Dear Tech YouTubers

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

Austin Evans, who I will say up front I think makes a lot of good videos, made what I think is the most quintessential “bored tech YouTuber” video ever.

It’s ostensively a review of the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, but it’s framed in a “this is why iPhone users should probably switch to Android” perspective. The review goes on about how iPhones have always had better performance than top-of-the-line Androids, and while that’s equally as true today than ever, the minimal build of Android is complimented for making Android feel faster than normal, which is fair, but it goes off the rails from there.

Software quantity is brought up, but quality is not, a bugaboo that haunts most “iPhone users should look at this Android phone,” reviews. “Basically everything I need” is not the same as “everything I need, and the best versions of those apps.”

Austin also goes in to the small bezels and 5G support, and I especially enjoyed the line:

Now sure, Apple will likely bring out a 5G phone in 6 months or whatever, but I don’t care about 6 months from now, I care about the experience I can get today.

Ah yes, said with the perspective of someone who has a constant stream of phones in their mailbox 🙄. I look forward to the iPhone 12 reviews later this year, maybe even Austin’s, that comment on how 5G basically isn’t available for most people in a real way and that it eats up more battery life than before.

Ultimately, the video boiled down to the idea that while iPhones are great and reliable and the 11 and 11 Pro are basically perfect packages, they’re just not as exciting as the world of Android. Again, fine for someone using anew phone every few weeks, but not exactly interesting commentary for everyone else.

I’m reminded of Dieter Rams’ 10th principle of good design: Good design is as little design as possible. The vibe I get from many tech YouTube videos, and this one in particular, is the exact opposite. Why is Android better? Because it has more X and the hardware comes in Y variants. So many arguments involve the word “more” but so few involve the word “better” which saddens me.

For clarity, I think that tech YouTubers have a valid perspective to give, and I watch a ton of them. There is tons of value in using a ton of devices and making opinions on them based on more perspective than the average user who buys a new phone every couple years could provide. I just think that this obsession with "novel" over "good" is a hard thing to avoid. But that's what make a great critic: separating out what's novel from what is excellent.