The Verge have been accused of many things, read some comments on posts and they switch between users yelling ‘iVerge’ to saying they are ‘Android biased’. Vlad Savov even wrote a whole article on why his reviews are better because of bias. He raises some good points, but it also raises a much larger issue with the world of technology reviews: is objective reviewing even possible anymore?
This became all the more obvious whilst using a Lumia recently to see how Windows Phone had grown from 8 to 8.1. The ultimate goal of each operating system or manufacturer is to keep you buying their products, even before you need to if at all possible. So instead of taking the risk of going elsewhere, companies have come up with all sorts of plans to ‘lock you in’ and ensure your continued custom and revenue.
First starting with differing operating systems and usage, this quickly expanded to creating brand application stores, accessories, and general feeling of belonging to a team. You choose your side and stick with it through thick and thin, band times and good.
Those Damn Hipsters
Each brand, operating system or manufacturer has its image. You could argue that this started long before the smartphone, back in the PC vs Mac days, or Windows and Linux, when the ethos was “choose a side!”. So called fanboys sprouted from everywhere online, communities were built and people belonged. This is a story that can take an age to tell, but what’s established is the ethos and brand users felt.
But much more than this, Apple created a brand image that has become synonymous with the people that buy the products. Once the rebel underdog fighting against the evil Microsoft, the brand has evolved into the artists brand, and in the smart phone age it that has taken on a luxury image. Founding Apple Hippies, now morphed into cash rich middle class Hipsters.
Users felt exclusive, entitled and most of all proud of the executive phone they carried. All the while with each iTunes and App Store purchase were less and less likely to even consider a competitive handset. While we’re at it, you know that iTunes runs much better on a Mac, don’t you? It is also much better for all your artistic needs, because that’s why you are an Apple user right?
Let’s not forget all those nice accessories you have for your phone won’t work with anything else, so don’t even think about that new Android flagship. As the once underdog became the top dog a new starter in the field would take over this image, one lead by an equally geeky culture; Android. Producing with it a huge number of companions to your new device.
With matching tablet, Chromecast streaming device plugged into all your TVs and the options of having it on your wrist and in your car, to just consider switching to another OS leaves you without these devices, so the desire to leave has to either be financially viable or massively motivating.
Slipping your sim into a Windows Phone handset immediately leaves a user without some Google services that they may have spent years with. Yes, Gmail is just about workable but not on the same level, but no Google Plus, no Chromecast along with extremely limited YouTube and don’t even think about a wearable. Whichever side you choose can you bare to spend time switching services and be subjective to a new platform?
This is without taking into account the learnt abilities and work abilities of the usual platform of choice. Although Apple seems determined to pull in features from Android, the three major platforms are uniformly and intently different from each other. Because one ability is easy and learnt on one, does not mean it is on another.
Buttons move, menus change and strengths and weaknesses of a platform differ. This is all the more prevalent between the two large platforms of iOS and Android, compared to Windows Phone, but it is also creeping in between OEM Android handsets. Each mobile company is building their own features that are not available on any other phones. Unlike iOS, on Android and to a point Windows Phone you are not just comparing specs and platforms, but also who makes it.
There is definitely a movement within Android users that brands attract loyalty. On Google Plus and Twitter it’s obvious that Samsung attracts different users compared to HTC, as does Motorola and the holier than thou Nexus users. They each have a completely different ethos in both hardware and software.
What Phone Should I Get?
Phones are like cars, some have strengths and weaknesses but they can each do a job. Decide what job you need it to do and get the one that ticks the most boxes. Be happy and proud you chose the right phone for you and made up your own mind. For some help read and watch as many reviews as possible.
There are a wealth of really good reviewers out there, some have come and gone, some have started out great but have given into the lure of big bucks from manufacturers. Regardless, can any of them be subjective? Can an iPhone user give a Windows Phone a good run, or give in like me after a day as it’s not the same as their previous phone?
Even within Android, can a Motorola user give the new Samsung an honest review? Or even a current Samsung user for that matter? Take everything in with pinch of salt, consider the angle the review has and read a few. At the end of the day though, it’s something you have to decide on your own!