My son switched from iPhone to Android HTC One X. What do I do now?

This is war! Despite everything I taught him, my fifteen-year-old son chose an Android device – the HTC One X – over the iPhone. Despite the fact that I told him the iPhone is the best. No, despite the fact that iPhone is the best.

Why would he do that?

Teenage rebellion? The other kids at high school convince him that Android is cool, not Apple? Relentless marketing from Google, Motorola, Samsung and the entire Android ecosystem? Just being a dumb kid? Why!

No, I will not get angry.  I have a better idea.

In the interest of trying to bridge the gap between Apple and Android partisans, ensuring peace within my household, and reaching out to the younger generation, we sit across from one another at our favorite taco stand and I ask him directly: “why did you choose Android”?

“Because it had a bigger screen.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes.”

“No. There must be more. Why else? And put that phone down when I’m talking to you.”

He set down the device, powered it down, in fact, so I couldn’t see what he was looking at, haughtily drained his purple soda and resigned himself to my questions.

“It was cheaper.”

“Not really. It was $99 on contract. The iPhone was only $100 more. Over a two-year contract, with voice, data and texting fees, that really isn’t much of a savings.”

Revealing that he had done the math and I had not, my son replied:

“You and mom said you would pay for the monthly fees. The phone cost me $99. I saved $100.”

I smiled. The boy has my looks and his mother’s brains – a deadly combination.

“That’s a good reason, actually. What else?”

No response. Instead, he asked the waitress for more chips.

To be fair, he is a teenager and despite the free tacos I had already asked far more questions of him than he typically allots me over two days. But I was not to be deterred.

“What about the big screen appeals to you?”

“I watch a lot of video and YouTube clips. Most of what I do is on the web. It all looks better on a large screen.”

“Yes, but the display is not as good as the iPhone.”

“I think it’s fine.”

Switching gears, I asked: “Don’t you use the camera? Have you noticed how on your device that pictures taken in low light –“

“The camera’s fine. The video camera’s fine, too.”

He hoped we were finished. I was only getting started.

“I just read a study. iPhone is 300% more reliable than most Android devices.”

He shrugged, his way of letting me know that the reliability of his device was just fine and that I at least deserved to be made aware that I was boring him.

“Okay,” I said. “You don’t want this to be easy. I get that. You used my old iPhone for nearly two years. Tell me something about your Android you like that’s different from iPhone.”

“The keyboard is better. Auto-correct is better. I like to use SwiftKey for long messages. It auto-suggests words faster than iPhone. I like that I can use a sign-in to lock my device instead of a passcode.”

“This is good, this is helpful.” I tried to write it all down quickly, knowing he would not let me record our conversation. “Now tell me what you don’t like about Android, especially compared to iPhone.”

“Oh my God are we still talking about this?”

“Yes! I’m paying for that damn thing.”

“Apps suck. I can’t believe how bad the same app is on Android compared to iPhone. MLB At Bat isn’t nearly as good. That sucks. Google Play sucks. It’s hard to find what I want. It’s hard to find the newest apps. It’s not easy to pay for apps. It’s not easy to download apps.”

I smiled. I couldn’t help myself.

“Continue.”

“I actually miss iTunes. It was so easy to buy and synch music with the iPhone. Trying to transfer music from my HTC phone to my computer is way too complicated. I don’t even bother.”

“Yes. Go on.”

“And there isn’t really a good selection of movies and TV shows to choose from, not like iTunes.”

I held up my hand, suddenly realizing that perhaps he was only telling me what he knew I wanted to hear. I mean, no one ever sings iTunes’ praises.

“Why did you choose the HTC and not the Samsung Galaxy S III? They were the same price.”

“This felt better,” he said, “not cheap”. He held the HTC One X up as if offering affirmation. Pleased, I wrote that down: ‘Samsung Galaxy S III feels cheap’. I suddenly realized that one of the things I hate most about Android are the stupid long names of the devices.

“Why Android instead of Blackberry?”

“Blackberry is for business.”

I smiled once more. Children can be pretty astute.

“What else about HTC, specifically, do you like?”

“It comes with Beats Audio.”

With Herculean willpower I refrained from telling him that he had fallen victim to marketing.

“What about the operating system? How the device functions?”

“It’s good. It took a lot longer to learn Android than iPhone. A few hours, maybe. I like being able to adjust settings on the app. I like how the ‘back’ button can take me to my home screen.”

