iPhone or Android: Which Should I Choose & Why?

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The Great Debate

These days it is hard to choose which smartphone you should get. We are spoiled for choice and often it is hard to determine which is easier or better. This article, I hope, will help you decide which phone type you should go for. This particular article takes into account only iOS (the iPhone & iPad operating system) and Android. Windows Phone 7 (WP7) and Blackberry are not taken into account because 1) both are not as popular as iOS and Android and 2) I don't know as much about WP7 & Blackberries.

iOS 6 Demo

Android 4.0 Demo run on a computer emulator

Unity vs Customization

If you want a solid, totally self-contained operating system, user interface & device, you will want iOS devices. iOS has the extreme advantage that it is VERY well controlled by Apple and is solidly structured. The limit is in form factor. Apple has taken a one size fits all approach to smartphones that is in many ways very limiting. It has a unified experience strait out of the box., but if you are into customization and changing things then Android is for you. Android is also solid in structure, but it is looser in that it allows for customization. The customization of Android is AMAZING! You can so many things to streamline your phone to make it unique you both internally and externally.

Fragmentation

You may hear the word "Fragmentation" used when in relation to Android. Those who mention it are mostly talking heads. Android provides a solid and unique experience. Some phone makers are better at keeping their phones up-to-date over others (HTC being among the best), but Apple suffers from fragmentation as well. Fragmentation is defined as the user experiences degenerating or fragmenting over time or due to customization. The original iPhone can't sent picture messages (mms). The 3G can't do things the 3GS can do. The 3GS can't do things the 4 can do and the iPhone 4 can't do things the iPhone 4S can do. The more up-to-date the hardware is the more likely you are to get the best and brightest experience. So pick based off of customization rather than fragementation and you won't go wrong. In both cases the newer and "faster" the hardware the better. At the time of this writing the iPhone 4S runs a dual core processor. The majority of high end Android devices do as well. It is interesting to note that there are an increasing number of Android devices that are running Quad core processors as well. As an example, ASUS released the Transformer Prime, which ran the first mass produced quad core processor consumer electronics device over 4 months before Apple released the iPad 3 (or the New iPad as Apple calls it).

Application Choice

It has been said by some that the iPhone (and iOS) has better apps. This is not true. The selection of apps for both Android and iOS is about on par. As of this writing iTunes says they have over 500,000 apps and Android has somewhere in the range of 600,000. But this is just numbers. The real separation for the two major app stores is cost. For iOS Apps, expect to pay a little more. There are free apps, yes, but to fully take advantage of iOS you will need to buy at least a few apps.That being said, most applications arrive for iOS first and then are released to Android. We can see this in popular games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Still, these games are now available on Android, so it isn't an end all issue if you wait just a little bit. Further more, many developers are now releasing apps for both operating systems simultaneously since both have demonstrated themselves to be solid operating systems.

The quality of the applications is the key, and Android & iOS both have plenty of those with more on the way. Another thing that separates Android from iOS though is that there are several Android market places including the Google Play Store, GetJar and my personal favorite is the Amazon Appstore. The last one gives away one paid app every 24 hours. From games to customization apps to productivity apps you can get a ton of stuff for no money at all. I do recommend purchasing apps through the Amazon Appstore because they are competitive with the other stores AND developers get a little more money for their work. And considering that the average developing companies are small businesses who invest at least $50,000 into making said app this is a very good thing. Another selling point for the Amazon Appstore is the ability to use the same app multiple times on multiple devices. For example, since my wife has an Android phone as well, we can both use the Amazon app store apps on our phones without having to double purchase and having issues of sharing info from our individual calenders or contacts (an issue we encountered with sharing the same Android marketplace purchases). You can do the same with the Google Play store, but you have to be sure to turn off syncing of other information such as apps and calender information.

Android offers a large variety of form factors.
Android offers a large variety of form factors.
With the introduction of the iPhone 5, Apple now offers 2 options for form factor, but they really are basically the same.
With the introduction of the iPhone 5, Apple now offers 2 options for form factor, but they really are basically the same.

Hardware

The issue of hardware is huge for both phone and tablet types. Apple has an advantage because they have a TON of control over the hardware. BUT you are limited to one screen size. One type of keyboard (on screen, not physical) unless you buy a special case for your phone. Also, if you buy an older iPhone or iPad, you are limited by the older hardware. The more up-to-date the better. The iOS devices are wonderful, but one size does not fit all.

