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Choosing between Android and iPhone isn't about today's hardware and features

The never-ending 'battle' between Android and iPhone users over who backed the right mobile operating system is one that still plays out every day on blogs and comment sections around the Web, but for me, most of the arguments about software and features miss the point.

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Google's new Pixel up against an S7 Edge! / © AndroidPIT

Before we go any further, yes, I know a whole bunch of you disagree (and you're more than welcome to eloquently put forward your points in the comments) but focusing on the 'feeds and speeds' elements, that is, hardware and features above all else, isn't the only way to think about choosing your phone.

When both platforms were still new on the market, weighing up the features and handset differences made a lot of sense. Back then, Android and iOS both had some embarrassing omissions and defining features, even if only in their absence. Remember how you couldn't cut-and-paste on iOS for the longest time? 

Now, however, most phone ranges have reached a point of feature parity if you line them up alongside a similar price or spec handset. What that means is that you don't need to choose between having a camera phone, one that holds all your music, or even nowadays water-resistance. There are several phones on the market that will do all of those things, and perhaps with the exception of waterproofing, there are lots of choices at each price point.

Nor do you need to choose between Android and iOS because of the availability of your favorite apps and games. Sure, you won't find every single one on whichever platform you choose, but you'll find something that's pretty similar at the very least.

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The Xiaomi Mi5s! / © KJuma

The defining factors?

So with a parity of hardware features, similar functionality and the same sort of apps available, choosing between Google and Apple comes down to the less direct factors for me. For example, the way in which Apple locks down its ecosystem to ensure a vice-like grip means that it has fewer security issues (in theory) but it comes at the cost of openness and freedom. It comes at the cost of allowing users to do whatever they like with the phone they just purchased for hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

I'm no developer, but given the option of supporting an open source initiative where many different companies can make hardware and contribute to the platform's general direction is a much safer 'bet' to me than backing a company that notoriously doesn't let you do what you like with the hardware and software, but provides a 'simpler' experience as a result. No one can argue that part of the iPhone's appeal is the simplicity of the range - there are just a few different models to choose between. How long for remains to be seen.

What this means, however, is that once Apple decides to do something, the user really has no choice in it. A very obvious case in point for the iPhone would be the removal of the headphone jack or more recently again, the removal of all sorts of popular features from its MacBook Pro range - including the MagSafe connector and full size USB ports.

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The latest version of Android, called Nougat, is now slowly rolling out to some handsets around the world. / © AndroidPIT

Apple usually times such removals well - consider the removal of the CD drive with the introduction of the MacBook Air - but that doesn't change the fact that buyers no longer have the choice but to comply if they want to continue using Apple hardware and software. If they don't, they'll need to repurchase all their content and apps on a different platform, which for many people is entirely unthinkable. 

So the choice you make in the current 'two horse race' of the smartphone world is often the one that sticks with you, and that's why I choose Android. Sure, it's not always been the most straightforward OS, and the open nature does leave it more prone to security vulnerabilities and software updates have long been a mess, taking ages to roll out while iOS users efficiently get the latest version as soon as it's ready. 

But for me, it comes down to two factors: percentages and attitude. No multinational corporate like Apple or Google can be considered altruistic or building products for anything except shareholder profit, and that's fine but Apple's 'it's magical' and 'fastest, best, biggest, brightest' way of marketing its products just doesn't hold any appeal. It's that feeling of someone trying to convince you of something you know isn't true. You might sit there and nod because you're fearful they're crazy but it doesn't change what you know to be true, it just makes you trust that person less. In this case, that 'person' for me is Apple. The attitude that every single aspect of their handsets are nothing like anything else that has ever existed is just too much to take. 

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Android versus iPhone is not a simple discussion. / © AndroidPIT

The second factor, percentages and likelihoods, is simply this: Apple is the only hardware and software maker for the iPhone. Android has hundreds of options available. Don't like your current phone? There are a whole lot of other ones to choose from. When Apple does something its users don't like (again), its users have no choice but to suck up the changes or re-boot their entire digital life on a different platform. 

