Android or iPhone – Which one is right for you?

It is the question du jour, whether a friend has just spotted your new phone or you’ve just decided it’s time to upgrade – Android or iPhone? For those who haven’t made the leap yet read on as we explore the ins and outs of Androids and iPhones.

At some point cell phones stopped being just phones and became mini computers – whether you’re the kind of person who needs consistent access to information (email, Internet, etc.), the media lover who uses their phone for games, music, Facebook access and the like, or even every once in a while uses it like the cell phone we’re all so accustomed to carrying, smartphones are the new hit on the block. To what extent you use your phone for each of these items will affect your decision on which phone is right for you; and the decision you’re really making is what phone Operating System is right for you. The iPhone runs the iOS, a platform that in many ways caters to the media lovers. The Android on the other hand caters more to those who need consistent access to email and the Internet with less of an emphasis on media. Read on for a point by point comparison.

Types of Phones to Choose From – Android has over 50 different phones to choose from which allows buyers to compare size, image quality, and flip configurations. Meanwhile an iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone.

Ease of Use – Hands down initial ease of use has to go to the iPhone. A typical user can pick up an iPhone out of the box and start using it. All the apps and settings are laid out in a grid on the home screen – just click and away you go. Android has a bit of a learning curve for a couple of reasons. First, there are multiple device manufacturers that make different User Interfaces (UI) for Android (HTC’s is Sense and Samsung’s is TouchWiz). Each UI has a different layout, making each Android a little different to use. Second, there are more items that can be configured and personalized such as layout and themes. Android can provide more ease of use in the long run since each person can change their Android to their own specifications instead of learning and conforming to the way someone else made it.

Openness – The winner by far is Android. Android’s source code is online and free. You have to jailbreak an iPhone to even view some of the files. As far as apps go there are many more free and open source apps in the Android market than in iOS. Apple must approve all iOS apps and that causes many apps to never make it to market simply because Apple just doesn’t like them or they compete with something the phone already does. Since Android is open market, anyone can make an app and just put it on the market. Good can be said about both methods: Apple’s method keeps bad programs that will crash the phone or do not work properly out and Android’s approach will offer the user anything their heart desires while running the risk of downloading a bad app that can cause the phone to crash and/or freeze.

Battery Life – Unable to make a fair comparison since Apple makes one phone while there are numerous Android phones.

Multitasking – Android has far better multitasking ability. Since day one Android phones have had the ability to multitask where only the most recent version of iOS had multitasking added to the iPhone and it is not a true multitasking. iOS’s approach freezes the apps that aren’t in use (with the exception of certain functions such as Music, VoIP and GPS) but most apps won’t do anything except go to sleep, which means loading one task while you perform another is not available unless it is written into the code under a special task completion API. One example of what this means is that if you’re waiting for a YouTube video to load over a 3G connection, it won’t complete unless you’re staring at the loading screen; however, with Android you can start it loading and go to another app, say check your email then go back to YouTube to watch the video.

Keyboard – Since there are a ton of keyboards that work for both devices comparison is difficult and really comes down to personal preference.

Notification System – Android has the pull down notification system that tells you everything that is going on and you get to clear the notifications as you’re finished with each one. iOS has pop-up notifications that make you act on each one and you can only see one notification at a time.

Voice-to-Text – Android takes this one as well. Almost everything can be done by voice on an Android phone: email, text, directions, navigation, placing calls. Other than a few apps on the market, iOS does not have any voice to text features.

Syncing – Android is instantly integrated to your Google account (gmail, docs, contacts, calendar) and to sync wirelessly with POP/IMAP/Exchange accounts (hotmail, yahoo, etc). A handy tool when a PC is not available. The iPhone can push email but a physical cable must be used to sync with iTunes, perform updates and activate the phone.

Web Browsing – In a recent test of 45,000 pages using Android 2.3 and iOS 4.3; Android loaded the pages faster 84% of the time. iOS 4.3 was 52% slower than Android 2.3, with an average load time of 2.144 seconds vs iPhone’s average load time of 3.254 seconds. Network World March 17, 2011

Gaming – iOS is the winner here since it has been geared towards media and gaming since day one, where Android has games available, but not as many nor as good. Android does offer many versions of popular games (Angry Birds) for free or cheaper than paid items for iPhones.

Media & Music Player – iOS wins here. It is literally an iPod.

Customizable – Since Android is open source code it is the clear winner. There are limited things that can be changed on iOS even if it has been jail broken.

Carrier Choice – Carrier choice has to go to the Android; Androids are available at all major carriers. The iPhone has recently added Verizon, but since their only other carrier is AT&T, it has limited availability.

There are many questions to consider when deciding whether the Android the iPhone is right for you. Do you want a media driven phone with great gaming and music potential? Or do you want an open, customizable operating system with many possibilities for everything else? Weigh your options to decide what your priorities are and enjoy your new mini computer, whichever one you pick.


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