice for Siri and some design changes to Siri. When you compare to Google Assistant or Bixby…the difference is clear. Siri still falls well short in iOS 11. The big selling point was a redesigned control centre and having used the beta the past few weeks, I’m not a fan. I don’t like the design and I don’t feel it to be anything really substantial. The new App Store makes it feel pretty much like Apple Music which sucks to be honest and feels a bit all over the place. There are some neat features like a new screenshot functionality and screen recording as well as an improvement to the stock Notes app but really it feels more like iOS 10.4 to me.
Oh and there is also no dark mode sadly but maybe that will be for another day.
The iPhone 8 rumours
Usually there is a flurry of iPhone 8 rumours every year which gets us excited about the new upcoming event. Again these are all rumours but the details I discuss here are from the credible sources I know of. We are hearing there will be three devices this year, the iPhone 8 (unknown what the final name will be) which will be the first to debut wireless charging, curved AMOLED display and a vertical dual rear-facing camera. This will launch alongside the less impressive iPhone 7S and 7S Plus which will be an improvement from the iPhone 7 line but possibly nothing too special to be seen there.
The iPhone 8 is dubbed to be the phone which marks the anniversary of the iPhone however there are countless negative rumours swirling around. Reports suggest that this thing is heavily delayed, some indicate it may not arrive until 2018 and the biggest source of the problems seems to be the Touch ID sensor. Samsung had the same problems trying to incorporate a touch sensor into the AMOLED display of the S8 and S8+ which is why it is on the back of the device. Apple are apparently running into the same problems, shipping delays are not the end of the world but we experience the same problems with iPhone orders every year. There is always strain on the supply chain but this year it sounds like getting one could be particularly tricky.
Some reports indicate that there may only be as few as 2 million units available on launch this September and the price is expected to break $1,000 and possibly reach close to the price of a base entry level MacBook. Just let that sink in for a moment. This thing could retail in the region of €1,200-€1,300 if the reports turn to be accurate.
There is nothing new rumoured that the S8 and S8+ are not offering already and what appears to be a much higher price. There could be a function row which wouldn’t warrant a huge price leap and could be received the same way as the touchbar has been on the MacBook Pro – you either love it or hate it.
Why I am switching to the S8+
So between a disappointing version of iOS and an all round more expensive phone which sounds like it could be along the same lines as what Samsung is offering – I have now decided to try something new, give it a go and see how I like it. When my upgrade rolls around in September I’m going to be shifting to the S8+.
There is no denying, at the time of writing, these are the most beautiful phones ever made. They are truly stunning pieces of hardware and the software is solid too. They run Android 7.0 out of the box and touch wiz has been refined, scaled back and really dumbed down this year. It actually looks good for once, touch wiz has always been one of the reasons I have stayed away from Samsung phones, I hated it. It has been an insanely bloated piece of crap in years gone by but Samsung seemed to have pulled the reigns in on it. On the S8 line they have made drastic improvements to touch wiz which are much needed.
We all know what Android allows us to do by now, the level of customisation it provides and as a photographer I am excited by the camera offerings on the S8+. As well as that there is the option of expandable storage which is a big big plus for me too. It has everything I want from a phone right now, AMOLED display, a virtual assistant that is actually helpful, great hardware, stunning design, wireless charging…and even at a high price it looks like it will end up coming in several hundred euros lower than the iPhone 8 if rumours are to be believed. But do I need to be worried about fragmentation of the OS updates and losing valuable data from the iPhone?
Transferring from one to the other
Not really. Apple music is now on Android so I can make the shift and all my music is still there ready to roll so that is nice. All the apps I use on my iPhone are available on Google Play. Over the past number of months I have been working myself out of the Apple ecosystem to allow for more freedom when it comes to choices like this. I was deeply embedded in the Apple system with MacBooks, iMacs, Apple Watch and iPhone. My Apple watch I no longer use and Android plays just fine with iMacs and MacBooks. Sure it won’t ever be as nice as how the iPhone talks to them but I could happily live with making adjustments.
Fragmentation is not pretty but with how regularly I update phones now I don’t see it being an issue for me. I update every 1-2 years now, I don’t hold on to a phone for more than 2 years if even that long so fragmentation would not concern me as much as it did in the past when I used to try hold phones for 3-4 years.
What would I miss from the iPhone?
Really, not a huge amount. Losing out on iMessage would be a bit of a pain but not a killer, a lot of my messaging now takes place on WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram. Android Pay is there to take the place of Apple Pay and works fine. I would miss Apple emojis but again, not a killer. I had some concerns about the Android app ecosystem not being as robust as Apple but I have investigated this thoroughly and don’t see it being a problem either.
Instead of Airdrop I can happily roll with dropbox, sure it is not as super convenient but it is by no means something that will pin me in to the Apple ecosystem. Continuity features I don’t really use all that much between iPhone and iMac anyway
Would anything keep me with the iPhone?
Apple would have to really wow me to keep me knocking around and I honestly don’t see that happening. I would love to stay with the iPhone, I have loved the iPhone but seeing the S8+ has me longing for something different and something more customisable to what I want. I have no doubt that Apple is going to launch a super sexy phone this year to rival the S8 line.
However I think the rumours that will end up holding true is that the iPhone 8 will be really limited at launch, it will have basically the same things as the S8 line just presented in an Apple style, it may have a function row and I do believe the price will break $1,000 and be roughly in the region of an entry level MacBook.
For Apple, this won’t matter. I have no doubt that whatever they release this year will break sales records and will be a big money spinner for them as has been the case year on year. It will rock awesome features and a super sexy design along with plenty of hardware bells and whistles. Hardware is always only half the story though, the user experience comes through the software and for me the upcoming software is not something I look forward to at all. I just have zero desire to use iOS in its current form for another year, I’m insanely bored of it.
It feels like the right time to try something new. No change is permanent of course but I want to see what happens when I move over, do I love it more? do I hate it? Maybe it could be the start of a new love with a mobile device range. I want to be able to change a phones software to the way I want it to look and with the limitations on iPhone that just won’t happen. However with Android, I can mix it up to exactly how I want it to be. One thing I really do believe now is that being hooked into either ecosystem is not good, I want to have options and not feel hooked to staying with the same device line no matter what they release each year. Breaking free is not as hard as people think though and I’m ready to try something new.