Apple iPhone vs Google Android: Which would you recommend?
Over at Boy Genius Report, Dan Graziano wrote, or rather, ‘confessed’ as to why he would recommend the iPhone, despite being an Android fan. In the article, he detailed how Android’s openness ended up doing harm to the platform, so much that he would recommend the iPhone to his friends and family, a blasphemous act to some of the most hardcore Android fanboys.
Graziano’s complains, among others, are:
- No-name manufacturers building Android devices on cheap hardware, resulting in a less-than-stellar user experience.
- Fast-paced hardware releases from major handset vendors, resulting in buyer’s remorse.
- Bloatwares and custom skins that affect the performance of a device.
- No firm release date when a new Android device is announced, due to uncertainties from carriers.
On the pros of an iPhone, he cites ease of use, carrier branding, and bloatware-free, and of course, “the most incredible App Store in the mobile world.” I agree to most of his points, but there’s more to it.
Broadly speaking, there are five factors that will determine the success of a mobile device, namely software, hardware, ecosystem, pricing, and commitment.
Software is subjective. iOS triumphs in terms of ease of use. The amount of videos on YouTube showing toddlers using and navigating the iPhone like a champ is a testament to this. Even my very own pre-school little cousin, who can’t feed himself without making a whole mess out of it, has the ability to use his father’s iPhone like an adult. Navigating and launching an app, playing a game, viewing photos, capturing and deleting photos, you name it, he knows how to do it.
But as an Android fanboy will tell you, it comes with a price. It’s closed, and you have very limited control of the device. The only thing you could customize on an iPhone is the wallpaper, period. Android, on the other hand, is a better choice for those who are more adventurous.
However, when someone asks the ‘tech guy’ his opinion on purchasing a new mobile phone, then he’s probably just an everyday consumer. You can’t go wrong recommending the iPhone to the standard consumer, because as Steve Jobs liked to put it, it just works.
The iPhone’s hardware, even on Apple’s latest iPhone 4S, are no match for the Android devices announced just recently at Mobile World Congress. Several of them are even sporting quad-core processors and have incredibly large and awesome screens.
But the iPhone’s hardware is good enough to run iOS and apps from the App Store without a hitch. The average Joe will not complain a thing about the speed of the iPhone, as the OS and apps are built within the limits of the hardware.
On the outside, the iPhone is pretty standard. The screen size is not too large, and it will fit anyone’s hand. The iPhone 4’s industrial design is spectacular, and it looks elegant with glass covers on both sides of the phone. It doesn’t feel cheap, although it does instill the fear of dropping the device.
The downside of the iPhone’s hardware is the lack of choice. The screen size has been fixed at 3.5-inch since 2007, and there’s no hardware keyboard. Take it or leave it. Android, on the other hand, gives you more choices than you can grasp, from a dozen or so manufacturers.
Samsung, for example, pushes both the lower and upper limit for screen sizes. The Galaxy 5 has a tiny 2.8-inch screen, which could be a pain to use for those with large thumbs, while the Galaxy Note has a 5.3-inch screen, which is awesome, provided you have no trouble pocketing it.
The iPhone, with its standard configuration, can appease a wider range of different users.
No one will ever blame you for recommending the iPhone, due to the lack of apps, quantity and quality wise. Any developer serious about establishing a presence in the mobile space will build an iOS app. Google included.
However, at this point, even the Android Market is mature enough in terms of app variety. But there’s no guarantee that any particular app will run on just any Android device, which comes in different OS versions and form factors. Chrome for Android is a good example.
Pricing is subjective, as it’s very much dependent on the region we’re referring to. It’s safe to say that you get what you pay for, whether you’re getting the iPhone or an Android device.
Commitment to keep customers happy: Apple 1 – Android 0
This is important. Graziano mentioned about the gap between the announcement and release date of an Android device. But the more important part of the story: the gap between the announcement and release date of an Android OS upgrade, or the lack thereof.
When Apple announces an upgrade for iOS, the company makes clear which device will receive it, and when will it be available. It’s that simple. And Apple has the commitment to support an old device for as long as its hardware permits.
Owners of the iPhone 3GS, a device launched in 2009, are still taken care of to this day. It’s very much in the supported device list in the latest iOS upgrade, and the device is capable of running most applications and features that the iPhone 4S is capable of.
The operating system upgrade on the iPhone is very much a customer-Apple affair, with nothing coming in between. It’s much more complicated on Android. Google has no say about which device will upgrade and when it will be available.
When Google releases an OS upgrade, manufacturers will have to decide which device is eligible for it, and then they will take their own sweet time to build a custom skin over the new OS. Finally, the manufacturer will coordinate with the carriers to deliver the actual upgrade, which will probably be outdated again when it’s ready.
And you’ll be lucky if your device is actually eligible. Just ask the users of the original Samsung Galaxy S.
Ultimately, it’s still a personal choice
Ultimately, both platforms have their own pros and cons. Some people may prefer to have a smooth ride on iOS, even if it means that they’ll be restricted in many aspects. Others will be willing to take a more adventurous path for the flexibility Android offers.
Here, we are discussing which device to recommend to a friend or family member who just wants a new smartphone with no specific needs. It’s not a mobile platform deathmatch. Personally, I’m an admirer of the Windows Phone, but there’s no way I’ll recommend it to anyone.
Why? I have no interest in taking the blame when the guy comes back furiously some time down the road accusing me of recommending a mobile phone with “no apps.”
You’re more likely to stay out of trouble by recommending the iPhone.
Photo: Tsahi Levent-Levi