Rich Stroffolino

A Single-Issue Phone Buyer

I’ve seen a little bit of Android versus iPhone talk come up lately. MKBHD recently did a video on it, and it’s balanced and well considered like most of his takes are. I guess I’m mostly a single issue voter on this. As long as there is relative parity when it comes to cameras and usable performance, software support will keep me in iOS for a long time.

I bought an iPhone 8 soon after my son was born. I remember standing in a Sprint store and trying to keep a baby occupied while the rep took forever to port numbers over and set up a family plan with some friends of ours. It was interminable. My son is now in Kindergarten. The phone runs the latest version of iOS. I couldn’t say nearly the same thing if I had bought a Galaxy S8 or Pixel 2 that same year.

I used Android from 2011 until 2016. I was a power user. Set up Tasker automations. Rooted and ran Cyanogen. I put Android on an HP Touchpad. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Nexus a year after it came out. I knew it was not a good phone then, but I wanted that Google-direct Nexus experience and was willing to put up with a bad camera and horrific early-4G battery life to do it.

The Android phone I liked the best was my last, a Droid Turbo. It had a cool kevlar back, Motorola put in some meaningful customizations (wrist twist to open camera is great). Battery life was decent. The camera was…. a mid-teens Android camera. The downside? Software support. While it did get updates to two Android versions (actually good in that time), it was consistently a year and a half behind the current Android release.

Compare that to my wife’s iPhone. It got 4 major OS updates in its lifespan, delivered same day the OS hit general availability. It got security updates for years even after she upgraded to the iPhone 7 in 2016. See an old device keep getting the new software hotness while my Android phones remained entirely forgotten pushed me over the edge. I know the situation with Qualcomm drivers makes it a nightmare to provide long-term software upgrades for OEMs. I know Samsung and Google have gotten better, promising 3-4 years of OS upgrades on flagship phones. But as a consumer, I kind of don’t care about that. Not my problem, figure this out if you want me as a customer. I know if I buy an iPhone, I will get better software support long term.

I have an iPhone 12 Pro Max now and don’t see any reason to upgrade any time soon. It performs well enough, the camera is still great (if a little too HDR happy), and the battery life remains serviceable. When I do upgrade, either my parents will get it or it will turn into a car toy for the kids. But unless Android OEMs meaningfully differentiates on hardware from iOS (maybe a really killer foldable experience), I’m a single-issue phone buyer.