People aren’t buying as many iPhones anymore — and are increasingly turning to the array of Android devices. But those who make the switch aren’t guaranteed to be happy with their choice.
announced last week that it is lowering its revenue expectations for its fiscal first-quarter because of lower-than-expected iPhone sales, especially in China. The company’s CEO Tim Cook blamed the change in fortunes on a number of factors, including the fact that fewer carriers are subsidizing the increasingly expensive devices.
‘I just find it interesting that people who have iPhones use Google Maps, use Gmail, use Google Calendar, use Chrome, use Google Photos.’
Apple shares have taken a beating in recent months, falling by nearly a third. Matters have gotten worse in the New Year, as Apple shares dropped 7.6% in after-hours trading following Wednesday’s market close after the company’s announcement that it was cutting revenue expectations. Before its recent troubles, Apple became the only U.S. company to reach a $1 trillion valuation last year.
Read more: Why Apple lost the plot with the $1,000 iPhone X
One problem Apple could face moving forward: Android phone users are slightly more loyal to their operating system. Between January 2016 and December 2017, Android customer retention was between 89% and 91%, compared to Apple’s iOS, which was 85% to 88%, according to a survey of smartphone users released last March by market research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.
“iOS and Android compete more aggressively as the number of first-time smartphone buyers shrinks,” said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), which provides securities research to the investment community. “Android and iOS now mostly gain and lose users to the other operating system.”
As of the second quarter of 2018, Apple had the third-largest market share in the global smartphone market at 12.1%, ranking behind Samsung
(20.9%) and Huawei
(15.8%), according to research firm International Data Corp.
Smartphone users switch operating systems for numerous reasons: Features, user experience, apps and customer service, among others. More users move from iOS to Android because of the price point, however, according to a 2018 PC Magazine survey.
‘iOS and Android compete more aggressively as the number of first-time smartphone buyers shrinks.’
Some converted Android users told PCMag they like the larger choice of apps and say there’s better customer service attached to that operating system. Apple’s App Store has approximately 2.2 million apps, while Google Play has closer to 2.6 million, according to some industry estimates.
Still, Apple is a strong brand, and users are devoted to it: 47% of people who switched from Android to iOS did so for the user experience, compared to 30% who went from iOS to Android, according to the PCMag survey.
But what actually happens for a consumer when they switch from an iPhone to an Android device? Here is what former iPhone owners had to say about their experience ditching Apple:
The rising costs of iPhones
When Daniel Packer, a personal-finance blogger at Sweating the Big Stuff in Los Angeles, Calif., switched from iPhone to Android five years ago, he did so partly because of how expensive the new iPhones had become.
His first Android phone was about $250, and even though Android-powered smartphones are more expensive these days, they still pale in comparison to the iPhone. (He now owns a Google Pixel 3
which cost him about $650).
Accessories, such as chargers, are also less expensive for Android phones than they are for iPhones, he said, though it depends where you shop. Phone cases could cost about the same if shopping on Amazon
The latest iPhone model, called the iPhone X, came in three sizes and price points: The iPhone XR, which is an LCD version and started at $749; the iPhone XS, which is the enhanced version and began at $999 and the iPhone XS Max, a larger-screen version that cost at least $1,099.
Some find it ‘sticky’ switching operating systems
Alex Chalekian, chief executive officer of Lake Avenue Financial in Pasadena, Calif., did not find user experience to be all that great when switching from Apple to Android. The financial adviser, who has a Galaxy 9+, said he was disappointed when he saw how hard it was to transition operating systems, mostly because Apple makes it difficult for a user to gain control of his phone number and messages. Experts call that process of moving from one gadget or even one bank to another “sticky.”
(Apple did not immediately respond to request for comment.)
For some switching from Apple to Android, synching their new Android smartphone with other Apple products they still owned was challenging.
“I don’t like that they hijack your number when using the iMessage system, and you don’t realize that until you switch out to Android and realize your texts don’t come through because everything filters through Apple’s servers,” he said. (Here is a guide on how to disable and deactivate iMessage on iPhone or iPad.)
For some people switching from Apple to Android, synching their new Android smartphone with other Apple products they still owned was challenging. Chris Wiegman, a 40-year-old software engineer from Sarasota, Fla., said it took a while to adjust after he switched to an Android smartphone so he could switch to Google Fi as his wireless carrier.
“Everything I had was integrated — if one thing rang, the whole house lit up like a Christmas tree,” Wiegman said. “The integration between other devices was the hardest thing at first.”
Over time though, Wiegman has weaned himself off Apple. He ditched his Apple Watch for his old Fitbit
sold his iPad and went with a Linux PC when it came time to replace his Macbook. “It freed me from the Apple ecosystem,” he said.
Also see: The 2007 iPhone will cost you 15 times more than the iPhone X
For Ash Burns, a 30-year old farmer from the U.K., although there were monetary savings from switching to a less-expensive Android device, he said he did have to repurchase some apps as well as accessories such as phone cases and spare phone chargers.
‘Everything I had was integrated — if one thing rang, the whole house lit up like a Christmas. The integration between other devices was the hardest thing at first.’
There are also social pressures associated with switching. Burns said he and his girlfriend had difficulty adjusting their texting habits, since he no longer could use the iMessage feature. “Of course we could still use apps like Whatsapp and text in general but that familiarity wasn’t there,” Burns said.
And then, Burns said, there was the judgment from Apple users who disagreed with his choice to switch. “I feel there is an obvious divide between Apple and Android users and each side is always trying to gain small victories over the other side,” he said. “Personally, I’ve used both and I’m intrigued with all tech so I’m willing to give anything a try.”
Apps, customization and security
Even before Packer made the switch to Android, he was using his iPhone like an Android. The blogger said he would jailbreak his iPhone so that he could customize it like Android phones, such as changing the way he saw text messages or received notifications. (Apple doesn’t recommend interfering with your own iPhone as it can compromise any insurance policy you may have.)
He also liked Google apps more than the App Store apps. “The hardware for iPhones may be more intuitive for some people,” he said. “I wanted to go beyond.”
‘I feel there is an obvious divide between Apple and Android users and each side is always trying to gain small victories over the other side.’
Chalekian, who was an early adopter of the iPhone, said he stopped seeing innovation after the iPhone 5, and had concerns about the phone’s security. He did try Apple again recently, with the iPhone 10 for a week, but he didn’t like it, he said, and added that there were camera issues. “I just find it interesting that people who have iPhones use Google Maps, use Gmail, use Google Calendar, use Chrome, use Google Photos — they use all of these Google apps.”
Still, others who made the switch said they missed aspects of the user experience from Apple. For instance, Burns said he actually prefers the simplicity of Apple’s operating system. He also argues that apps run better on Apple devices.
“No doubt that iOS has much better optimization and apps run smoother and more efficiently, in my opinion,” he said. “Also, quite a few apps I use fairly often are only available on iOS so that was an obstacle.”
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