Apple wants you to think that the iPhone is more than a smartphone. You should see it as a status symbol, a high-tech gadget, and a fashion statement, all rolled into one. But honestly, the iPhone is less than a smartphone. If you are planning on buying an iPhone 13 or switching over to Apple’s ecosystem, read this first. Here are thirteen reasons why the iPhone actually sucks:
If you look at the technical specs, the iPhone is not a bad device. It has the fastest chipset in the world, the cameras are pretty decent, even the battery size is okay on the new iPhone 13 series. However, iOS is what ruins the experience for me. Here’s why:
Now, I’ve owned more than my fair share of both iPhones and Android smartphones, but they feel fundamentally different because of a “simple” attribute: customization. On an Android device, you can clean up the Home screen, make it minimalistic, or organize it to your heart’s desire. Many apps have their own widgets that you can resize, configure, and reposition. On iPhones, you are stuck with the same messy screens full of apps. Want to clean up your Home screen? Sure, you can, except the iPhone has no concept of empty space between icons. So if you remove an icon, the other icons located on the same screen quickly shift to take its position. Good luck separating app icons on the Home screen!
But wait, you might say, iPhones now have Widgets that you can place on your Home screens! Aren’t those useful? Well, yes, provided you clean up the Home screen first, which you can’t, at least not to the extent that Android smartphones allow you to.
My girlfriend has this sadistic pleasure of installing ALL the apps on her poor old iPhone SE (2016). She literally has ten Home screens, all of them completely useless, since she uses the Search function to start apps anyway. Sure, with newer iOS versions, you can just leave your apps in the App Library, but compared to the App drawer available on Android phones, the App Library is a joke.
It’s unintuitive, the categories can’t be renamed or rearranged, and as a new iPhone user, you need to read ten Reddit pages to learn that you can access a “pseudo-drawer,” a list of apps in alphabetical order, by swiping down from the top of the App library. Oh, and the icing on the cake: while on an Android phone, you can access the App drawer by swiping up or using the dedicated button, on iPhones you can only access the App Library by swiping to the end of your Home screens. With ten of those in my girlfriend’s iPhone, guess who won’t be using this useless feature anytime soon?
I can’t for the life of me understand why Apple hasn’t sorted the issue with the Back button yet. Depending on the app you’re using, going back or exiting the current menu is done in one of the following ways:
- Tapping on the Back button in the upper-left corner of the screen (usually, a very small button or arrow placed in a location impossible to access if you’re holding your phone in the right hand and can’t use both hands)
- Tapping the Back button on the lower-left corner of the screen (Safari, Chrome)
- Swiping right from the edge of the screen (a feature undoubtedly “inspired” by the similar gesture present on Android smartphones)
- Swiping right from the lower part of the screen (on Safari, Chrome)
- Swiping down - because why not? (in Photos)
What’s worse is that the same gestures can do different things, depending on the app you’re using. For example, in the Instagram app, swiping right repeatedly opens the camera. If you are coming from an Android phone, where pressing Back in the Instagram app takes you to the top of your feed and refreshes the content, you’ll get annoyed pretty quickly. There are many other examples of inconsistencies, but the ghost of the Back button has been haunting Apple devices for quite a while now.
The new, improved iOS 15 brings a new and improved way of displaying battery percentage on the status bar, next to the battery icon. Wait, did I say brings? No, sorry, I meant removes. There is no setting that allows the battery percentage to be displayed next to the battery icon anymore. To display the battery percentage, you need to either use a Battery widget, or you can swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen, but that only solves part of the problem. Way to go!
TIP: For more on this subject, read: How to show the battery percentage on an iPhone or iPad.
I admit this one is kind of a niche reason, and only applicable in certain regions. If you need (or want) to write in two languages in the same sentence (or you sometimes resort to using English terms when typing in your native language), you need to switch the keyboard from one language to the other, or else autocorrect will make a mess of your text.
