It’s a debate that’s been ongoing since the two began to coexist as the dominant mobile phone operating systems, and lets face it, it’s pretty much a two horse race these days, since Microsoft and Blackberry’s grip on the mobile phone market has become increasingly non-existent. Not that this has stopped Microsoft from releasing this advert that seems to weirdly highlight their lagging position in the smartphone race (see it here).
However exaggerated this advert may be, if you have a smartphone you’ve probably at some point found yourself backed into the awkward corner of defending your choice of phone against a passionate Apple or Android advocate. Now I admit to being guilty of causing such arguments myself, and am slightly biased since I’ve opted to buy Android phones over the past couple of years. But having managed to considerably damage my phone after a rather wild night of one-too-many long island ice teas and many terrible embarrassments, I’ve been searching for a new phone. And for the first time in a very long time I considered switching to the iPhone, whilst mysteriously I’ve also noticed many of my friends whose allegiance sat with Apple also ponder a change of teams in the iOS vs. Android battle. So why the change of heart?
I’ve always been a big supporter of Android. I loved how unregulated Google’s app store was. Yes it had less apps than the iPhone app store and a lot of very shoddy apps made their way onto the market as well, but I loved the fact that without hacking my phone I could download apps for tasks such as game console emulating and remotely controlling my PC via Wi-Fi; such apps for security and copyright reasons just didn’t see the light of the day on Apple’s app store. I loved that I had such a broad choice of handsets, handset manufacturers and handset designs to choose from. I could browse through specs and designs and select a handset I felt was just right for me, and with each month it felt like more and more Android handsets were being released to compete with the iPhone. Undeniably though, Android was the underdog, competing to catch up to Apple’s market share, ever increasing profit margins and beastly iPhone sales figures.
In the smartphone race things have moved at a light-speed pace over the past few years, and past few months even. A lot has changed. Shares of Google are up 20% over the past three months, whereas Apple’s are down 19%. Google and Apple have also increasingly looked to each other’s platforms to make improvements to their own, Google vastly improving it’s voice control and search features and tightening regulation on it’s app store. Apple have also made their user interface a lot more fluid and taken a lot of influence from the better parts of Android. Increasingly as well, the design of Android handsets seems to be becoming more uniform and the specs more similar and unified with fewer differentiating features. Whereas in the past I would have argued for the exciting breadth of choice when it comes to Android handsets this is clearly less of the case these days, especially with the increasing dominance of Samsung’s Android handsets.
When sat down flicking through handsets and spec sheets and large sums of technical jargon on blogs, I tried to weigh up whether to buy an iPhone or Android phone and eventually I was left simply with the prices to compare. The top Android phone’s such as the Xperia Z, HTC One and Samsung S3 all boast great processors, brilliant cameras, sleek designs and the best of Android’s operating system and can compete readily with the iPhone 5 in terms of specs and design. The major difference being price, often with a gap of around £100 or more between the price of the iPhone 5 and the top Android phones being sold by retailers. This was almost enough to keep me content with the offerings of Android and Google, but unfortunately I just couldn’t shake the feeling that all the top Android phones felt very similar, almost struggling to differentiate themselves even, only really separated by the more subtle or niche of additional features such as the Xperia Z’s increased durability.
So what really makes the line-up of top Android phones better than the iPhone? The more I tried to argue Android’s corner the less I could say, other than Android provides fairer priced alternatives to the iPhone. But ultimately I feel myself swayed to pay that bit extra just for what many may consider the least important of benefits. The iPhone app store often receives apps quicker than the Google app store (Google Play) since apps only have to be optimised for a single line of handsets instead of the various handsets running Android, which can be rather annoying, remember how long it took before apps like Grindr and Instagram became available on Android as well?
Sure the wait often isn’t as long these days but it’s still there. Not to mention it’s a lot easier for an external company to create accessories for Apple’s newest singular handset or limited line of phones than for the hundreds of varied phones running Android, so naturally the newest iPhone’s still have far more accessories, cases, and custom additions and add-ons than any of the competing handsets. So the bottom line is it depends on if you’re like me and want to get the newest popular apps as soon as possible and can’t help but get excited by the prospect of kitting out your phone with an army of accessories, or if you like many others just want a fairer priced smartphone which can perform as well as the best of it’s peers; in which case go with one of the top Android handsets.
However, if you’re like me and want your phone to have the option to have as many outfits as you and can’t stand the annoying wait while iPhone users seem to get the best apps first then maybe it’s time to shake your wallet empty and make the newest iPhone your next phone purchase.