Why do people switch from iPhone to Android?

It seems every year we see a level of discontent among some iPhone users, enough to drive them away from the iPhone into the arms of the green guy. To my knowledge, there isn’t any statistical data on the number or percentage of users making the jump. Wireless contracts make jumping ship increasingly difficult with most people tied to 2-year contracts. In Canada,  you have to commit to three years to receive a subsidy on a new phone. Changing phones, let alone platforms is a big decision. Are these idle threats or people are really switching? If so, why are they making the switch from iPhone to Android?

switch from android to iPhone

Bigger Display
If this were the Family Feud and we still had the dearly departed Richard Dawson, he would reveal the number one answer as he yelled “Show me bigger display“. There was a time when phones claimed one-handed use as a critical benefit. While that still might be true, the way in which we use phones has changed with faster processors, improved cameras, wireless networks and apps. These are full blown media devices. Years back (and I’m dating myself back to the Palm Treo days), smartphones were primarily used for checking email or productivity apps. I do not think it would be a stretch to say that gaming, watching movies and taking/viewing photos are more important to the average consumer. The natural inclination is to think, “This would look much better on a bigger display.” Those who have stuck to the iOS ecosystem, might have gotten that bug from using the iPad. If the iPad mini could make calls, you can bet that people would buy it. Competitors have seized this opportunity. Samsung hasn’t met a display size they weren’t comfortable manufacturing and selling. They don’t care what you buy, as long as it is from Samsung. Apple’s increase from a 3.5-inch display to a 4-inch display was certainly welcome, but it’s still small compared to most, if not all of the major phones available on Android or even Windows Phone. When people browse Best Buy in search of a TV, I wonder how many opt for a larger display, if there is no difference in price? Even if there is a hit to quality, is it something the average customer can process at the time of purchase? I’m not sure big is a quality, but it’s certainly a purchase factor.

Bored
When it comes to iPhones and iPads, Apple has sold a metric ton. Maybe slightly less, but fair to say it’s a large number, spread across all types of users. When you have that large of a user base, it’s not that easy to turn the ship, nor would it be a smart business move. As Apple recently reminded us, people love their iPhones and they love the familiarity of iOS. As a result, we’ve seen a layering of features each year, with the core functionality remaining very much the same. Some have argued that it’s happening again this year, suggesting that iOS 7 is nothing more than a fresh coat of paint. When you are responsible for the stewardship of millions of users, you cannot reinvent the OS every year. So while Apple continues to move the machine at pace that is slow, but steady, you get folks thinking that the grass is greener or more importantly, it’s different. How do you deal with boredom? You change things up.

Customization
On the iPhone, your customization options start and end with wallpaper. One of the primary reasons folks jailbreak their iPhone is to theme. They love to change fonts, icons and things as trivial as the carrier logo. Often the things I see people do to their iPhones is cringeworthy, but that doesn’t diminish what is a valid interest in customization. Android affords this kind of beating your phone with an ugly stick and actually, there are plenty of good looking themes for purchase in Google Play. Geez, you can even run an iOS 7 theme. A large number of apps have widgets that can be placed on a home screen or even in a lock screen. These widgets push information, which in some cases can create a bit of a home screen cluster. Between custom themes, manufacturer UIs, there is a tremendous amount of differentiation in how they all look and work. On occasion I’ll use an Android phone. I often end up spending less time in apps and more time changing the look and feel. Eventually I get frustrated and pop my nanoSIM back into the iPhone 5.

Yearly Cycle
In the early years, you could count on a new iPhone come each summer. Releases have now switched to the fall, but the yearly trend more or less remains consistent. Apple released the iPhone 5 in September and many expect a new model this September. Phone manufacturers have countered with new devices before, after and during iPhone release windows. The yearly cycle allows for discontent, which is only made worse by rumors of this year being an ‘S’ upgrade.

Phones Are Getting Better
Remember the T-Mobile G1? Android phones have come a long way since then. Having owned the HTC One for a few weeks, I was suitably impressed with the build quality when compared to the iPhone. Samsung still may rely heavily on plastic, but people are looking straight past the plastic to the almost 5-inch display. Cameras on both are also at an acceptable level of quality. Google has also made strides with Android and the quality of third party apps, while still a notch below iOS, are at an acceptable level for most.

Switching phones is easy enough. Switching platforms? Not so much. There is collateral damage in lost app purchases and having to endure a learning curve associated with a new operating system. For many folks, those are acceptable trade-offs. It really boils down to the individual and what they value most, some of which I’ve outlined. I’m certain there are other reasons not covered above and most of what I’m referencing is anecdotal evidence sourced in forums, Twitter and Facebook. A few years ago, switchers were far and few between, but the other guys are getting better. Apple’s big release this year will be iOS 7 and it will ship on an entirely new iPhone. Come this fall, the spotlight will once again shine directly on Apple retail stores and the throngs of people lined up to buy the new iPhone. Those considering a switch will have to decide if those are compelling enough reasons to stay with what they know and love.

  • Phil

    It’s the Eco system and the quality of the apps on the App Store the keep me there the most. I also like how the phone is easy to navigate and always works. My wife had an android up until a month ago and I have got to say the android OS is so frustrating to use. She was always pulling tha battery (that’s why it so important for android users to have a removable battery) and the phone just stopped working 3 times requiring a replacement. She also noticed how my apps where better then the same ones on android, and she hatted the big scream that wasn’t easy to use with one hand.

  • Labellagp

    I got bored, I had Apple everything. And, I feel you can’t say you don’t like something if you haven’t tried it. I’m really enjoying the S3, I don’t doubt I’ll be online for the iPhone 6.Choices are great and so is customization but something can be said for having standard apps that do exactly what you need them to do. I find myself searching Google play for a new mail, messenging, and calendar app every few days.

  • Susan

    I was tired of the smallness of the iphone and wanted something bigger. I truly felt a pang of guilt as I was in the Best Buy store to pick up my Samsung Note II, however, after playing on this baby for an hour I had no regrets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leo.renard.984 Leo Renard

    Beginning in December 2013, Canadian contracts are reduced to 2 years.

  • Joe

    They switch because they are much better phones and Apple is beginning to suck. They are way past technology

  • http://gravatar.com/saraepilling1978 Sara E Pilling

    Most of the Android Apps are usually free, at least those that my fiance has on his sony xperia. He’s always had android and won’t touch an iPhone. I don’t know why.

  • Howard

    I know three people who moved in the last year. All three moved because of downsizing their financial situation … and all three are really really unhappy and gagging to move back. I don;t blame them .. Android is really apiece of crap. btw I also know lots more who moved to the iPhone and are still drooling over it :-)

  • Paul zumbo

    I switched from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S3, because I was bored (I had every iPhone since the first one) and because the larger screen size was appealing. However, I cannot wait to switch back — the Samsung hardware is just not as robust as Apple’s, and the android OS is just an inefficient nightmare. Counting the days….