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.”
“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.
“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?”
“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?”
“Are you sure?”
“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 senior.” His eyes went wide.
I said nothing. Sometimes you have to let them make their own mistakes.
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