iPhone or Android?
photos by The Washington Post and The Guardian
I’ve never owned an iPhone.
It is true. In the over two decades that the Apple iOS has been a hot commodity in the smartphone space, I’ve yet to consume one.
I was recently asked if I was an Android or iPhone user?
The two options dominating the mobile market-- I’m definitely pro-Android, although I’m not necessarily a PC person and it’s not a dis on Apple products as my personal laptop choice is pretty much always an Apple. However, I will likely never own an iPhone and I’ve also never owned an iPad.
My mobile device journey started with a GTE version, on to a Nokia model, transitioned to Blackberry, and later to an early Android model with a slider keyboard before I settled on the Samsung Galaxy models for the better part of the last decade. I skipped past the Sidekick and Motorola Razr trends. I’m pretty good at resisting peer pressure or “sales pressure,” I care more about what I think of myself than I do what most anyone else thinks about me and whether anyone perceives me as cool or not is of very little consequence to me. Somehow, many of you still value my opinion and I can assure you that I value yours as well, as long as it’s truly your own and not one of the masses.
If you know me quite well, you’ll likely know or realize if you think back to all of my accessories or attire choices of the past and present that I personally don’t follow trends and I won’t ever wear your brand’s name emblazoned on anything that I’m wearing. Yet, if I find something of quality that I enjoy then I’ll keep purchasing.
One example is make-up brands, for example, I wore Lancôme’s Teint Idole foundation for years since I was 17 or 18 until I recently transitioned over to the Charlotte Tilbury line, but I still switch back and forth every now and then. I stay loyal to many stores, product, and of course people including my hairstylists, aesthetician, and of course in personal friendships and relationships.
However, when it comes to brands it is nice to see what else is out there. It is fair to say that I am a fan of evolving technology and therefore I will explore or read up on new things. However, I always make my own decisions after doing some cross-comparison explorations.
One more thing that if you know anything about me, you’d also know is that I don’t care what brands you consume--I don’t care what phone you have, I don’t care what brand your purse is, I don’t care what kind of car you drive, or where you live. I know that the way I look, dress, or even carry myself may give you that misconception, but rest assured that I don’t at all. What I care about is the type of person that you are-- you know substance, character, morals.
Before I proceed, I should also reassure you and promise that if you have an iPhone, I'm not going to judge you as it’s a non-issue for me if you have one. Likely 80% of the people who surround me including most of my family are iPhone users. I just won't ever join that percentage.
So back to the iPhone and my own reason(s) for never consuming it.
Trusting the Experts:
I’ll give you the short answer first. It honestly never felt like it was my only choice like it seemed to become for many others. Some people took the “Are you a Mac or a PC” commercials too seriously I think, becoming super-Apple consumers and investing in all of their devices. It really was and continues to be a debate iPhone vs. Android, specifically the Samsung Galaxy (or Note).
I did my research before I decided on my next phone when switching from that early android model and at the time I actually found something really interesting, at work (albeit entertainment and not tech) I noticed that all of the “regular” employees (publicists, marketers, producers, etc.) were all primarily iPhone users and the “tech-savvy” employees (project managers, web developers, app developers, designers, etc) were predominantly Android users (although some had both) and so I was curious as to why and so I asked some of those developers, many of which I am still quite close to, for their recommendations and they all pretty much said “go Android-- superior operating system.”
I knew they were experts on backends and on both the iOS and Android (operating systems) as many of them also dealt with mobile back ends and so I trusted them and for me I’ve had very little to no issues with all of my Samsung Galaxy generations.
My next reason is going to sound hypocritical as I still consume Apple Macbook products and in all honesty, I’ll agree that it is. Also, if you dig around into the Samsung manufacturing I’m certain that you will not find pristine conditions in their facilities either. There are reasons that manufacturing of most electronics happens overseas in places like China, Vietnam, and India and if anyone tries to say it is not about cheap labor, but ease of importing then we’d all be willingly wearing blindfolds.
However, back around the time that I first was trying to decide between iPhone and Samsung Androids there was a dark period in the iPhone manufacturing happening, which surprisingly very few of my friends seemed to know about.
At the time, I also had our radio station in the middle of L.A.’s prime “Indie-Rock” band scene and our studio which was quite large we didn’t need 100% of the time as most of our “live” radio shows happened in the late afternoon and evening so we also shared the studio with a Silver Lake/Echo Park based band that we became good friends with, and that I’m always happy to see getting great reviews or accolades knowing how hard they worked on their music and also how talented they are. It was a fun time to say the least and being in this epicenter where so much good music and creativity was burgeoning was a great place to be at that time in Los Angeles.
