Phone Wars: Which is Better, Apple or Android?

Most 90s kids who were into gaming back in the earlier part of the decade know how utterly brutal the Console Wars were, specifically the battles between the Sega Gensis (Mega Drive) and Nintendo's SNES.  Many have tried to declare which system is better, and many have failed to do so.  Both systems have comparable numbers in terms of sales, both have incredible, unique libraries and both have equally intense fans.  In the end, deciding which system was best came down to personal preference.   

The kids who were duking it out on the playground over the Sega/Nintendo rivalry have grown up (technically) but they have never lost their need to fight for something.  Sure there are still those who argue whether or not Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo is the superior console maker, but that war has nothing on the bitter, never-ending Phone War being waged by iOS devices and Android devices.

The Contenders

iOS

The iOS operating system serves Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod product lines, and has been since 2007.  Each iteration of the operating system is usually developed alongside Apple's newest hardware iterations.  This means the architecture of the OS is designed in unison with the physical architecture of the hardware.  This usually results in an OS that runs very smoothly, with few crashes, especially since the customization options on the iOS are notoriously limited. In other words, it is very hard for even the least techno-savvy people to mess up an iPhone.

Android

Android has been used by a myriad of phones since 2008, and is therefore much more widespread than iOS devices.  The operating system give users the ability to customize their experience on their phone on a level iOS users could never dream of having.  Because the phones up which Android runs are manufactured by other companies, you have way more choice when it comes to phone specs.  Current Android phones are usually cheaper than iPhones and tend to have more memory, more (and expandable) memory and faster processors than the current iPhone model.

Pros for Each System

iOS


  • The complete integration of iOS with the hardware on which it runs gives the user a consistently stable environment to work in, relatively safe from system crashes and freezing.
  •  Impeccable hardware design.  Sure, ever since the iPhone 4 the general consensus has been that the iPhone sports a screen that is too small in comparison to its competition, but few deny how nice each phone has looked and felt.  Apple has caught up to screen size with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, so now there is very little to complain about with the design of the phone.
  • The Apple environment.  Apple products integrate almost seamlessly, with very little fuss from the user.  You can accomplish the same type of environment with an Android phone on Mac and PC systems, but it is not nearly as effortless for the average consumer.
  • Incredibly fast charging time.  (See the "Cons" to found out how this is made possible).


Android

  • With a bevy of manufacturers making phones that run Android, the user is not limited to one type of hardware, meaning the user can shop for the device with all the specs they want.
  • Android is not nearly as restrictive as iOS.  You can tailor their interface to their liking including setting any sound file as a ringtone, tweaking the home screen, and developing apps with greater ease.
  • Android-based phones are, as a rule, cheaper than Apple phones.
  • Android-based phones sacrifice some aesthetics for functionality.  For instance, though many Android phones are bulkier than Apple phones, they have more room for bigger, longer-lasting batteries.


Cons for Each System

iOS

  • Notoriously short battery-life.  Because iPhones are small, thin and sleek, there is less room for a battery.  This results in Apple using small, short--life batteries which may charge fast, but they don't last nearly as long as many Android-based phones.
  • No expandable memory in any iPhone.  Many see this as Apple's attempt to grab more money as each step up in storage capacity costs $100.  The only way to increase storage is to buy a whole new phone.
  • Specs are often one to two generations behind many Android-Based phones.  The iPhone 6 will have 1 GB of RAM, compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Motorola Moto X which both feature 2 GB of RAM.  The processors found in iPhones are often a bit slower than the competition as well.  Apple gets around this by creating an architecture that negates the slower RAM and clock speed of the processors, but still in terms of raw processing power, Android-based phones often come out on top.
  • iOS is very restrictive in terms of customization.  Ringtones have to be in a certain file format, there are no widgets, and task managing is very primitive.  This means the techno-illiterate will have a hard time screwing up their phone, while the techno-savvy will not be able to get the phone to function exactly how they want it.


Android

  • The less restricting nature of Android-based phones may allow users to tailor their experience, but the sheer volume of choices may be intimidating to some users.
  • As Android based devices have a larger share of the market they are targeted by viruses quite often.  That's not to say iOS devices are immune, just that there is a higher chance of getting a virus on your Android device.  This is not really much of an issue as most carriers offer security protection for devices for very reasonable prices.
  • As one operating system must be compatible with multiple devices manufactured by multiple companies with a wide variety of architectures there can be instances in which the OS does not run smoothly on a device.

So which is better?

On paper the answer may seem simple.  With many more options when it comes to device features and a much less restrictive OS Android may seem like the clear winner, and for many it is.  But things can seem much different on paper than they are in reality. 

For millions the iPhone is the pinnacle of phones.  This must surely annoy those who understand that, technically speaking the iPhone is inferior to much of it's competition.  But you have to understand that the people who love the iPhone can't be bothered with how much RAM their phone has, or how fast their phone's processor clocks in at.  They just know the phone looks pretty and functions simply right out of the box.  They decide to buy an iPhone because of how it makes them feel.  Just like the kids who asked for a Sega Genesis for Christmas because it just "felt" cooler than the SNES, even though the systems were pretty evenly matched.

Make no mistake, emotions also play a role in Android users' decisions.  A passionate need to either have the device with the most superior specs and/or the greatest value for what you get. What's crazy is that all the companies who manufacture your phone, whether they be Apple, Motorola, Samsung or whoever makes your phone knows that we make emotional decisions.  Why do you think Samsung's current ad for their line of Galaxy phones focuses on the fact that Apple is now copying them?  They know the people who buy their phones want to stand out, they want to have the latest and greatest.  And why does Apple's promotional videos focus so much on how beautiful and sleek their phones look?  Why do they focus on how easy it is to operate their phone instead of specs?  They are marketing their phone to the people who want a phone that is easy to operate while simultaneously making the user look good while using it.

So in the end there is no "better."  It's a stupid, cliched answer, but it honestly comes down to what you prefer.  When you've made your choice, be confident in your ability to make the best decisions for yourself.  You do not need to tear down others in order to make yourself feel good about your choices.  It goes back to the console wars of yore; I was a SNES kid who vehemently opposed Sega.  Looking back I realize that it was because I had to convince myself that I was not missing out on anything by not having a Genesis.  I had to convince myself that what I had (in this case Mario) was superior to what I did not have (in this case Sonic).  Genesis kids did the same, the funny thing is that we 90s kids never seemed to outgrow this mode of thinking and so now we have the Phone Wars.

 

What side do you fall on?  Are you an Android supporter or Apple lover? Want more interesting stuff about the 90s and beyond?  Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter