The Duel of Fates – iPhone vs. Android

photo above retrieved from http://www.wallpaper4me.com 

 

The iPhone on Verizon was supposed to be an easy choice – right?  I remember getting my first Blackberry and trading in my Palm Treo.  It was sad to give up the Treo, but the Blackberry allowed me to access my corporate e-mail.  Then came the Blackberry Curve – a solid communication device, but lacking in multimedia.  The answer to my multimedia issue was the Blackberry Storm 2 and yes, it was a bad answer.  So I waited and waited, hoping the obvious answer would be released to the Verizon Gods.  I prayed each night that someone would find a mis-print or spelling error in the AT&T exclusive deal with Apple…but it didn’t happen.  I counted down the days for that deal to expire, and waited patiently for Verizon to announce the iPhone would come to their network.  Then something unexpected happened – the Red Eye appeared.  

It was a cold Fall night, while watching primetime TV and surfing my netbook.  It called to me on the television, like it was my guardian angel (or a demented demon – however you want to look at it).  It’s voice was clear, music to my ears…it said…Droooid.   It was at that moment, I knew Google had thrown a wrench in my plans with their Android operating system!  

The Motorola Droid put Android on the map and many more device would follow, including the Droid X and the HTC Incredible.  So what did this mean now for my match made in heaven with the iPhone, if and when it came to Verizon?  Well, for me, it was over.  The Droid was now my phone of choice.  I left my Blackberry, and kicked the iPhone idea to the curb.  It was a triangle love story in the making.  All along I had planned on running off with my wife’s arch rival in High School, who was currently overseas, but instead I cheated on both, and ran off with the new girl in town!

I believe many people are having the same dilemma these days.  No, not with their wives and girlfriends (see some other blogs for that topic…), but when it comes to the their next smartphone.  Is the Android or the iPhone the better phone?  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.  Which phone is better, depends on what you are looking for in your next smartphone.    So while I cannot offer anything more than an opinion on which I like better for myself, I can try to go over some general difference, I noticed between the iOS and Android operating systems. 

I bring up the operating systems because that is the heart and soul of these devices’ functionality and really the heart of the problem at hand.  I want to strip away the hardware and additional software packs some manufacturers (mainly on the Android phones) include on these devices because this is about Apple vs. Android.  Not HTC Incredible vs. Motorola Droid X.  Figure out you want a Droid first, before you worry about which one.

So enough rambling;  Below I put together a quick list of what I perceive as the main differences between the devices:

Android

  • Plays well with other systems – – less restrictive 
  • Flexible customization and open file access, but can be overwhelming
  • Ability to add more memory in the form of an SD card
  • Fewer Apps, but it seems to have more free apps than Apple
  • Security can be an issue out of the box
  • More choices of hardware across various manufacturers (ie.  Incredible, Droid X, Moto Droid etc.)
  • Cutting edge specs
  • Integrates great with Google products

Apple iOS

  • More restrictive customization and file access – “proprietary” model
  • Simple interface – user-friendly
  • Mature app market, but at a price
  • Tighter security, but not as tight as the Blackberry
  • Less choice (you have the iPhone – yes, different generations, but still one device made by one manufacturer)
  • Maturer Product
  • Integrates well with Mac OS and iTunes
  • I would bet most iPhone users will have a more expensive experience in the end when accounting for the price of the phone and apps

Playing with both operating systems, my first impression with Android was flexibility.  The Android provides a lot of ways you can customize your user experience.  This includes setting up your home screen to categorize your icons, or having items like widgets,  streaming up to the minute information.  The wallpaper selection is also incredible, with the option to have “live” animated wallpaper.  When you plug your Android into a PC, it can automatically be used as a mounted Hard drive, allowing  access to all files.  

The Android Marketplace is growing everyday, with so many choices available to you, but still not nearly as many choices as I found with the Apple App store.  The one bright spot over Apple was there seemed to be more free applications in the Android Marketplace. 

With flexibility, openness and more freebies comes a cost, which is security.  Since Android is open source and less restrictive, there are more opportunities for exploits and hacks.  Just recently, there were a group of applications found in the Android Marketplace that had malicious code within them.  These apps in some cases had over 50,000 downloads at the time!  You would be hard pressed to find something like this in the Apple App store, not that it would be impossible.  

The Android has a distribution model in place that forges competition, which might explain why every new Android phone that comes out has a bit more to offer than the last.  The iPhone is the only Apple phone around at this time.  If you want the next generation device, you need to wait, usually at least a year, for Apple to upgrade.  With Android, companies like HTC, Motorola and LG to name a few are all competing with each other to deliver the next best device.  For some this might be frustrating because you feel outdated quicker, but it provides healthy competition amongst Android providers. 

Working with the Apple iOS device, I found that it was a much easier user experience.  You had your home screens, which you could navigate left and right.  The number of apps you had would dictate the number of screens.  While you could move your app icons around and create folders, there was no option for widgets or shortcuts.  In addition, you could change your wallpaper, but only to static photos. 

Working with files and programs was definitely more restrictive on the iOS.  I could not figure out a way (and there might not be a way) to get to my folders or file system.  In order to look at a word doc, play a song, or view a photo, I had to go through iTunes or open the file using a cloud based solution.  Unlike the Android, the device did not have the option to mount as a hard drive (although I do see there are 3rd party programs that will let you do this).  

Since Apple’s iOS is more restrictive, it has tighter security wrapped around it, but don’t be confused, it is not as tight as the Blackberry. 

While Apple is the only show in town for the iPhone, offering one line of phones, it is a more mature line.  Android has more choices, but many are new lines of phones that come at a risk, with little performance history.  For example, when the Incredible was first released, there were battery issues.  That’s not to say Apple hasn’t had its share of issues – just ask the iPhone 4 users with the mysterious antenna problems.  I believe some are deeming it “Antennagate”.   

Of course either of these products are going to integrate with its other product lines.  For the Android, I found Google Maps and Voice to work seamlessly.  Apple has a lot of apps that integrate well with their Mac Desktop counterpart, although in many cases you have to pay twice for the app (mobile and desktop version). 

In the end, it really depends on your preference and what works best for you.  If you are the techy type and/or you like the freedom to customize your device and are willing to take some steps to better lockdown your phone, you would do well with the Android.  If you are looking for a simpler, user-friendly experience and don’t want to do much customization out of the box, then the iPhone might be for you.  Of course, if you are looking purely for a message/communication device (imagine looking for just that in a smartphone!) that offers top-notch security and don’t care about innovative features, stick with the Blackberry.   

I leave you with some summary words that fit each device:

Android

  • Flexible
  • Expandable
  • Cutting Edge
  • Vulnerable
  • Value

Apple

  • User-Friendly
  • Mature
  • Proprietary
  • Innovative
  • Proven

Below is a comic I caught on some other blogs.  The author of the comic is C-Section Comics.  I thought this was hilarious and wanted to share with everyone else, since it is relevant to the topic at hand.  You can find other works by this author on their website, www.csectioncomics.com.

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