iPhone or Android? It’s a question I frequently get from readers and my answer depends on many factors. If you missed Part 1 of this two-part series, please click here.
Check out additional differences between the iPhone and Android I found when I switched from my iPhone 3GS to my Nexus One.
Apple Stores have Genius Bars where you can bring your iPhone if you’re having problems with it. If you live near an Apple Store, this feature is very handy because a Genius can run all sorts of diagnostic tests to discover what is causing issues with the phone. If your iPhone breaks during the warranty period, you can go into the Apple Store and walk out with a new iPhone, no waiting required. (There are exceptions, such as water damage, but you get the idea — instant replacement.)
With Android phones there isn’t a Genius Bar. You have to deal directly with the manufacturer of your phone or your carrier if you have a hardware issue with your phone. If you have a software issue, you will be researching online and asking your friendly neighborhood Android expert to help you out.
Less than a week after I received my Nexus One it died. Dead. What techies call “Bricked” (as in the only thing you can use this phone for is a doorstop). I researched and asked my friendly neighborhood Android expert what to do, but no luck. I had encountered a serious hardware issue.
The good news is that the hardware manufacturer, HTC, could not have had better customer service. I emailed them and they responded within 24 hours, advising me to call them. While I was on the phone with them, they informed me that they believed the phone needed a new motherboard and they emailed me a FedEx label while I was still on the phone with them.
I was extremely lucky, the phone had one day left under warranty, so the next day I sent the phone off to HTC via FedEx. That was a Friday. On Monday, I received an email notice than my phone had been shipped back to me. I received it on Tuesday, complete with a new cord and cleaning cloth.
In my mind, HTC’s customer service was as close to the Genius Bar as you can get. A+!
If you have purchased most of your music on iTunes, you will want to stick with the iPhone. But if you have uploaded your music to Google Music, an Android phone gives you the easiest access to your tunes.
But iTunes is more than a music library. By syncing with iTunes, you are backing up your phone with its contacts, settings, apps, videos and more. More than the Genius Bar, I missed iTunes terribly when my Android phone died. I didn’t have a lot of apps on my Nexus One, but I had to reload them all and set them up again one by one after I got the repaired phone back from HTC.
I wish Android had a system to sync to a computer or the cloud to preserve my apps and data. I have had access to that function since my Palm Pilot days and I find the inability to backup an Android phone to be a major disadvantage.
Many, though not all, Android phones have very little space on the phone and instead rely upon storage cards in the phone (micro SD cards) to store apps.
You can increase the space on your phone by switching SD cards.
Managing apps by moving them onto SD cards is a hassle. Even when an app is on an SD card, it can still use memory on the phone which means that you can have memory issues with some phones.
I had conflicts with apps using too much memory on my Android phone, even though I moved the apps to my SD card. When this happened my Twitter and email accounts wouldn’t update, even though I closed all of the other apps. I was stuck with 3 day old emails and tweets on my phone until I figured out which apps to delete so my accounts could update. I have now had to delete multiple apps from my phone.
Managing memory on Android is a pain.
Comparison with the iPhone:
My Android phone now has about 35 apps on it. My iPhone has 347 apps on it, a bit excessive, I know. But I can have that many apps on my iPhone without worrying about it. Closing the apps is the only thing you need to do to manage apps on your iPhone.
I don’t like having to manage the memory on my Android phone by deleting apps. I recommend, if you are thinking of getting an Android phone, that you choose a phone with plenty of space on the phone itself (4 GB or more), no matter how much space is available on an SD card.
Updates occur when a developer updates its app for various reasons (to fix bugs, add features, etc.). Android updates occur over the air, often automatically.
Automatic over the air updates for Android make the update process as easy as it can possibly be.
Since updates, like the original apps, aren’t tested on Android, conflicts can occur between apps. Sophisticated detective work can be required if an updated app suddenly starts using a lot of memory or battery or conflicts with an existing app.
Comparison with the iPhone:
Updating apps on the iPhone can be a nuisance. Updates aren’t always beneficial, so I read what is being updated before I download the update. Some updates are large so can’t be downloaded over 3G so you need to be connected to Wi-Fi to update those.
Updates are going to change when iOS is updated this fall. I’m hoping that updating apps on the iPhone will be less of a chore after that.
Android phones have physical “back” buttons that take you back to where you were previously.
The back button is very handy to take you back to a previous screen on the web, or take you back within an application or to get you back to the home screen. I use this button frequently.
The button doesn’t work to take you back in every application, but this is a very minor dislike.
Different models of Android phones have the back button in different places. On the Nexus One the back button is on the left. On the LG Optimus, the back button is third from the left. This is only a problem if you switch between models of Android phones.
