Android vs. iOS: My Take

There comes a time in every person’s life when they are faced with a decision, the implications of which will echo throughout eternity. This isn’t one of those, but it’s still a question many have. With Android’s increasing market share, the debate over the little green robot and chatty Siri will continue for some time.

This post is an overview describing my personal journey with each, thoughts on where the debate stands, and the future of these two mobile platforms.

When the iPhone first came out, I was a poor college student. Of course, this didn’t stop many in that category from standing in line to get one, nor does it today. But my Midwestern thrifty sensibilities could not justify the extra expense of a “data plan,” a new invention in the history of cell phones. But did I want it bad? Of course.

Fast forward a few years, which were mostly a blur of everyone else getting successive versions of iPhones, and me, a poor grad student (again, this didn’t stop so many of my peers) holding out, sadly clutching a dumbphone to my ear to make and receive “calls” and “text messages”. Then Christmas 2010 came around, and the touchscreen on my phone at the time was rebelling, responding to every other tap. As a Verizon family, I had a couple choices – wait the agonizing unknown period of time until the iPhone arrived, or try out an Android phone, one of which my brother was already using and really liked.

Decisions, decisions. I decided to take the plunge and chose a Droid 2 Global. After customizing it a fair bit, I found that it was both fun and highly functional. Sure, it was missing a few iOS apps I had come to love with my iPod Touch, but it had enough to keep me interested and not miss my Touch (too much) when the battery died.

Droid 2 Global Android

Time for a changing of the seasons, Android.

Soon, however, I discovered how atrocious the battery life on Droids truly is. I charge it every day to make sure that it won’t die the next day. That’s a little ridiculous, in my opinion. At any rate, I was happy to live with a charger on me at all times. That is, until a recent update from Verizon. Known among a small but querulous band of forum ranters as .608, it basically rendered my Droid 2 Global’s wifi inoperable. That’s a big problem if you like to save on 3g data like I do, or simply need the extra speed wifi provides.

After a conversation with someone at Verizon tech support, who owned an AT&T iPhone, they sent me a new phone. I eagerly opened the package, powered up, and had the same issue. I called again, and of course, it wasn’t the phone, it was the software update. Before that dropped from the heavens, my Droid’s wifi worked perfectly. Oy.

I was presented with a few options (another Droid?). Instead, well, I went for an upgrade of the best kind: an iPhone 4s with Siri. My life will soon be complete, I dare say, when it ships after being on back order.

Why did I jump ship from the Android bandwagon? Inconsistency of software across different platforms and frankly less good hardware. An update that knocks out a major feature of a phone? Seriously? How can that in any way be termed an update? How extensively was it tested before it was released into the wild? At any rate, it made me one very unhappy camper.

Opponents might (correctly) argue that iOS is not without it’s problems, nor is the iPhone totally free of issues. All true. But I know that Apple’s relentless pursuit of perfection makes sure that same issue never happens again. People get fired over them at Apple. Also – I missed my iPod. I want to be a part of the Apple ecosystem, truly. It’s easy enough to still be a part of the Google ecosystem, and get all the perks of Apple. Finally, when Siri becomes a sentient being, I really want a front row seat.

So, if you’re trying to decide between the two, I would say the only really good reason to choose Android is to be a non-conformist. That I can’t argue with – I thought not following the crowd had merit too. But other than that I can’t in good conscience recommend them. They are fun, but they are more like a child’s plaything than a serious phone. There’s a reason that pretty much every tech guru out there (unless you work for Google?) uses an iPhone.

So, what are your thoughts on the matter? What are the most important factors to you when choosing a smartphone?