There is definitely no doubt that 2007 marked the dawn of a new era in the global smartphone market. Industry giants like Nokia, Microsoft, and BlackBerry, which was at the time called Research In Motion, all scoffed when Apple first debuted the iPhone.
The device was so simple and basic compared to phones that ran older smartphone platforms, including BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian which was by far the most popular smartphone operating system on the planet at the time. The question then was, how could such a simple device compete when it lacked all of the complex features available on these larger platforms?
If you’re buying a new smartphone in 2019, chances are very good that it will run one of these two operating systems. But, if you’re considering keeping your old device and moving to a SIM-only plan that saves money, you might want to unlock your mobile to use on any carrier. Many Americans are tied to AT&T or T-Mobile as these are the two big network providers. But if you want to move across Cricket or Verizon with an unlocked phone, it’s easier than you might think. Service providers like Mobile Unlocked can release your device from its carrier, giving you the freedom to shop around for the best SIM-only phone deals.
These two platforms accounted for 99.7 percent of all new smartphones shipped in 2017, according to IDC, and that percentage rose even higher last year. Microsoft has thrown in the towel on its Windows Phone, BlackBerry makes Android devices now, and there are very few other options worth considering.
So, how do these two differ and what do they have in common? And more importantly, which one should you pick in 2019? Ultimately, the best platform for you depends on you ofcourse. You should pick the things that matter most to you, count the wins in those categories, and have a personalized recommendation.
Everyone knows that Apple devices are expensive, period. There isn’t much to say in this regard, and it is fairly obvious from the get-go who the winner will be. This goes not only for iPhones, but for everything else. MacBooks, iMacs, Apple Watches, and virtually every accessory you can think of from Apple. The only way to get an affordable iPhone that is not the iPhone SE, is to get an older-generation model, probably even getting a second-hand one. Even then, they are bound to be quite pricey (Depending on your budget though). This is due to how long iPhones are kept up-to-date.
For sheer scale and variety, nothing competes with Android. You can spend quite a lump sum if you want to. For instance, Google’s Pixel 3 XL and Samsung’s Galaxy Note line almost match Apple’s iPhone pricing, but there’s also a huge choice of good, low-cost handsets from a wide variety of different manufacturers, and the platform has been deliberately optimized to run on low-end hardware. Brand-new Android phones can be found for under $100, although the saying holds true: cheap is expensive.
The cheapest Android phones usually offer terrible performance, although a $300 mid-range Android phone might have all the features and performance that you’d need out of a smartphone. The fact that Android also leads the field in free apps makes it the natural choice for the budget-conscious.
The Apple App Store offers fewer apps than Google Play (around 2.1 million vs. 3.5 million, as of April 2018), but overall selection isn’t the most important factor. This gap stems mainly from Android’s open-source nature and Google’s looser policies when it comes to what is accepted on the Play Store. Android phones also allow users to access third-party app stores, such as the Amazon Appstore. As if that isn’t enough variety, Android phones also allow the user to ‘side-load’ apps via manual insertion of .apk files.
We all know that quantity does not equal quality. While Android may have a lead in the former category, Apple’s strict control of the apps available for their platform ensures that the apps function properly and that they are entirely safe and free of any malicious code.
The Play Store definitely does have more free apps than the App Store does, but this does come with some strings attached, and those strings are ads (Urgh! We all hate those). Needless to say, nobody likes being interrupted by pesky advertisements when using apps or playing games, and if you want an ad-free experience, you will have to buy the app just as you would on the App Store. Nonetheless, being able to test out an app for free before buying it is a very welcome option.
We like the fact that you can buy apps using your fingerprint via TouchID on iPhones, but you can set up the same thing for the Play Store on Android phones with fingerprint sensors. The Play Store wins points for having a no-quibble refund policy within two hours of purchase. There are some questionable apps in both stores, but Apple is generally stricter about blocking certain types of apps. That can be a good thing for overall quality, but it’s a bad thing if you’re into something like game emulators for classic consoles. The App Store edges the win for usability and curated content.