Comparison to the iPhone:
I truly wish the iPhone had a physical back button. Instead, back buttons are on the screen and each app can put the button in a different place. That button can change positions or not even appear. But I don’t predict Apple will be adding any buttons to future generations of the iPhone.
Live Wallpaper is an animated picture that moves on your screen. Think of fish swimming around in an aquarium.
I love that Android phones have this feature. Live wallpapers are available free in the Android Market and through the Zedge app. I started off with the Fireflies 3D Live wallpaper with shooting bands of bright, beautiful colors on my screen. Stunning and captivating!
I discovered quickly that the Fireflies 3D Live wallpaper I loved so much was a hungry monster when it came to my battery life. My phone got hot (not warm), and my battery drained in a couple of hours. I plugged it in to charge and 18 hours later I had only charged up to 81% power. Ouch.
I switched to a non-live wallpaper (dead, I guess?) of a beautiful waterfall in a tropical lagoon. I haven’t given up on live wallpapers yet, I just need to find one whose battery appetite is closer to a supermodel’s than a Sumo wrestler’s.
Comparison to iPhone:
Unless you jailbreak your iPhone (if you don’t know what jailbreaking is, you shouldn’t do it), you can’t have live wallpapers.
The iPhone has threaded emails meaning when I open the email app, I can see new messages on both my Wonder of Tech Gmail account and my personal Yahoo account in one app. This is so handy that I often grab my iPhone (or iPad) to check my mail when I am sitting at my computer so I don’t have to open two separate accounts. The Android phone has two separate apps for Yahoo mail and Gmail, though as I mentioned yesterday, I prefer the notifications on Android that tells you about new emails, tweets, Facebook news and other app information in one place.
There is no mute button on Android phones. It’s not hard to mute the phone, but you have to look at it. This could be inconvenient or embarrassing if you forget to mute your phone and then want to mute it with no one noticing. The iPhone has a mute button.
There is no native podcast player on Android phones. All the podcast player apps for Android that I found cost money. iPhones have a native podcast player.
You will have other considerations as well. If you already have a stable of apps on one platform, you may want to stick with that. Do you have an iPod Touch or iPad with a ton of apps? You can use most of those apps on an iPhone.
Also consider accessories. If you have invested a lot in speakers that work with your iPod Touch, you may not want to switch to an Android.
Although it’s not a big factor, most Android phones charge using a micro USB cord. This cord is quite common, used for the Kindle, many Blackberry phones and devices such as the Mophie Juice pack. The iPhone cords only work with Apple devices.
What I’m Using Now
When my Nexus One was being fixed by HTC, I missed it. I missed the notifications, the excitement of discovering new apps and the ease of typing with SwiftKey X. So when I got the Nexus One back from the manufacturer, I started using it again, popping my SIM card once again out of my iPhone and into my Android phone. My SIM card can only be one place and I put it back in my Nexus One. I took the time to re-download all of the apps I lost when the phone died.
So what am I using now? Well, I am reluctant to tell you. Why? Because I don’t want to base your decision on what I’m about to tell you. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, I don’t want to discuss hardware because there are so many Android phones out there that my experience with my Nexus One may be very different from your experience with another model Android phone.
That being said, right now…drumroll, please…I am using my iPhone 3GS. Why? Unfortunately, my Nexus One broke again. Dead. Nothing is happening. It’s a brick. So I am sending it back to HTC again to give them another opportunity to fix it.
My daughters have two LG Optimus V Android phones and they haven’t had any problem with their phones. So please don’t base your decision on what happened to my Nexus One.
Which Should You Get?
The Android operating system has a lot to offer that the iPhone doesn’t have, at least not yet. Live wallpapers, SwiftKey X, more effective notifications are all things I wish the iPhone had. But the iPhone has iTunes, both a music library and a backup service, limited memory issues, more secure apps and a bigger app store.
Those who like to manage their phones and appreciate a more open operating system will enjoy Android’s open platform. Those who wish to put less effort into managing their smartphone will prefer iPhone’s iOS operating system.
Which phone should you get? None for now. The iPhone 5 is due to launch very soon (though comparisons to Waiting for Godot would not be inappropriate). Don’t buy an iPhone now. Even if you want to get an iPhone 4, the prices will probably be lower after the launch of the iPhone 5. The new features of the iPhone 5 and its updated iOS operating system may also make your choice more clear.
After the iPhone 5 is launched, compare the iPhone to your favorite Android phone. And stay tuned to The Wonder of Tech for a full review of the iPhone 5!
Whether you’re a die-hard Apple Fan or a dedicated Phandroid, there is a lot to admire and respect about each operating system. Consider both carefully. Try each if you can. And enjoy your smartphone, whichever you decide!
Which factors are the most important for you in deciding upon a smartphone?
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