On a personal level, what separates the iPhone from Android handsets?

Posted May 01, 2012 at 2:26 am in Threads > Opinions

This is a subjective topic, in many ways. It’s hardly a new one, but I’m curious nonetheless.

Obviously one can argue the technical side of things; Android Handset X offers more power, a larger screen, a slimmer profile, etc.

Android as an OS offers more versatility, more customisability, and so on.

But what about the personal level? Emotion, design preferences both externally and in the OS, and, of course, previous experience and what that does to our perspective of certain brands.

I had an iPhone 3 before I moved to Android. And I loved it. But then, I’d never experienced Android and I knew very little about it.

The HTC Desire was my first Android phone, running 2.1.

Now, more than a year later, I’m onto the GS2 and I love it, but I’m also eagerly awaiting the arrival of the GS3.

Despite my generally pleased experience, I don’t feel any particular brand loyalty, either to Android or to a particular handset makers.

In my opinion, both platforms have offered advantages and disadvantages across the spectrum of the user experience.

I’ve at times found iOS infuriatingly basic, and at other times I’ve been incredibly frustrated at Google for creating an environment that allows handset makers and carriers to have their way with the needs of gadget enthusiasts.

I’ve long hated the flood of very interest apps on iOS that either never come to Android, or take forever to arrive. That situation is improving, but it’s still incredibly frustrating.

So, I got to wondering today; what keeps me with Android? The iPhone 5 and iOS 6 are on the way. If it’s a handsome device and a solidly improved platform, could I go back? Obviously it will never be as ‘open’ as Android, but does it now offer enough to keep me happy?

My only grievances with iOS at this point are;

- I find it much easier and faster to delete individual words or small groups of words with the aftermarket SwiftKey keyboard on Android. Haven’t seen an appealing option on iOS yet, with the default being simply “double tap to select a word, then hit backspace.” – that’s not a slow process, but certainly it’s slower and more steps than with Swiftkey.

- the Gmail app is better on Android, by far (as you’d expect), and both my personal and work email are all done through Gmail, so this is a major factor for me. However, Sparrow now appears to be a very solid alternative on iOS.

- Google Docs is better on Android by far. Incredible features, particularly the collaborative elements. A lot of my personal and work docs are through Google Docs, and I’d rather use the dedicated app than the mobile interface, or any of the third-party apps I’ve seen so far.

- Fast access to controls for wifi, bluetooth, brighteness, etc – but these are all easily achievable on iOS with either that clever bookmarklets workaround, or through jailbreaking.

- Screen size. Any time I pick up my girlfriend’s 4S, I’m annoyed with what now feels like a very small screen. If I had to return to the iPhone, I’d get used to it again, but I certainly do like the larger screen on my GS2. Mind you, the screen on the Galaxy Nexus is too big, IMO.

- File management. This isn’t a major one, but I do love knowing that I’ve got a shitload of ePub files on my phone, and I can simply navigate to any of the files and email them to a friend. “Have you read Book X? No? I’ll email it through now, just a sec.” – that sort of portable computer-like experience is very nice, even if it’s just from a “knowing I can do it but rarely needing it” perspective. Obviously dropbox is one workaround for iOS, but it’s not quite the same.

And that’s about it. I love Android, but I’m not a diehard. I came from iPhone, I could go back to the iPhone, and one day I could just as easily return to Android.

  • mkstvns

    Cripes, that was a huge TLDR. Apologies!

  • SGB101

    it was long, but intresting, however, all the cons you point out are iso related, id like to here your cons of android.

    from what you said above, it seems your more happy with android, so for you it would be a backwards step to back to apple, no mater how good the hardware is on the ip5.

    i imagine the iphone5 specs wont be great, it wont be (or maybe) on par with the HTC one X,S, but by release time, the SGS3 and will of superseded them, and more the Nexus wont be far off.

    if you prefer android, youll always be ahead of the equivalent iphone, however if you prefer ios your not going to be disappointed with the iphone hardware as it isnt exactly a poor device, its the software that sucks for me.

    god i know, i have an ipad2.

  • awundrin

    Screen size is the deal breaker for me. I prefer a large screen for everything. I had a iPhone but hated the small screen. I also despise iTunes so it’s easy for me to say Android all the way!

    • erikiksaz

      Blech, I hate itunes as well, it’s a bloated piece of garbage that will never see the platters of my hard drive (or rather the memory of my SSD =p).

      I think the “infuriatingly basic” part basically sums it up for me. That and the same old homescreen that’s now what, 5 years old? Seriously, doesn’t it get old looking at the same thing, day in, day out, for oh… 1825 days?

