Like many iFans, I’ve used Apple products for longer than I care to remember. So long, in fact that I had an iPhone before iOS was even called iOS. There’s a reason for my loyalty: I love everything about the iPhone. I love how it works with my iPad and Mac, how I can beam video to my TV using AirPlay, the unrivalled choice of apps and games in the App Store and the fact iOS runs so smoothly.
However, my faith in Apple has been wavering lately – and it’s all down to foldable smartphones.
The first generation models such as the Huawei Mate X and Samsung Galaxy Fold were too basic and too expensive, but I was hooked on the concept. I loved my old Razr V3, so the idea of a modern flip phone with a single display was – and still is – attractive. That dream came true when Motorola announced the Razr 5G and Samsung brought out the Galaxy Z Flip. But I still clung to my iPhone as those phones’ specs weren’t as good as they could have been – and they were still too expensive.
Right now, however, my iron-like grip on the iPhone 12 Pro is beginning to fade. And it’s because of the Galaxy Z Flip 3. It’s very tempting. It costs less than £1000 in the UK and various trade-in offers bring that price down even lower, which makes the urge to switch even stronger.
Apple, on the other hand, isn’t rumoured to launch a foldable iPhone until 2023 or 2024. And I’m not sure I’m prepared to wait that long.
Unfortunately, I don’t really have a choice in the matter. Even if I wanted to pull the trigger, it’s just not possible to switch to Android.
I’m not talking about the transfer from iOS to Android, which has been made significantly easier in recent years with upgraded Google Drive functionality. No, it’s Apple’s ecosystem that restricts its products to working only with other Apple devices that’s forcing me to stick with my iPhone.
If I did buy a Flip 3, I’d have to stop using products that I paid good money for but, most of all, which I love.
Take the Apple Watch, which is arguably the best experience you can get from any smartwatch available right now. It’s the reason why there are over 100 million Apple Watch owners, and that’s still growing. The synchronicity of hardware and software make the Apple Watch perform better and able to offer more than the Android-based competition.
But there’s no way – not even a long-winded workaround – to make an Apple Watch work with an Android smartphone. So the act of switching to Android renders my £400 wearable unusable. Imagine buying a TV, but being unable to watch it if you changed your broadband provider. That’s how it feels when you’re in Apple’s walled garden.
The worst part is that other companies have started to copy Apple’s approach and put similar restrictions on Android hardware. Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4, for instance, doesn’t support iPhones.
The Watch isn’t the only reason I can’t make the switch. It’s also my reliance on FaceTime for video calling. I could use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, but most of my friends and family exclusively use FaceTime.
While Steve Jobs originally claimed FaceTime would come to Android and other platforms at launch alongside the iPhone 4, that never happened. You might say it’s beginning to happen now that the basic FaceTime Web experience lets you join, but not make, calls from Android.
But it’s maddening that the video calling service is so exclusive and it’s an obvious reason why other services such as Zoom prevailed during the pandemic.
Besides that, I’d lose access to my iCloud storage and iMessage history, I wouldn’t be able to use most of the features available on my AirPods Pro and I wouldn’t be able to stream music to my HomePod.
It’s this lack of interoperability between devices from different brands that has prevented the smart home from gaining more traction than it has, but it’s also fairly easy to see why: companies such as Apple want you to buy all your gadgets from them – not their competitiors.
There is some hope on the horizon in the shape of Matter, a new smart home standard that promises the freedom to buy products from different brands that will play nicely together, but that doesn’t help me right now. Plus, it’s almost certainly not going to change the walled garden predicament and allow Apple Watches to work with Android phones.
So, while I want to live my best foldable smartphone life, Apple isn’t letting me – without significant cost, at any rate.