On January 9th, 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone to the world. From that moment onwards, the mobile and technology industry was forever changed.
Smartphones beforehand had been largely unsuccessful; being bulky, expensive things with a less than intuitive interface. As Jobs put it, they were powerful but far too hard to use.
The iPhone sought to change that.
Even early versions of iOS offered up an easy to use, smooth UI without sacrificing on power. It was this innovation in touch screens and portability that brought about the smart-tech of today.
However, whilst Apple arguably invented the modern smartphone, they’ve been pushed for improvement thanks to the likes of Android and Windows Phone.
In this article we’ll be comparing the former with iOS in an attempt to determine who truly is the king of the smartphone OS’s.
This is a fairly major point of consideration, and plays greatly into the success and failures of both systems.
It’s well known that every device running iOS has been manufactured by Apple and that no device running Android has been manufactured by Google.
The downside to Apple’s strategy is that there is no vast range of devices for people to purchase; where on Android you have £35 devices as well as £600 devices, on iOS you have only £600 devices.
The downside to Google’s strategy is that they have no clue exactly what hardware it is that they’re developing their software for. This leads to inconsistencies, glitches and a less than desirable performance in more cases than anyone would like to admit.
That being said, in terms of raw specifications Android pushes it well beyond the reasonable limits. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.
While the iPhone 6 has only 1GB of RAM, for example, the Nexus 6 has 3GB. Both are around the same price. Similarly, 2013’s Motorola Moto G has 1GB of RAM and launched at £99 sim-free (where the i6 costs > £500~).
It’s an awkward question that doesn’t really have an answer; strictly controlled device releases allow for a great degree of optimisation although this is at the cost of stifled technical progression.
Ultimately, your choice of device will likely be whichever looks the nicest and is most durable. While Android can offer cheaper prices with higher specs, they may not always be nicely designed.
This being said, Android devices are usually more innovative than iOS devices and allow for manufacturers to customise their devices to their liking, and so this section goes to Android.
Apps and Games
Or rather, availability of apps and games.
The two major storefronts: iTunes and the Google Play store have a vast variety of apps, in fact now almost equal in size, although certainly not equal in quality.
Even the most hardcore of Android fans have to agree, the level of quality control undertaken by Apple before apps are released just doesn’t compare to Google’s complete lack of it.
Speaking as someone who has experienced the publishing process on both first hand, while annoying, iTunes takes up to a week to publish apps because each submission is individually tested first.
Compare that to the Play store where there is no quality control whatsoever and it’s clear to see why people prefer iTunes and why the apps available for iOS are generally a lot better than those for Android.
Now that’s not to say that every app released for iPhones and iPads is of high quality because a lot aren’t, but generally speaking you have a lot more “cute baby special makeover” e.g types of games on the Play store than you do on the iTunes store.
Due to this high degree of quality control, iOS wins in this section.
Performance and experience
This is a tough one.
The Android and iOS experiences are surprisingly different, despite them coming from identical roots.
The thing about Android is that it’s based off of Linux and as such has full computer-esque themes throughout.
For example, it’s completely customisable. Everything from the notification tray, the launcher (what’s displayed when you press the Home button), the lock screen, app icons, default camera application… anything, really, can be changed to your liking.
Similarly, intricate operation details can be controlled: you can set permissions on a per-app basis, view what’s doing what and how much memory is being used, what’s running in the background, etc.
This extends to even being able to draw over other applications; such is the case with Facebook messenger which allows you to respond and view messages no matter what you’re currently doing; watching YouTube videos, browsing the web, etc.
This level of openness does come at a cost, however, and that’s a significant decrease in user experience when compared to competitor platforms like iOS.
While iOS restricts user freedom greatly, it runs noticeably smoother than Android does. Where Android suffers from frequent software crashes and slow downs iPhones run at an exceptional speed even with the much worse technical specifications of iDevices.
It really depends on what you’re looking for in a smartphone. Android can be pushed to perform any task you want it to while iOS has a generally better consumer experience.
This an equal section with no exact winner.
Out of 3 categories, the results are a stalemate: 1 – 1.
This is as it should be, as Android and iOS are no longer contestable.
Comparisons between them will always be drawn, but your choice of device is highly personal to what you’re looking to get out of a smartphone.
If you’re going for a full on customisable experience with the option of being hacky or are otherwise on a tight budget then Android is the way to go.
Alternatively, if you’re after a nicely made device designed for consumers rather than tech enthusiasts then the iPhone is almost definitely the device for you.