Why I Downgraded from an iPhone 12 to an iPhone 8
(And plan to eventually switch to an Android phone.)
Back in May, I upgraded from an iPhone SE 1st Gen (2016) to an iPhone 12 Mini. But after the initial novelty wore off, I realized that, while it might be newer and more sophisticated on papery, it actually provided a worse overall user experience for me than the 6-year-old iPhone it replaced. So when my wife an son needed phone upgrades, I decided to make some changes.
I'll get this out of the way up front, the reasons I'm not interested in any iPhone since the iPhone 8 are simple:
I don't like Face ID. Your experience may be different than mine, but for me it only worked when I was looking directly at the device and when there was adequate lighting. So if it's lying on a table or desk off to the side and I just want to tap into a notification to read a quick email or text? I have to stop what I'm doing, pick up the phone, and look directly at.
With Touch ID, I could just scan my thumb or index finger, see what I wanted, and move on without skipping a beat. I rarely had to enter my PIN to unlock my old SE 1st Gen. But with my newer and “better” iPhone 12 I was entering my PIN all the time. It made me especially nervous whenever I had to do that in a public setting. What if someone was glancing over my shoulder and taking note of my PIN?
Bottom line: Face ID, for me, was a step back in both convenience and security.
I noticed no substantial performance gains (based on my use case). I know I'm in the minority, here, but I don't use my smartphone like most other people do. I currently have 36 total apps installed. To the extent possible, I prefer to do everything I can using a mobile browser. Social media, reading news, etc. are all done in Firefox. This means I don't have to install as many apps and I don't have to deal with the potential privacy, security, and resource-hogging problems that come with them.
I also refuse to install games or video apps. In addition to the problems stated above, they are colossal time-wasters and not something I want ready access to in the palm of my hand. I do watch videos via a mobile browser on occasion.
So I use my phone mainly for: church-related apps, multi-factor authentication apps, communicating via email, text, and instant messaging, occasional GPS navigation, light social media (via the browser), reading, checking the weather, snapping photos, and a few other things. My SE 1st Gen could handle all of it just fine and I'd still be using it if it had a fresh battery and if Apple wasn't killing mainstream support for it next month.
When my wife and son needed phone upgrades, I saw an opportunity for me to downgrade to the kind of iPhone that's a better fit for me and to get each of them inexpensive newer phones.
They were both using an iPhone 8, and their batteries were failing. They got 3-4 years of use out of those things. Considering I bought them both as refurbished units and their batteries weren't 100% when we got them, that's pretty impressive. But the iPhone 8 will likely only be supported by Apple another year or two at most, so it seemed the right time to upgrade them both.
The battery in my son's phone was in the worst shape, so I looked for a replacement for him first. I found a great deal on an open-box iPhone SE 2020, which still had the shipping plastic on it and 100% battery health. This left me with his old iPhone 8, my old SE 1st Gen, and another SE 1st Gen that I kept around as an emergency backup device.
I sold the two SE 1st Gens on Swappa, and with the proceeds from those I decided to take my son's old iPhone 8 to our local Apple Premiere Partner and have the battery replaced. The replacement only cost $55 out the door. When I got the phone home, the fingerprint sensor wasn't working, so I took it back in and they ended up doing a full screen replacement that was covered under their repair warranty.
I've been using the newly refurbished iPhone 8 for a few days and it's great for what I need.
For my wife, I ordered her a new iPhone SE 3rd Gen (2022) and will be trading in the iPhone 12 Mini for credit towards it. She got her new phone today, and thanks to Apple's pleasantly painless phone setup process, she's already up and running and enjoying a familiar, but fresh experience.
ISO Android Phone
My iPhone 8 has a fresh battery, new screen, and 1-2 more years of support from Apple. That should be plenty of time to find a good Android phone to switch to.
Why Android? Simple: more choices. I want a fingerprint sensor. I want a 3.5mm audio jack (I hate using a dongle). I want the ability to install apps from outside the built-in app store. New iPhones provide none of those options.
At this point I'm not looking to run a custom ROM or get a de-Googled Android device. I'm looking for something that will get OS updates for at least 2-3 years and will run all of the apps I need stably and consistently. It's looking like Google, Samsung, or Nokia are going to be my best options at this point. But I'm still looking.