Android has the opposite issue. Too much choice. I have a few suggestions to make sure you have a good experience with Android here. First, anything less than 1Ghz for the processor is not worth your time. This is considered mid-range for Android devices. That being said, go dual core or quad core if you can! Don't worry too much about whether the phone as a 1, 1.2 or 1.5 Ghz processor. This is important, but not nearly as important as RAM. Try to have at least 512MB of RAM or higher. 1GB of RAM is the best. The higher end devices are better. The extra cost is worth it. The cheap phones are cheap for a reason. Steer clear of those.

This article...

  • Made things more clear.
  • Confused me further.
  • Told me stuff I already knew.
See results without voting

Do you want and Android or iPhone

  • Android
  • iPhone
  • Not sure. The jury is still deliberating.
See results without voting

Update Notice

Last updated on 8/28/12.

End Analysis

The iPhone is really easy to use. It is something that is simple almost to distraction. Most of the time the iPhone experiences is more about form than function. It is beautiful, but not for me. Still, out of box it works very nicely and you are guaranteed a unified experience from it.

Still, Android devices are also easy to use. In some ways they are more complicate than the iPhone, but we are talking about more complicated like getting a water bottle out of the refrigerator is more complicated than being handed one. There isn't much of a difference. The question here is do you want to customize or not? If you like having your phone be unique then Android is definitely for you. You don't have to customize, but if you like to, this is the device for you. Heck, you can leave it as is and it still is very nice. In either case, just remember that the super cheap Android devices are just that, cheap. Go for high end or at least midrange Android phones if you want quality. If you were to get and iPhone you are looking at at least $200 invested. Think about the same for investing in your Android phone. Things are trending towards cheaper Android phones that are high quality, but it isn't there yet. If you spend the same amount of money on an Android phone as you would on an iPhone you will make up the cost in cost of applications.

The thing that will really make the difference for you is actually using these devices. Be warned, if you get a fanboy for one or the other showing it to you, you will hear tons of arguments for one and against the other. The most important question you should ask yourself is "Does it fit what I WANT in my smartphone?" If you don't like the feel, be honest with yourself and go towards the one that works best.

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Comments 20 comments

kootheancheah profile image

kootheancheah 4 years ago from Penang, Malaysia

Good piece of advice.

Personally, I prefer Android as I love customization. ;-)


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Oh, I'm an Android guy myself. I just feel it necessarily to recognize the merits of Apple's system. After all, Android as we know it would not be if not for Apple. I find it funny that iOS 5 has copied many of the great features from Android like the notification bar and page. I don't hear Google shouting foul about that though.


kootheancheah profile image

kootheancheah 4 years ago from Penang, Malaysia

It's true that Apple has helped to push the boundary of phone technology and spurred stiff competition from other makers. With Steve Job gone now, I can't help wondering if this is going to slow down quite a bit..


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Did car innovation stall with the death of Henry Ford? Steve Jobs may have been a visionary, but he isn't the only one. Further more, inside Apple itself there are entire teams that worked to create iOS as we know it now. Jobs didn't do everything. Additionally, he actually stalled innovation at points because something didn't fit within his vision. I actually wrote a great article on this comparing Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. http://hubpages.com/technology/Steve-Jobs-The-a-Mo... . Not to sound mean, but Steve Jobs leaving us could be a good thing because it opens the way for other thinkers and ideas. I am sad he is gone in an intellectual way, but *SPOILER ALERT* we all die. At least he went out with a bang (even if the iPhone 4S was a fizzle in my book).


janicealcantara profile image

janicealcantara 4 years ago

I'm now loving Android, iOS should do something!


mwas 4 years ago

android for life. if u r a little bit innovative, u can make a cheap android fone awesome. with rooting and roming (......and pirated paid apps ) u can do it at no extra cost.


dill 4 years ago

iOS for me. This was written by someone who hates iOS but loves android, siting that iOS fans are technologically illiterate. Yet he can't spell himself...

iPhones have their haters, and it's generally people who can't afford to pay for the quality.


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

@mwas, while I fully support rooting and using ROM's on Android, I do not support pirating apps. It is such a low cost for them to begin with and the developers have put a lot of money and work into making them. Android developers, or any for that matter, can't afford to have their property stolen. I would suggest reconsidering the pirating aspect of your approach since it harms the ecosystem you love rather than helping it.


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

@Dill, I am not sure if you are commenting on my article or on the previous comment, but in either case I will assume it is the article. I do not assume that iOS fan's are illiterate, technology or spelling. If I make spelling errors, I suppose you could blame that on my dyslexia. I try very hard to catch those. Still, this article is written for people who are 1) not sure about the differences of Android vs iOS, &/or 2) are technology illiterate. If you feel I am saying that iOS users are illiterate I will put you strait right now. I am not say this. I am saying they have a preference just like I do. I have chosen my preferred mobile OS after much consideration despite all the lies and half truths that both operating system fans have propagated. Your choice of iOS does not make you less of a person in my eyes. You like what you like.

