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On 4th October 2023, Google launched 14 version of its mobile operating system Android. When buying the best smartphone, the first choice can be the hardest: iPhone vs. Android. We’ve reviewed the differences between them to help you make the best choice for your needs.
Your first decision when you decide to pick up your first smartphone is which one you’re going to buy; two of the major options are iPhone and Android. Both offer a lot of great features, but iPhones and Android phones are very different.
Hardware: Android Has More Options
Hardware is the first place where the differences between the iPhone and Android become clear.
Only Apple makes iPhones, so it has extremely tight control over how the software and hardware work together. On the other hand, Google offers Android software to many phone makers, including Samsung, HTC, and Motorola. Because of that, Android phones vary in size, weight, features, and quality.
Premium-priced Android phones are about as good as the iPhone, but a cheaper Android device with fewer features may be all you need.
If you’re buying an iPhone, you need to pick a model. Because many companies make Android devices, you have to choose both a brand and a model. Some may prefer the choice Android offers, but others appreciate Apple’s greater simplicity and higher quality.
Operating Systems: Both Have Benefits
Android smartphone runs on Google’s Android operating system, while iPhones use Apple’s iOS. In general, they work the same: You’ll have a home screen with your most popular apps, including games, utilities, a Phone app to make calls, a camera app for pictures, and a messaging one to send texts. They also use touch interfaces, and the device may include hardware like accelerometers or gyroscopes for more functions.
Apple releases a new version of iOS about every fall with additional updates coming throughout the year. In the earlier days of Android, updates were less frequent and regular (Android 2.0 came out in 2009, while both 3 and 4 came out in 2011). Recently, however, Android has fallen more into an annual update cycle. Some Android device makers, like Samsung, use a slightly modified version of the operating system.
Some Android makers are slow to update their phones to the latest version of the Android OS, and sometimes don’t update their phones at all. While older phones will eventually lose support for the latest OS, Apple’s support for older phones can be better than Android’s, especially since the platform is open to other manufacturers.
Apps: Android Has More Options
The Apple App Store offers fewer apps than Google Play, but the selection isn’t the most crucial factor.
Apple is strict about what apps it allows, while Google’s standards for Android are laxer. Apple’s tighter control is part of the reason that its app store has fewer offerings than Google’s, but that also means that you’re less likely to download malware.
The other benefit of Apple’s centralized storefront is that the company is sure that everything in there is compatible with the available devices. The combination of multiple manufacturers of Android phones and less screening in the Google Play Store means that you may not be sure that an app you want will work with your particular smartphone.
That aside, the higher selection and ability to download Android apps from outside the official Google Play Store may appeal to some users.
Price: iPhones Are Generally More Expensive; Androids Have a Wider Range
Apple positioned the iPhone as a premium device, and the price reflects that. You aren’t going to find a new one for less than UGX 1,800,000 or so. Meanwhile, Android-compatible phones are available at a huge range of prices, from UGX 380,000 or so to 20 times that amount.
While it’s possible to get an Android phone for cheaper, you may get what you pay for. High-end Samsung devices can cost as much or even more than an iPhone if you want a new Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel. At this end of the range, there’s little difference in quality between Android and iPhone. If you don’t need a high-tech camera or other features, however, a cheaper Android may be fine for you.
The wide availability of payment plans from Apple, Google, and retailers, however, mean that you can easily get an upper-tier phone by paying for it in monthly installments instead of all at once. These options make price less of an issue.
Security: Apple Keeps It Locked Down
If you care about the security of your smartphone, iPhone is more secure than Android. The reasons why are due to a variety of factors, but here are some of the most important:
- Apple supports end-to-end encryption in its apps. “End-to-end” means that a text message, for example, is scrambled on its entire journey between the sending device and the recipient. Android, generally, encrypts “in transit,” which means that information is secure while it’s moving but may be vulnerable on “stops,” like through Google servers.
- Apple controls downloads. One of the most common ways to compromise digital security is by downloading malware – software designed to steal information or affect how a device works. Apple works to prevent malware from appearing on its App Store, and that’s the only place you can get iPhone apps. In this way, Android’s openness and flexibility can become a liability.
It’s important to note, however, that iPhone isn’t immune to security threats; it’s just less likely to be targeted than Android-based phones.
Intelligent Assistant: Google Assistant Beats Siri
The next frontier of smartphone functionality will be driven by artificial intelligence and voice interfaces. Android has a clear lead here.
Google Assistant, the most prominent intelligent assistant on Android, is very powerful. It uses everything Google knows about you and the world to make life easier. For instance, if your Google Calendar knows that you’re meeting someone at 5:30 and that traffic is terrible, Assistant can notify you to leave early.
Siri is Apple’s answer to Google Assistant for artificial intelligence. It’s improving with each new iOS release. That said, it’s still limited to relatively simple tasks and doesn’t offer the advanced smarts of Google Assistant. iPhone users who don’t like Siri can also use Google Assistant, however, while Android owners can’t access Siri without an Apple product.
Both iPhone and Android provide solutions for people with different needs. If you already own Apple products like the Mac, iPad, or Apple TV, getting an iPhone is an easy choice. If flexibility or apps are important, go for an Android.
Different categories matter more for certain people. Some people will value hardware choice more, while others will care more about battery life or mobile gaming. Both platforms offer good choices for different people. You’ll need to decide what factors are most important to you and choose the phone that best meets your needs.