The truth is both iPhones running iOS and smartphones running Android have their good and bad points.
Here’s how they match up on 12 key aspects of the smartphone experience.
1) Ease of use
People love to say Apple products just work. It’s certainly true that the iOS interface is easy to use. But so is the Android interface. Frankly, if you can use one, you won’t have much trouble using the other.
2) Fit, finish and price
IPhones are beautiful.
Android phones — well, they vary. Wildly.
Some, such as the Samsung S series phones and the Google Pixel, are every bit as attractive as the iPhones. True, by controlling every step of the manufacturing process, Apple makes sure iPhones have great fit and finish, but so do the big Android phone manufacturers. That said, some Android phones are just plain ugly.
Decent Android phones can go for as little as $100. Are they good looking? Not really, but they do the job at a fraction of the price of an iPhone.
3) Closed vs. open systems
The iPhone remains as proprietary as ever. If you don’t want anything that you can’t get through Apple, fine. On the other hand, if you’re an iPhone user who wants to buy an Amazon e-book from the Kindle app or watch a Google Play movie using Play Movies, you’re out of luck.
Android is both open source and far more open to alternative applications. Keep in mind, Apple hasn’t ported any of its applications to Android and never will. So, if your music library is based on iTunes, then you’re locked into iPhones.
For most users, this is a difference that makes no difference. But if you prefer open systems to closed ones, it’s an important differentiator.
4) A.I. and voice assistants
When it comes to Google Assistant vs. Siri, there’s no question of the winner: Google Assistant by a country mile.
Google Assistant is more than an excellent voice interface to Google search. If you use Google applications, such as Google Calendar and Google Maps, Google Assistant can make life simpler. Say you’re meeting someone for lunch downtown and traffic is awful. Google Assistant will work out that you need to leave early to make your appointment, and it will notify you beforehand. Now, that is cool.
Siri may have been first to market, but it’s still pretty basic. It’s fine for answering questions, but it’s not really that much of an assistant.
If you’re looking for a clear reason to choose one OS over another, though, Google Assistant isn’t it.
5) Timely updates
Here, on the other hand, is an area where Apple beats Android hollow. When Apple releases a new update or patch, all phones — those that are still supported, anyway — get it. With Android phones … it’s pray and hope for the best.
Unlike the iPhone, where every detail is under Apple’s control, with Android, Google supplies the base operating system and some programs, and it’s up to the phone manufacturer to deliver upgrades and patches. With high-end phones, chances are you’ll get the patches; with all the other Android smartphones, odds are you’ll never even see a security patch.
According to Skycure, a mobile threat defense vendor, nearly three-quarters of Android devices are running with out-of-date security. For me, the surprise is that the figure is so low. I would have guessed 90% of Android devices had out-of-date software.
This gets really old, so to speak.
On the other hand, iOS updates can be flaky. Apple needs to do a better job with quality assurance. I can’t remember a single time that a major iOS update didn’t result in a Wi-Fi problem, starting with iOS 6 and going up to the newest.
My Android updates, however, just work. When I can get them.
It’s not so much that Android has security problems; it’s that Google is more lax than Apple about what applications it will let into its app store. True, the best way to keep malware off your Android gadget is to only get apps from the Google Play store; even so, Google reports that 0.16% of all apps contain malware.
If you’re an iPhone user, don’t get too cocky. There is iPhone malware out there just waiting for an overconfident user to download a dodgy program.
Still, iPhones are inherently more secure.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to connect my phones to other gear. Here, Android has the advantage. All Android devices use standard USB ports, so there are many gadgets you can connect to your phone. With iPhones, you need something that will connect with its proprietary Lightning port.
Another Android advantage is that USB cables and devices are cheaper than their Lightning port cousins.
8) Battery life and charging
This one’s hard to judge, because every Android phone is different. In my experience, Android phones don’t need to be as recharged as often as iPhones. Your charging may vary, so let’s call this something of a draw, depending on the phone in hand and how you use it.
9) Cloud integration
iCloud continues to be an enormous pain for me, no matter what platform I run it on. And I’m not the only one who has trouble with iCloud.
Android, however, is tightly integrated with Google’s applications and services. I use Google apps all the time for work and fun. With an Android phone and Google Now home screen, I also get access to all the news I need, from the personal (local traffic) to the global.
Google Photos has unlimited storage and includes a decent basic photo editor. True, the iCloud Photo Library is good too, but accessing iCloud across devices continues to be problematic.
All in all, for cloud integration, Android is the one to beat.
Google can’t seem to make up its mind about its voice, video and IM applications. I think Google Hangouts is now Google’s master communications application, but I could be wrong.
With iPhones, it’s Facetime, period. Facetime is a great videoconferencing program. I wish it ran on more than just Apple platforms, but if your whole family or workgroup is using Apple, you’re good to go.
I'm no camera expert, but I do know that cameras vary wildly on Android phones. Top end Android phones have great cameras. Mind you, both cameras are very, very good. In my amateurish opinion, the iPhone is a bit better at most things. But the Samsung and One Plus phones, with their wider-angle lens, are a tad better at selfies.
12) Software choice
Once upon a time, you could argue that there were better apps on one app store than the other. These days, it's pretty much a dead tie. Besides, with 2.8 million apps on the Google Play store and 2.2 million on the Apple App Store, it's not like you're ever going to run out of apps to play with.
Pick one that fits your budget and needs
Put it all together, and there isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all answer for you. As I said at the outset, both phone ecosystems have their advantages and disadvantages.
It really comes down to your budget and what matters most to you. For me, the answer is Android, but I’m not going to fight with you if you prefer an iPhone — unlike some people I could name.