The iPhone is not for me

The iPhone is not for me

06-11-21 ~~~

Update (10-15-2021)

My poor Pixel 3a fell out of my shirt pocket into an unflushed toilet (I grabbed it out, of course!) and died. I opted to replace the dead phone with an iPhone 13 Pro so I figure this post needs an update.

I should start by addressing my original grievances.

File management

Yeah, this still pretty much sucks. Spoiler I am planning on purchasing an M1 Air next month which should play much nicer with the iPhone than my Linux desktop currently does. I'll touch on music transfer later on, but photo transfer should work completely fine between macOS and iOS. I backed up my contacts in iCloud instead of to a .vcf file which is more convenient for me anyways.

Lightning port

Yep, it's still there with no sign of the headphone jack in sight. I actually stopped using my in-ear monitors well before I made this switch and found the stock Lightning EarPods sound good enough for me. The dongle still sucks too.

Applications

VLC hasn't changed, but I expect it to function better for me once I can interface with it via macOS. Until then, I rarely use it. As for music, I have switched over to Spotify. Managing hundreds of music files of various formats across multiple devices has been a headache, and Spotify is much more convenient than Apple Music on Linux. I'm still struggling to sync local files, but once I have a better way to interface with VLC I plan to transfer the stragglers there. Although I prefer to "own" my music (retain a copy of a DRM-free audio file), it has been more work than I feel it's worth.

The default YouTube app is still riddled with advertisements. I plan on exploring iOS 15's Safari extensions and configuring an adblocker to mitigate those pesky ads!

With that out of the way, what made me switch?

iMessage/FaceTime/call quality

There's no comparison between SMS and iMessage. Texting via wireless network in the absence of a strong cell connection, images and videos that are higher than 144p and rich call quality are all refreshing.

Navigation was horrendous on my old phone. Because I was using GrapheneOS, my ROM did not include any Google services. I was relying on Magic Earth for navigation. It did not work well, if at all. Sometimes it would still think my phone was located at home, so consequently directions from my "current location" to my home instructed me walk a few hundred feet. To make matters worse, the built-in search would not yield valid results. Any input other than a direct address would not navigate me to my intended destination or even any destination at all. Now that I have Apple Maps, I can get to where I need to go without any hiccups. Good riddance!

Operating System

iOS has improved year after year, and iOS 15 is a great representation. I won't elaborate too much, but iOS is incredibly smooth and easy-to-use.

Camera(s)

I am blown away by the quality of the camera. I frequently mock the "shot on iPhone" commercials Apple has been running for the past few years, but I stopped laughing when I opened the camera app on my new phone. I will have to share some photos on my site when I get a chance.

So that's where I'm at. The entirety of the original post no longer holds any relevancy, but I'm leaving it up in case you'd like to read.

~~~

I recently switched to an iPhone 12. What a mistake.

It's a great phone for many, myself not included. I cannot deny the camera quality nor the polish of iOS (in comparison to Android, at least). iMessage/Facetime is also more robust than standard SMS. However, the walled-garden nature and "courageous" design choices leave much to be desired from Android's hacky yet functional structure. If/when some of these features are implemented by Apple I will consider the iPhone again, but until then Android is better suited for me.

File management

Taking (accessible) files off of the iPhone was actually somewhat easy.

# Install `ifuse` `libimobiledevice` `usbmuxd`

sudo usbmuxd -f -v
idevicepair pair
ifuse -o allow_other <mountpoint>

I was easily able to grab files from my camera roll which is essentially all that I need to transfer back to my computer anyways. However, transferring files to the device is another story.

I wanted to transfer over my music library to the native Music.app. Because my computer runs Linux and not macOS or Windows, I am unable to use the latest version of iTunes and cannot interface with the device. My only options would be to a.) buy a Mac (no) or b.) install Windows on my drive (hell no) or in a virtual machine (still no). Regardless, the standard Music.app does not support .opus files - a file format which most of my non-FLAC collection exists - and is useless to me.

I tried transferring the audio files via ifuse. There is a documents transfer mode for apps that support it (VLC did) that allows files to be transferred to specific application folders on the iPhone. This may work in iTunes, but I could not get ifuse to access the application data folders. Fortunately, VLC has a network transfer option that allowed me to painstakingly copy my music library over one album at a time since the web interface would only upload the contents of one directory. This is also how I transferred my contacts vCard file to the iPhone.

In contrast, I am able to plug my non-rooted Android phone into my computer and access all of the system folders.

One (Lightning) port

Call me crazy, but I believe mobile devices should come with a headphone jack. I do not like Bluetooth (for a number of reasons irrelevant to this post) and opt to use my in-ear monitors instead.

I was willing to accept the premise of dongles when switching over, but that quickly changed when both of my genuine USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapters began to fail after a week of use. When moved the wrong way, the dongle would disconnect and the audio would pause. I cannot stress how incredibly frustrating this was.

I am also confused why Apple refuses to switch from their proprietary Lightning connector on the iPhone, not following in the footsteps of the newer iPad Pro. It's only a minor complaint though since I carry a separate cable for my laptop and phone regardless.

Applications

I found F-Droid and Aurora Store's offerings more functional than the iOS counterparts. This isn't to say the application selection or quality on iOS is bad, rather that the Android applications better suited my particular needs.

VLC

The only advantage iOS VLC has is Internet transfer. Everything else is a downgrade.

Music is sorted by artist, but albums do not appear under the artist's page. Instead, songs are grouped by album and listed chronologically. Because the songs I transferred are not part of the official music library (transferred via iTunes), playlists cannot be created either. Each audio file opens as a full-screen video would, cover art filling nearly the entire screen with a shrunken scrubber at the top of the display. There is no jump time feature or queue either. Oh, and did I mention the inability to reliably scrub songs in Control Center?

NewPipe

The iOS YouTube app has no advantage over NewPipe. Through the YouTube app, I lost the ability to download my videos and play audio in the background, an important feature as my YouTube consumption generally consists of audio-centric content. It was also the first time I have seen an advertisement before a YouTube video in over a year.

Bonus: No fingerprint scanner

FaceID is not great and is far inferior to a simple fingerprint scanner. It's all I have to say on the matter.

~~~

I am once again no longer part of the exclusive "blue bubble" club and coincidentally videos I receive via SMS look as though they were shot on an early-2000's flip phone. I have returned to a less-polished operating system running on less powerful hardware, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

-medwa