Something I’ve noticed over the past five to seven years of being a tech writer is that those on the Android side of the fence are much louder when phones aren’t “right.”
Just take the Pixel 6 for example, as the first true “Google phone” it has been riddled with bugs for months. Some of these were quick fixes, but the laundry list of problems Google has had to solve left some Pixel fans with no other choice but to jump to another OEM altogether.
I’ve also noticed that it’s more uncommon for Apple to release a new iPhone that also requires a day one update just to work. The iPhone 14 series just launched, and sure enough, as soon as I unboxed my own iPhone 14 Pro Max, there was a prompt to install iOS 16.0.1. Adding to that mix is the eSIM debacle, as Apple decided to screw everyone in the U.S. by ditching the physical SIM altogether.
Flip the scenario
Weird launch bugs and Apple’s slow move into becoming its own MVNO (not actually likely), aren’t the only problems that the iPhone 14 is experiencing. More recently, it seems as though the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max have a combination of some type of software and hardware defect that causes the primary 48MP camera to vibrate uncontrollably. At first, this was said to be only limited to certain third-party apps like Snapchat and Instagram. But in one case, the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera could not focus even when using the stock iOS Camera app. (Apple has since released iOS 16.0.2 to fix this issue.)
But what would happen if Samsung pulled the same kind of shenanigans? Not just announcing an eSIM-only phone, but also experiencing the same kind of negative response that we’ve been seeing. There are still some users that I’ve seen who have tweeted about their inability to continue with the carrier or MVNO that they had been using for years. All because eSIM support is not as widely adopted as you might think.
Or imagine if Motorola or even Nothing released a new phone with an exorbitant price tag, only to see the same kind of issues that Apple’s latest iPhone is. There would be plenty of editorial pieces wondering whether “this was the end,” complete with memes and jokes about how Samsung will gain even more market share, while comparisons would be made of those companies to LG.
Samsung was very well aware of this and was smart when it launched the $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 3. Samsung didn't initially include eSIM support out of the box on certain carriers for the better part of a year. If you intended on using eSIM specifically, it would have been inconvenient for a bit of that year, but it didn’t matter all that much, because you still had the physical SIM to rely on as a safety net.
Is Apple really getting a pass?
As someone who incessantly beats the “ecosystem” drum, it could help to explain why we don’t hear as much when it comes to these problems. No, it’s not a “you’re holding it wrong” argument. It’s because if you have an issue with your iPhone, there are Apple Stores that can handle diagnostics and an exchange. Don’t have an Apple Store close by? Best Buy also serves as an Apple Authorized Repair Program partner, and chances are, you have one of those nearby.
On the Android side of things, it’s nowhere near the same. There are very few brick-and-mortar Samsung stores. There are only two physical Google Store locations. Instead, these companies force you to rely on their own support, which can be a mixed bag in its own right, or you can hope that there’s an authorized repair shop, like UBreakiFix, nearby. But you might not even know that you have that option, and I’m not talking to you specifically, instead speaking more to the general public.
Yes, I do think that Apple is getting a pass for releasing a new phone that has software, and perhaps hardware, defects. It’s also absolutely ludicrous that one of the richest companies in the world is seemingly incapable of following up on promises made, just from a software perspective. This is a bit of a nod to the delayed release of iPadOS 16, as Stage Manager is a jumbled mess that should’ve never been announced, and probably shouldn’t be released until next year, if that.
Outrage or fence-sitting?
My byline might be for Android Central, but if there’s one thing that you’ve taken away from my time here is that I’m more of a fence-sitter than ever before. I definitely still tip in the Apple direction, simply because of the ecosystem. It’s not the cameras or the iMessage lock-in. It’s just the tools that I use to earn a living work better serve my needs on iOS and macOS.
Android and iOS serve different roles and different purposes but are still smartphones that (mostly) do the same thing. Using the best Android phones allows me to do things that I don't want my iPhone to do. Having a phone that has a foldable screen continues to boggle my mind, allowing me to have a portable emulation station with me wherever I go. If something happens and I need to help out our excellent news team, but I'm not at my desk, I can unfold my phone and get to work.
Seeing the overall response to the growing issues with the iPhone 14 series of phones, is really a bit surprising. I haven’t experienced any of the problems that others have, but it doesn’t change my stance one bit.
Apple is screwing up its reputation, and it’s only a matter of time before we might end up seeing Tim Cook announce an impromptu press conference to tell everyone they are using their phones wrong. That probably won’t actually happen, because it will be a press release that was edited over 100 times before being published in the Apple Newsroom.
The bottom line is this: If it’s not okay for the Pixel 6 to have issues for the majority of the first year following its release, why does the iPhone 14 outrage feel more like a dull rumble and not a full-on crusade? Who knows.