Which Should You Choose: iPhone vs Android

Cold, hard facts to consider before you buy any smartphone

When buying the best smartphone, the first choice can be the hardest: iPhone vs. Android. We’ve reviewed their differences to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Overall Findings

  • Closed hardware and software ecosystem.
  • Manufacturer: Apple.
  • Built-in assistant: Siri.
  • Also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
  • Fewer versions available at a time.
  • Features limited to what Apple implements.
  • Easy to download apps from both official and unofficial sources.
  • Manufacturers: Google, Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola, and others.
  • Built-in assistant: Google Assistant.
  • Also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Samsung Bixby.
  • Available with a variety of features and prices.

Your first decision when you decide to pick up your first smartphone is which one you’re going to buy; two of the major options are iPhone and Android. Both offer a lot of great features, but iPhones and Android phones are very different.

Hardware: Android Has More Options

  • Only a few models available at a time.
  • Available from a variety of manufacturers, some of whom are better than others.

Hardware is the first place where the differences between the iPhone and Android become clear.

Only Apple makes iPhones, so it has extremely tight control over how the software and hardware work together. On the other hand, Google offers Android software to many phone makers, including Samsung, HTC, and Motorola. Because of that, Android phones vary in size, weight, features, and quality.

Premium-priced Android phones are about as good as the iPhone, but a cheaper Android device with fewer features may be all you need.

iPhone vs Android

If you’re buying an iPhone, you need to pick a model. Because many companies make Android devices, you have to choose both a brand and a model. Some may prefer the choice Android offers, but others appreciate Apple’s greater simplicity and higher quality.

Operating Systems: Both Have Benefits

  • Runs on Apple’s iOS.
  • New versions launch annually.
  • Runs on Android, with some manufacturers using a slightly different version.
  • Android may update less regularly.

Android phones run on Google’s Android operating system, while iPhones use Apple’s iOS. In general, they work the same: You’ll have a home screen with your most popular apps, including games, utilities, a phone app to make calls, a camera app for pictures, and a messaging one to send texts. They also use touch interfaces, and the device may include hardware like accelerometers or gyroscopes for more functions.

Apple releases a new version of iOS about every fall with additional updates throughout the year. In the earlier days of Android, updates were less frequent and regular (Android 2.0 came out in 2009, while both 3 and 4 came out in 2011). Recently, however, Android has fallen more into an annual update cycle. Some Android device makers, like Samsung, use a slightly modified version of the operating system.

Some Android makers are slow to update their phones to the latest version of the Android OS and sometimes don’t update their phones at all. Apple typically supports phones for five or six years old, Samsung supports phones for around four years, and Google supports the latest Pixels for seven years.

Apps: Android Has More Options

  • Only available through Apple’s App Store (others are supported in the EU).
  • Around 2 million apps.
  • Available in the Google Play Store and through third-party sources.
  • Around 3 million apps.

The Apple App Store offers fewer apps than Google Play, but we’re still talking millions of apps, and the selection isn’t the most crucial factor.

Apple is strict about what apps it allows, while Google’s standards for Android are more relaxed. Apple’s tighter control is part of the reason its app store has fewer offerings than Google’s, but that also means you’re less likely to download malware.

The other benefit of Apple’s centralized storefront is that the company is sure that everything in there is compatible with the available devices. The combination of multiple manufacturers of Android phones and less screening in the Google Play Store means that you may not be sure that an app you want will work with your particular phone.

That aside, the higher selection and ability to download Android apps from outside the official Google Play Store may appeal to some users.

Price: iPhones Are Generally More Expensive; Androids Have a Wider Range

  • General range: $500 – $1,500+
  • General range: $100-$1,700+

Apple positioned the iPhone as a premium device, and the price reflects that. You aren’t going to find a new one for less than $500 or so. Meanwhile, Android-compatible phones are available at a huge range of prices, from around $100 to 20 times that amount.

While it’s possible to get an Android phone for cheaper, you may get what you pay for. High-end Samsung devices can cost as much or even more than an iPhone if you want a new Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel. At this end of the range, there’s little difference in quality between Android and iPhone. If you don’t need a high-tech camera or other features, however, a cheaper Android may be fine for you.

The wide availability of payment plans from Apple, Google, and retailers, however, means that you can easily get an upper-tier phone by paying for it in monthly installments instead of all at once. These options make price less of an issue.

Security: Apple Keeps It Locked Down

  • Encrypted end-to-end.
  • App Store designed to prevent malware.
  • Encrypted end-to-end.
  • Wider third-party app availability can open a device to malware.

