How to decide between Android and iPhone

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Which is better for you: iPhone or Android

The iPhone vs. Android debate is more heated than ever, with both operating systems boasting significant strengths and flaws. While you can purchase a phone from a variety of companies, it will almost certainly run one of the two most common mobile operating systems: iOS (if you choose an iPhone) or Android (if you choose an Android) (if you opt for anything else).

Both platforms are well-established at this stage, having been around for over a decade. That means both have extensive feature sets, and there’s very little that one can’t do better than the other. Nonetheless, each has advantages, and there are reasons why you would choose one over the other.

We compare each mobile platform’s strengths, comparing iPhone vs. Android, so you can choose the best one for you the next time you buy a smartphone.

Why is the iPhone superior to Android

You’ve committed to Apple’s ecosystem. It may sound like a flimsy excuse, but Apple makes a wide variety of tech devices, and buying an iPhone makes much sense if you already own a Mac, iPad, or Apple Watch.

Apple has created several tools that allow you to transfer work and data from one of its devices to another, and these features will save you much time. Take, for example, Handoff, which enables calls on your iPhone and web pages in Safari to smoothly switch between iOS and macOS. Text copied on one device can be used on another with Universal Clipboard. Another of our favorites is Continuity Camera, which lets you use your iPhone’s camera to take photos and scan documents, then view and edit them on your Mac. You can also make transactions on your Mac using Apple Pay’s biometric security features on your iPhone.

Just a few Android phone manufacturers have hardware ecosystems that come close to Apple’s. Even those that do, including Samsung, don’t deliver the same degree of integration as the iPhone and other Apple-built devices. With its latest Your Phone app for Windows, Microsoft is helping Google close the gap somewhat, allowing Android users to respond to texts and alerts on their PCs, though the experience is a little clunky and there is still work to be done.

There are plenty of other great examples of iOS, iPad, watchOS, and macOS continuity. The iPhone is an essential piece of the puzzle, mainly that iPhone apps can be easily ported to macOS. Power users who are already immersed in Apple’s ecosystem would benefit significantly from adding an iPhone to their arsenal. That’s not to mention friends and family members who prefer to communicate through iMessage or FaceTime.

With the latest iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, Apple has introduced another option for lock-in: MagSafe accessories. Only the new iPhones will work with these magnet-based chargers, cases, and products, but if you invest in the network, you’ll have some problems if you want to quit.

Third-party applications are simply superior. This is purely a matter of personal preference. However, as someone who has switched back and forth between iOS and Android for as long as both platforms have existed, I’ve constantly been blown away by the consistency of iOS developers’ games and primarily disappointed by their Android counterparts.

Don’t get me wrong: Android has some great applications and developers, but they’re harder to come by in my experience. For example, one of our favorite Twitter apps, Tweetbot 5, is only available on iOS; by contrast, Fenix 2, one of the best third-party Twitter apps we’ve seen on Android, pales in comparison. Henry T. Casey, one of our team members, uses Bear to write blog posts on his Mac and iPhone, but we’ve yet to find a note-taking app for Android that’s as comprehensive and slick. On the other hand, I prefer an Android markdown editor to something on iOS.

Even proven companies’ apps, such as banks and airlines, can run smoother and cleaner on iOS than Android, with better integration with the phone’s core services, such as Wallet. (Many airlines are just now beginning to accept Google Pay.) Let’s not even mention how sluggish and buggy Snapchat is on Android.

There is a broader range of accessories available. If you go to any Best Buy or Target, you’ll find aisles of cases for any iPhone Apple makes — something that can’t be said for the Android crowd outside of the giant corporations’ flagship devices. You’re out of luck once you get past the semi-healthy range of products made for the new Galaxy S device. Any brick-and-mortar store won’t be able to provide you with a selection of accessories for your latest Pixel or LG smartphone. Yeah, you might go online and buy a $4 case from Amazon, but you’ll know exactly what you’re getting.

iPhone cases, screen protectors, car mounts, and other accessories are much more plentiful and diverse than you’ll find for any other handset, and this is more important than most people know. I used a Pixel 3 and then a Pixel 4 as my regular driver recently. I’ve been disappointed by the lack of choices for Google’s handsets as someone who likes to change up my phone’s case regularly to keep it looking fresh. That will never be an issue for iPhone users.

