Choosing between Android and iPhone isn't about today's hardware and features

AndroidPIT Galaxy S7 Edge vs Pixel XL 0294

Google’s new Pixel up against an S7 Edge! / © AndroidPIT

Before we go any further, yes, I know a whole bunch of you disagree (and you’re more than welcome to eloquently put forward your points in the comments) but focusing on the ‘feeds and speeds’ elements, that is, hardware and features above all else, isn’t the only way to think about choosing your phone.

When both platforms were still new on the market, weighing up the features and handset differences made a lot of sense. Back then, Android and iOS both had some embarrassing omissions and defining features, even if only in their absence. Remember how you couldn’t cut-and-paste on iOS for the longest time? 

Now, however, most phone ranges have reached a point of feature parity if you line them up alongside a similar price or spec handset. What that means is that you don’t need to choose between having a camera phone, one that holds all your music, or even nowadays water-resistance. There are several phones on the market that will do all of those things, and perhaps with the exception of waterproofing, there are lots of choices at each price point.

Nor do you need to choose between Android and iOS because of the availability of your favorite apps and games. Sure, you won’t find every single one on whichever platform you choose, but you’ll find something that’s pretty similar at the very least.  

The defining factors?

So with a parity of hardware features, similar functionality and the same sort of apps available, choosing between Google and Apple comes down to the less direct factors for me. For example, the way in which Apple locks down its ecosystem to ensure a vice-like grip means that it has fewer security issues (in theory) but it comes at the cost of openness and freedom. It comes at the cost of allowing users to do whatever they like with the phone they just purchased for hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

I’m no developer, but given the option of supporting an open source initiative where many different companies can make hardware and contribute to the platform’s general direction is a much safer ‘bet’ to me than backing a company that notoriously doesn’t let you do what you like with the hardware and software, but provides a ‘simpler’ experience as a result. No one can argue that part of the iPhone’s appeal is the simplicity of the range – there are just a few different models to choose between. How long for remains to be seen.

What this means, however, is that once Apple decides to do something, the user really has no choice in it. A very obvious case in point for the iPhone would be the removal of the headphone jack or more recently again, the removal of all sorts of popular features from its MacBook Pro range – including the MagSafe connector and full size USB ports.

Apple usually times such removals well – consider the removal of the CD drive with the introduction of the MacBook Air – but that doesn’t change the fact that buyers no longer have the choice but to comply if they want to continue using Apple hardware and software. If they don’t, they’ll need to repurchase all their content and apps on a different platform, which for many people is entirely unthinkable. 

So the choice you make in the current ‘two horse race’ of the smartphone world is often the one that sticks with you, and that’s why I choose Android. Sure, it’s not always been the most straightforward OS, and the open nature does leave it more prone to security vulnerabilities and software updates have long been a mess, taking ages to roll out while iOS users efficiently get the latest version as soon as it’s ready. 

But for me, it comes down to two factors: percentages and attitude. No multinational corporate like Apple or Google can be considered altruistic or building products for anything except shareholder profit, and that’s fine but Apple’s ‘it’s magical’ and ‘fastest, best, biggest, brightest’ way of marketing its products just doesn’t hold any appeal. It’s that feeling of someone trying to convince you of something you know isn’t true. You might sit there and nod because you’re fearful they’re crazy but it doesn’t change what you know to be true, it just makes you trust that person less. In this case, that ‘person’ for me is Apple. The attitude that every single aspect of their handsets are nothing like anything else that has ever existed is just too much to take. 

The second factor, percentages and likelihoods, is simply this: Apple is the only hardware and software maker for the iPhone. Android has hundreds of options available. Don’t like your current phone? There are a whole lot of other ones to choose from. When Apple does something its users don’t like (again), its users have no choice but to suck up the changes or re-boot their entire digital life on a different platform. 

So, for me, choosing an Android phone instead of an iPhone each time the option arises has become a no-brainer – why would I want to choose a phone from a company that restricts what I do with it, removes features when it wants and markets it to me like I’ve never seen a phone before?

Exactly, I wouldn’t. You might though, and that’s fine. 

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