There is a way to write in two languages without getting autocorrected to death, but that is only true if the other language is one that Apple deems important enough to make a dictionary for. Since there is no way to add or import dictionaries into an iPhone, for other use cases (like us poor Eastern Europeans, who are frequently mixing English terms with our native tongue), the only solution is to install a third-party keyboard, like the amazing SwiftKey. Speaking of preinstalled versus third-party…
While the forty or so apps bundled with iPhones (yes, that many) are not outright bad, they are not among the best, either. Apple Maps is overshadowed by its Google counterpart, the Mail app is just sufficient, and for most of the other pre-installed apps, there are better alternatives available.
As I mentioned before, I think the hardware on the new iPhones is super solid. It’s way better than the software it’s running, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t any issues with the iPhone design or hardware. I’ll begin by saying that…
If there would be a prize for removing features, iPhones would take it every year. I’ll never forgive Apple for removing the headphone jack. This, in my opinion, is a crime against the environment, as it forces the user to buy wireless headphones - and most of them become e-waste after their batteries wear out (two years or so). In contrast, wired headphones can easily last five years.
And if you hold on to hope by pointing out that Apple sells several Lightning-to-headphone jack adapters, I will be the one to shatter your hopes: there are rumors that Apple will remove the charging port next, making the iPhone a completely wireless device.
Apple probably considers that you should be punished for buying an iPhone without carefully considering storage space usage. That could be one of the reasons iPhones still don’t support storage expansion in the age of reusable booster rockets and quantum computing. Meanwhile, in 2021, over 350 Android smartphones with expandable storage were launched.
And this wouldn’t even be such a big deal if you could easily transfer media files to a computer. But no, why would you be able to just drag & drop the pictures on a connected iPhone to a local hard drive? It would be too easy!
An excellent teardown of the iPhone 13 Pro authored by Techinsights estimates its build costs at 570 USD, compared with its 999 USD price tag. But the real cash grab happens with the accessories: production costs for the AirPods are estimated at 50-70 USD, compared to a retail price of 179 USD. A charging cable costs 19 USD, a simple Lightning to headphone jack adapter costs 9 USD and the list goes on. But there is still hope.
When you drop your brand new iPhone 13, the cracking sound you hear is not the screen, it’s your bank account. On an 800 USD device, replacing the screen at an Apple Authorized Service Provider costs 280 USD.
But what if the nearest authorized service is 2-300 miles away? Or if, by any stretch of imagination, you can’t afford it? Then you’ll probably try to replace the screen at your local mobile phone service. Sure, you can do that, but say goodbye to Face ID, because Apple uses serialization to pair the screen with the rest of the device. In order to pair the new display to the iPhone motherboard, you need specialized equipment, available only at, you guessed it, Apple Authorized Service Providers. So you have the right to *almost* repair your iPhone wherever you want.
I get it, the iPhones have great AI and strive to deliver a simpler, more streamlined experience. But there’s a fine line between helping and dumbing down everything. From the interface which looks like it was designed by toddlers for toddlers, to the glaring lack of choice compared to Android smartphones, every part of the iPhone experience feels like having an overprotective parent. And, as my therapist can certify, having an overprotective parent is not healthy in the long term, because it makes you more dependent. Hmmm, or maybe that’s the whole idea…
The Apple website states that “it’s easy to switch to iPhone”. And I can’t disagree. What’s almost impossible is switching from an iPhone, as Apple uses every method to keep you locked down in its ecosystem. Difficult cross-platform communication and file transfer, Apple-only features, proprietary tech and hardware, everything is designed to leave you out of options.
Apple has always been amazing at marketing its products. It’s, hands down, the thing they’re best at. But innovating? Not so much, after the Steve Jobs era. While Android smartphone manufacturers risk their revenues by launching bold, exotic products with new features, Apple has taken a backseat approach, picking out existing tech that it can get the most ovations for and then implementing it on iPhones. This explains why features that have been present on Android devices for ages are introduced as “new” by Apple. Just one example: high refresh displays. The first Android smartphones with 120 Hz displays came out in 2017, yet Apple only implemented this feature four years later, on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max.
Even though I still have lots of reasons to consider that iPhones are not as great as Apple wants us to believe, I must admit that they are improving both in terms of features and usability. Now, before you label me a hater, I would like you to take a step back and truly process my arguments. Then, please share your opinion on the iPhones. Is it all marketing hocus-pocus or do you consider them as being genuinely good smartphones? Write a comment below and let’s discuss.