This has always been definitely one of Android’s main strengths. It’s very easy to customize your phone. You can set up the layout you want on your home screen, add widgets and shortcuts, and even change your entire user interface with launchers. Even though some OEMs like Huawei put their own rigid iOS-like skins on top of the operating system, the user can always download a more flexible launcher such as the Nova Launcher, bringing a stock Android experience to every phone.
Needless to say, the iOS experience is highly stable but not at all customizable. iPhones all have the same streamlined design, and while this design is arguably the best one for a phone, a certain degree of customization is always welcome, and it’s an area where iOS is sorely lacking.
If you want a phone that works well, delivers a high-quality experience, and is easy to use, Apple is the clear winner. On the other hand, if you value flexibility and choice enough to accept some potential issues, you’ll probably prefer Android.
Security – Do we really have to break this down for you?
If you care about the security of your smartphone, there’s only one choice: iPhone.
Specific manufacturers like Samsung have taken extra efforts to beef up security for the enterprise market. But the slovenly nature of updates on many Android devices can seriously delay important security patches.
Speedy updates are now more important than ever because security breaches are becoming more serious. Android is behind in the update world, unless you have a stock Android device, and so it’s less secure. Because millions of Android phones are still running software that’s years old, they can be vulnerable to serious hacks like Heartbleed and Stagefright.
Apple is already firmly entrenched in corporate America and has also worked on improved security for general consumers, most notably with Touch ID and FaceID in the iPhone X and later. The tight oversight that Apple has on apps and the ability to push updates out to more devices, more quickly, gives it a definitive edge over Android. The company also encrypts data in iMessage and its other apps.
Apple prioritizes user privacy, so you can feel safe knowing your personal data is not stored or read by Apple. It is all encrypted, too. Meanwhile, Android encrypts some data, but your privacy is less protected. Google mines your data for information that it can use to sell better ads and market products to you. Your data is also stored and read to provide you with a better A.I. experience.
This is a difficult category to call. In the past, we’ve argued that Apple does the best job capturing lighting, coloring, and other details, but the latest Android smartphones are casting a lot of doubt on that assertion.
Much like displays, the quality of a smartphone camera depends entirely on the OEM.
The differences between flagship cameras are still fairly minor, both on paper and in practice. The only way to tell apart the cameras of, say, the iPhone Xs and the Google Pixel 3 is to put them side by side, but even with that, the untrained eye is unlikely to notice any real difference.
As for the more affordable budget and mid-range Android phones, the camera quality varies greatly from OEM to OEM based on which area they decide to cut corners in There’s more variation on Android simply because manufacturers tend to add their own camera apps with lots of features, some good, some a bit gimmicky.
As such, there is no way to determine a clear winner in this category either.
Hardware and Performance
It is not uncommon to see someone claiming that iPhones have “bad hardware”. At face value, that does seem true: lower-resolution screens, smaller amounts of RAM than competing Android models, among other things.
Only Apple makes iPhones, so it has extremely tight control over how the software and hardware work together. On the other hand, Google offers the Android software to many phone makers, including Samsung, HTC, LG, and Huawei. Because of that, Android phones vary widely in size, weight, features and quality.
Premium-priced Android phones tend to be as good as the iPhone in terms of hardware quality, but cheaper Android options are more prone to problems. Of course iPhones can have hardware issues too, but they’re generally higher quality.
iOS doesn’t need humongous amounts of RAM as it can keep over a dozen apps loaded and ready with only 2GB, and while the resolution of some models (ahem! Xr) may seem low, the pixel density remains more than adequate, all the while the lower resolution means less work for the GPU and thus, lower battery drain.
Furthermore, Apple’s CPUs have also seemed fairly weak over the years. The A12 Bionic chip is the first one to boast eight cores; the preceding A11 and A10 chips having six and four cores respectively.
