Millions use either Android or iOS, and both platforms offer much of the same functionality with a slightly different approach. Neither is the best for everyone, and as a reviewer, I enjoy testing out the latest and greatest. However, I also make device purchases regularly, and this year I'm skipping a favorite while also committing to an old friend.
When the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, see my review, was released in 2013, I was impressed with the S Pen and have had all of the Note models since then. I bought the Galaxy Note 9 last year, but I'm skipping the Note 10 Plus even though I am eligible to upgrade with the Samsung Upgrade Program.
I'll keep the Note 9 around to get my S Pen fix now and then, but my primary daily driver is going to be a new Apple iPhone 11 Pro for the following reasons:
- Size: I went through the iPhone XS Max and XR before choosing the iPhone XS last year, and the 5.8-inch iPhone is the perfect size for me. I have big hands and pockets, but with nothing special in the software for the bigger iPhone models, I would rather have something that I can easily run with and carry while wearing shorts. This will be my third iPhone 5.8 inch model, and I hope Apple continues this size indefinitely.
- Unlock/security system: Apple's Face ID is magical, and I understand it will be even better in the iPhone 11 Pro. On the other hand, Samsung went backward with a terrible sensor in the display that achieves about a 33% success rate for me. With an iPhone, I pick it up, and it's unlocked. Going to my bank app is a joy, as I hold up my phone and can jump into the app. Samsung would have been better off going back to Note 9's rear sensor and iris scanner.
- Performance: My current iPhone XS flies, and the 11 Pro is sure to be even a bit faster with the new processor. The Note 10 Plus is fine, but using the OnePlus 7 Pro shows me how much better Android really can be. Samsung's One UI is definitely improving, but there is still more that can be done.
- Apps: There used to be a major gap between iOS and Android apps, and you would expect that to be a non-issue. However, many apps are still much better on iOS than on Android, and it's not just related to performance. Something as simple as the Traeger grill app works much better on my iPhone than on an Android phone.
- OS updates: The iPhone 11 Pro will launch with iOS 13, and we can expect it to get updates for the next couple of years without question. Android 10 is launching soon, and yet a brand new Galaxy Note 10 Plus likely won't get updated for another six months. It's not critical in most cases, but when you pay over $1,000 for a phone, it's these things that you should be able to count on.
- Bloatware free: Samsung has clearly gotten better at reducing US carrier bloatware, but there are still usually a dozen or more apps and utilities included on its devices right out of the box. Some can be removed, but most are forever stuck in the internal storage and likely never to be used. Apple continues to have a pure iOS experience, much like Google, with its Pixel phones.
- Back glass design: Samsung glass backs are atrocious fingerprint magnets, and while the Aura Glow Note 10 looks good in pictures, it is disgusting in real life with any use. Apple is adding a frosted glass panel on the back this year, and it is likely to show very few smudges. The Pixel 3 has this type of matte glass back, and I'm a huge fan of this design element.
- Retail stores: There is a lot of value in being able to walk into an Apple store and get help with your iPhone. Samsung opened three stores early this year, but I haven't heard a single thing about them or any possible expansion since then. With Samsung's Android leadership, Tizen smartwatches, DeX experiences, tablets, Chromebooks, and other computing devices you would think retail stores would be busy and growing for the company, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
- AirDrop: It takes a few steps to upload pics to Google Photos and then share them with others, and I do it all of the time. However, one of the most magical things I have shown new iPhone users is AirDrop. When I show them how easy it is to share photos directly with other iPhone users, these people look at me like I am a magician. It is an awesome feature that is often overlooked.
- Battery life: The new iPhone 11 Pro has a reported 4-5 hours longer battery life than the iPhone XS, and I already get through a full day. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus doesn't last as long as last year's Note 9 so again Samsung is moving the wrong way with Note 10.
- Resale value: May not be important to everyone, but it was obvious to me when I was looking at selling my Note 9 and iPhone XS. Apple iPhones clearly retain their value better than Android phones, check out Swappa for the latest prices to compare. Your dollar goes further with an iPhone purchase.
Some people don't have the luxury to choose iOS or Android, but if you do, then you might have to make the same choice as me. The Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a fantastic phone with all of the latest and greatest technology inside and is sure to appeal to millions, but it's just not the best for me and my work at this time.