My current phone will soon have to be replaced. It runs the only beautiful phone operating system, Windows 10 Phone. Unfortunately, at the end of the year, Microsoft will abandon the platform and the phone will stop receiving security patches. Although I suspect its rarity means that it’ll be less likely to be at the wrong end of abusive hackery, I won’t feel comfortable depending on a phone knowing that, at some point, zero days will be found and remain unfixed.

I have to switch to something else. Obviously, it won’t be possible to get something as well designed as the Windows 10 Phone user interface. But I have no option, I have to bite the cliché on the bottom and downgrade to something uglier.

image: sky gate path

But what shall I get? My priorities are:

  1. Security: I want a phone that is relatively secure. Both iOS and Android offer security against hackers. Yes, from time to time, both find themselves at the wrong end of zero days, but both operating system suppliers are pretty good at finding and fixing problems pronto.
  2. Patch distribution: it’s hopeless if operating system patch security leaks in phones, but the manufacturer doesn’t distribute them promptly. Unfortunately, many Android manufacturers are, bluntly, lazy and irresponsible in this regard, even though both the operating system companies supply fixes quickly and regularly. Microsoft, Apple and Google patch their phones promptly. Other manufacturers with a reputation for making patches available quickly include Blackberry, Nokia, and Sony.
  3. Information security: I want to be confident the information I put on the phone, whether directly or otherwise, does not leak, especially into the hands of conmen and their ilk. If a company pays another for the information I made, whether directly or indirectly, I want my share of the loot: it’s the essence of copyright. Unfortunately, the norm is for companies to steal this information and profit from selling it to third parties without paying me, the creator, a penny. This requirement rules out Android completely: one of the worse information thieves is Google. They so benefit from their theft of private property that they ignore the law, pay billions in fines, yet remain hugely profitable. I will not knowingly cooperate with thieves, no matter how ‘legal’ their activities. To be fair, they are most certainly not the only information thief about, but they are the only one that writes phone operating systems, so far as I know.
  4. Longevity: I want a phone that will be supported for many years. A decade ago, I bought an expensive HTC Android phone. It stopped receiving security patches after 18 months. Worse, the final patch broke the address book. I will never buy HTC again. Indeed, I am so appalled by their cavalier behaviour that I distrust any Android phone. It’s a manufacturer problem, not an Android problem, but the Android terms of use don’t prevent it happening. On the other hand, Apple commit to five years of patches. I have iMac from 2009 that’s still receiving security patches, so they have form, so I accept their assurances.
  5. Quality: I want a phone from a manufacturer who has a reputation for high build quality. That suggests Apple too, although there are certainly some good quality Android phones. On the other hand, companies like Samsung are completely out, given the mess they’ve made of their folding phone. It’s not that I intend to buy a folding phone, not even the forthcoming Surface device, it’s that Samsung are willing to sell their phone despite its hilariously appalling quality issues: what other products do they sell with deep quality problems?

There are some alternative phone operating systems out there, attempting to fill the requirements of people like me, but, even if the authors can convince me that they’ve fulfilled the security thing down to a tee, they’ll have a very hard time convincing me that they’ll last for five years supplying patches and other updates as necessary. I’ve been burnt by HTC, I’ve been disappointed by the loss of Windows 10 Phone. I’ve probably going to take Apple’s safe option.

The reason why I stopped using Apple phones a while ago is that I like to listen to podcasts, and they introduced an unusable podcast application (it really was appalling, as I mentioned here, here, & here). I was forced to find something else, and I found the Windows Phone 8 with a podcast application that worked. The Windows Phone 10 podcast application still works. It’s a pity Microsoft are abandoning the platform.

In fact, Microsoft have announced a new phone. It looks interesting, given their existing phones’ usability. However, runs Android and thus is insecure — although if anyone could fix Android’s information security problems, Microsoft could. Worse, it’s not available until the end of next year.

In conclusion, Android is out, and not just because Google steal. I am probably going to buy an iPhone 11. The cheaper older iPhones will be supported for less time, and the more expensive versions (Pro, Pro Max) are pretty pointless for those people, like me, who own a good camera.