Android or iPhone - Which is the best for me?
In a time of the world being more connected that it ever has been, a growing number of people are ditching their once cutting edge 'dumb-phones' and trading up for a barrage of 'smartphones' which have flooded the market in just a few short years.
I have had some sort of cell phone for the past thirteen years, however, my first one was roughly the size of a small brick. Boy have the times changed. Through the years, these devices have changed shapes and sizes so frequently that some find it very difficult to keep up with.
About three years ago, I made the leap and bought my first smart phone that carried a full data plan. It was a Samsung Omnia i910. I thought that this phone was the greatest thing ever. It came standard with Windows Mobile 6 which I quickly upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.5 to gain access to the additional features such as the Windows Marketplace. This was also a short time after Apple released their first iPhone. Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of Apple, so I walked on by that purchase. Soon after I got the Omnia, I started hearing about Google Android based phones and became intrigued. Sadly, my upgrade period for my account was a bit too far in the future for me to run out and get one right away.
Some eighteen months passed with heavy tweaking to my once loved Windows Mobile phone, and fate struck. My touch screen would no longer function. Keep in mind, I am a very heavy user and am on the phone in some sense for most of the day. It was finally time for a new phone!
Now came a crucial moment for me. The Android phones as well as the iPhone had so much more to offer than my once epic Omnia. Features like a capacitive multi-touch screen, great graphics and most of all... APPS!!! One of the things that really bugged me about the Windows Mobile Platform, was that good applications for the phone were next to impossible to find. Both Android and iPhone boasted tens of thousands of apps with just a touch. It really doesn't get more appealing than that!!!
The big question at this point was... Which one do I choose???
Contemplation - iPhone or Android?
Now, both of the Android and iPhone devices had all of the features that I was looking for in a new cellphone. I had to break it all down and figure out which one was going to be the best fit for me. Both had nice form-factors, great displays, app downloads, GPS, camera and web browsing. It really boiled down to my personality. Myself, I can NEVER leave well enough alone. I am always looking for the next great thing. So I started reading up on each device.
I first started looking at the iPhone, as it was pretty well established on the market by this time. The reviews were great and the feature set was rock solid. It lacked one thing... customization. Even though the phone could be 'Jail-broken' there was little in the way of custom ROMs for it. In recent times, it was made possible to run the Android OS on the iPhone, however (at least when I checked) stability was a minor concern. This is great for someone who wants Apple's iOS as their primary interface but also want to experience Android. The ROM of a phone is the operating system and user interface. Other than that, it did exactly what it was designed to do, and did it well.
My problem, is that I like my technology to do things that it was NOT designed to do. Maybe not at the hardware level (however that would be great), but at the ROM functionality level, which granted, DOES tie into the hardware at some point.
I then moved on to doing my research on the Android phones. This was a little trickier, because there were several manufacturers that made them. This did lend to my curiosity however as I am afterall a techie. The Android platform turned out to be very robust and offered very similar functionality to iPhone. I dug in and read many articles on one of my now favorite sites XDA-Forums. What I found was a wonderland of threads; each one going deeper int the rabbit hole of tweaking. I saw ROMs for the Android phones listed that had not yet even been released to the general public officially. Android, for the most part, is an Open Source Project. This means that Google, once finished with it's source code for a ROM will release it publicly for independant developers to have their way with. Even though what I had found in research had my mind semi made up, I still couldn't decide. I needed to hold one of each in my hand and play around with it.
Luckily, I work in a technical environment, where almost everyone has some sort of smartphone. It just so happened that two of my close co-workers had one of each phone. One was an Apple iPhone, and one was a Motorola Droid. This was my lucky day. I got to fiddle around with each of them or a short bit and navigated the menus and settings to see how each one weighed in.
It was time to make a decision. I needed a phone now that almost a week had flown by without one, but which one should I choose? I went back over my notes and wieghed my options. At that point in time, I could either get the iPhone 4, or one of the four Android phones that my provide had to offer.
Android was my choice. The reason for this choice was not completely cut and dry, but driven more by my geekiness than anything. Another deciding factor, was the presense of Adobe Flash on Android phones. This is a big plus for me at work, since with Flash, I can access much more of my jobs web content. I use these items on a daily basis. Also, there are quite a bit more apps relating to Information Technology guys like me on the Android platform. Case in point, an Active Directory Manager, which is HUGE for me. iPhone does not have an equivalent app at this point (Haven't checked lately).
So, I drove myself up to the store and emptied my wallet in exchange for a shiney new Samsung Galaxy S Continuum. I did find out shortly after the purchase that the particular model did not support Adobe Flash It was, however, updated recently to include this feature. My provider however, did reluctantly work with me and traded for a device that did. Just goes to show, that when researching, go between models, not just platform. Since then, I have had a Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate and my new Samsung Droid Charge, which I absolutely love.
So, here is a quick breakdown of what to think about when trying to decide between Android and iPhone:
iPhone: (Great for the everyday user)
(PROS) A rock solid device that quite simply performs as it was designed to. Nice form factor with plenty of accessories to compliment it. Available for both AT&T and Verizon (May be able to flash to other providers). Many vehicles now come with iPhone/iPod docks built in.
(CONS) No Adobe Flash support out of the box though there is a partial hack available. Limited ability to customize the user interface. Limited apps for some professions such as datacenter admins (Active Directory is one example). Lack of removable battery. If the battery needs to be replaced, you must take it to an AppleStore. Extended batteries are not available, however there are some cases that have built in batteries to extend life.
Android: (Great for techies as well as everyday users)
(PROS) Nice solid platform with a great wealth of community support. Has full Adobe Flash support on most models (Android 2.2 and up). Heavily customizable with custom launcher applications and themes to suit anyone's tastes. Broad spectrum of apps for the working professional including some nice network utilities. Available from any carrier. Lots of accessories such as cases, desk cradles and car cradles. Battery is user replaceable and extended batteries are available for most devices.
(CONS) Some features vary by manufacturer, so be sure to do your research before deciding on a particular phone. Battery life may be better on some models than others especially in early releases. Software updates sometimes fix this. Not as widely supported wih built in vehicle connectivity yet.
I hope that this hub has helped you in some way. I know that for me, it was a very difficult decision until I did all the research. Please let me know what feedback you may have as I always appreciate any criticism that I can get. Also for your viewing pleasure, there are screenshots from each type of device directly below.