This week, I made a change; one that may seem completely out of character for me. I finally jumped on the Android train.
After years of being skeptical (with good reason), I decided the HTC One was too good to not pick up once my contract was up at the beginning of August. I have to say, I’m happy I did. It’s the best phone I’ve ever owned.
That’s not really saying much, though. At the time I first got them, every phone I’ve had has been the best I’ve ever owned. Two years between each one is a pretty long time in the tech world, so that’s not very surprising.
What surprises me are the reactions I get (specifically on tech blog comments and reddit) to mentioning I switched from iOS, to Windows Phone 8, to Android. Just a sampling of some of the comments I’ve recieved:
"You finally came to your senses."
"You made one of the worst mistakes you’ll ever make."
"You made one of the best decisions you’ll ever make."
"Are you fucking stupid?"
That’s a lot of blind hate and love over a simple decision I make every year or two.
Now, I am in the rare position that I have been fortunate to try out (for an extended time) the three major smartphone operating systems. I can objectively tell you the pros and cons of each one, because I have experience. I can run you through specs and features and tell you why each has their benefits for certain types of users. While people are busy hating on me or congratulating me for switching, not one person has asked me about the reasons why I switched. Unfortunately, objective reasoning just isn’t appreciated when it comes to personal use technology.
There is a big reason why this is the case, especially when it comes to phones, computers and video game consoles: our social lives are directly influenced by these devices. If all of your friends are instagramming photos of their good times on their iPhones and you’re stuck with a Windows Phone that has no access to instagram, it can be alienating. Suddenly your top of the line Lumia 1020 “sucks” because you can’t share your photos with your friends’ preferred photo service. You’re made to feel bad about your decision making skills, even though you took the time to carefully weigh your options (and probably have a better phone camera than your friends).
Fanboyism, and the neophobia that comes with it, is detrimental not only to our social interactions, but also to the tech industry itself. People have become so attached to the brand of their devices, that they will stick with that brand and defend it, even if something much better comes along. Loyalty is fine, but when you begin to hate on something that is objectively better, you are crossing the line into delusional. You’re also discouraging tech companies from innovation. No matter how good the camera is on the Lumia 1020, if no one is willing to try it, no one is willing replicate it. Apple and Samsung are fine with making boring hardware because they know you’ll go for it based on their names alone. Meanwhile, Nokia, HTC and Motorola are making some incredibly innovative devices, while continuously remaining on a lower tier of sales numbers and being hated on by Apple and Samsung users.
The things people do most on their phones (talking, texting, emailing, facebooking, tweeting) can be done on any modern smartphone regardless of what software it runs. It’s those little extras that should push people one way or the other. You like photography? Pick up the Lumia 1020. You’re a mobile gamer? You can’t beat the game selection on the iPhone. You’re a multi-tasker? Pick up a Galaxy S4. The one thing that shouldn’t influence your purchase is the logo on the back, and yet, this is the biggest deciding factor for a large number of users.
Change begins with you, so the next time you’re thinking about telling someone why your iPhone is so much better than their sucky device, take a minute and really decide if that’s you talking, or the little Apple in your head.