Meanwhile, even mid-range Android phones have had octa-core CPUs for years now. However, the same still stands: due to superb operating system optimization, Apple’s CPUs have been consistently outperforming the competition for years now. As a matter of fact, even older-generation iPhones tend to beat newer Android flagships in benchmarks.
Some may prefer the greater choice Android offers, but others appreciate Apple’s simplicity and quality. All in all, while Android phones almost always have superior hardware specs on paper, iPhones offer better performance in the vast majority of cases.
It has pretty much been the same deal with Apple for the past few generations, Each year, we have seen a new phone with the same fundamental design. Although when the iPhone X was introduced things did change.
Incorporating a screen with very thin bezels and heralding a new era in iPhone design which is bound to remain largely unchanged in the next few years. But considering that iPhones are only made by a single company that releases only a handful of models each year, the lack of variety is understandable.
On the other hand, there is no lack of variety with Android phones. There are countless of Android phones out here, with dozens of manufacturers pushing out dozens of models month after month.
Although let’s be frank, the phones aren’t as diverse as they used to be back in the day. Plus, they look more alike than ever, but different OEMs almost always have something unique to offer, be it a hardware or a software feature.
Quite obviously, Android wins in this category, as Android phones cover a much wider portion of the price spectrum and usually introduce some useful features years before they are implemented in iOS.
Accessories: USB Is Everywhere
Owning a smartphone usually means owning some accessories for it, such as speakers, battery cases, or simply extra charging cables.
Android phones offer the widest choice of accessories. That’s because Android uses USB ports to connect to other devices, and USB ports are available practically everywhere.
On the other hand, Apple insists on its proprietary Lightning cable, which means it’s much easier to find a charger if you’re not an iPhone owner. This often means you have to splash out on an overpriced Apple adapter. Peripheral manufacturers may still go after iOS as their main target, but it’s very rare to find something without Micro USB or USB-C support.
Another mark against Apple here relates to its abandonment of the standard 3.5mm audio port, which started with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. You do get an adapter in the box, but it’s easily lost and the choice of headphones sporting 3.5mm audio jacks far exceeds those with Lightning connectors. Of course, now some Android phones are axing the headphone jack in favor of USB-C audio, so this may not be a difference for much longer.
It’s also important to note that Apple’s ecosystem of products all work together exceedingly well. The iPad, Apple Watch, MacBook, and HomeKit products all work together in perfect harmony. MacOS, WatchOS, and iOS are all well connected, making it easy to have all Apple products on the same page.
Since Android phones are produced by many different manufacturers, product ecosystems vary. Samsung has a great ecosystem, for example, and Android phones have support from Home, Chromecast, and Android Wear. However, it’s not as seamless as on iOS.
Overall, taking all available accessories into account, you have more choice with an iPhone, but you can also charge your Android practically anywhere.
Winner: We’ll let you decide for this one.
Higher-quality apps and app store
Long-term OS updates
Better value in the long run
|Much greater degree of freedom|
Highly customizable interface
Greater variety of apps
More affordable phones
Ultimately, different categories will be important to different people, so you should pay attention to the ones that count for you and make your decision based on that. If security and privacy are an important factor, then the iPhone is the obvious choice. If battery life tops your list and you want to be able to customize your phone, then choose Android.
If you do decide to go with an Android device, make sure you do a little research and look at the version of Android it runs, the manufacturer skin on top, and the manufacturer’s record for software updates.
Both Android and iOS are mature, feature-packed platforms with far more similarities than differences, and we can heartily recommend either. That’s because both platforms offer are good choices for different people. You’ll need to decide what factors are most important to you and then choose the phone that best meets your needs.
If you’re buying an iPhone, you just need to pick a model, but because many companies make Android devices, you have to pick both a brand and a model, which can be a bit confusing.
But we do hope that this helped a bit with the choice.