As for you statement, "it's generally people who can't afford to pay for the quality", well, that isn't true at all. Some people prefer a larger screen, or expandable memory, or customization, or a physical keyboard, or many other reasons why people choose Android over iOS. Apple makes great products. They really do, but there are some amazing Android devices out there too. Case in point. I am using the Transformer Prime to respond to your comment. This device is a quad core tablet that was released 3 months before the iPad 3 was considered. It is Android 4.0, it is thinner and lighter than the iPad 2 & 3 and it has an option keyboard dock that adds 6 hours battery life the the already 12 hours built in, a usb 2.0 port and an SD card slot. This is on top the the micro-HDMI port and micro-SD card slot built into the tablet. Is it better than the iPad? Well, maybe. Not because it is so much better hardware wise. It is about on par with the iPad 3, or rather the iPad 3 is on par with it since the iPad 3 came later. No, it is better for ME because it does what I want it to do and it fits MY needs. As I said at the end of the article, this is a case of preference. You like what you like and I like what I like and we can get along just fine so long as we can agree that we both like what we like.


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 4 years ago from Utah Author

Oh, and dill, don't point fingers about not being able to spell when you can't write four sentences without mis-spelling a simple word like "sitting". It is a little embarrassing my friend. Just saying...


gamesnepal profile image

gamesnepal 4 years ago from Kathmandu, Nepal

Android is my choice.


mimi24 3 years ago

Hello,

This article is going to save me from the perils of AT&T's wonderful "insurance plan" After washing my 3g once and replacing it with a free 4g when it was time to upgrade, I was a happy camper. Until yesterday when it fell on a concrete floor and cracked the screen. I called the insurance company and they were happy to replace the phone for 199.00. Why should I do this when I received my phone for free? The agent then explained a new 4g would be twice that amount. I just can't justify it and as sad as I am to lose my 4g, I am considering the Android as you have suggested. I was wondering if you would clarify something for me just so I am clear. If I purchase an Android go phone (looing at one on Tiger Direct) all I need to do is insert my sim card from my iphone4, correct? I don't need to do anything else? Thank you very much for this information. It is greatly appreciated. Mimi


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 3 years ago from Utah Author

Mimi,

Happy to help. Sorry for the delay in reply. As far as I know, yes you can take an unlocked or GoPhone and put in a new SIM. An AT&T store usually offers free replacements with lost or stolen phones. Just a tip. If you get a Android GoPhone, it will not be as fast or functional as a iPhone 4. The reason for this is because the processor is a cheaper, slower one. If you want a great phone what is fast and amazing, check out the Nexus 4 by LG. It runs the latest Android OS and it has a quad core processor and a bunch of other goodies. For $300 plus tax it is a steal. No contract required. It is unlocked to work on AT&T or T-mobile. Here is the link: http://goo.gl/sGoCR

You can also use any unlocked GSM phone. Although the AT&T specific ones would work best. I personally own and love the Nexus 4. It also runs great on the AT&T network.


Tony 2 years ago

Probably a moot point now as this article was updated in August last year, but the race to get the fastest / biggest / mostest (!) of any technology is one of the drivers for continual development. Choice of an iPhone vs Android vs BB vs WP is one that allows every person on the planet to settle with the best for them at that time. There will always be that "should've waited" moment as the next big thing drops but as the author said, go with what fits. There's plenty of choice now and since Nokia and Microsoft are now happy bedfellows, that must make for even greater future opportunities.

Desirability of a product is worth mentioning here as there are those who think that Apple is the number one, uber-premium brand with no question. And I get that, having owned various iterations of iStuff and can honestly say their ecosystem is one that just works. I like the way everything syncs, has a commonality to it that allows me to focus on what I need from it at any time. User experience is one of the keys to their success and they have worked hard to develop tech that seamlessly interacts with each other without fuss.

However, I have just bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 after a month of agonising and debating what I need! It's funny that I've felt the need to step away from the obvious new iPhone 5s purchase but for me, at this time, it didn't fit with my requirements for a larger screen. Yep, that's it! A larger screen was my criteria! Not 64 bit or finger print! I also think I'm bored with the same iOS feel even after iOS 7 released and since Android and Apple can coexist more successfully now, it made my choice easier.