So anyhow, the reason that this band comes into this iPhone share is that they were often recording and sometimes we’d slightly overlap for certain shows, so they’d be wrapping up a recording or practice session as we were coming in to set up for a show and so we’d often get sneak peeks of their new tracks or they’d give us demos that we could add to our station’s library. The three primary members Joaquin, Patrick, and Andy approached their music more from a composer standpoint I would say and so they’d be locked in there for days perfecting their sounds, I believe when we first started sharing the space Joaquin was actually scoring a film if I recall correctly.
One day, I got into a conversation with Patrick and somehow or another we got onto the topic of the iPhone factory suicides in China and he and Joaquin shared one of their tracks that was back then, years before they’d formally release it under their name that you might now know them as, James Supercave.
The song “Chairman Gou” was about these suicides, in particular Lu Xin, a 24-year-old Chinese rural migrant worker, who committed suicide at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen city, by jumping to his death in May of 2010.
It was named after the chairman of Foxconn (also dubbed as "Foxconn City" or "iPhone City"), Terry Gou, who was stated to have made the following statement at a press conference focused on the controversy: We are certainly not running a sweatshop. We are confident we'll be able to stabilize the situation soon. A manufacturing team of 800,000 people is very difficult to manage." At the time of the company's press conference, the factory complex where the deaths occurred employed up to 300,000 people.
According to the Wikipedia page dedicated to these suicides, "In response to the suicides, Foxconn substantially increased wages for its Shenzhen factory workforce, installed suicide-prevention netting, brought in Buddhist monks to conduct prayer sessions, and asked employees to sign no-suicide pledges. Workers were also required to sign a legally binding document guaranteeing that they and their descendants would not sue the company as a result of unexpected death, self-injury, or suicide.”
Supposedly, psychiatrists were also brought in to offer advice via phones to the workers.
Much of this is documented in that song, that people sing along so happily to at their shows, yet have very little idea what it’s actually about, ironically and blissfully unaware as they capture video of the band on their iPhones.
As a Washington Post article recounted a few years ago,
“In 2010, 14 workers committed suicide at factories in China operated by Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn. These are the giant facilities that produce consumer electronic devices for Hewlett-Packard, Dell and, most famously, Apple. In response to the news, Steve Jobs called the suicides “troubling” and promised that the company was “all over this.” At the same time, he noted that at Foxconn, with more than 1 million employees, the suicide rate was far below that of China — or the United States — as a whole.
This was true. But these were copycat suicides, designed to bring attention to a substandard wage structure and work environment at Hon Hai; 13 of the 14 deaths (and four more attempts) involved young migrant workers plunging from atop company dormitories. Two years later, 150 employees lined up on another roof and threatened to jump en masse unless their demands for better working conditions were met. Management acquiesced. The workers came down, unharmed. And iPhones continued to emerge from Foxconn, uninterrupted. “
The suicides are mostly all documented in this Wikipedia page and Wired bravely covered the story back in 2011. Washington Post has since written numerous articles as has The Guardian.
So, thanks to this story and my friends’ song that initially made me aware of this issue I can’t with a good conscience, knowing this, ever purchase an iPhone. However, I am not by any means a naive consumer and know that horrible human stories such as this span across industries--from fast-fashion to toys to cars and more. However, while we may not know about the “how this was made” backstory of every single product that we consume, when we do learn of these stories that negatively impact other human lives we should at the very least have an inner deliberation and make decisions based on what we know.
At the same time that the “Are you pro iPhone or Android” question was asked, I also recently was a part of a conversation with a friend at a record label who was answering the question of diversity within music and she did a great job of giving the answer of “really exercising your power as a consumer”, more important now than ever. It’s true that we can’t complain about not seeing more diverse artists if we’re not consuming their content.
Corporations will go with the numbers and what’s selling and if you’re not taking the artists you want to see more of to #1, then it’s unlikely that they’ll fully commit to giving you more of it beyond what they do in response to DEI efforts. However, this is a conversation for another post as it deserves more than just a mention as I close this one out.
One thing that we all have to remember as a whole divided war wages on around the $15 minimum wage here in the U.S. that although I myself have referred to as a living wage, it is nowhere near a living wage--is that just about everything that we consume traces back to humans, not just a brand name and a corporation. Beyond that logo or brand that you tout, there is also the blood, sweat, sacrifice, and dreams of another human being.