A week with the iPhone XS Max

CaptureI recently moved my daily phone to an iPhone XS Max, and I was coming from a Samsung Galaxy S9+.  I thought I’d share the first week of my experience with not just this new hardware, but with a move back to iOS after a few years on the Android platform.

But first, a bit of backstory – my first real smartphone was the original iPhone.  I picked it up on the first day it was released in 2007, and immediately it was obvious it was a game-changer.   It was so different and new and innovative (despite some early significant shortcomings – remember no copy/paste or multi-media messaging?), and I was all-in.  When Windows Phone came out,  I hopped on that.  Although the external software ecosystem was lacking, the core functionality and the hardware were very compelling – more advanced in some ways that anything else, and as a daily driver phone it was an excellent choice.  But then that platform has gone to pasture, and I went over to Android.  I started with an early Google Nexus, and have owned a few Samsung models, with my latest being the Galaxy S9+.  I have appreciated what most do about Android – it’s widely supported, huge app ecosystem, standard hardware connections, and plenty of customization options and hardware choices.   And frankly, Samsung produces some pretty nice hardware, even compared to the top-end iPhone models, with great cameras and displays.   But here we are today, and I’m giving iOS and an iPhone another shot.  There isn’t anything overly compelling to move me back to that platform, other than my technical curiosity to use something different and see what I might be missing.

So after about a week…here’s what I’ve found:

The Good

The conversion process from Android was pretty simple.  I ran the “Move to iOS” app and it did a surprisingly good job of migrating app installs, and more importantly, text message history into iMessage.  I opted not to migrate the 43GB of photos I had, and ended up doing that manually through iTunes.  I did still spend a few hours adding missing apps, and logging back into all of them.

It’s absolutely lightning fast, as one would expect.  You don’t wait for the CPU on anything.

The battery, while only a week old, seems to have an impressive life.  I haven’t gotten “battery percent anxiety” even once, or even really bothered to watch the battery life.  With respect to normal, daily use, it seems to be truly awesome.  I’ll need to check back on that one in about 6 months.

My car supports CarPlay, and the make I drive isn’t going to support Android anytime soon, so this is a huge win.  And now Waze has delivered CarPlay support in their latest update, so between that and being able to run Spotify on my dash, it really enhances my driving experience.

The Bad

I’m missing the back button on Android.  Back gestures on iOS don’t seem to be 100% consistent across apps, and that’s causing some grief, especially when I have to navigate back using a button or link and on a larger phone that isn’t always easy to physically navigate over to.  I’m not missing a physical home button, and the “back to home” gesture didn’t take long to get used to.

The notifications user experiences isn’t what I would consider very good, especially as compared to Androids.

I do miss the always-on screen that could show the time and date and other notifications using low-power when the phone was locked and asleep.  When my iPhone sits next to me at my desk, it’s just a black brick – it’s not helping me.  I have to touch it to wake it up.

The Ugly

iTunes still sucks.  And I’m not the only one who thinks that.

Icon layout is still horrible on iOS.  What if I want to have 2 rows of icons at the top and then 1 icon down in a row by itself at the bottom on a page?  Nope!  Sorry, all icons must be in a perfect line.  Frankly, I don’t understand the logic behind this one.  I do miss the home screen customization of Android, and the ability to have widgets right there on the home screen.

In summary, i’m still getting used to other iOS quirks and such, but overall, I’m reasonably happy with a switch back so far.  I’ll revisit in about 6 months and give another experience report.




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