Why I carry two phones?

Why I carry two phones?

Updated: 23 April 2024

Despite carrying two phones for more than I year, it occurred to me that I have yet to document the reasons why at that time (early 2023), I decided to carry two phones. It's important for me to have this documented should I need to reflect on it in the perhaps not so distant future.

The reasons I carry two phones are:

  • I have two mobile numbers: one for personal and one for work.
  • I prefer to keep those numbers in different phones because there are times I prefer to disconnect. Therefore, not having the work phone is the easiest way to do that. (April 2024: My work has since changed and I receive less than 5 calls a week, as opposed to 20.. no longer an issue)
  • For personal communication, WhatsApp is my preferred platform. Unfortunately for me, for work, WhatsApp is also the communication of choice. I cannot have two WhatsApp accounts on one iPhone (on Android, its possible). (April 2024: I have found a solution for this. I could convert my work number into WhatsApp Business and use that on the iPhone)
  • Battery life: using the iPhone with two sims in it; results in significant battery drain. I need to charge by 3pm. On days where I am engaged on longer calls, a top up is required by lunch. Note, my day starts around 6am. Two phones equates to enough battery life on both of them which means I am only charging at the end of the day.

So, once I established that I need to carry two phones, I had to decide which phone to get for my work number since my personal number is on an iPhone. The straightforward decision would be to get another older iPhone and call it a day. There are benefits (or cons, depending on your perspective) to this approach. If anyone sends an SMS on my work iPhone, it will show up on the personal one as well (thanks to iCloud). The same is true for calls. If both devices are on the same Wi-Fi, I can pickup the call on any device.

Last year, I was getting bored with iOS so I figured variety is the spice of life and Android can be my second device. Couple things were going on at the time that were relevant in my then decision-making process:

  1. my iPad Pro battery was dying and Apple refused to replace it (despite my willingness to pay) and that annoyed me. It still is dying.
  2. I had a subscription to the AFR for over 15 years, grandfathered into their old pricing (AUD99 a year). They ended my subscription and asked me to subscribe at current pricing AUD780 a year. You can appreciate why I wasn’t keen to continue supporting them. On Reddit, I discovered Bypass Paywall which is a Chrome/Firefox extension that allows access to paid content without paying. This extension does not work on iOS but does work on Android. Generally, I do not accommodate such things, but I was super pissed.

The 12.9inch iPad Pro was part of my EDC and at that time, foldable Android phones were all the hype. So, I figured, I probably do not need such a big iPad as part of my EDC and a foldable may be sufficient which would also allow me to access AFR. I finally settled on the Google Pixel Fold in September 2023 (tried the Pixel 7 Pro, Samsung Flip and Samsung Fold prior to that) and have carried that phone with me ever since, even on my trips to New Zealand and Fiji. During both these trips, I did not take my iPhone and travelled Android only. The only exemption is when I went to Europe. The iPhone 15 Pro Max did not perform well during this trip. It got super hot and Apple thankfully allowed me to return it. There was a period of weeks where I was running the full Android life with my Apple Watch Ultra connected to Wi-Fi or cellular because there was no iPhone connected to it. Eventually, the cellular on the Apple Watch stopped working because apparently, it needs to be connected to the iPhone that has the same phone number on it for the cellular service. So that would mean, if I want to keep using cellular on the Apple Watch, I have to put my main sim back in an iPhone or I can subscribe to a cellular service on my Apple Watch that is not linked to my phone number. To this day, there isn't an option for this unless I do a family Apple Watch Setup and sign up for a plan with Truphone. This also isn't ideal for many reasons but the main one being that I want a cellular watch with my number because I go out for runs (even at night) so its peace of mind that my wife can reach me etc etc).

April 2024 Update

Reflecting on the Pixel Fold, the last six months have been super fun. It was so refreshing to carry a phone that unfolds into a tablet. It still today amazes me every time I unfold the Pixel Fold. iOS users may have to wait many, many years to experience this. However, it's not perfect, but which device is perfect? Is the Vision Pro perfect? Was the first HomePod perfect (some may argue it still is far from perfect today)?

With any new product category, it takes time to get to a point where it's mainstream. I feel we are pretty close, but the Pixel Fold is not there yet. The biggest issue for me is the battery life, camera and apps not optimised for the foldable form factor. These are NOT deal breakers. The Samsung Fold is better in some regard (the battery life and app optimisation was certainly better when I used it for a short period last year).

Google, to its credit, has been regularly (every month actually) updating the software and that is appreciated. The hardware has really held up well. The form factor of the Pixel Fold is unique. No other foldable has this form factor (like a passport or a Moleskin notebook) and I really like it. It is almost like it brings everything a lot closer to you and gives you just enough space to be comfortable. Sometimes using the iPhone Pro Max, I feel the phone isn't the right device for this task and I wait till I get to my MacBook. These instances occur far less on the Pixel Fold.

I have been carrying two phones for more than a year now and I have made it work. I can manage two phones. It's easier said than done though because:

  • both devices need charging not a big issue thanks for wireless charging.
  • sometimes I have forgotten to take the other device with me (I usually put it in my backpack or sling)
  • I have missed calls on the Pixel Fold because I had left it elsewhere. On the iPhone, this isn't an issue because when someone calls, my iPad and my MacBook also rings. Truth be told, I am not some senior executive that I need to be on call always so in the grand scheme of things, it’s totally fine if I do not get to my calls ASAP. Kinda works in my favour for work related calls because by the time I get back to my team, my team has found a solution and have moved on 🎉
  • Managing notifications on two devices can be cumbersome and, in most cases, dismissing the notification on one device does not dismiss it on the other device until I unlock the phone. So I am seeing those twice. At times, it doesn't dismiss it at all and thus I am literally dismissing the same notification twice. This has made be seriously consider what notifications are important and now, I get less notifications to begin with 🥳
  • I carry two AirPods (one is paired only to the Pixel Fold, so it does not automatically switch to the iPhone). This also means charging both AirPods. I attempted to find earbuds that work with both iOS and Android but they have their own tradeoffs.
  • I also have two smart watches because I prefer round watch faces. The Pixel Watch was my pick. I enjoy switching things up between my Apple Watch and my Pixel Watch. This also means, now I have another device to charge and manage notifications on 😠. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It gives me choice and its so nice to have so many watch faces on WearOS

Well, I don't want to have two devices anymore. I can do it, I have been doing it but I rather not. I want to simplify things by having one phone with both sims. Now, my biggest dilemma is which device do I go with… or rather which ecosystem, Apple’s or the multi-platform way...

edit: 24 April 2024 update: I no longer feel this way. I attempted to switch to the iPhone only and miss the foldable plus the battery life of the iPhone suffers when both sims are in use, especially when not on WIFI. I really enjoy having an Android device is part of my EDC

Android is fun, iOS is sticky and reliable. In my more than a year of using Android full time, it's surprising that there isn't anything significantly sticky about it. I suppose it's not designed to keep users locked within its ecosystem because it actually doesn't really have one. Google stuff works everywhere.

If you have any guidance, let me know.

If you are just in this for the ride, watch this space.

Written in Notion on the MacBook Pro M1

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