Being a techie most of my life, (I used to write basic on my Commodore 64 in grade school) I seem to get family and friends asking me the inevitable, “What do you think of this? or Can you help me? I cant get this to work right.” To that I usually respond “Sure” and try either help them out on the spot or do a little research and get back to them with an answer.
One of the questions I’ve been hearing lately is “Should I get an Android or an iPhone?”
What seems like a simple answer is really a complex one, especially with new phones coming out all the time. With the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 in the forefront the easiest answer is, it depends on the person.
Both platforms are nearly indistinguishable from one another in average, day-to-day use. Sure, there may be some features like Siri or Google’s navigation that could sway a user one way or another, but for most users, their actual experience won’t differ much.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
1: Are you a Windows or Mac user? Do you like the “empowerment” of the Windows experience, or do you prefer the carefully curated Macintosh environment? If you like to tinker, explore, and get into the depths of your device, Android might be your best choice. If you want a no-hassle appliance, you’ll probably prefer iOS. Apple Macintosh owners might find the iPhone iOS experience more comfortable, familiar, and well-integrated with the rest of their digital life.
2: Do most of your friends have iPhones and other iOS devices, or do they have Android smartphones? For me, this was a big selling point. Most of my family and friends have the iPhone, iPodTouch or iPad. That means I can share pictures using AirDrop (See more here) or can utilize iMessage and be able to see when and if friends have read my messages (if they have this feature turned on, which most do).
Dropbox, Evernote, Bump, and even Words with Friends don’t care if you’re on a phone or tablet, Android or iOS but each platform has unique differences. If all your friends use FaceTime, or iMessage you’re going to be left out if you pick up a 4G LTE Android device.
3: Do you visit websites that use Adobe Flash often? Android phones do support Flash content, meaning just about any site on the web should render properly—and completely. That’s not the case with the iPhone, though. Indeed, Apple has been openly critical about Flash technology (the late Steve Jobs once called it a battery hog, a slow-poke, and a security concern) and has essentially declared both the iPhone and iPad to be Flash-free zones. Keep in mind, however, that more and more Flash-heavy websites offer alternate versions tailored for non-Flash smartphones like the iPhone—a development that may eventually render mobile Flash support a moot point.
4: Are you an app addict? While Android boasts one of the liveliest communities of app makers around, Apple’s App Store is the undisputed king of mobile applications. Its shelves are stocked with well over 1,400,000+ apps and counting (compared to a still quite healthy roughly 1,200,000+ or so for Google’s Android Market), and the most interesting and exciting applications tend to be built for the iPhone first. Apple also has over 60,000,000,000+ downloads to date and Android with just over 50,000,000,000+ downloads to date.
Angry Birds, for example, didn’t land on Android until nearly a year after debuting on the iPhone, while Android users had to wait nearly a year and a half for their own version of the wildly popular Instagram.
5: Do you plan on using this device as a BYOD on your corporate network to access company email or other resources? If so, the decision may already be made for you. Make sure to check with your IT team to see if they have policies on which devices are supported.
6: Are you invested in Google environments already? Are you using Gmail, Google Docs, and/or Google as a single authentication point for other sites that support it? If you’ve already bought into Google solutions in your daily PC use, then Android is probably going to be a more seamless experience. It’s not that the iOS Google experience is limited, but it just makes sense if you’ve put all your eggs into the Google basket, that a phone designed around Android will deliver a more rewarding experience than one built by their competition.
7: What is your experience with spam, viruses, and malware? If you’re the kind of person who constantly finds themselves turning to your local IT guru to fix your infected machine, the odds are that the same things are going to affect you in the smartphone world. In that case, you’re probably better of with an iOS device. There’s no doubt that iOS limits your freedom, but part of this is actually driven by a real “Apple Knows Best” mentality that seems to work.
If you’ve given up on Windows because of constant malware infections and you love your new Mac because it has never let you down, don’t go Android. If you’ve learned not to click on that “must see” video on Facebook or that email from the IRS or the European Lottery, and if you’ve never sent your personal account information to a Nigerian prince, then you’ll probably do fine with Android.
Ultimately, the decision to go with one platform or the other no longer strongly hinges on which carrier you’re most comfortable with. I generally say I can’t really make a recommendation one way or the other, that both platforms have strengths and weaknesses, and it mostly comes down to personal preference. However, answering the seven questions above can help narrow the field for most prospective buyers — and that’s a good place to start.
If you own a iPhone or Android, which do you have and why? Why did you choose one over the other? If not, what made you decide not to pick one of these two. Leave your comments below.