cApple does a few things very well that other phones, basically anything Android besides Samsung, doesn’t do very well.
1. Apple is simple. It has used the same app grid since day one, same familiar Apple phone design, same punchlines at every keynote (“best [insert feature here] ever on an iPhone). They’re consistent and familiar, and humans, as creatures of habit, developed a comfort in this consistency, believing that, minus the regular growing pains of new updates and features, they would get an overall good product without a doubt.
2. It created what I call the “blue bubble” complex. You could have an iPhone 4s in 2017, but because you have a blue bubble in iMessage, people will consider you (and themselves) superior to the “green bubble” crowd (non-Apple devices, except for when your iPhone sends messages as regular SMS). It’s a status and social symbol, and humans are social by nature and don’t like to be criticized, austrisized or constantly on defense for not being with the “in” crowd, so they go get an iPhone and join the group.
3. Apple became a visual media powerhouse for the social media world. As an Android person up until this year, regardless of who MADE the camera in the iPhone, it’s pictures and videos were undeniably superior on Instagram and Snapchat in the early days, even to this day, and that made it a requirement for anyone who wanted to have a decent social media presence worth following. I can tell who uses an Android (and I’m talking Galaxy S8s and LG V30s here, not MetroPCS budget phones) on Snapchat, but I can’t tell who’s using a 5s or a 7 Plus, I just know it’s iPhone.
4. This has a lot to do with software and quality control that Google doesn’t have over the Android ecosystem beyond the basic guidelines that they set for all variants of the operating system. As an open sourced OS with literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of manufacturers, it’s hard to build a software that’s fully functional for a wide spectrum of devices without dictating manufacturers and stifling manufacturer creative control. This was a double edged sword, as companies jumped on Android OS and spread it like wildfire, but social media companies can’t build a software that’s perfectly compatible with that many devices, making the experience a hit and miss even on the best Androids. Apple doesn’t have that issue. They are definitively closed sourced and control every aspect of the user experience, and no other manufacturers can buld iPhones or distribute iOS.
5. They let other companies do the guinea pig work. Gimmicks come and go, and lots of Android phones implement these gimmicks, but few make it past the initial wow factor. Some features, however, do stay, and Apple uses it then calls it innovative. What Apple users know as “Handoff” has been used since the inception of Google Drive almost with real time sync between all devices. I was face scanning on my Nexus S in 2012 on software I built from source code myself, but Apple implements it 5 years later and dubs it “FaceID”. Steve Jobs scoffed at huge phones, now Apple releases phones with multiple screen sizes annually. Apple considered NFC useless, but later implemented it and called it “Apple Pay” and threw away other uses for it until they implemented wireless charging. And because of that blue bubble complex, people think Apple is the forerunner in innovation when really they just spectate the market to see what does and doesn’t stick. “Good artists create, great artists steal,” is a quote I believe Jobs once used. Apple lives up to that, then puts it between 2 sheets of metal and calls it the greatest and most advanced smartphone on the planet… literally.
6. iPhones have a cohesive software experience and ecosystem with other Apple products. Most of what I’ve typed here are criticisms but I would be remiss if I did not applaud how fluid their ecosystem is. I bought an iPad, brand new. It somehow detected an iPhone was near it, asked me to scan a blue orb on the screen with my iPhone camera and literally set itself up. Being able to jump from iPhone to iPad to MacOS with services like iMessage just creates a sense of fluidity that Android simply cannot compete with, even with Chromebooks being able to run Android apps now. This is especially useful in things like photography and videography. I can AirDrop a photo or video, edit it on my Mac in Photoshop or Premiere, then Airdrop it back and not skip a beat.
7. Finally, it’s just a good phone. Apple has a tendency to really make things go out of whack with software updates, but in terms of longevity, iPhones will hold their own as long as you maintain it. The learning curve isn’t steep, the build quality is nice and the multimedia experience is very pleasant overall. Do I think Apple is the most innovative and progressive company in Silicone Valley? Nope. That doesn’t matter though, because to everyone else, Apple is, and with me and all of my trash talk, criticisms and gripes, I’m still answering this question about an iPhone… on an iPhone. That’s the power of Apple, and that’s why Apple is popular, in my opinion.