My new phone is a refurbished iPhone because it’s cheap! Keep reading if you want to learn more about how an iPhone was cheaper than Android for me, my experience chasing iPhone deals, or the issues that came up for me in switching. Send me a text or email if you want help switching or deciding if/how you should switch, assuming we already know each other.
In 2019, I bought a new Google Pixel 3a for about $500. Two months ago, I decided to replace it. My phone had been mysteriously slow for the past two years, and security updates were scheduled to end sometime this year. The cost over the useful lifetime of the Pixel 3a was about $150/year. I was not satisfied with how much value I had been getting. My main option seemed to be buying a new phone from the very company terminating my updates; even if I bought a new phone from Google, they only offered choices that were larger than my Pixel 3a, and I wanted something the same size or smaller.
I had been reading for years that Apple supports their older iPhones with software updates, unlike Android. I’ve been using Android since 2009, but I was willing to try an iPhone if there were some kind of trial period. I saw that Amazon was selling an iPhone 6s 16GB for $140, and I bought it; I could use it to find out if I liked iOS. It ran the latest iOS and would get security updates for two more years, so if I liked it, I could keep it.
I used the iPhone 6s for phone calls, web surfing, texting, and taking pictures. I left all my apps on my Pixel 3a to avoid putting any pressure on me to switch in a hurry. The seven year old iPhone 6s was blazing fast compared to my three year old Pixel 3a. The operating system was easy to use, even better than Android in some ways. However, I found that 16GB was too little storage for me, so I contacted Amazon to return the phone.
At this point, I went mad chasing deals. I needed a phone with more storage, and a friend told me he’s been a happy customer of BackMarket.com for years and years. BackMarket.com was selling a iPhone 6s 128GB for $140, so I bought it. The order confirmation email told me the name of the refurbishing company, Supplytronics. I looked into them immediately, and they were selling an identical item for cheaper, so I placed an order from their eBay store. I asked BackMarket.com to cancel my order; they said it was too late, but I could ship it back unopened for a refund. The eBay one arrived with a broken fingerprint sensor, so I asked Supplytronics for a refund on that. I was still using the Amazon phone, and was getting frustrated by the camera quality, so I decided I should splurge for a newer model. I bought an iPhone SE 2020 256GB for $210 from the Supplytronics eBay store. When that phone arrived, I had four iPhones and one Android phone in my possession! I managed to transfer my data from the first iPhone to the fourth iPhone, do some factory reset procedures, and return the returnable phones to the right people.
As part of the switch, I wanted to get rid of phones and accessories I didn’t need. I checked a few trade-in websites and found the best offer for my Pixel 3a was from Amazon, $32 of store credit. Before resetting the Pixel 3a, I went through each app on it. I installed the app or an equivalent on the iPhone if I wanted, configured it to be fully logged-in, then uninstalled the app from the Pixel. As for the phone cases, I listed them on Craigslist, where nobody seemed to want them. I then found a service called RECASETiFY that would recycle my Pixel 3a & iPhone 6s cases for free if I sent them in a regular stamped envelope.
Most of the data and apps transferred fine. The most difficult data to transfer was my TOTP (2FA) codes. My 2FA Android app allowed me to export the secret keys, so I got them onto my laptop, then wrote a bash script to generate 2FA QR codes that I scanned into an iPhone app called Raivo. Signal history was was impossible to transfer. Most of my interesting chats are in Signal, so I didn’t bother transferring SMS or WhatsApp history either. I could have transferred SMS and WhatsApp chats if I had used the Move to iOS app, which seems like a nice app.
I’ve had some minor issues come up in the transition. My new phone’s battery life is a little less than a day; I’ve solved this by putting a charger by the bed. I got more spam calls on the iPhone until I found a way to silence calls that aren’t from my contacts. The iPhone SE didn’t have a headphone jack, so eventually I had to buy a $9 adapter from the Apple store. The biggest issue in switching was my 15 years of resistance to buying an iPhone. After using the iPhone for two weeks, I found iOS had very pleasing notifications management and privacy features, and eventually I felt comfortable.
I’m really glad I am saving money; some of you know I love my $15/mo phone plan from Mint Mobile. I think iOS is no worse than Android, and it can be had for cheaper when you factor in the longer device lifetime. Apple offers out-of-warranty repairs at a reasonable price, too. Until something big changes, I don’t see myself buying an Android phone again. What a big surprise for me!