Seán Moncrieff: I’m switching to another phone. My daughter is outraged
Despite what they are desperate to tell you, phones are pretty much all the same
An Android is, apparently, social suicide. At least that’s what Daughter Number Three tells me. Photograph: iStock/Getty Images
Teenagers are weird and sometimes annoying for many reasons, but one is their attitude towards phones. The kind of phone your average teenager owns is, apparently, a great source of social anxiety. They can be ashamed of the brand, yet have no embarrassment over the disgusting state they keep it in. It can be dirty, greasy, not fully functional and so cracked it looks like it’s been used for target practice. But as long as it’s not an Android, then it’s fine.
An Android is, apparently, social suicide. At least that’s what Daughter Number Three tells me. To have it forced upon you by cruel or skinflint parents is one thing; that might elicit some sympathy from one’s peers. But to deliberately choose this operating system is inexplicable.
It’s also inexplicable as to why she feels this way. Certainly, she was unable to provide any reasons for it, other than a misty conviction that iPhones are always better. Daughter Number One swooped in with something more concrete: the camera on an iPhone is superior. Pictures of dodgy looking guys on Tinder are always taken with an Android. I can’t stand over the accuracy of any of that.
Some context: the conversation with Daughter Number Three took place when I told her that I was getting a new phone. As she is the most egregious phone vandaliser/charger thief in our family, she would be getting my old one. But her delight at this news was almost completely overshadowed by the news that I was switching to Android. She kept asking: Why?
I wasn’t able to provide a singular answer. I felt like a change. Phones have evolved in a contradictory way. At first, they were brick-like, then they shrank to as small as possible, then grew again to a slab so big you need special pockets sewn into your clothes to accommodate it. I wanted something slightly smaller.
But it was also prompted by the reactions of many non-teenagers. They were close to appalled.
By the simple act of switching phone brand, I was opening myself up to brain-skewering levels of stress: the equivalent of moving house, getting divorced and having major surgery all on the same day. Because – gasp – the buttons might be in different places. The apps might be different or not exist at all. The main concern was that I would waste time with all this fiddlyness; time I could spend playing on my phone.
I must admit I started to worry too. Even after I got it, it took me a while to open the box. Luckily, I can be a contrary article, and it struck me that phone manufacturers want me to have these concerns. Further arming myself with some guff about being open to new experiences, I opened the box and didn’t have a new experience.
One button is in a different place, and I could get the Android versions of all the apps but one. (I’m looking at you, Ulster Bank). After a day or so, I could barely discern any difference between my new and old phone.
But this is largely framed by what I use my phone for, and what I don’t use it for. I don’t want to talk to it, nor do I want it talking to me. There are parts of it that will remain unexplored and unused. Because ultimately, it’s a tool. Like a hammer or a vibrator, we need it to do specific things. But most tools aren’t fetishised in the way phones are. You don’t see carpenters sneering at each other because one of them got a hammer in Tesco.
We get stressed enough by what we read on the phones. We don’t need to get stressed about the phones themselves. The type is irrelevant. But that’s my experience. It may change when I put my new profile picture up on Tinder.