And that's my point - choice. Do your research, get the knowledge, go in store and see for yourself. If it doesn't exist now, wait 6 months and it probably will!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 2 years ago from Utah Author

Tony, you share some nice thoughts. Many of which are expressed in my article. What you do not know is this. I have updated this article 3 times since it was originally published. The information is still valid. Furthermore, since I am a teacher I have Apple products hoisted on me all the time. I was given an iPad by my school district... for free... because I am a teacher... I understand that each product has its individual appeal; however, I can speak from experience as a user of both operating systems as well as being a techy when I say that the reasons I give for Android over iOS are compelling. Sure, in the end the decision should be up to the individual user. I have good friends who use Apple products and we still hang out. But that is not the point. The point is that there is a lot of red herrings that come about in the tech discussion. One that is currently come out is 64 bit processing. That is cool. I am happy Apple has included this in the iPhone architecture. I can also get a watch from the late 90's that has 64 bit processing. Currently the 64 bit feature is not completely utilized. Furthermore, the end user will not fully see the implications of this until much later. Sure it drives competition. But does it make a major difference to the end user? Android offers far more customization and options than iOS. Android is not a locked down system like iOS. Android updates do not force the user to give up things that he or she may love (because of the customization through skins etc) while iOS does. Apple takes an all or nothing approach. And while some enjoy being bound is chains that limit them, I for one prefer to do things the way I like to do them. I do not have to worry about Google uninstalling an application on my phone because Big Brother decided that that app was not acceptable. I can shop around for my applications. I can choose from so many different types of hardware. I am not cloistered. I am not limited. AND Android is easy to use. I would argue it is easier than iOS.


Tony 2 years ago

Apologies to the author re the updates - I saw August 2012 on the end of your article when I wrote my response.

On another Note (!), my new SG Note 3 is great and fits in well with my other Apple stuff and a Nexus 7 - also found a few glitches along the way but none that were insurmountable with a little web help.

Re 64 bit, that was a little tongue-in-cheek on my part, although it's a great future planner that should benefit the end user eventually. If anything, I'm happier now that I can use both iOS and Android to suit my needs and after all, that's what I wrote before.


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 2 years ago from Utah Author

Tony,

Yah, I am glad for the updates and competition. I was actually approached by a person who works in the PC industry and asked what I thought the industry would look like in 10 years. Hard to say, but I am exited. The 64 bit processing is a big deal in the long run. And of coarse the major players are really trying hard to compete with each other. The advantage I see in the current system is that this is a 3 horse race that is a 2 horse race at the same time. Apple & Google compete on an operating system level of mobile, while Apple & Microsoft fight over the personal computer/laptop market. While Google is jumping in to the market with Chrome OS, that is more mobile than actual computer. Still better yet is since Apple limits its software to proprietary hardware, which has its pluses and minuses, this results in the possibility for a viable two/three horse race to take place even if Google makes a full fledged computing operating system beyond mobile (as hinted by KitKat) then the system will still work. Apologies. I realized I didn't explain why the two/three horse race was important. Usually technology races come down to a two horse race. The two/three means it provides diversity in the market while allowing for the best adaptation & evolution of product for the consumer. This also results in better prices in the long and short run as well.


Rachet 2 years ago

First off. Wow! You pwned DILL man! Lol. I hate buttheads (I would use other words, but I'm trying to keep it clean up here) who poke at spelling as if that somehow makes their viewpoint valid. Mistakes are made people.

This article is well written. I enjoyed how it tries to cover the pros and cons for each side. As an iOS user, I can see the appeal of Android. In fact, I am considering the S5 as my next upgrade... It's kind of hard since it means I may have to rebuy some apps, but...... well, I looked at the apps I use the most and most of them are free apps anyways.

Is there any other phone that is Android that you might recommend? I honestly am not sure. I may even just wait for the iPhone 6. My biggest beef with Apple is that even the iPhones 5 & 5s screens are small compared to the other stuff. Thoughts please? Advice?

Thanx!


ibbarkingmad profile image

ibbarkingmad 2 years ago from Utah Author

Rachet,

Glad you enjoyed that. I personally don't care for such things, but sometimes you just have to point out those holes in their arguments.

As for your question. The Nexus 5 is a great device. It's cheaper, no contract & it is compatible with & even in some areas better than the iPhone 5s. Check it out at the Google Play store. I would suggest waiting though. The iPhone 6 may be what you are looking for in screen size. If you decide to switch, be sure you like what you get.


king87501 profile image

king87501 19 months ago

Now a days smart watches are very popular http://buysmartiwatch.com Large electronics companies like Motorola, Sony, LG, Apple, Samsung and pebble are designing smart watches. So, My question why should i buy Android instead of iwatch?

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