“Widgets! Android users are always raving about widgets. Oh, and notifications! What about those?”

“I have a weather widget. Otherwise I don’t really care about widgets. Notifications don’t really matter, either. I use the phone whenever I want. I text my friends whenever I want.”

“I need more.”

“I really like how I can adjust the brightness or connect to Wi-Fi right from the home screen.“

I gave him a suspicious look. Could that really matter to him? I found it hard to believe.

“What about accessories? You have to use your own money for those. Are they cheaper?”

“No. I bought an Otterbox case. I think it was the same price as the one for iPhone.”

“But there are more free apps for Android, right?”

“Probably. If I had more money I would rather pay 99 cents for an app without ads than settle for the free one.”

“Yes, but voice search on Android is much better. Better than Siri, at least.”

“I suppose. I never really use it. Seems weird.”

“Interesting. What about call quality?”

“What’s that?”

“Forget about it. What about battery life?”

“I think it’s worse than iPhone. I’m not sure. Certain features, like screen brightness seem to drain the battery much faster than it should.”

“And the touchscreen? Is it responsive? Do you notice lag?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“What about viruses? Malware? That’s a big problem with Android.”

“I haven’t noticed any problems.”

“Does it bother you that so much of Android was copied from iPhone? That’s why Steve Jobs threatened thermonuclear war?”

“Who’s Steve Jobs?”

“That’s not funny, son. What about email? Better or worse? Multitasking?”

His phone vibrated and he looked away.

“Are we done?”

“One last question. When the contract is up, will you stick with Android or go back to iPhone?”

“Go back to iPhone.”

“Really? You’re not just saying that?”

“Why would I just say that? I like my HTC but I still think iPhone is better.”

“I told you!”

I lean back in my chair, satisfied. He looks down, then begins texting away.

“Is it alright if I have a friend stay over tonight?”

“That’s fine. What phone does he use?”

“She’s a girl. I didn’t ask.”

“A girl?”

“A senior.” His eyes went wide.

I said nothing. Sometimes you have to let them make their own mistakes.

Author: Brian S Hall

Brian S Hall writes about technology, immortality and food for ReadWrite, Techpinions, Unwired View and other publications. His thoughts on the 'smartphone wars' and how these are rapidly de-constructing markets, industries, business models and relationships around the world can be found on his personal site at www.brianshall.com.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Atty-Halmágyi/100001770630008 Atty Halmágyi

    Of course he switched to Android instead from Iphone, Android OS is better than iOS. The kids at school were right. What is good at iOS is the Siri.

  • http://twitter.com/ryanpederson ryanpederson

    I would say iPhone 6 will give him the option of owning the larger iPhone. Maybe sooner with those iPhone+ rumors.

  • Johnston454

    Lord, the poor child. Brainwashed by his own father, he dosent stand a chance

  • Diego!

    What is this story published for? To demonstrate your love for iOS and iPhone? Please! What a waste of time! This free propaganda sucks.

  • Guest

    Oh yeah… my comment was deleted. This site sucks big time. Bye bye ‘moderator’

  • Zeb

    You realize that the “iphone has a better screen” thing is now a lie, right? “Retina” is as much a marketing ploy as Beats Audio. Also, Android has a lot more free apps. The only reason apps are better on the iphone because Android wasnt popular for a long time and now is more popular, so software designers are playing catch up. The list goes on and on. The iphone fad is fading fast.

  • KevinK

    lol… finally we get to see the thoughts of a iSheep… i think it speaks volumes that your son had tried iphone but switched anyways.. i guess iOS user retention rate is dropping.. you should really give “The Dark Side” a try .. it’s just better.. much more useful.. instead of jumping from apps to apps

  • Toivo Paabu

    A child has a good taste

  • eyez00

    That’s one of your best pieces of work!

  • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

    Thank you!

  • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

    I have tried it. It’s simply not as good. If it was as good I would use it all the time.

  • KevinK

    really, i find android a lot more flexible than iOS

    1. ability for apps to communicate between each other, iOS has too many restrictions and it’s simply a pain to use when you want to share info between apps.. for example when i want to share a picture with someone when i hit share on android i have 20+ options while on iOS it’s imessage, sms, email?.. what else is there.. the choices are limited.. and you end up having to jump into the app you want to send the picture through and do it there.. how is that GOOD?

