iPhone or Android: Making the Best Choice – Part One
It’s the debate that only gets more intense as smartphone ownership nears 50 percent of the American populace — which phone is right for me? Android or iPhone?
Choosing the right device can be a tough decision. After all, given a two-year commitment requirement with a mobile provider, the device you choose can be with you for quite a while unless you want to pay a hefty early termination fee.
If you’re on the fence as you consider buying an iPhone or an Android device, think about each of these factors to help hone in on the perfect smartphone for you:
1. Show Me the Money
- Cost varies depending on phone, but typically costs less than iOS phones
- Most are $199 or less with a two-year plan, but $99 and free phones are widely available as well, although these tend to have the older versions of Android. Newer versions of Android are much easier to use and provide increased functionality. We would avoid any Android Smartphone uses less than Android 4.
- For the similarly priced iPhone, Android devices typically have larger screens, faster processors and higher megapixel cameras. Google makes their money from ads within the Android operating system, rather than collecting heavy profits from the purchase of the phone or selling the operating system to vendors, so the costs don’t come immediately out of your pocket.
- The latest model (currently the iPhone 5) is $199 with a two-year plan, while the 4S is $99 and the iPhone 4 is free.
- You will rarely find discounts on Apple products, apart from refurbished items.
- Voice and data plans for Android and iPhone users typically cost the same.
- Prepaid Android phones have sold for as little as $50.
Over the 2 year lifetime of a typical service contract, users pay an average of $1,700 to the carrier. The $200 cost of a phone is just 12 percent of that total cost, and a difference of $100 for the newest model is 6 percent of what you’ll pay over two years. Compromising over $100 or $200 is just not wise.
Expert Tip: Don’t become fixated on the initial cost of your phone. If you can afford it, get the one you will be happy with for at least two years.
2. Be Comfortable in Your Ecosystem
It makes sense to stick with what you know, and what will be most compatible with your computer and other devices. If you own an iPad or a MacBook Pro, for example, syncing your contacts, calendars and emails with an iPhone will be easier and more natural.
When choosing between Android and iPhone, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I already know how to use this device?
- Have I purchased apps, movies or music that are specific to this platform? (They typically cannot be transferred).
- Are my music files and other data in a format specific to iTunes or Google Play?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions , it may be smart to stick with the platform you’re comfortable with and integrated into.
Expert Tip: Consider this equation before switching between platforms:
Total cost already paid for apps
PLUS the value of your to learn a new operating system
PLUS the cost of the device
MINUS your eventual savings in time and money from making a switch =
The total cost of switching
3. Hardware is Your Foundation
Although software operating systems (reviewed in part 2 of this post) steer the ship, it’s the hardware that keeps you afloat.
- Tons of options are on the market, with new models released constantly from different suppliers like Samsung, Motorola and HTC.
- The ‘latest and greatest’ from any maker likely uses the best CPU (central processing unit) available at the time, making most new high-end Android devices comparable to each other. They often boast better specs than the iPhone (the Samsung Galaxy S 4 features a 1.9 GHz Quad Core processor to the iPhone 5’s 1Ghz Dual Core, and 2GB of RAM to the iPhone 5’s 1GB). This translates into higher performance.
- Screens are generally larger than the iPhone 5’s 4” screen.
- Support for the latest technology such as Near Field Communication (NFC) to securely send data, and cable free charging are provided.
- Cameras typically have higher resolution than the iPhone.
- Many models have expandable storage capacity with a microSD card.
- Apple has released one ‘state of the art’ iPhone a year, so your option for the best available is limited to the newest phone.
- The iPhone’s industrial design is strong, sturdy and sleek. In an informal test between the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III, the iPhone fared far better and remained functional when dropped on the ground or into a swimming pool.
Expert Tip: Although Apple makes more durable products, but don’t push your luck. It’s a good idea to protect any smartphone with a protective case.
The iPhone is not without its drawbacks and they keep some users loyal to Android:
- Because iPhone releases new models infrequently, the newest Android phones often provide better hardware.
- Expandable storage is not available on the iPhone.
- Accessories and chargers for Apple products are proprietary and can be costly.
Despite specs that out compete Apple on paper, the iPhone still leads competitors like the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III in some computing tests. (LINK: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/iphone-5-benchmark-lightning,3312-3.html) Likewise, because battery life depends on usage style (GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth usage), it’s difficult to compare battery life,, but most user reviews find that the leading Android devices and iPhone 5 are near equals.
A final factor regarding hardware is anticipating when the next version of the device you covet will be released. If you know you want an iPhone and rumors circulating forecast that the latest model will be released soon (the latest reports predict the release of the iPhone 5S in July), you may want to hold out for what you really want. But if you can’t wait and you’re impartial toward both Android or iPhone, choosing a newly released Galaxy or Motorola Droid may be your best investment.
Expert Tip: There is no magic wand to pinpoint the ‘perfect’ smartphone hardware, but choosing the latest model of any phone will ensure speedy processing, longer device life, and is worth the extra upfront cost.
Stay tuned later this week when we dig in deeper to the software differences between iPhone or Android that dictate your user experience.