I’m old enough that I remember the birth of the internet as we know it.*
By that I mean I was around when the first DOS computers started coming home with people. I played endless hours of Kings Quest on floppy disks. I loaded up Compuserv, and from there I discovered local BBSs. Supernerds fell in love with me and sent me ascii art. Usenet. I remember the web on Lynx – before it was an option.
I had dial-up.
I had a US Robotics Palm Pilot, too (actually, I still do – it’s not in use, but I have it somewhere). And back then, when I was carrying around a Palm Pilot, a minidisc player, a digital camera. a laptop and a flip phone I used to say to myself, and to most people who were gadgety like me, “damn, when are they gonna make a thing that does everything?
Fast forward to the next century and here we are, tethered to these things that do it all.
I won’t lie, I love Apple’s slick software (minus iTunes, anyway), and I feel slightly less “Google is the evil empire that is owning all the data” about it all – but that hardware… something about Apple died along with Steve Jobs. It’s like so many American things these days – expensive and so beautiful on the surface, and obsolete in two years so that you’re a slave to buying more, more, and more…
At this point, I no longer feel the need to spend a month’s worth of rent (I live in a small town in a small place) on my handheld device, especially when obsolete in a few years… And let’s be honest – while I’m good at what I do and well-paid, I’d rather spend $800 going to the coast for a few days, where chances are I might drop my phone in the ocean.
It all began when my official cable began to crack open right at the connection point (like all Apple cables eventually do). First I brought out electrical tape, and then I started purchasing replacement cables. Plural. Because they’d work for a week or two and then I’d get this lovely popup on the screen “This device may not be supported.” In addition, these cables were useful nowhere else except on my iPhone.
Recently, I installed the latest iOS update on the thing and the phone was rendered nearly useless. Slowing to a crawl, I began hunting down solutions online. I wiped invisible files. I deleted apps I never used. I cleared out my photos. I cleaned out my contacts.
Still not much more than a brick.
Then, I went on a road trip. My phone, which was also not holding much of a charge anymore, started to die an hour and a half into the ride – and my latest charging cable? That no longer wanted to work either. I pulled into the nearest Walmart and grabbed yet another cable. It worked, but I just happened to pass by the phones display and noticed that Samsung had come out with a new, cheap model for Straighttalk, which is the service I’d recently switched to from Verizon so that I could save myself $40/month.
I spent about a week researching things online, learned how to wipe all sorts of invisible crap off my iPhone, and then I went back and bought the Galaxy J7 Sky Pro.
I’m sold. Here are the official reasons Why I’m Leaving Apple:
- It’s cheap. At $149 I don’t really care too much if I drop it in the ocean (or any of the other crap things that happen to a phone – I have a six year old). That’s still a chunk of change to replace a phone, but it’s not $799, either – I will e-recycle it instead of having a fancy brick sitting around (yeah I know, I kept that US Robotics Palm Pilot, but it’s just not the same for me and that now-obsolete touchscreen iPod). And even as cheap as it is, my new phone’s got a nice HD screen. I spent $15 more on a protective case and a screen protector.
- It’s an Android with a mini-USB charging port. I have so many mini-USB devices at this point I will probably never, ever run out of cables for them, and they are interchangeable. No proprietary stuff.
- Bixley’s gonna give Siri a run for its money (and Siri never understood me anyway). Until Bixley shows up, I’ve been playing with Robin and her friends. While switching over to Android is a little confusing, just like switching to a pc from a Mac, so far I’ve been able to emulate almost everything I’ve done on five years of iPhones.
- Android keyboard: thank you for putting almost all of it on one screen. Makes entering those complicated passwords much easier.
- It’s big. It’s almost a “phablet”, approximately the size of an iPhone 6. The camera, slightly better than the one on my iPhone, works fine for my needs. Composing photos on the larger screen is easier. And while there’s no native “square” mode like on an iPhone, setting the gridlines to “square” puts a couple of lines on the screen that gives me a square within which to work. Fine.
- Storage capacity and ability to upgrade: hands-down, Android devices win with this one. I just popped a miniSD into my new Samsung and upgraded the space on it. Can’t do that on an Apple device either. If I start filling it all up (like I did with my iPhone), I can just get another, bigger SD card – up to two terabytes.
- I use Google Voice and its free number as my “office phone”. It is far better synced with Android devices (for obvious reasons of course – everything Google works better on Android, duh). Using Google Voice via my Android phone, especially, is like having a second “phone” on my phone, with its own number and everything.
For the majority of this article I’ve talked about my phone, but I replaced my iPad recently too. Four years ago I paid several hundred dollars for it. It was slick, for sure, and yeah, that lovely iOS. God forbid I dropped the damn thing, and although I got used to typing on the screen and then on a goofy little micro-keyboard, I found something better.
I just replaced it with a Samsung 3 chromebook that cost just over the price of my phone – and for most of the same reasons. I think it actually weighs less than my iPad (which has been bequeathed to my six year old for watching PBS Kids in her bedroom) and it’s way easier to type on, too. And again, if it gets “dropped in the ocean” I won’t cry too much, because it’s fairly replaceable (yeah I understand my privilege here – I’m talking about replacing $180 device here, and there are those who could give two shits about dropping an iPhone 7 in the ocean, too – so, in the smaller picture, cut me some slack. In the bigger picture, the other reason I’m downgrading all this is because really, what is the bigger picture? Yeah. It’s a bigger picture. Please grow some of your own food and respect your watershed, thank you). I chose this particular model of Chromebook because of the price as well as the fact that I’ll be able to use some of my Android apps on it shortly.
Anyway – this may not be for everyone. I straddle a really weird line of voluntary simplicity and techno-savvy in my life most people don’t have to bother with. My focus is on helping the conscious get their messages out to the world, and it could be argued that writing about my more “disposable” choices in technology goes against my earthy-crunchy beliefs. Unfortunately while half of me has gone back to the land, the other half of me has to find additional ways to feed my family, and I think if you take care of these things, they’ll last as long as the industry lets them, before that final operating system upgrade renders them completely obsolete. Me? I’m donating my iPhone 5, which is still totally usable provided you’re not needing it as a tool for an online business, to the local womens’ shelter, where it will hopefully help someone stay connected in helpful ways.
*I’m actually old enough that I remember the dawn of hip hop, a minute before AIDS, when cell phones entered the picture, and the birth of MTV and Nickelodeon, among many other monumental things. Also yes, there are some affiliate links to Amazon in this post. They’re affiliate links for items I personally endorse because I use them.