    2. choice of default program of choice, on android if i want to use a different browser to open links, i can set the one i want as the default app to use when i click on a link.. on iOS you get safari, that’s IT. no choice at all, i dont think one browser suits everyone’s needs and that’s just not right to force it down ppl’s throat. It’s ok if it’s a “ok” app but when it’s something like iOS maps, it’s an annoyance, and i’ve given maps a chance twice, both times it lead me on a goose chase..

    3. changing keyboards – you should listen to your son, swiftkey is a magical experience.. i cant use any other keyboard swype and swiftkey flow are things that i NEED for my OS if its not supported, i’m not switching..

    4. Choice of screen size, form factor, price, weight, and whatever you can think of…

    these are just some of the things that i think android has a clear advantage over iOS, even though i wish android was as smooth and the hardware was of similar quality.. Android might have bumps here and there but it’s well worth it..

  • Wait, who’s the fanboy here?

    That’s your reaction to an article that demonstrates how Android and iOS each have their own pros and cons?

    Come on. Admit it: what you really want is effusive praise for Android and a total condemnation of iOS. Something akin to, oh, I don’t know… “Free propaganda”.

  • d_n

    Feel free to visit here for some “propaganda” to your liking.

  • peter123

    LMAO “iPhone is 300% more reliable than most Android devices”

  • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

    I am your father. Search your feelings. You know it to be true.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    You seem to be my evil twin with the same thinking, because all but the last options are my favourites too about Android (last option is also a great advantage though). Android is just so much more intuitive thanks to these customization possibilities. Heck, they say iOS is faster, but when I want to call my gf, it’s 3x faster on my Android since I just drag the phone icon up to call her primary number and down for secondary number (gestures in a custom launcher). Actionable notifications also make for fast replies to tweets and messages, etc.

    Not saying iOS is bad, but it’s an extremely limited experience. Multitasking is limiting, there’s not even a stop button in the App Store, have to go to homescreen to stop an app download, showing iOS’ stupid long winded ways to do simple things, etc. e.g: was trying to download PDF attachment on iPad, had to open link in browser, then select “Open with” followed by Adobe.

    Again. iOS is a nice OS in its own regard. but Android is clearly more intuitive thanks to some of its features. Though yes, I use a Nexus device so there’s no instability or crashes, but I’ve heard manufacturer skins do mess things up.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    I hope you only think it’s “not as good” for you and won’t be forcing it on some other poor soul like your son again. Each OS’ advantages make both equally great IMO. Apps are getting better and better as time passes on Android, but there I do see how iOS has Android beat for now, haha.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Yet for some reason, my Galaxy Nexus never sees apps crashing, nor the system crashing. Heck, a few apps sometimes close as soon as I open them on my iPad, but maybe iPad isn’t as stable as iPhone? :P

  • Rossco

    Brian I love your writing and followed here from the blog. As a father to 2 teenage girls, I admire your ability to have a sustained, intelligent conversation with your son. I work for AT&T in sales (yes, we’re evil etc.) I have used all of the latest smartphones we offer. My work phone is a Galaxy S3. It does feel and look cheap. It is kludgy to use and is in no way easier to text or share with. Why? The apps suck and look shitty to boot.

    I share photos easily with Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, Flickr and SMS on my iPhone 4S. I’m an app junkie. If the app sucks, then to me the OS seems shitty. That’s the main reason I dislike Android.

    The virus and malware issue that Android is supposed to be plagued by seems to not be a real world problem for our customers. Perhaps they, and we, just don’t know about it because it’s surreptitious.

    At least your son had the good sense to buy an HTC. The build quality is much better with HTCs. Samsungs and Nokia 920s are returned and exchanged with tiresome regularity due to hardware defects and the general shittiness of the software. Our return rates are off the charts for those makes. Iphone return rates are negligible and always have been.

    Most of my coworkers own iPhones on their personal accounts. They’re just better built, and easier to live with. The iOS app quality is much higher, as your son noted. Add to that the fact that there are still iOS apps that are not available on Android.

    As for call quality, nobody cares about that anymore, but Blackberry has always been the best in that field. We’ll have the BB10 next month and I am looking forward to trying it out. I’d much rather use a BB over Android “for business”.