There isn’t any bloatware to speak of. When you first turn on your iPhone, there will be no bloatware preinstalled, regardless of how you bought it, where you bought it, or what iPhone you bought. That means there is no power- or data-siphoning apps sabotaging stuff behind the scenes, which you didn’t ask for.

If you’ve ever seen how a new Android phone comes out of the box — particularly one purchased via a carrier — you’ll be relieved. Even buying a Galaxy Z Fold 2 for $2,000 won’t shield AT&T consumers from the inconvenience of having CNN and DirecTV Now clogging up their app drawers. It’s even worse if you purchase a low-cost smartphone from a discount carrier that has been heavily subsidized.

Without a service agreement, Android customers who buy one of the best-unlocked phones will have a greater chance of preventing bloatware. It is also dependent on the company. Unlocked Pixel phones, for example, don’t come with any third-party apps; on the other hand, it’s not unheard of for certain unlocked phones to come with some unwanted sponsored applications.

You benefit from faster software updates. Android phones receive fewer updates than iPhones, and when they do, they are more infrequent and often delayed.

The number of updates an Android phone receives during its lifespan is primarily determined by its price, the carrier from which it was purchased (or whether it was purchased at all), and the phone maker’s software support policy.

That’s in stark contrast to iPhones, which are guaranteed to receive significant software updates for several years. For example, the iPhone 6S earned iOS 14 despite being released in 2015 with iOS 9. Consider the Galaxy S6, which was released the same year and came with Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box. It lacks the most recent Android applications, but it hasn’t received any updates in years. It only went as far as 7.0 Nougat until Samsung dropped support — and when the S6 got Nougat, it was in March 2017, eight months after Google revealed it.

Furthermore, when a new iOS update is launched, it is immediately available to all users on the same day, at the same time, and on all models that support it. On the other hand, Android updates are delivered in waves to individual phones rather than by type.

It has a more robust retail support structure. Let’s say something goes wrong with your iPhone, and you need it repaired. Perhaps you’d like a screen protector mounted, and you’d rather have it done by a pro who can apply the film without a bubble or speck of dust. Whatever the problem is, it’s good to have a resource — and what better resource for iPhone users than the Apple Store? Yes, the limitations of Covid will make this difficult, but at least you have the choice.

Android phone users do not have the luxury. If you need a new battery or a screen replacement and didn’t buy a warranty plan from the store where you purchased it, you’ll have to return it to the seller. Given how much we all rely on our phones daily, that’s a time-consuming hassle.

Why is Android superior to the iPhone

Phones are available in several price ranges. Android runs on the vast majority of smartphones globally, and since so many companies make Android phones, they’re available in every price range. There are cheap phones under $1,000, such as the latest Pixel 4a, some of the best small and big phones, and phablets and foldable that cost much more than $1,000. Whatever your budget, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find an Android device that meets your needs or offers unique features.

The same statement cannot be said for iPhones, which have a history of being costly at launch before dropping in price with subsequent generations. The iPhone 12 mini, which costs $699 and has a 5.4-inch display, is one of the most affordable new Apple handsets. The Galaxy S20 FE costs the same as the Galaxy S20 but has a more extensive and smoother 120Hz 6.5-inch screen, a telephoto lens, and a significantly larger battery.

The iPhone SE is Apple’s most affordable iPhone, and it’s a great smartphone with phenomenal results for just $400, but its nature is dated, and its screen might be too small for some.

Even though both iOS and Android have developed over time, Android has always been known as the platform for users who want to tinker with and customize their devices. The home screen launcher, for example, provides customizable widgets and the ability to hide apps anywhere on a list or in a drawer — something the iPhone is only now catching up to with iOS 14. You can also replace the default launcher on your Android phone with one from the Google Play store.

Suppose you prefer a third-party app to one that came preinstalled on your computer. In that case, Android also lets you download third-party replacements for core services, including web browsers, keyboards, and media players, and set them as the default versions. Over time, iOS has improved in this area, though the implementation is still a little clumsy.

