It’s no secret that the smartphone wars have been heating up. The undisputed contenders for the top title are the Apple iPhone with the iOS operating system and various phones running the Google Android operating system.
Finally, there is a clear winner in this contest…the consumer! For years, Android phone manufacturers have been chasing Apple’s iPhone. This effort includes many efforts to duplicate the great features that are only available on the iPhone. Now, the latest iOS update from Apple offers a lot of great features that are only available on some Android phones.
The end result of this tit-for-tat was the introduction of a range of mobile phones that were spectacular in both form and function. The good news for consumers is that they finally have many choices when choosing a smartphone.
So which one is best for you? Since this decision is part emotional and part practical, the best method for deciding is to look at all the specs and then trust your instincts as to which phone feels right for you, your family and your budget.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Fashion – Let’s face it, some people think the iPhone is cool and want to buy the Apple brand even if it’s not the best phone for them. Regardless of how good their phones are, you don’t see many Samsung or HTC stickers on cars!
- Apps – Both Apple and Google claim to have over 800,000 apps for their operating systems. Apple apps tend to be more reliable because they are written for only one device and, unlike Android apps, their distribution is tightly controlled. For the same reason, Apple’s apps also tend to contain malware.
If you’re already tied to apps only available with Apple, switching to Android may be a tradeoff. For most people, Google’s Android now offers many great alternatives to Apple’s apps. But if you’ve already purchased apps for one platform or another, then you’d be better off sticking with the same system.
- Multi-Media – If you’re already an Apple iTunes or iCloud user, you probably won’t find a smoother mobile experience on an Android device. Switching to Android may be inconvenient, to say the least. However, if you’re not already connected to this Apple service, similar offerings from Google and others are available for Android devices.
- Size – The newest iPhones come in just one screen size. While a four-inch screen works fine for most people, there are plenty of alternatives available on Android phones. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy Note II excels at 5.5 inches. If you are an elderly or even an aging baby boomer, you may find that a larger screen is easier to read and navigate. Other users may prefer a bigger screen for games, books and movies. Some Android phones even include a stylus.
- Open Source vs. Closed Source — Apple’s operating system is a closed system. It will only run on Apple devices. Android is an open source system and can run on many devices. Closed-source operating systems provide a more reliable, tightly controlled environment. Open source systems encourage variety and innovation. This is why there are so many choices when choosing an Android phone. Sophisticated users and developers can customize their Android system. With Apple, what you see is what you get.
- Price – When it comes to smartphones, you get what you pay for. The new iPhone 5 will cost $199 with a two-year plan, while some high-end Android phones can be had for $50 to $100. Keep in mind that most of the cost lies with your monthly plan, so saving $100 upfront might really cost you if you get tied to a plan you don’t like.
It’s worth noting that for tablet users, Android is definitely cheaper than iPad, with the Nexus 7 starting at $199 versus $329 for the iPad mini.
If you are STILL having trouble making your choice, maybe you can look at it like this:
If Apple currently offers all the features you could want in a smartphone and you’re not bothered by some limitations or the price, then go ahead and buy an iPhone. You won’t find a better Android phone with the exact same features.
On the other hand, if there are things you don’t like about the iPhone such as flexibility, size, or price, then you might be better off with an Android device. You can almost certainly find one with most of the cool features available on an iPhone while still meeting your other criteria.
If you don’t like one of them, look for an alternative. Yes, there is a world without Apple or Android. Core business users looking to optimize their integration with Microsoft applications can find some advantages with Windows Phone 8. Users in countries like Indonesia may have good reasons to stick with Blackberry.
Whatever you do, don’t suffer because of this decision. You can always change your mind! The smartphone landscape is changing rapidly and you will likely be revisiting this decision in a few years.