I’ve been trying to switch to an Android phone for months, but the iMessage blue bubble won’t let me leave
It’s been exactly a year since I first started writing about technology at Business Insider, and almost a year since I first started telling my friends and family I was thinking about switching out my outdated, lagging iPhone 6S for one of the flashy new Android phones I’ve read about.
It’s also been almost a year since I started fielding remarks about the outlandish green bubble.
That dreaded, static green texting bubble, which indicates a message sent from an Android phone to an iPhone, has been the subject of many an argument with my friends at a bar about the future of our group message, which is made up of iPhone users. That hated green-highlighted text has been the reason my girlfriend has ended several of our chats about my next phone with: “I’m only going to message you on Instagram now, you know.”
The most important aspects of a phone for me have consistently pointed me in the direction of Android: a phone not too big for my small palms to grip; long-lasting battery and a good camera; a phone that’s not too pricey because of my long history of dropping and breaking them.
That’s not to mention the greater amount of freedom offered on Android phones, from being able to choose from multiple phone manufacturers (rather than just the one iOS-monopolizing Apple), to crafting a customizable homepage full of Android-specific widgets and shortcuts.
The OnePlus 7 Pro, one of many Android phones I could buy instead of an iPhone.
Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
However, despite the well-crafted arguments I’ve concocted over time in favor of Android, I’m still here with an iPhone and my blue-bubbled texts. Each time I think I’ve convinced myself that I can do without the iMessage bubble, I’m pulled back in by the lure of read receipts and individual text reactions. I’ve finally gotten used to, and now readily invite, the pending anxiety that comes in seeing those three animated dots bouncing as you watch someone type out a text. I’ve drawn enough crude drawings and played enough games of in-app beer pong to know they’re both incredibly efficient methods of procrastination.
Then there’s group messaging, which completely breaks down when featuring both iPhone and Android users. It only takes involvement in one of these group message train wrecks to know you never again want to deal with the messages spelling out that an iPhone used a heart or exclamation reaction on a text, or the countless threads that spawn from a single group.
But even if I can personally get over not having these features exclusive too iMessage, text messaging is a two-way street, and the same can’t be said of my iPhone-loyal friends. Studies have shown that around half of millennials in the US now own an iPhone, a percentage that is consistently rising. You can only get threatened with texting blackouts so many times before you believe that your friends would actually leave you out of future group messages.
It’s not like that fear of missing out is unsubstantiated. My generation is the same one who rallied around the BlackBerry and BBM, its exclusive messaging service that’s really not all that different from iMessage. While my friends in high school were exchanging BBM pins and AIM-like texts, I had a Pantech Duo whose biggest advantage was I could flip it and fiddle with it in class like a fidget spinner. I felt like the outsider to an exclusive club I could only get access to with a BlackBerry, and I spent many nights begging my parents for the coveted status symbol, to no avail.
But for Generation Z, the dominance of the iPhone is even starker. Piper Jaffray’s annual report on Gen Z found that 82% of teens surveyed this year own an iPhone. A tech analyst named Ben Bajarin recently penned a Twitter thread about the teens at his kid’s school, including one 16-year-old self-identified “Android guy” whose biggest reason for switching to an iPhone was because he was tired of getting left out of group chats.
Disliking the Android green bubble has become a widespread phenomenon. People post to social media about ghosting crushes who turn out to be Android users, and have equated the green bubble to a type of diss to mean someone is outdated or broke.
With the newest iPhone model on the market, it may finally be time for me to get a new phone. As I continue to teeter between iOS and Android, I have no doubt the arguments with my friends will keep coming and the green bubble insults will keep flying. But if I do end up making the switch to Android, I’m comforted in the fact that Samsung recently created a line of GIFs to use as a comeback in response to anyone who disses the green bubble.