New Phone, who dis?
My trusty iPhone 6s is slowly falling apart. Not literally, but well – Even though the next iOS will still support it, it barely holds up. Also, I've already had the battery replaced once and somehow it would feel like beating a dead horse to do that again – But I barely get through the day with one charge.
I thought about getting an iPhone 12 mini or maybe a current iPhone SE as a replacement, but given that I have my Computers migrated largely away from Apple, I was kinda curious about Android here as well to see if I could live without iOS.
Unfortunately, small phones are even more rare in the Android world, where currently 6,7” is sort of the sweet spot right now. I know there's the small Google Pixel and that seems to be generally regarded as a good phone, but my thinking here was that I wanted to take this as an opportunity to see if I could actually live with one of these humogous phones and see if I would enjoy the benefits.
So in the end I got a POCO F3 from Xiaomi in a sale. So, yes, a chinese phone. I am not 100% comfortable with that but would I really be more comfortable with a Google phone? I mean, really, really?
The F3 is a bold phone, especially in the blue metallic version I got. It is a large and heavy phone. It has many, many cameras. It has a pretty fast processor for an Android phone (according to Geekbench 5 about 2x faster in single core and 3x faster in multicore than my 6s).
The first thing I noticed, of course, coming from the dinosaur the 6s is by now, is the display. A gorgeous, large, OLED screen with almost no bezels, no real notch (of course the selfie-cam does obstruct parts of the titlebar, but this seems to be handled quite well in software).
Given that the last Android phone I played with was a smallish underpowered Redmi phone I bought in Singapore, my expectations were low, but strictly from a look and feel perspective, this phone actually does feel snappier than my ancient iPhone.
And so the last two days I mostly delved into the world of Android for the first time in earnest and with the expectation of using this as a daily driver as long as I can stand it.
I treat it as an experiment – I want to know how much I will miss some parts of iOS and how much I will enjoy some parts of Android and then, towards the end of the year, I can either declare this a success and then cancel all my Apple subscriptions and such, or I will sell the phone at a loss and get a modern iPhone.
And since this obviously needs time, there's actually not much I can say in terms of my experiences. But here's what I have learned so far:
- In contrast to a super closed down walled garden like iOS, I really enjoy the relative openness of even a stock Android phone. The Play Store does have much less harsh restrictions of what is allowed there and so one of the first things I did install (apart from all the usual suspects and all the software I use daily on my iPhone) was actually RetroArch, the retro games emulator software. Playing Gameboy games with on screen buttons is probably not for me, but having the ability to set this up and then use a normal file access mode built into Android to mount the phone in Windows and simply copy over some games was glorious.
- Unfortunately, this openness comes with drawbacks. In App-Ads are much more common and much more annoying than on iOS. I can already see that my main quest on Android will be to find the good pieces of software that allow me to pay for them so that they shut the hell up.
- MIUI and the accompanying software suite from Xiaomi is ... alright. I can already see how I will probably fight some of the more annoying aspects of it and I have already (more out of curiosity than necessity) replaced the launcher, but in general, everything feels alright and not particularly buggy. One annoying aspect is the aggressive optimisation towards battery savings, which interferes with a lot of apps that try to do useful things in the background and I've learned that there are entire websites dedicated to Howtos for disabling these optimisations which use non public APIs and are largely undocumented. Yay.
- Migrating my accounts over was mostly painless but of course there's the usual bunch of apps that either make it impossible to migrate or really annoying. Plus, I do have a couple of Apps where I have a running subscription via Apple, so that needs sorting at some point.
I'll try to remember to post an update to this in about a week or two with a couple of more observations, hopefully.
But whooo is this thing large and heavy.