If you care about the security of your smartphone, iPhone is more secure than Android. The main reason is due to how the operating system is designed.

Apple controls downloads. One of the most common ways to compromise digital security is by downloading malware – software designed to steal information or affect how a device works. Apple works to prevent malware from appearing on its App Store, and that’s the primary way you can get iPhone apps, and the only way if you’re not in the EU. In this way, Android’s openness and flexibility can become a liability.

It’s important to note, however, that iPhone isn’t immune to security threats; it’s just less likely to be targeted than Android-based phones.

Intelligent Assistant: Google Assistant Beats Siri

  • Default platform: Siri.
  • iPhones can use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa through apps.
  • Default platforms: Google Assistant or Samsung Bixby.
  • Android users can’t use Siri.

The next frontier of smartphone functionality will be driven by artificial intelligence and voice interfaces. Android has a clear lead here.

Google Assistant, the most prominent intelligent assistant on Android, is very powerful. It uses everything Google knows about you and the world to make life easier. For instance, if your Google Calendar knows that you’re meeting someone at 5:30 and that traffic is terrible, Assistant can notify you to leave early.

Siri is Apple’s answer to Google Assistant for artificial intelligence. It’s improving with each new iOS release. That said, it’s still limited to relatively simple tasks and doesn’t offer the advanced smarts of Google Assistant. iPhone users who don’t like Siri can also use Google Assistant, however, while Android owners can’t access Siri without an Apple product.

Ecosystem: Apple’s Is Closed but Powerful

  • Seamless interaction with Macs, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and other devices.
  • Less interactivity between Android devices, especially from different manufacturers.

Many people use a tablet, computer, or wearable in addition to their smartphone. For them, Apple offers a better-integrated experience. Because Apple makes computers, tablets, watches, and the iPhone, it offers features that Android may not.

For example, you can use your iPhone as a remote for your Apple TV. Or you can unlock your iPhone or MacBook with an Apple Watch. AirDrop lets you instantly transfer files and links between an iPhone, Mac, or iPad without creating an email. Other continuity features let you start a YouTube video on Apple TV and pick it up where you left off on the iPhone. AirPlay can let you share your Mac’s screen with an Apple TV or use an iPad as a second monitor.

Google’s services like Gmail, Maps, etc., work across all Android devices. But unless your watch, tablet, phone, and computer are all made by the same company—and there aren’t too many companies other than Samsung that make products in all of those categories—Android has no unified cross-device experience.

Serviceability: Get Android for DIY Fixes

  • Self-repair is difficult, if not impossible.
  • You’ll need to take your device to a service provider or Apple Store.
  • Many manufacturers make their devices user-serviceable.

Apple emphasizes elegance and simplicity in the iPhone above all else. That’s a significant reason that users can’t upgrade the iPhone’s storage or replace the batteries (it’s possible to get replacement iPhone batteries, but they have to be installed by a trained repair person).

On the other hand, Android manufacturers often let users change the phone’s battery and expand its storage capacity.

The trade-off is that Android is a bit more complex and less elegant, but that may be worth it compared to running out of storage or avoiding paying for an expensive battery replacement.

Final Verdict

Both iPhone and Android provide solutions for people with different needs. If you already own Apple products like the Mac, iPad, or Apple TV, getting an iPhone is an easy choice. If flexibility or apps are important, go for an Android.

Different categories matter more for certain people. Some will value hardware choice more, while others will care more about battery life or mobile gaming. Both platforms offer good choices for different people. You’ll need to decide what factors are most important to you and choose the phone that best meets your needs.

  • How many people use Androids vs. iPhones?

    Together, Android and iPhone users own 99% of all active cell phones; however, there are considerably more Android users than iPhone users due to the vast price difference. As of 2024, global statistics show that there are roughly 1 billion active iPhones and 3 billion active Android devices.

  • What can I do on an Android that I can’t do on an iPhone?

    An Android lets you do several things that iPhone’s security won’t allow, such as setting up a guest mode account to share your Android phone with other users. You can also add storage with an SD card and transfer documents directly from the PC to the phone using an Android file manager. iPhone only lets you transfer pictures this way.

  • What can I do on an iPhone that I can’t do on an Android?

    You can hold your old phone next to your new phone and use the QuickStart feature to transfer data to your new device with an iPhone. iPhone also lets you send and receive money through the built-in iPhone Messages app. Another top feature is FaceTime, where you can video chat with other iPhone users without installing a third-party app.

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