At this point I have tried all the major players in the mobile space. I have had Apple products, Google products, and most recently Samsung products and I don't just mean the phones. When I tried each of these ecosystems, I tried to give it as good of a chance as I could with what I could afford at the time I was using them.

Some history, I had been on an android phone since my first smartphone, the HTC Droid Incredible. From there, I had various android phones but found my groove with the Nexus series of phones in the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 5, then to the Pixel 3. This is where I started seeing what a streamline version of android could look like. I grew to crave that 1st party feeling.

So recently, I tried moving to Apple products, the proclaimed ruler of the ecosystem. When I switched, I went hard. I got the iphone 13mini, an Apple Watch, the AirPods Pro, an iPad, AppleTVs, Apple software services like Apple Music and Apple One, and set up my smarthome with Homekit compatible products. About the only thing missing was a MacBook. I wanted to get a good idea about this ecosystem that everyone seemed to pine over. I have to admit, it was good, like really good.

An Apple logo embossed into leather.
An Apple logo embossed into leather.

I didn't have really any problems with it. So why did I leave? Well, a few reasons. One was just how hard Apple tries to lock you into it's walled garden. I began to feel like there was no possibility of getting out even if things changed for the worse. Like, I was getting locked in not because it was so good, which it was, but because I had too much stuff I depend on to ever leave. Like, my data was being held hostage. I didn't feel like there were options to migrate data elsewhere and I had too many eggs in one basket. If things were to change for the worse, I would just have to deal with it. The whole Apple ecosystem works well together, but without the whole thing, I felt like some of the stuff was severely limited and refuses to work anywhere or with anything else. The garden, while beautiful, was showing its thorns.

Secondly, I just felt like there wasn't enough hardware choice, at least in the smarthome category. I was deep into a smarthome phase and I realized that the amount of HomeKit compatible hardware was limited and generally much more expensive than the Nest/Google compatible counterparts. I wanted to get out before the walls got too high and I was too entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. So, I switched to using Google Nest and other "works with google" products for my smarthome and Apple for everything else. While that worked, it wasn't without it's own thorns. I always felt that it could be more streamlined. This lead me to move back to android.

But, How would I maintain what I liked about the ecosystem on android? At this time, the pixel watch was just a rumor and the pixel buds pro hadn't been released. This is where Samsung came in. They had Phones, watches, Buds, and some of my appliances were Smartthings compatible. I thought this would be the answer. With that, I bought a Galaxy Flip3, Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and Galaxy Buds Pro.

The Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 folded in an A shape and stood on the desk. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Flip 3, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

While the hardware was for the most part great, the software experience left a lot to be desired for me. The One UI felt a little bolted onto android unlike the Google experience I was used to with my past Pixel 3. There was a lot of app duplication. Samsung seemed to make it's own version of every app and service on my device and only sometimes replaced them. Sometimes I'd just have both. Sometimes their app was good sometimes less so. Also, I felt like the Settings on Samsung was a mess. The one redeeming thing on this front was that Samsung usually could guess what you were looking for and put suggestions at the bottom. But, if you know I'd be looking for that setting here, why not put it here? I had to use the search function a lot when looking for apps and settings.

Then the release of the Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch came. This is what I'm trying next and hope to find my home with for a little while. Time will tell whether Google can pull off a hardware ecosystem that works well with each other through software while also not locking me too tightly into google's multiple various software services as I'm happy with some of my services like Tidal and don't plan on switching to something like YouTube Music. Having had the Pixel 7 for a little while, so far, I really like this phone. It feels very polished from both a hardware and software perspective. Oh, how I've missed the Pixel's camera.

The Pixel 7 The Pixel Watch on my wrist The Pixel Buds Pro
The Pixel 7, the Pixel Watch, the Pixel Buds Pro

While I've heard others say the Pixel Watch is a little rougher around the edges I find it adequate for my less demanding use cases. I don't really do sleep tracking or thorough fitness tracking with a watch. I don't like wearing one to bed, so I charge every night. I just needed easy to understand, simple fitness tracking, timely notification, and watch payments. The Pixel watch has provided that for me, all in a design and size that I love. All-in-all I'm happy.

I've also really enjoyed the pixel bud pro. The AirPods Pro might have been my favorite piece of Apple hardware I own. I usually don't like earbuds as I don't like to feel closed off from the world as it makes me anxious, so transparency mode is the feature I look for in earbuds. This is something Apple got so right! I loved the clarity I got from both what I was listening to and people talking to me out of the AirPods Pro's transparency mode. With the Samsung Buds Pro, the story was very different. The sound was much worse in general. Sounding tinny and thin while separation was muddy at best. The transparency mode always sounded super artificial and unclear. I was hoping this was where Google could flex all it's computational power and bring a great transparency mode to Pixel Buds Pro, and overall I'm pretty pleased. I haven't noticed a large difference between the Pixel Bud's and Airpods Pro's transparency mode performance. So again I'm happy.

Time will really tell if the Pixel line of devices with keep hold of me but, they're off to a great start. I really don't miss my apple products anymore (except Apple Car Play, Android Auto is so much worse in comparison). I'm really liking the flexibility that comes from using Android with the sane defaults and general UX and UI wins that come from the Pixel series specifically. The hardware and software work great together without locking me too hard. I'm able to pick and choose which apps and services I want and the ones I don't. Android lets me set those as my defaults and, for the most part, those apps and services work well with my ecosystem of devices. The garden walls are there, but this garden seems to be bigger and the walls less high.

This isn't a "What's better Apple, Samsung, or Android?" post but rather my personal thoughts, opinions, and journey through these ecosystems. I'm not here to tell you definitively what's best for you. I think there are great things in every one of these ecosystems and a real case for choosing any of them. It really depends on what you like and what's important to you. I think for me, right now, I'm goning to stick with the Pixel devices for a while. But who knows maybe the others will win me back at some time in the future. I sure hope they try. Compitition fuels inovation and only helps us out.