So, for me, choosing an Android phone instead of an iPhone each time the option arises has become a no-brainer - why would I want to choose a phone from a company that restricts what I do with it, removes features when it wants and markets it to me like I've never seen a phone before?

Exactly, I wouldn't. You might though, and that's fine. 

22 comments

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  • rick 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    i lke Android. i like to customize my phone, a lot.

  • I like an android phone lovely feature for android phone

  • "No multinational corporate like Apple or Google can be considered altruistic or building products for anything except shareholder profit, and that's fine but Apple's 'it's magical' and 'fastest, best, biggest, brightest' way of marketing its products just doesn't hold any appeal. It's that feeling of someone trying to convince you of something you know isn't true. You might sit there and nod because you're fearful they're crazy but it doesn't change what you know to be true, it just makes you trust that person less. In this case, that 'person' for me is Apple. The attitude that every single aspect of their handsets are nothing like anything else that has ever existed is just too much to take."

    Man. This. Just this.

    There was a documentary about marketing from the BBC a few years ago. One of the companies focused on was Apple, and just how cultlike the attitude was that they fostered in their fans about their products, and particularly about opening events for new Apple Stores. I was already cynical about iphones as 'the' smartphone (with little to indicate that except the price), and I don't view Google with any great trust either, but that show tipped me over the edge.

  • Tam Oor 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    ...Proud Android User!

  • Replaceable battery and SD card slot - never on Apple, and Android manufacturers often have to flinch when they decide not to include.

    • Yet Android manufacturers are going that direction. In a couple years, Android devices will have no headphone jack.

  • Dean L. 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    I've used both. I miss Android but don't miss not getting OS updates. That was what drove me to iOS. Ah but now we have Pixel and it has me reconsidering a switch back.

    • This love for updates is baffling. History has shown that phone updates are either hit or miss. Why is it such a big deal?

      • Bastian Siewers
        • Admin
        • Staff
        3 weeks ago Link to comment

        Well people simply love new features and the latest and greatest, and I do so myself. Therefor I love the Custom Rom community for Android, not just for updates that the manufacturers are not delivering though...

      • I don't know....security??

  • I am old, 68, but root my phones - Android all the way. My wife is an Apple user "cuz it just works." That is how I see the break down of OS users: those who love freedom and those who don't feel the need to exercise freedom. Each OS has its place, but I just can't wrap my head around that having one's choice limited is a good thing.

    • Bastian Siewers
      • Admin
      • Staff
      3 weeks ago Link to comment

      Seeing my dad getting his first iPhone last week, the "it just works" thing is not really there anymore, at least not as it has. It does have his issues here and there, and not because he's not able to understand it, it's just not always as clear as it used to be. I guess it is something both parties have to work on.

    • I use iOS because I like security and not having to reboot my device daily or having to find out which app is junk and draining my battery. Freedom is a relative term. I have the freedom to pick the cream of the crop apps and not have to worry about it. Heck, even Google apps are better on iOS!

  • People will not pay to have music put on there phones, thats what Apple do not seem to realise, you should be allowed to put any music you want on your own phone without paying for it, Android is more popular because of this feature

    • Bastian Siewers
      • Admin
      • Staff
      3 weeks ago Link to comment

      Are there actually that many people still out there not using Streaming services that this still makes a significant difference? Looking at statistics, I really don't think so.

  • ios still remains the best .....

    • Wakfu 3 weeks ago Link to comment

      You can say whatever you want(and i agree with you ONLY if you don't wanna personnalise your phone, cause that's the really really good thing on Android), but are you sure it's the right thing to say on a Android-fans website?

    • Best according to who? You right?

  • only one thing matter and thats is software.......ios is as worst as windows except ios had good app eco system......amdroid is best as it is open platform and we can do anythinh that comes on our mind

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