I’ve had my iPhone 6S for 18 months, and its failures aggravate me on a daily basis.
The battery life is pathetic. The camera often freezes up. I constantly get the warning that my storage is full, even when I delete photos en masse. I hate how it nags you, relentlessly, to do the latest software update, even when the newest update usually comes with some reported glitch and you’re trying to hold off. And I’m no fan of Siri, who never quite hears commands correctly. (“Call Dad.” “Calling Brad.”) I shut her off.
I deeply hate Apple’s removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7: a solution to a non-existent problem. When I drive, I frequently have cords plugged into both the charger port and the headphone jack (for hands-free phone calls); that won’t be possible with iPhone 7, even with an adapter that lets you plug headphones into the charger port. I find it enraging.
But I doubt I’ll ever switch from the iPhone family.
The problem: I’m too entrenched in Apple’s device ecosystem. The company has its $815 billion claws in me for good. And I’d theorize that this dates all the way back to my childhood.
When I was in elementary school, our family computer was a Macintosh Classic (released in 1990). I fondly remember playing Brickles, Ingemar’s Skiing Game (see below video, which prompted an instant flood of euphoria for me), and PacMan — and I remember how clicking applications worked basically the same way it still works today. Folder icons sat on the desktop (and you could edit the icons to something fun; I had a set of Simpsons faces I used) and you double-clicked on icons to open them.
Eventually in 2002 I graduated to my own computer, a desktop iMac (orange). I loved it.
Today, if I find myself in a situation where I have to use a PC (for example, a family member’s Dell laptop), I feel lost. I don’t like the startup menu at the bottom left; I don’t know the keyboard shortcuts; the visual interface is ugly to me; it feels like I’m reading a book in a language I don’t speak.
The same goes for the iPhone. Years ago, of course, I had a Nokia flip phone, and I had a Motorola Razr at some point. But in 2010, I got the iPhone (I was a few years late to it) and never looked back. Now, when I tool around on a friend’s Android phone, it’s foreign to me. It looks kind of flashy, but also confusing. (Our editor-in-chief Andy Serwer makes a similar point about the Android “learning curve” in the above video segment.) Once Apple gets you, this is how Apple keeps you.
I know people who have made the switch from Apple to Android, but it’s too daunting to me. Plus, when I exchange text message with those people, my texts are green, and it just doesn’t look right. I know that sounds petty, or absurd, or craven, and yet, that’s the extent to which I’m trapped in the Apple bubble: almost every friend I have in New York City has an iPhone, and on group texting threads, we all agree, the green texts are off-putting.
And a bubble is what it is, because people too often forget: it’s Android that dominates the phone market. According to research firm IDC, 85% of the 344 million smartphones worldwide are Androids, only 14.7% are iOS. But in American cities like New York, it can feel like the ratio is the opposite.
I love the idea of ditching Apple, in theory. It scares me, the extent to which I’m an Apple sheep — I have a MacBook laptop, iPad Mini, Apple TV (though I have seen Roku in action and like it better) and an iPhone. It would feel liberating to leave, but Apple’s design is what I’m used to and comfortable with.
I especially resent how Apple appears to bake planned obsolescence into its iPhones. (Isn’t it curious that after a year and a half, just around the time Apple wants you to upgrade to its next model, your phone starts to function poorly?) I resented when it forced people to buy the new lightning cord (USB-C). And I resent that it removed the headphone jack—those wireless AirPod ear buds are heinously ugly. In general, I don’t feel Apple treats its customers very well.
But I’ll almost surely give in and buy another iPhone soon, and I trace it back to my childhood. I was weaned on Apple devices, and I’ll stick with Apple devices.
At least I know one thing: I will not pay $1,000 for that iPhone X. I’ve got principles.
Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering tech and media. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.