The iPhone 6s is out of the bag and Android fans are shaking their heads dismissively, proudly displaying their own, far superior, smartphones. It's the same story every year, Apple introduces outdated hardware and the crowd goes wild while we sit and sneer. But Android needs Apple, and this is why.
Android flagships are superior to iPhones. Or at least, this is true on paper. Earlier this week Apple introduced its latest iPhones. They have a camera resolution that Android users have been used to since 2013, and the 1,715 mAh battery capacity of the iPhone 6s is a joke compared with even mid-range Android smartphones.
The once-evolutionary fingerprint sensor has been adopted and improved upon by Android competition. The subject of RAM needn’t even be mentioned, since Apple has long since dragged its heels in this sphere. Yes, those who crave hardware at the very pique of the mobile possibilities will not be satisfied with the iPhone 6s. But of course, Apple knows there is more to user-experience than the cold numbers of the hardware components.
The fact that Apple does not focus on specs in its keynotes could be interpreted as an admission that the hardware is unimpressive, inferior to the competition. While this is undeniable in some instances, it’s probably not the only reason such discussions are avoided. There is another truth: the strength of Apple's iPhone cannot be found on any piece of paper.
What makes Apple important, impressive, and able to compete with the stronger hardware of Android, is its unparalleled ability to perfect the user experience. Android will see handsets released with the latest and greatest specs available, but still they cannot compete on feel.
While Apple's products lag behind technically, they always set standards for practicality. It would easy to say that iPhone buyers are 'misguided' for paying over the odds for outdated hardware, but the average user does not care how many cores a phone has, but what is achievable with it, and how the technology will improve their life?
So why does Android need Apple?
Android needs Apple because it is the perfecter of practical usability, the operator that converts the technology into lifestyle. After all, what's the point of great hardware if it doesn't translate into good experience?
iPhones recently caught up with NFC-capable Android devices, but how many of us had made a payment using NFC before then? Almost no-one. This technology is only now becoming relevant because Apple has made it so.
After the iPhone 5S introduced 64-bit capabilities, the Android market followed and today this is the standard. When Apple made the fingerprint sensor popular, Android manufacturers followed. How many future Android phones won't have this feature?
The pressure-sensitive displays introduced on the 6s devices are the next thing that Apple will popularize. The Huawei Mate S might have been the first to release one on a smartphone, but we knew the iPhone 6s would have a pressure-sensitve display before that. Now Samsung and the rest will follow.
We know Apple didn't invent the smartphone, nor the tablet, the touch screen, the MP3 player, the laptop, the fingerprint scanner, nor the 64-bit processor. But we do have Apple to thank for the quality now found in these products.
The theory that the Apple Watch will ignite the Android Watch marketplace can already be observed. The relative success of the Apple Watch (more sold in the first year than the entire Android wearables market put together) has given Android manufacturers a better focus.
The results of this were obvious at IFA 2015. Numerous smartwatches were announced and, thanks to the Apple Watch, they look more interesting and most come in two sizes. (It's worth mentioning that some have an absurdly high price tag now – we can thank Apple for that too).
The cycle continues
More-passionate Android users might not like it, but Apple remains the trendsetter in the consumer technology sphere.
It doesn't matter who popularizes the technology that inspires us, just that the technology exists. As long as both Apple and Android manufacturers continue to pick apart the best and worst aspects of the software and hardware to produce the best possible products, everybody will benefit. The cycle continues, and we’re grateful for the competition.
Do you think Android would be better without the Apple competition? Let us know you thoughts in the comments.
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