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Smartphones – iPhone vs Android

August 13, 2014

© 2014 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from Christian Computing Magazine

I get asked for smartphone recommendations a lot. So I decided to put both platforms to the test and see which I like best today, and why!

What Did I Test?
For some time I have been using an Android-based Motorola Razr Maxx, and have liked it a lot. People would look at me somewhat askew, though, because my computer is an 11″ MacBook Air and I carry an iPad Mini Retina. “So why aren’t you using an iPhone?” they ask. My response has been that in my role I need to have my feet in every operating system (OS), and I accomplish that as follows:

  • MacBook Air 11″ keeps me in Mac OSX and in Windows (I can’t accomplish the same thing reliably on a non-Mac computer).
  • iPad Mini Retina keeps me in iOS.
  • Motorola Razr Maxx keeps me in Android.

Well, as my firm continues to grow, the requirement for me to have a foot in every OS is not as strong. So I decided to test an iPhone 5s, knowing that the iPhone 6 is on the horizon, to see if I might want to move to the new iPhone when it hits the streets.

My Hardware and Software Bias
I’m about as neutral as a guy can get. Because I’m an enterprise-focused IT guy, I see hardware and software for what it really is. I spend time fixing things on every hardware and software platform, so I don’t have a leaning towards anything as though it is something totally awesome.

Macs need support, Dells need support, HPs need support, the Mac OSX has issues and versions we recommend never adopting, Windows has issues and versions we recommend never adopting, the Android OS has issues, and iOS has issues. None are perfect, none eliminate users needs for help, none achieve some sort of Nirvana where there is no suffering.

I know saying that upsets some fanboys, but it’s the truth. And the truth sets you free!

Benefits of Being All-Apple
That said, there is probably no better synthesis of benefits than that found in Apple products. Macs and iOS devices can share and pass information amongst each other more seamlessly and effortlessly than any other platform available today.

For the end user, the benefits include similar interfaces and apps and configuration. I know that Microsoft is working at getting to the same place and is making progress, but their across-the-board synthesis has some distance to go before achieving an Apple on par status.

Some specific things I like about iOS devices over Android devices:

  • The apps for mail, contacts, tasks, notes, and calendars has a much better interface with Exchange servers than does the Android. In fact, to get the kind of Exchange interaction I wanted on the Android I had to buy a third-party app (Touchdown), but it is native in iOS.
  • The camera is superior on the iPhone, as is the camera app. Slo-Mo and Pano are terrific features that I will use– especially on vacations. Earlier this summer my wife and I visited Niagara Falls for the first time. To get a good panoramic picture of the falls I had to take multiple stills and stitch them together with another app (Photoshop), but in iOS I could have taken one panoramic photo. Brilliant!
  • I prefer Facetime over Skype because, as an IT guy, I don’t like Skype’s end user agreement that allows them to use computers running it as a communications node. In the malware world, that’s called turning systems into zombies, but people like using Skype because they’re unaware of what they’ve agreed to. Facetime on iOS devices is terrific.
  • The thumbprint reader is pretty cool. It doesn’t necessarily add to the security of the device, but it can make unlocking the device faster and easier.
  • Having the ability to access my iTunes songs that are not mp3 format is good.

What I Lose Using an iPhone
After reading all that, you might think I love the iPhone! But there things I like about my Android smartphone over the iPhone:

  • The biggest issue that puts the Android phone over the iPhone is battery life. With the Motorola Razr Maxx, the battery life is rated at 2880 minutes of usage, vs 600 minutes on the iPhone. That’s 48 hours vs 10 hours! Where that really makes a difference to me is when I’m traveling and using my smartphone as my GPS, sometimes for more than an hour.
  • I like typing on the Android phone using Swype! It’s so much faster and easier when texting! The rumor is that iOS 8 will include the same capability, but until then I’m a clumsy texter.
  • I like the way the Android OS lets you set a wallpaper background that moves side-to-side slightly when sliding from screen to screen. I also like how the Android OS lets you place shortcuts and widgets in specific locations in a grid on the screen so you can maximize the enjoyment of your wallpaper.
  • Widgets! There aren’t any on-screen widgets in iOS!

Where I Think I’ll End Up
Well, there you have it. So, what will I use going forward?

There was no risk in getting the iPhone 5s now since my wife needed a new phone and wanted the iPhone. So will I buy a new Android smartphone, or get the iPhone 6 when it comes out? Because of the synthesis across all devices, I’ll go for the iPhone. My hope is that the battery life will be better on the iPhone 6 and that I won’t have to plug it in to rental cars when traveling, and that they include Swype as an input method in iOS 8.

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