The Android vs. iPhone rivalry is one for the ages, right in line with the PC vs. Mac discussion.
If you have techie friends, it would be a good idea not to bring the rivalry up at a bar as a heated debate will ensue and your evening could very well be ruined.
Both Android and iPhone have their rabid supporters – customers who have drunk the Kool-Aid – and it is pretty much useless to get credible information from them. For these people the iPhone is either the greatest piece of technology ever invented by a humanoid since the wheel, or an incredibly overrated device used only by morons and elderly grandmothers.
The reality, of course, is somewhere in the middle. Choosing the right smartphone for you is just like buying a new car or selecting the color patterns for your living room. The first step – and perhaps most important – is to know exactly what you want from your smartphone. Is your smartphone going to be your mobile office, or are you using it as a convenience aid? There is no right or wrong answer. It is all about you, so you have to be honest with yourself.
Here are some things to think about when deciding which smartphone to buy.
- The operating system. How well you can navigate in and out of apps, email, and phone calls is crucial to using your smartphone effectively. In terms of operating systems, the general difference between Android and iPhone is that with Android you have the ability to manipulate the operating system, whereas with the iPhone you do not.
More choices equals better, so you should go with Android, right? Not so fast. Apple prides itself on having an intuitive interface that just makes sense to a lot of people. If you have a Mac laptop or desktop, syncing your phone to your computer is quick and easy. If you’re tech savvy, Android’s open source software powered by Google can allow you to customize your smartphone in a way that can’t happen with the iPhone. But if you simply plan to update your OS with the latest built-in software (like most users do), consider that Apple is better about offering compatibility for their older models, while an Android phone can literally become obsolete.
- Social networking. Android phones use a feature that makes using Twitter and Facebook easier than on the iPhone. Android uses widgets (which Apple doesn’t allow) that allow users to use Twitter and Facebook without launching the respective apps. In terms of ease and accessibility in using social media, Android has an upper hand in this arena.
- Kid’s corner. Smartphones and tablets are the 21st century pacifier, and in this arena iPhone is the undisputed leader. The wide range of operating systems and devices that Android operates with make it difficult for a lot of app and game designers to design children’s games for Android. In this instance, choice is actually a hindrance.
- Movies, music, and photos. The iPod changed the way we listen and acquire music and movies, and Apple has simply migrated that system to their smartphone. To get the kind of organization on the Android that iTunes and iPhoto offers, third party software needs to be downloaded.
- Apps, apps, apps. Apple has long contended that when it comes to apps, they are the leader. That might no longer be the case. Apple gets the newest apps quicker than Android, mostly because there’s only one platform to design for with the iPhone, but the multiple platforms that support Android makes app design longer and more costly.
Google helps Android make up for that deficiency. Anyone who has ever used Apple Maps and then transferred to Google Maps knows that Google knows what it’s doing.
- Data maneuverability. Android has a new feature called “intents” which allows users to copy and paste information – photos, text, and links – from one app to another. This is one of the biggest upsides to Android phones, as sharing information between apps on the iPhone can be difficult.
- The comfort of consistency. Once you have a smartphone, there’s rarely any going back. While the Android is extremely customizable, the iPhone interface remains, more or less, unchanged. That means that when you upgrade from an iPhone 5S to whatever is next, the learning curve isn’t as steep as with the Android. Once you know how to do something with your iPhone, you can rest easy that while it may change, the general method will remain the same.
The iPhone revolutionized smartphones and for a while it was the only choice. But Android has made a giant leap in the last few years, so now customers have the option to decide on a smartphone based on their needs. A smartphone is a tool that will change how you interact with the world, and once you have one, you can’t imagine a time when you didn’t have one. With all the options that Android and iPhone provide, the choice shouldn’t be which one is better, but which one best suits your needs. They both get the job done, but choosing a higher end model means you’ll pay the price for elegance.
Which smartphone do you have? Are you happy with it? What is the best/worst aspect of your smartphone, and does switching make sense for you?