New Apple iPhone? Please! Get the best, pay less: Android

iPhones are not now, nor have they ever been, worth their high price tags. And, yes, that includes the iPhone 11. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols shares his disdain for Apple's ubiquitous device.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Here we go again. Everyone who wants to show that they're techie cool and can afford to blow a grand on a phone is ready to buy the iPhone 11. Please. Give me a break.

Listen, if you want to waste your money and show your "I'm so cool" Apple cred, go for it. On behalf of the ghost of Steve Jobs and today's Apple stockholders, I thank you. But, if you want a smartphone that actually has some pop to it, buy Android. 

More specifically, wait until October, and pick up a Pixel 4 running Android 10. I'm not going to dive into details. The iPhone 11 just rolled out, and the Pixel 4 isn't here yet. But, based on its top-notch ancestor, the Pixel 3, it should be killer. So, I'm going to swat at some of my buddy Jason Perlow's claims about the iPhone being the best thing since sliced bread.

First, it's certainly true that if you're running an older iPhone, like our colleague David Gewirtz, who's still happy with his iPhone 6s Plus, you can't "upgrade" to iOS 13, which will be out real soon. Notice those quote marks? Apple's iOS releases are notorious for killing battery life and fouling up Wi-FI.  

Rotten at the core

What is it with Apple and software quality? Apple has absolute control over its hardware and software, and it still manages to foul-up its phone's fundamental features. 

Android, on the other hand, does indeed support positively ancient programs. That means you can still run old favorite apps because its APIs are still supported. According to Perlow, this leads to a "Toxic Hellstew" of system bloating, substantially increased resource utilization, and security flaws that exploit legacy architecture weaknesses. Does it? Really?

If you use basic good Android security practices, your phone is going to be as safe as anything ever is connected to the internet. Yes, every day, you see a new Android security problem. Look at them closely. You'll soon see that, to be hit by 99% of them, you must be a security idiot.  

In addition, if you get a new Android 10-powered phone, like the aforementioned Pixel 4, it comes secured by Project Mainline. With this, even if your device manufacturer never updates your operating system, Google is updating and securing many of your phone's subsystems. It doesn't patch everything. If there's a kernel problem, for instance, you'll still need to patch your operating system. But Android phones going forward are going to be much secure.

On the other hand, it turns out that Apple has been hiding major security problems for years. For example, most iOS apps disable the default iOS security feature ATS (App Transport Security). Recent Apple iOS updates have also broken iPhone security measures

Remember what I said about Apple's software quality assurance failing? Here it is again: Apple iPhones look good, but they're rotten at the core.

Top-notch, huh?

A major reason why Perlow thinks people should buy iPhones is because "they want top-notch customer service at the dealership (Apple Store) and a service plan they can count on (AppleCare)." 

Top-notch, huh? At least one disillusioned Apple Store employee recently said that, instead of working for the customer's good, management is all about "pushing AppleCare as if we are car salesmen or Best Buy employees."  

While I don't use iPhones myself, I do use Macs, iPads, and my good old iTouch iPod -- I'm the first line of technical support for iPhone-using friends and family. I've noticed that both Apple Stores and AppleCare aren't what they used to be. More and more, I encounter staffers without a clue about how to repair iPhones. 

Perhaps that's in part because Apple has started expanding its support for third-party iPhone repairs to independent businesses, as well as an Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASP). So, the next time you need to fix your iPhone, instead of going to a fancy Apple Store, you may find yourself joining your Android cousins at the local smartphone store. 

In short, if you think you're getting top-of-the-line care to go with your as-expensive-as-a-mortgage-payment smartphone, you may be wrong.

Nothing new to the table

Here's the simple truth: The iPhone 11 brings nothing new to the table. If you want a top-of-the-line phone, you'll do just as well, if not better, with a Pixel 4 or Samsung Galaxy Note 10. And, if you really want a phone that's going to catch people's eyes, and make them go "Whoa!", then get a Samsung Galaxy Fold and hope Samsung's got all the bugs out of this foldable beauty.

Jason and I do agree on one thing: You don't need to pay a mint for a good smartphone. Unfortunately, except for the iPhone 7, Apple doesn't offer reasonably priced phones. If you want to be smart with your money, get an inexpensive Android phone.  

A decent Android phone won't be as swanky as an iPhone 11, but it will do everything Apple's latest and greatest do for a lot less.

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