So I recently switched to an iPhone 6s after several months spent between the Sony Xperia Z5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5. There's no particular reason for the switch, other than I wanted to check with Apple and see how things are going with its latest flagship. The more compact form factor was also welcome.
Now, it's important to understand that, at heart, I'm an Android guy. I've been using Androids for years, and while I've obviously switched to iOS in the past, it's always been for a quickie or two, rather than a permanent switch. I always came back. So my last real touch to an iPhone was my 3G back in 2010. That's a long, long time in tech years. A lot has changed.
In any case, the switch is full of revelations. You find some stuff you like, others that you don't, and some that you feel Apple or team Android has implemented better. It's a highly personal process in that we all have our idiosyncrasies, which is also why I'm calling this an editorial. It's personal opinion. That said, I still consider the below examples of superior iPhone functionality to be fairly objective in that they offer a better user experience. And by the way, lest I step on anybody's toes, I'll be doing the reverse next week and talk about stuff that Apple could learn from its competitors.
7 basic smartphone features that the iPhone does better than Androids
1. Shortcut to previous app
For better or worse, I'm a heavy social media user. On Facebook, for example, every day I go through dozens upon dozens of shared articles and videos, the majority of which are hosted outside Facebook, which is a hindrance. Thankfully, on the iPhone, switching back to the app that redirected you wherever is exceedingly easy, as iOS creates a shortcut back to it on the top left. It works with all kinds of apps, and I've been finding myself consistently satisfied with the option.
Now, this is not to say that on Android you can't do the same thing, it's just that I feel this is an easier, more elegant solution than having to dig through Recents or risking the Back button (in some apps, you just go back a step).
2. Slide right to go back a step
While all Androids have a Back key, iPhones don't. But I kind of like it that way, as that meant Apple had to get creative. In result, you can go back a step by simply swiping from the left to right. That's a more convenient way of going back, as your finger is likely already resting on the screen, interacting with content, and so you don't have to stretch for the Back key.
3. Tap that status bar
If you do a lot of reading on a single web site (say, PhoneArena), you'll likely appreciate the ability to scroll to the top of the page after finishing an article by simply tapping the status bar. Beats having to scroll.
4. For some reason, the keyboard is better
Okay, so given how pretty much every Android manufacturer has his own version of a software keyboard, it might be hard to believe that none are as good as Apple's. What's weird is that I can't really tell exactly why it is that its keyboard is better for typing, but it certainly feels so. I'm an extremely heavy texter, and a bi-lingual one at that, and it was amazing how much faster I started typing, especially since I went from a 5.7-incher down to a 4.7-incher. I make fewer typos, as well.
What sorcery allows for this, I can't tell, but it certainly reminds me of Microsoft's software keyboard for Windows Phone. I remember that one being extremely reliable, in much the same way as the iPhone's.
5. Correcting text
Speaking of the keyboard, and given how much I type on it on a daily basis, it's obvious that every now and then I need to go back a few letters for a correction. On Android, that's a pain, as it's hard to pinpoint the exact letter you want to delete with your fat finger. On iOS, however—even if you don't have 3D Touch—long-pressing on a word will create a little magnifying glass effect, allowing to easily edit just a single letter.
6. Command Center is class
I've been repeating this question for a long time now: Why is it that tech companies insist on avoiding the easily accessible bottom portions of their device's screens for essential navigational and other functionality? As in, why is the address bar in nearly all browsers on the top, instead of the bottom? Why are the virtual Back keys in iOS apps always on top? Why is the essential notification bar retracted from the top? All of these are essential functions that require more and more effort as the average screen size grows.
Which is why I love the Command Center. Instead of having access to essential connectivity and other options by stretching to the top, I do it easily from the bottom. If notifications were integrated in Command Center, I'd be even happier.
7. Low Power Mode
Some type of a "Low Power Mode" has been available on Androids for years now, even if Google only recently got around to implementing it as part of the core Android package. Apple followed, too.
But while Apple's solution is bare bones in terms of advanced features, and even some basic ones (as in, why can't I set it to automatically turn on at 20%?), it is superior in one pretty obvious way: it knows it's only on temporarily. That is, if you're in Low Power Mode, once your phone hits 80% charge, it will automatically turn off. On pretty much every Android phone, you'll have to manually turn it off, which makes little sense. Sure, not a biggie for power users, but I've witnessed several cases where uninitiated friends have trouble with connectivity and performance because they don't realize they're in power saving.