A Word From the “Android Friend”

After owning an Android phone since age 13, I bought myself my first iPhone about 2 months ago. I have zero regrets. It’s an iPhone XR, and it’s beautiful. Elegant design, stellar camera, freaking iOS 14—I feel like I’m living a dream. Don’t let anyone fool you: yes, in terms of design, convenience, and durability, iPhones are in fact superior to Android phones. They’re definitely expensive, but you really do get what you pay for.

But as soon as I left the Android gang, I felt like I had betrayed my comrades. Half-joking Instagram comments of “how COULD you?!?!” from my Android user friends had an abnormally large effect on me. It’s just a new phone, after all. Why did I feel bad for upgrading? What is it about owning an Android phone that breeds a sense of camaraderie? 

The answer to this question, as it turns out, has more to do with Apple than with Android. Apple is king of convenience and connectivity. iMessage makes for fast texts and easy group chats. FaceTime leads to hours-long video calls at the push of a button. AirDrop allows for instantaneous, high-quality file sharing. I’m starting to sound like an Apple advertisement, but the list goes on. Apple software is fast, elegant, and easy to use, and nearly everyone loves it.

Of course, Android phones come equipped with equivalent features. But a WhatsApp video call will never be as good as a FaceTime call - partially because the technology isn’t as good, but mostly because it’s not as convenient to use. iPhones are so widespread that Apple-specific features are often regarded as universal. Not everyone has WhatsApp, but everyone has FaceTime, right?

Wrong. Android users get excluded from this network of convenient, user-friendly Apple features. And by not owning an iPhone, these Android users become an inconvenience to everyone else.  

You may not think this is a big deal. Indeed, some Android owners are happy with their devices and don’t give a rip about mainstream smartphone culture. But even the most adamant Android fans still turn the iMessage group texts green. Because we, iPhone users, are so used to convenience and connectivity, we balk at the sudden inconvenience of communicating outside of Apple’s web. As a result, photos don’t get sent, or texts don’t get answered, or worse—friends don’t get invited to hang out. 

This exclusion weighs heavily on the consciousness of an Android user. I can’t even begin to tell you how many group chats I’ve been excluded from, or how many jokes I’ve heard from friends about not answering green text messages—my messages. I’ve had professors ask if everyone in the class had an iPhone, just to be disappointed when I informed them of my Android.

The exclusion wouldn’t be so bad if owning an Android was a choice. And for some, it is just that: many Android users genuinely prefer the Google-based technology and value for the price. I suppose if you choose the Android life, you willingly accept the consequences of the Android life. But for many, owning an Android isn’t a freely-made choice. Sometimes Android phones are the only smartphones a person can afford. And if this is the case, poking fun at a person because their text messages are green might actually be poking fun at the fact that they’re poor.

I come from modest means, and Androids were the norm in my hometown. I didn’t know that iPhones were the “better phones” until I came to Pepperdine. I’m still not convinced that Android phones are all that bad. But still, during my time on campus, my phone slowly became a source of insecurity for me; a reminder that I didn’t quite fit into “Pepperdine culture” because I didn’t have the money for an iPhone or a Macbook. So when the opportunity came to get a new phone, I upgraded. And my Android comrades lamented—another person lost to the world of AirDrop, FaceTime, and blue text messages.

I don’t regret my choice to upgrade. I absolutely love my yellow iPhone, and I’m beyond thankful that I had the means to purchase it. But from my own experience, I know the struggle and respect the hustle of an Android user in an iPhone world. As the former “Android friend,” I beg of you: make that group chat, even if it’s green. Make that WhatsApp video call, even if you have to download the app. And don’t send that tweet making fun of someone’s green messages just because you know it will get likes. It’s just a phone, after all.