A question that has been bothering this blog for a while but which hasn't been discussed lately is that greatest water cooler discussion ever: which smartphone should one buy, an Android or an iPhone? I thought I'd offer my latest views on this matter.I would like to start by explaining why I'm dismissing the other contenders. Windows Phone 7 has been there for two years now and is still not managing to take off, while Blackberry has probably been there the longest but has run out of fuel and is heading for a crash that perhaps already took place. Which sort of leaves Android and iOS (iPhone) on the table.
I will start with my conclusion: the way things seem to be heading, I suspect my current iPhone will be replaced, eventually, by the latest generation iPhone. Given that I have been championing the superiority of the Android operating system quite heavily in the past, I will now explain my revised opinion.
The way I see it, there are three factors involved here:
- The functionality factor:
High level speaking, Android gives its user more power than iOS; that power comes at the price of not offering as slick an out of the box experience as the iPhone. However, between the latest iOS 5 and the latest Android's Ice Cream Sandwich versions, the differences between the operating systems became drastically smaller. The iPhone, for example, now offers synchronization and upgrades sans an iTunes running PC. There really isn't that much of a difference between the two operating systems anymore in this age of the cloud: Google Maps' navigation facilities on the Android are comparable with those from the free Waze app, music can be listened to from the cloud via various services, Flash is no longer supported on any mobile platform, and tethering is now available on the iPhone.
It therefore seems to me the choice between the two comes down to the environment one is already invested in.
- The iPad factor:
The matter of environments we already have vested interests in brings me directly to the matter of the iPad. Why? Because in the same way most of us have ourselves a smartphone, most of us will also have ourselves a tablet. If we don't already have one then we will have one shortly; it is inevitable. It is our destiny.
If you agree with me that tablets are in our near future, then you would surely agree with me those tablets will be called iPads and will come from Apple. The reason is simple: the Android platform is yet to offer anything that comes even close to the iPad's tablet experience. True, tablets like the Asus Transformer Prime offer significantly superior hardware in certain respects, but it is also makes it clear there is more to a tablet than its specs.
The inevitable entrance of an iPad to our lives means we have vested interests in the iOS environment. From that point onwards the path to an iPhone is much better lit.
- The Google factor:
During the time I preached the virtues of the Android platform I was under the impression that Apple is the evil company trying to milk as much money as it can out of us. All the while, Google was the "do no evil" friendly champion by our side. That impression has changed somewhat over the last year or so: while Apple is still evil, Google can no longer boast superiority; it is, in many respects, just as bad. In certain critical respects Google is even worse: by holding a lot of information on us and our preferences in life, and by clearly doing its best to abuse that information in favor of its bottom line, Google had become as despicable as Apple but much more dangerous.
I'll put it this way: an iPhone 5 with a bigger screen and a quad core CPU should reign supreme.
Image by missha, Creative Commons license