The thing(s) I hate about phones29 Jan 2017
In the last 5 years I’ve been through 4 different phones. First I had a blackberry for two years, then a nexus 5, then a nexus 5x, and finally, an iPhone 7. The nexus 5/5x moves weren’t really my choice - my nexus 5 was stolen from my grasp in third year (that sucked a lot) and then Autumn 2016 I was stupid enough to cycle with my bag open and my 5x flew out and went thwack on the pavement.
Anyway, I gave in and moved to Apple because my 5x’s battery life was awful. Some prime examples of this were several occasions where I would go into London to meet Danny for dinner, my phone would be on charge the night before and having lightly used it while at work, it would be dead before I’d even met up with Danny that evening.
The thing that’s surprised me about the move is that I feel as though I’ve lost something in user experience by choosing to buy a phone that can last me a day. The latest in this escapade is that I bought a pair of wireless headphones which I’m a big fan of and which came with easy pairing via NFC. Essentially the feature is that you turn your bluetooth on and tap the phone against the NFC chip in the headphones and the phone’s instantly paired to the headphones. Unfortunately this is an Android and (I presume) other-phones only feature, given that Apple have locked down the NFC chip so it’s only useable by Apple pay.
Some other things I’ve noted:
- Siri is really, really bad compared to Google Now. The voice recognition can barely understand me, app support like “shuffle my music on spotify” is barely there, quite often phrases are simply searched for rather than processed into what I actually want (like “show me parking spaces near me”)
- Notification grouping is non existent and notifications aren’t cleared automatically basically ever. I don’t care about the message on my group chat 20 messages ago, particularly not when I’ve opened said group chat and read through everything I’ve missed.
My other issue with phones is I feel like they’re requesting more commitment than I really want to give - I’ve bought my last 3 phones outright because 3 sim only contracts are so cheap, but on the Nexus 5x this turned out to be a bad, bleeding edge decision because no other manufacturer had yet committed to USB-C so when I went anywhere there was no chance of buying a new USB cable by walking into a random shop, like you can do with an iPhone or just about any other phone. More recently it’s worried me that the new MacBook came out with using USB-C, which could be an indicator the lightning cable on my phone is about to be replaced by a similar decision on the next iteration. Apple forced that to be a standard (albeit a proprietary one…) and could just as easily take away that standard as they have done in the past.
There’s benefits to the move of course - I really like Apple Wallet and apps like Ryanair that use it to it’s fullest, being able to answer messages on my mac and my phone is kind of cool, but it frustrates me that I feel like I’m forced to make a choice between UX and specs when I want both and commit to a specific hardware spec or else spend more money to be fully up to date with the latest standards.