    I work with an Android fanboy. Smart guy, I like him. But I had to shut him up when he kept crowing about Android being the leading smartphone platform. We sell more iPhone 5 and 4s in one month than all of the HTC, Samsung, LG, and Pantechs combined. We sell more iPhone 4 than HTCs for that matter. Apple owns the profits in this market. Numbers don’t lie.

  • Diego!

    “For the land of the free and the home of the brave…” If I can’t speak my mind about a post/article/comment then why do the owners of this site open the comment section for?

  • Diego!

    FYI, I used iOS, Android and WinMo 6.x and now Windows Phone. None of them are perfect. NONE. And I’m not praising one OS to bash other one. Check my words. I didn’t even say which I like best, which was WebOS. I’m still waiting for something like that in the smartphone universe.

  • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

    Thanks for the great comment!
    My son did not like the Samsung devices.
    In the battle of marketshare vs profits, I’ll take profits.

  • d_n

    I actually didn’t say you can’t speak your mind

  • Guest

    Well , I won’t talk about your conversation’s comment. But it seems that you’re gonna have to buy him another iphone next year ^_^

  • Dang Huynh Duong Hai

    I wouldn’t talk about your conversation’s content . But it seems that you’re gonna have to buy him another iphone next year ^_^

  • mintslice

    Oh my gosh! My favorite part was when his son had fallen victim to marketing. No one could ever accuse an Apple fan of that. After all ‘retina’ which is marketing speak for small dots is so much better than a bigger screen with the same DPI as Apple’s.

    But don’t believe me. Just a few lines later the author does how open minded he is, and how little marketing affects his rational judgement when he tells about how Android sole so much from Apple. Seriously, you need to get out a little. They all steak from each other, all the time and at the moment Apple seems to be taking from Android big time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/itsallgreektome88 Ivan Petkov

    Sometimes you have to let them make their own mistakes. Right after you ridicule them for said mistaskes, I gather.

  • http://twitter.com/zabihjan Zubair

    get a life and be open minded to change, my wife has iphone 5 and i have nexus 4.

    we live with it without any fanboyism. I try all OS and i will try bb10, i tried lumia 900 i loved its key board and fluent way of doing things but i hated it cuz it wasnt upgradeable to wp8. i had iphone 4 but i never liked no back button, same looks for 5 years, no difference between new and old version of phones, no widgets and notification bar sucks, siri is only for ppl with native english language. I love Android cuz it is made for everyone. Nexus 4 tops it all for perfection.

    there are apps native to android that ios doesnt have and vice versa

    U talking about screen size, iphone 5 screen is only 4″ and still apps are not made for it even some native apps that come with the phone. if you are blind you cant see that.

    android has different screen sizes and 99% of apps are optimised to fit all screen sizes

  • http://twitter.com/zabihjan Zubair

    another isheep, in order to love your device you need to know how to use it.

    u r an american so u would definitely praise apple for products made only for rich and only for ladies.

    be open minded, Since Galaxy S2 was laucnhed Android is a different a world. IOS is for older generations who likes to use big button soft phones on small screen and for women who only reads newspaper and uses instagram to take their photos.

    all the people buying iphone 4, 4s i praise them but ppl who buy iphone 5, i say they are idiots young kids and girls and old ladies and old men as they are only paying for the looks. iphone 5 freezes more than any other iphone and apps are not made for it.

  • Gregory

    Perhaps its IOS fanboy talking but you need to admit it, its kinda funny :)

    Good work.

  • Babak

    I love this post. We need more “investigative” pieces like this. People just state what they think is right instead of going out and actually ASK other people what their experiences are.

  • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

    Thank you.

  • http://www.brianshall.com/ Brian S Hall

    from my cold dead hands!

  • http://twitter.com/xTradaTrade JJ

    Android definitely has more customization options.

    I’d rather have the features that I need that “just works”.
    For instance, if I connect a bluetooth keyboard to my Note 2 the soft keyboard still pops up when I put focus on a field. That is dumb and annoying to have to constantly dismiss the keyboard as I jump from field to field. Or hitting the delete for a few seconds buffers up a ton of delete commands so you have no idea how many deletes you’ll get, how dumb is that? None of these problems exist on the iPhone because they spend a ton of time to make sure the features work as they should.

    I like Android but if I had to choose it would definitely be the iPhone. The large screen is also nice but I’d rather have the apps that just don’t exist with the same quality on the Android side. I do too much work and spend most of my time in apps vs tinkering in the OS.