A formerly critical, no longer sceptical convert
So the last time I used an iPhone as main phone was for an iPhone 6 Plus. I was a staunch advocate of not going to an iPhone or trying iOS as a phone experience unless the phones were bigger.
As the years moved on, I went back to Android happily, had a few iPads and then didn’t give it a second thought.
Until the new XS caught my eye.
The 2017 iPhone X was a move in an interesting direction. A smaller sized handset with the screen of a “plus” model of phone. It seemed compact and right up my alley, and with the chip upgrade & new phones of 2018, I figured why not upgrade! I had a Note 8 previously, and after a few years of android, I honestly didn’t mind going to iOS.
The Phone itself
The phone itself is super nice and clean. I don’t miss a larger screen at all. There has been a slight adjustment to the gestures on iOS (it took me nearly a month to realise that I can swipe on the bottom of the screen to swap between apps. But otherwise the two sides of the notch (left for notifications, right for control centre) I got right away with no issues.
I have super enjoyed using the simplicity of iOS. Things like the interface, performance and even things like the wifi call quality has been great coming to the phone. The older iPhone 6 Plus did suffer from bending and the unit I had also got hot with frequent consistent use as well. Since the XS has a glass back the phone stays cool under use (and also allows for wireless charging!)
Speaking of wireless charging, my old Note 8 did support this but I never took full advantage of it. I did buy a wireless charger with the phone when I re-contracted through my Telco and the only time I have charged my phone with a physical cable is when I am at my desk and use one of the USB ports and a traditional Lightning cable, but this is rare since I get 2 days battery life with fairly moderate screen on time usage.
One of the main gripes I had from moving to iOS from Android is mobile payments. This isn’t an iOS issue specifically, but my bank openly supports Android Pay/Contactless payments, but does not support Apple Pay. In order to make use of mobile payments I have been using my credit card; and Face ID to verify payments is super quick and easy. I have been using it for public transport, general payments and my gym membership through Apple Wallet for the gym card and it all works like a charm. I should mention that I was a huge proponent of using Google Pay (and tried Samsung Pay as well) wherever possible, so it is nice to know most days I can leave my wallet at home or buried in my backpack, and not need it.
Another main gripe I had (which IS the iPhones fault) is a lack of a headphone jack, which has been missing from most flagships the last 2 years now. With my Note 8, I did slowly start adopting Bluetooth accessories & headphones, which has served me well here with this phone. However, when I cycle I prefer physical buds and have needed to buy the $15 AUD Lightning to 3.5mm adapter to make use of physical cables, or using a wire on my headphones when they are flat. I can see myself losing this VERY small little adapter, so I will end up buying another less I land myself on a long flight or train ride, have a flat battery on my headphones and no other way to listen to music or podcasts on my phone.
The Apple Watch Series 3 and iPhone XS
I am a huge fan of smart watches as well. I have owned a TicWatch E, as well as a gear S3 and both were excellent on android. Unfortunately my gear S3 just didn’t work well enough on iOS, so I sold it and brought a used Apple Watch Series 3. That has restored my previous convenience of using a smartwatch on my wrist. Having a media controller, music selection tool, tracking workouts and health data is immensely useful. Since I also do a bit of cycling, the watch can be an adequate substitute for a cycling computer as well since the watch is tuned well for fitness, but isnt a full substitute for a traditional cycling computer, nor is the phone itself; but combined they are satisfactory.
As I said my series 3 is used, but combined with the latest phone there aren’t many features on the 3 that I would miss on the newer series 4. The screen size is fairly close to my older Gear S3, and performance is better as well – so I’m a happy camper in this regard!
The pairing and setup experience on iOS is stupidly simple so I wont rave on about it, but what I can comment on is being able to mute the phone from the watch (handier than you may think) and large number of apple watch apps that are available on WatchOS that are true companions to their iOS counterparts.
Locked into iMessage
A common theme you hear from people wanting to move away from iOS to Android is “I am locked into iOS, I can’t really move away. Everyone I message is on iMessage”. This for me wasn’t the case, but being most of my friends were on iMessage when I popped in to the iMessage club, I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to message even my international friends from one app and it not cost an international fee. I just wanted to side note this in here, as now I do work for an international company iMessage I have straight away found useful if I don’t want to use our Slack channel for conversation.
Camera and wrap-up
Most iPhone users know this now and the camera is phenomenal.
In the 5 or so weeks I’ve owned this I have taken some clean and super nice photos. Portrait mode is incredibly well done (albeit a bit wonky with some aggressive smoothing and choppy edges with the depth of field effect if you don’t align your photo correctly). The Final gripe I have is with the photos not being JPG or Raw, but HEIC which requires LightRoom to convert back to JPG properly (say if you want to upload them to WordPress as an Example?)
I have a sample gallery above, but I just have to compliment Apple on how easy the make their software work with the hardware on the phone, and make shooting great photos easy. Samsung and Google do this well with their flagships, and the Pixel 2 and 3 STILL have excellent photo quality, and arguably better than the XS, but putting an excellent camera into the majority of smartphone buyers hands only encourages better photos in general from users. I should also mention I did use the Note 8’s camera A LOT and took a lot of good photos on that phone, however I believe it was second best to the Pixel 2 and iPhone X last year, and there is a noticeable difference from some of my older photos to newer ones on the iPhone XS.
Overall I am happy with the change, it does compliment my remote lifestyle well and continues & improves upon a lot of the fitness aspects I liked in Google Fit, and are thoroughly advanced upon those to give me a lot of useful data when cycling and then when I do go to the gym. (I personally think the Watch & Phone combo has helped me beat some PBs when it comes to distance on my cycling rides too – which is a bonus).