Finally, we must mention vendor skins, which are bespoke user interfaces and Android device software customized by individual phone manufacturers, often with additional functionality and the ability to create themes for your entire experience. Some Android fans prefer Google’s “stock” version of the operating system. Many consumers, however, prefer phone makers’ custom apps, such as Samsung’s One UI or OnePlus’ OxygenOS, because of its additional features, such as the ability to take scrolling screenshots and conceal images and videos in password-protected directories.

You may (occasionally) increase the storage space. While expandable storage is becoming less common, it is still available on many Android phones. It allows you to store images, games, and other media on a microSD card that won’t fit your device’s internal memory.

Given the exorbitant rates Apple and other phone makers charge to double or quadruple storage when you purchase your smartphone, this is an incredible advantage. Why spend an additional $100 to $150 on a new phone for an extra 128GB or 256GB of storage (that you’re not sure you’ll use) when you can only spend $70 on a 512GB card later?

Furthermore, while headphone jacks are becoming increasingly rare on high-end phones these days, many Android devices still have them — a much-requested feature that Apple removed from its phones in 2016. For those who do want to use their trusty old wired headphones, this is a huge deal.

USB-C is a universal connector. These days, most Android phones use USB-C ports for charging and data transfer, which is great if you’re one of those who prefer to travel light and only bring one cable. Most PCs, as well as the Nintendo Switch, also have USB-C ports. It’s a lovely thing.

Unlike Apple’s Lightning cable, which is a throwback to a time when every tech company felt pressured to create its proprietary connector, USB-C reflects the perfect single-port solution that the industry is looking for. It also makes faster-charging technologies possible.

For example, the OnePlus 8T will go from zero to 55 percent battery capacity in just 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, your battery should be 93 percent charged.

Compared to the iPhone 12, which also uses Lightning, the iPhone 12 is the clear winner. Apple doesn’t even have a charger in the package anymore.

There is a proper file system in place (with drag-and-drop support on PC). The majority of people don’t need to mess around with their smartphone’s file system. Even so, it’s nice to know the Android provides that option if you want it. Even better, when you connect an Android phone to a Windows PC, you can easily drag and drop files into folders as though it were a regular drive.

That means you can easily upload and store your media libraries and documents locally, and you won’t have to pay for a monthly storage service if you have an extensive library. For anything but images, iPhones hide the user’s file system, which can be very inconvenient when dealing with music, documents, and other types of media.

Some Android phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20, have particular PC or monitor projection features that allow you to view and use your smartphone as if it were a desktop computer. One example of this is Samsung’s DeX interface. A high-end Android phone could genuinely serve as a substitute for one of the best Chromebooks or similarly ultraportable laptops, thanks to its flexibility.

Android phones are usually the first to get new features. Sure, Apple’s bank account is bulging. It is, however, just one company with a single philosophy. As a result, iOS can be slow to adapt to new technology or slower than the Android community.

With so many companies producing Android phones, it’s no wonder that Android partners are always first to market with mobile technologies. Wireless charging, fast charging, NFC, 4G LTE, 5G, OLED displays, in-screen fingerprint sensors, water resistance, and multi-lens cameras were all available on Android devices before they were available on iPhones, as were software innovations like proper multitasking, copy and paste, and multiwindow support.

Of course, this isn’t to say the Apple hasn’t had its breakthroughs. While the iPhone X wasn’t the first phone to feature face recognition, it was the first to reliably and stably. However, since a more significant number of Android phones are released each year from various manufacturers, it’s simply a matter of scale that hardware running Google’s platform is more adaptable compare to Apple.

Which one do you pick

So, which do you choose: iPhone or Android? Both platforms have advantages and disadvantages, and your decision will be based on what you trust the most.

Having an iPhone is a more transparent and comfortable experience. There’s less to worry about, and since Apple’s iPhone is the most common smartphone brand, there’s plenty of help available everywhere you go — if you need a new battery or want to get a new case.

In those ways, owning an Android computer is a little more complicated. It’s also more liberating because it gives you more options: how much you want to invest, what hardware and software feature you want, and how you arrange and personalize your experience. If you’re picky about your technology, Android could be more liberating — dare I suggest, enjoyable — though you’ll probably be disappointed by the lack of high-quality apps and accessories.

There’s no better place to start than our lists of the best iPhones and best Android phones if you’re undecided about which smartphone to turn. Whatever computer you use, make sure it is compatible with your operating system.

 

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