I used to think Chinese phones had too much bloatware – until I used an iPhone

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I review many Chinese smartphones, from brands like Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo, Oppo and many more, and a common complaint I have with them is bloatware or pre-installed apps.

You turn on your brand new smartphone and the home screen is full of different functions, tools and applications, sometimes even from third parties, and you wonder “wait, is this a used phone?”. The lack of bloatware is one of the reasons so many people love stock Android.

I don’t review iPhones, and I haven’t owned one since a used iPhone 6 that I inherited from my mother about a hundred years ago. I just got an iPhone 13 Pro, to do a camera comparison with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and I saw something I totally didn’t expect: a horrible amount of bloatware.

iOh-no-S

I haven’t installed a single app on this iPhone, and the home screen is already cluttered with a lot of stuff.

The first page is very busy with things like FaceTime, Apple TV, Maps, Health, News, Podcasts, Wallet, Reminders, and the apps even overflow onto a second homepage with Books, Translate, Stocks, Tips, whatever. which are shortcuts, Home, Locate, iTunes Store, and a folder with even more apps.

Why would Apple think that if I was interested in stocks, I couldn’t download an app for it? That I need them to pre-install it for me?

Loads of these pre-installed apps make the bold assumption that I’m already deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. Things like Apple TV, Home, and Watch all assume that I’ve already donated a lot of money to the company.

iPhone 13 Pro

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Apple really needs to emulate Google’s book by combining these apps as well. Why can’t TV, Podcasts, iTunes Store and Books be combined into one like how Google Play covers most of these functions? Having them as separate apps just creates a cluttered screen.

The messy UI design of iOS doesn’t exactly help with the look of its home screen, but there are way too many pre-installed apps here.

Do people agree with that?

The iPhone might have the worst bloatware experience I’ve had with any phone I’ve tested.

I know not everyone will agree with this – some people think Apple can do no wrong, that everything they do is sacred. But while my iPhone 13 Pro startup exclamation started with “Holy…”, it ended quite differently.

But why aren’t people calling out Apple for its bloatware? A lot of people criticize Chinese phones for their pre-installed apps, but most I’ve tested have less pre-installed apps than that, and even those brands aren’t brazen enough to try to sell you more devices like Watch or Home.

Stock Android looks like a clean prairie by comparison. Even though Google has quite a few apps, they’re all hidden in a folder on the home screen, and Google doesn’t pre-install all of its apps either.

Knowing what iPhone users accept, I will definitely be more lenient with Chinese manufacturers and their pre-installed apps in the future. And if you’re an iPhone user who assumes this mess of pre-installed apps is the norm for smartphones: get an Android, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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