Since the late Noughties, two rival smartphone operating systems have competed for the hearts and minds of consumers around the world.
Both have more similarities than differences. Yet as consumers, we’re often too deeply enmeshed in either the Android or iOS ecosystem to even contemplate switching.
Some people may airily dismiss the undeniable advantages of the rival platform as irrelevant or insufficient, while glossing over the limitations of their own OS as a price worth paying.
Yet historic prejudices may not be relevant any more. The handsets themselves have also evolved greatly since the Android or iOS debate first flared up, over a decade ago.
For anyone unsure which operating system to specify on their next handset, these are the main pros and cons distinguishing Android or iOS smartphones:
- Far wider choice of hardware. Because numerous manufacturers use Android, there’s an extensive choice of distinct handsets to suit any budget or technical requirements
- Greater customisation. Google places fewer restrictions on app developers than Apple. Android handsets can be personalised and even used to emulate old games consoles
- More practical for PC users. Drag-and-drop file transfers are child’s play, compared to the complex and frustrating experience of trying to manage files through iTunes.
- Sporadic security updates. Patches go to Google Pixel owners first. Manufacturers may be slow in tackling the security threats which are more prevalent on Android than iOS
- Unintuitive menus. The Android menu system is often confusing, and it can be hard to find specific functions when they’re inexplicably buried alive in multiple sub-menus
- Older software. Because of the fragmentation among manufacturers, Android handsets often run older versions of the OS – missing up to two generations of the latest features.
- Simplicity. Apple has historically been better than Google at helping people get to grips with new technology, and iOS is a more intuitive platform to use as a beginner
- File sharing. Media files on iPhones are automatically backed up to iCloud, meaning you can view it on any other Apple device. This process is clunky on Android handsets
- Security. The walled-garden iOS environment makes it hard for malware to get through. Apple is also proactive at rolling out regular security updates, for greater peace of mind.
- Very limited choice of hardware. Anyone wanting to use iOS has one choice of device – an iPhone. These are expensive and hard to repair, often delivering limited battery life
- Can’t set data limits. Android devices allow users to set warnings as mobile data allowances are approached, to avoid breaching data limits. This can’t be done on iOS
- Users are locked into Apple’s ecosystem. It’s hard to play back files without iTunes, hard to use a browser other than Safari, hard to transfer documents to a non-Apple computer…