Apple Thanks OnePlus for Shiny New iPhone Consumer
September 04, 2017 | ~5 mins read time.

Okay, maybe Apple isn’t going to directly thank OnePlus, but they may as well. I am annoyed, and you all get to hear about it! Lucky you.

The iPhone Directive

About 4 months ago, he who is in charge of me informs me that I must have an iPhone. Ensue protesting. All of it.

I don’t like: iOS, how the iPhone looks, and how the iOS apps cost more than Android versions. iPod Touch is my iOS experience, which is essentially the same. It’s not as seamless as Android. I like the back button and the ability to retrieve programs from the background without reinitialising them. I don’t want to re-buy apps I’ve already paid for. I even like the idea of Android – open source, customisable, Apple ain’t gonna dictate my aesthetic preferences. I like that Google is right on top of vulnerabilities.

I think you get the picture.

Right… Security is a Thing

Security is the reason I’m to get an iPhone.

I have an HTC One M9. I love it. It’s pretty, it runs well, the battery life is great for my level of usage, and the camera is beautiful. Needed a phone, like taking pictures: One device, both needs met, half the cost. So, great phone, best carrier in the US. Everything is fine.

Except it isn’t.

Google might be on top of vulnerabilities, posting them for all the world to see, but Android device makers suck at providing monthly patches long-term, if they bother at all. Toss in the proprietary network provider issues here in the US, and the whole situation is deplorable. My phone is still sitting at the February 2017 security patch level. There have been a gazillion found vulnerabilities and monthly patches to fix them since then!

My carrier, T-Mobile, is great, except when it comes to this issue. They have zero interest in maintaining updates for all offered devices. Even if manufacturers make security a priority, the carrier must agree to do its proprietary nonsense with each update. That eats into profits, and the majority of consumers don’t care about privacy and security. Updates tend to happen only when vulnerabilities get headlines or there’s a major OS update or bug fix.

I could get the latest updates with my HTC, but there’s a huge catch: Root phone and install dev software or buy a developer edition directly from HTC. Rooting nulls T-Mobile network support. The developer version isn’t fully supported by T-Mobile. It requires fiddling, and fiddling isn’t guaranteed to work. I don’t have enough time or money to throw away for that.

Security Commitments to Consumers and Frugality

As I need a device that gets patched as vulnerabilities come up, the stable, unlocked consumer options are: Google, Samsung, LG, or Apple. Commitments to swift security patches? Check. Oh wait. Another issue!

Google and Samsung both only commit to up to 24 months of patches. Apple, however, updates indefinitely, assuming an iPhone’s hardware is capable of handling an iOS update. That works out to ~6 years.

New ~$900 Android device every 18-24 months or one ~$900 iPhone every 5-6 years. My phone will not drive my car or give me the ability to bend space and time to travel halfway across the world in a second in that time frame. I don’t need the latest shiny. I want dependable and long-lasting. The iPhone, grudgingly, also appeals to my sense of frugality.

Points in iPhone’s favour increased substantially, but damn it. I prefer Android OS! He gave me a reprieve, as iPhone 8 is imminent, and we will compare the iPhone I don’t despise [red iPhone 7 Plus] entirely with the new offerings when they’re announced this month.

During my reprieve, he provided a little hope.

OnePlus, Dashed Hopes, and Broken Promises

The reasons I prefer Android were good enough that he kept an eye out for a solution to allow me to keep Android while solving the security concerns and my desire to not buy a phone every year or two when the one I have is perfectly functional. I’m spoiled.

Hello, OnePlus. You appear to be pretty.

He told me about OnePlus in June, and how they apparently have a commitment to software updates, security updates, and ensuring device longevity – much like Apple. I got excited, but the Internet quickly told me the current device didn’t always play nice with T-Mobile. I was reluctant to chance it, since I’m in one of their finicky expanded service areas.

Goodbye, OnePlus. Hello again, smartphone nemesis. #dashedhopes

OnePlus was on his lips again several days ago. Specifically, OnePlus 5. Bouncy-excite! The promises are the same. The device touts great hardware. T-Mobile goodness? Check! The camera appeared to be amazing [I like to take pictures. This is important to me.] And: Android! I did research again – problems before, might be problems again.

Bouncy-excited g becomes deflated g. With jarring haste.

Rather than re-write what is already nicely written, this post – https://hackernoon.com/promises-matter-oneplus-99617e369b4d – sums up the issues and echoes my vast disappointment in what I found.

Deflated g reports the things to him and is subsequently sent to the OnePlus website to contact support and ask for a security update policy, since one does not appear to exist anywhere online.

I didn’t get far. IMEI number from a OnePlus device required to initiate contact via support. Remaining options: Phone, live chat, or community forum. The forum already has posts asking the same thing with no answer from OnePlus. Impossible to get a written response via phone, and live chat is frequently manned by script-spewing zombies, unable to deviate. Not useful.

OnePlus clearly doesn’t want to hear from potential customers. Maybe they got tired of requests for a security update policy or complaints about broken promises. Those promises, the design of the devices, and the hardware all appear designed to draw existing iPhone users and users who prefer Android but for the shoddy security commitments. It’s not that they couldn’t deliver on their promises. It’s that they wouldn’t.

Too bad the sole potential alternative to iPhone, OnePlus, turned out to be a pile of napalm-soaked broken promises.

So… Guess Who is Getting a Goddamned iPhone?

Me, that’s who.