2015 Flagship winner

Thu Nov 19, 2015

The choice came down to four phones: the HTC One M9, the Samsung Galaxy S6, the LG G4, or the iPhone 6s. In actuality, a more stark dichotomy lay between Android and Apple, so the choice really came down to two very different approaches.

I’ve been living with both Android and iOS, so appreciate the merits of both operating systems. For me, hardware was a bigger consideration, as well as ongoing software support. I also didn’t want a gigantic slab of a phone that seems to be the norm these days. So, in the end, I decided to go with the iPhone.

I’ll be honest - another factor in my decision was the company brand, and everything that brand stands for. For this reason, I didn’t even consider Huawei’s Nexus 6P, even though it seems very well made. People quickly forget, but Huawei has been suspected of spying for the Chinese government, even though they, of course, deny it. On the other hand, Apple is well known for its stance on privacy and security, perhaps even more so under Tim Cook’s reign. After all, Tim is an intensely private person, to the point where protecting people’s data is almost a crusade for him.

Google has never had qualms about mining people’s data to sell advertising, but I’ve never had a huge problem with this. Probably because I’ve come to believe Google’s “don’t be evil” mantra after using their services for such a long time.

In fact, most of Google’s apps work beautifully on the iPhone - it seems pretty obvious that they don’t care whether you buy an Android phone or iPhone, as long as you use their services.

Apple’s beautiful hardware is one of the main reasons that people are willing to kill a whole pay cheque on an iPhone. The 6s is indeed a thing of beauty and is often imitated, sometimes to a ridiculous degree. Looking back, I had my eye on the original iPhone before it even debuted - but for some reason, I stuck with my flip phone for another five years before trying out an Android phone as my first smartphone.

So, it was with great excitement that I unboxed my first iPhone. I didn’t even turn it on until I’d put a screen protector on it and inserted a new SIM.

Then, my heart broke a little.

I spotted a dead pixel in the lower-right corner of the screen. As you may know, once you see a dead pixel, you just can’t un-see it. Especially when you just paid $1200 for a phone.

I took it into the Apple store the next day and they were willing to exchange it for a refurbished “service phone”, not a new out-of-the-box phone. Note-to-self: If I ever buy another Apple product, just get it at the store - not online. Apple stores can’t exchange online purchases. My choices were to either return it for a service phone, or mail the phone back to Apple and wait a couple of weeks for a new replacement.

However, after some deliberation - involving a bizarre rambling monologue from a disgruntled Genius - a third option presented itself: to replace the entire LCD screen. So that’s what I did - they could replace it at the store and it only took about an hour.

After using my new phone for a week, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well the iPhone syncs up my other Apple products - namely my iMac, iPad, and Apple TV. I’d never really considered this, but, until now, the iPhone was the only missing link in my personal Apple ecosystem (my second-gen iPod has long since ceased to be a contributing member of “the family”).

I could go on about how crispy the screen is or how insanely fast this thing is, but others have done so in far more detail. But, yeah, this thing screams.

But, there have also been some unexpected, quite inexplicable niggles. The Alert volume, for example, is separate from the Ringtone volume, but can’t be changed in the settings menu. I think you can change the Alert volume by playing some music and adjusting its volume, but I’m not sure - either way, not very user friendly.

Also, I’m baffled as to how I can back up my videos in their original resolution. Photostream uploads photos to the cloud, but not videos. And trying to use Dropbox to back up photos and videos doesn’t work either because Apple doesn’t allow Dropbox to run indefinitely in the background. Google photos does a good job, but downscales 4K videos to 1080p.

Fortunately, these are minor concerns that could someday be fixed in software. At the end of the day, a phone is just a tool. I know I’ve made a big deal in this blog about my upgrade. And I expected to go be glued to my new phone the moment I got it - installing tons of apps and so on. But I haven’t.

Instead, the iPhone has sort of faded away into the background. It doesn’t have a distractingly large screen. There are no widgets to fiddle with. But when called on to perform a task - it is on point; the iPhone does it well and it does it fast. Like a well-oiled weapon that never misfires - the iPhone can be counted on when you need it most.

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