    • iamXiV92a

      Screen size is a deal breaker for me as well – I loved the screen on my Dell Streak (I’d love a Galaxy Note), but I’ve got the S2 Skyrocket and it’s lovely. The iPhone4 looks like a toy in comparison.

      iTunes? Ugh… Too heavy, too slow, too bulky.

      USB Mounting on Android = FTW. Drag and drop anything.

      • gp126904

        The main reason I got Android in the first place. I was going to get one of the older iphones but then a buddy of mine showed me how easy it was to transfer files on his OG Droid and I was sold! I cannot understand how people can use itunes day in and day out… it is why I got rid of my ipod within three weeks of getting it. Poor ios users have to use itunes to recover contacts, that seems so stupid to me just sync them to an account like Android does!

  • bolanrox

    Maybe Android offers too much control to the phone makers, but there is no control with Apple.

    What really got to me was the well you can update to the new version of IOS but your version will be crippled because we do not want all those features on your model of device for what ever reason. Jailbreakme dot com was a great thing while it worked :)

  • kazahani

    I like Android better for one simple fact:

    Google won’t drag you into court if you attempt to improve their product.

  • skugern

    I love Android due to the larger screen (as others have mentioned) and manufacturer choices.

    Also, it’s a great conversation starter! Whenever I pull it out of my pocket to check a text message, someone usually says to me “Wait, is that an iPhone?” and I get to explain why it’s so much better :)

  • Joel

    Ive never been one to buy something just because of its name. Ive played with the iphone, used it for a number of days – couldnt click with it…and as soon as I grabbed an android I loved it. I guess im always one for the underdog too, which at this point is still Android. I find much more enjoyment in someone walking up to me, not recognizing my device, asking about it and I explain it….rather than they walk up and say: “Hey is that an iPhone?..Cool bro.”

  • Wunako

    ill have to admit i was once amazed and wanted an iPhone i think we all did at one point. Since it was a AT&T deal i couldnt so i got the next best thing, n ipod touch, iOS was great but soon after i got my first android device the behold2 which was a bitter sweet experience.

    what really made me stick to android and why i have really become emotionally attached to the android ecosystem was the simple fact that no 2 handsets are alike. ill explain like this, say we all go and get the GNex at the same time. after about a week with it we all meet back up and compare our phone, sure the hardware will be the same but when u look at our home screens all of us could have a widely different phone. everything from widgets to launchers, icons, etc. dont like the blueness of ICS? By all means mod away and u can green or red or some crazy color combination. I love that my phone can be just a part of me by fitting my style. I loved it when someone else with a G2 came to me and said hey how’d you get ur G2 to look like this or how do i get it to show my name on the lock screen or how’d you get ICS already?

    simply put i choose android over iOS because its more flexible and i can make it to fit me. that and also the fact i can download files, mp3′s, vids, etc strait to my phone or sd thats also a huge +

  • bin artyte

    customization, variety (of categories of applications), functionality for android.
    transition for ios.

  • shanerichey

    Nice read. I got my first android device (Nexus 7) about 12 hours ago, and a lot of the things you mention as being android advantages are things that i have been concerned about, but after reading I realize now that I just need to get used to how to do it on Android.

    I was used to the iOS iBooks app, and not being able to easily find a replacement for it for my nexus has bothered me, but I’ll keep looking.

  • gh0st665

    As another user posted: “infuriatingly basic” sums it up. I could not stand that I could not make the device my own, or that I was forced at gun point to sign up for iTunes.

    I don’t like being told what to use and how to use it. This is how Apple operates and I simply don’t like it. Plus, their phones are too damn small.

    But, I try not to be militant like some people on both sides of the great iPhone vs. Android debate. It’s to each their own. Both have pros and cons.

  • kookeetree

    I was gifted an iPad and after using it for bit, it seems everything take 2 or more steps compared to android which I can do much less. Not having widgets on the iPad is annoying.

    One major thing I noticed is that the iPad OS has not frozed/crashed I’ve been using it, especially watching bunch of videos compared to my Toshiba.

    Watching tons of video on my Toshiba Excite 10 with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.3. It would freeze/crash about every 2-3 days.

  • NealJ777

    I really like the ability to enter information on my desktop computer (contacts, calendar, etc..) and have it instantly show up on my phone and my Nexus 7!

  • NealJ777

    I also enjoy going to Google Play on my desktop, purchasing something (apps, music, etc…) and BINGO! It’s already on the device! :D

  • Samar

    To me, Fragmentation has to one of the biggest differentiators.