- Darren Weaver
Earlier this week my colleague Steve Kovach gave you a quick list of reasons why you should buy the iPhone over any Android alternative. They’re all perfectly valid.
As someone who owns and uses phones from both sides of the fence, though, I thought it’d be fun to see if I could still take the opposite tack.
So consider this a counterpoint. If you don’t want to hop on the Apple train, here are a few time-tested advantages Google’s mobile OS has over its rival from Cupertino.
There’s a variety of devices, at a variety of prices.
- Business Insider/Antonio Villas-Boas
What we’re really arguing when we talk about “iOS vs. Android” is whether you like a closed ecosystem or an open one. With the iPhone, Apple holds the keys. It makes all the hardware, and has final say over all the software. This lets it have all the benefits noted in the piece linked above – guaranteed updates, extensive support, minimal bloatware, and so on.
Android, meanwhile, is fair game for everyone. (Relatively speaking.) There’s a bunch of different companies all fighting for the same market. That isn’t great for their bottom lines, but it means you get a diverse selection of devices, at a diverse set of price points.
You cannot get a functional iPhone for $50. You cannot get a full-featured flagship iPhone for $400. The old joke is that Android is for poor people, and while that’s not wrong, allowing more people to own a good smartphone isn’t exactly a bad thing.
It’s usually first to get advanced hardware features.
- Rafi Letzter/Tech Insider
Apple just incorporated (official) water resistance with the iPhone 7. Next year, it’s expected to adopt a more vivid OLED display with the (presumed) iPhone 8. It recently upgraded the storage space of its current models, but it still doesn’t support microSD cards, which’d expand it further without making you drop another $100.
Android phones have had all of these things, and more, for years. Wireless charging, faster charging, removable batteries, dual-SIM support (which makes it easier to use your phone internationally), dual cameras – all of it is available, and usually available first, outside of Apple’s walls.
Now, will all these features be available on the same Android phone? Usually, no. But if there’s some niche feature you think would make your life easier, you’re much more likely to find it on Android.
You can customize.
- Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
Do you ever get tired at looking at the iPhone’s same grid of apps, update after update? Well, here, you can just download a new look. You can also take apps you don’t normally use off of your home screen. You don’t have to dig into your settings menu every time you want to turn off location tracking, either. Nor do you have to 3D Touch notifications whenever you want to get more out of them. The point is, if you don’t like something, you can actually change it in Android.
The app difference is overstated (on phones)…
- Hollis Johnson
Let’s be real: People aren’t downloading new apps. The stuff you use, you probably already have, and very few of those essentials are excluded from the platform with 84% of the market. You might get an update a little bit later, and sometimes the design won’t be as slick (hello, Twitter!), but usually any difference is marginal.
The only exception is if you’re very into mobile games – there, iOS does get some releases well before they arrive elsewhere. (Or if you’re on a tablet. Don’t buy an Android tablet.)
…and Google’s stock software is superior.
Apple is a hardware company. Google, for as much as it wants to expand, is still a software company. When you look at what’s pre-loaded onto iOS and Android by default, it shows.
Gmail (or even Inbox) is more powerful than Mail. Apple Maps is only just approaching parity with Google Maps. Google Now (and eventually Google Assistant) is more capable than Siri. Even Google’s keyboard does more.
Apple seems to realize that many iOS users just download Google stuff onto their iPhones anyway, given that it finally made it possible to remove stock apps with iOS 10. On Android, though, the good stuff is already there, and often ingrained into the device itself. When you’re routed toward your mail app, for instance, you aren’t prompted to re-install Mail.
There are headphone jacks!
I mean this literally and figuratively. For one, yes, it’s nice to avoid dongles.
More generally, though, the iPhone is less receptive to open standards. Again, Apple’s whole deal is locking you into its world of things. Lightning accessories only work with iOS devices. All your iMessage conversations become worthless if you ever switch. That easy Bluetooth pairing you see with the AirPods? Only on iOS.
This is smart business, and those kind of Apple-exclusive experiences can be great. But not always. More importantly, if you ever change your mind, Android doesn’t punish you for it. When its phones inevitably drop the headphone jack, they’ll just move to USB-C, which will be available on every non-iOS device.
All that said, vertical integration can be a beautiful thing.
- Thomson Reuters
All these years later, the song remains the same: Android is about value, iPhone is the more coherent unified package. Beyond the smoother software rollout, we didn’t even touch on Android’s existential security crisis, or the fact that the iPhone 7 destroys all competition from performance standpoint.
Nevertheless, high-end Android phones have closed the gap, and the OS they use is still superior in important ways.