Choosing Your Next Phone: Androids and iPhones, Ranked

Smartphones

Looking for a new phone? Now that Apple has released their latest iPhones, we’re in a good position to compare the options between Android and iPhones. As noted in an earlier column, Androids and iPhones are more alike than ever. That makes it even more difficult to choose. But choose we must, and this follow-up column is intended to help.

We carry our smartphone everywhere. Most of us can’t live without one. They do so much, well beyond making calls. They truly are the ultimate pocket computer. So, making a choice is not easy with so many features to compare and so many options to select from. Still, it’s hard to go wrong because there are many good choices.

Smartphones have become one of our most expensive personal purchases. They’re fragile and expensive to fix. Their batteries deteriorate, losing a third of their capacity over the first two or three years.

So how do you choose between an iPhone and Android? There are strong advocates on both sides, but let’s take an objective look at each platform:

Cost

Android phones offer a wider range of price points from $250 phones from Motorola to the top of the line phones from Samsung, Google, and LG.  With iPhones there's only one provider.

Yet even the most expensive Android models are cheaper than the new iPhone X by hundreds of dollars. Apple has even raised the price of their iPhone 8 and 8 Plus over their very similar iPhone 7 and 7. And unlike some of the Android phones that come with one size memory and accept add-in memory cards, Apple charges $150 more for models with 256GB memory. An add-in 256GB memory card for an Android phone costs about $30.

Ease of Use

Android phones are more complex to use than iPhones, a result of being more customizable and having more options, from arranging your apps on the display to monitoring battery consumption over time. iPhones are easier to use because they’re designed to work best using their own set of apps, sometimes called “Apple’s walled garden.” Apple provides you with what you need, but offers less customization. For example, you can only use Apple Maps to look up directions from within Apple apps.

But Apple is moving in a direction of added complexity as they eliminate the home button on the X, relying instead on cryptic swipes. That’s where Android’s back button is a benefit, correcting a mistake.

Compatibility

Android phones are more difficult to keep up to date with the latest operating software improvements. You’re dependent on the carrier, and they often take months and sometimes skip some models entirely. Apple does a much better job at giving all of their customers the latest updates quickly and at the same time. One advantage of the Google Pixel cameras is that Google upgrades them directly.