Before I start, I want to make something quite clear. This is not a platform bashing editorial, it is a more down to earth look at how I now perceive the two largest mobile operating systems.
I am certain some of you will disagree, rage, cry, smile or weep. But whatever you do, if you leave a comment keep it constructive and factual. As the moderator, I will use my powers if necessary. Hopefully this won’t be necessary.
The background behind this article. To support iOS, I am using the iPhone 6S Plus, Apple TV 4th Gen, Apple Watch, iPad Air and Macbook. To support android, I am using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Gear S2, Gear VR, Level One Pro Bluetooth headphones and Macbook.
So lets look at iOS first. My observations are tighter integration within the hardware and software across all Apple devices. Apps on the iPhone look better and there is a much wider range of apps across many categories. iMessage and FaceTime are integrated across all Apple devices. Receive a SMS on your phone, reply on your MAC. You get the picture. Seamless. Handoff is another nicety. Viewing a website on your iPad, move to your MAC and continue reading the same page. Other aspects of iOS is Apple Pay. In the UK there is still no other option. 3D Touch is handy on the iPhone.
So now lets look at android. Google services are better integrated as expected. Hardware is leap years ahead. QHD screens, curved screens, ultra battery saving modes, wireless and fast charging, fast wireless charging and much more. No special cables needed for connecting to the phone. Eg for USB On The Go. Connecting cameras, USB sticks and more is standard. Miracast, DNLA and bluetooth and more are not restricted in capabilities as on iOS. iOS will often need apps or workarounds. Background services actually work on android without being stopped after 10 minutes e.g. uploading to flickr or Google Photos. Android flagship phones now take the lead with camera quality especially LG G4 and Samsung S7. Bluetooth audio includes APT-X on phones. This produces a better quality music playback via compatible headphones. Apple include this on the macbook but not iPhone. But then APT-X High Definition is now available. So music playback via headphones is ahead. Virtual Reality has arrived. Where is Apple? The Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch is so fantastic to use. The mode of operation is a breeze and far more logical than the Apple Watch. However the Apple Watch is streaks ahead in developer support and apps. So that means with the Gear S2, so long as it does what you want from day 1 you will be fine. However, neither watch is perfect.
And now lets cover off the subject of apps. I have come to the conclusion if you live on iOS you tend to have more apps. On android you don’t need as many apps. The app gap on popular apps has gone. Speciality apps are still king on iOS. But there are apps on android that don’t exist on iOS and offer more functionality. I was surprised to find that Flickr on android is better than the iOS version. You can add your photo to as many groups on android at once, on iOS it only allows one group at a time.
Gaming. iOS has a better selection of games. BUT you can’t play game emulators on iOS but you can on android. I have bluetooth game controllers for both iOS and android. iOS support is lacklustre at best, whereas on android it is way ahead. This is mainly due to the fact android has better support for bluetooth profiles.
Cloud services goes to android. Even Apple knows how good Google are at the cloud, to the point where Apple are going to start using Google’s cloud service.
So you could say if you want varied hardware designs, want to listen to music in higher quality, experience virtual reality, view everything on the best phone displays in the world, take photos with the best camera, game like a gamer with proper support for game controllers, then use an android flagship phone.
Or if you want polished apps, lots of apps, Apple Pay (UK), 3D Touch, speciality apps, universal use of iMessage and other integrated Apple Services, then use iOS.
At the end of the day it does boil down to personal preference. And sometimes, even if its not the best choice, it might be you’re using a phone that you know how to use and are comfortable with its operation.
There is one last point that for many is really important and that is after sales support and service. This is a one horse race that goes to iOS. Nobody currently beats the Apple after sales support and simultaneous software updates.
So that’s my viewpoint. As to which is better? Depends…