Having reviewed my phone (the venerable Samsung Galaxy S4), I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts on the Apple vs Android debate. It can be a thorny one at times (brand loyalty can be a big thing to some people), but nevertheless I wanted to have my say.
One of the largest companies in the world, Apple to begin with made iMacs and Macbooks, that offered an alternative to Windows-based PCs and laptops. The interface has often been described as friendly and easy to use, though personally, I have never enjoyed using Macs. To be honest, I don’t find them to be especially straightforward.
Where Apple came into their own was with the development of iPods (of various shapes and sizes), and in particular, the iPhone. These products propelled Apple forward, cementing their reputation for excellence and giving them a platform to spring forward from. It wasn’t long before they began to dominate the smartphone market.
It was all the way back in 2007 that the first iPhone appeared, and since then Apple have continued to develop it (we are now on to the iPhone 6).
Like pretty much all Apple products, the iPhone uses iTunes (Apple’s online music directory and store). If you have iTunes you can download a huge selection of song to your device, capped only by the storage space and what you’re willing to spend. There is also an apps market, and Apple tightly control what apps are available, to ensure quality. Because iTunes is software used across different Apple devices, if you purchase a book from the book store, it will automatically be available not only on your iPhone, but on other Apple products you might own.
Needless to say, this is quite convenient!
Generally speaking, the iPhone, iPad and other Apple products are well-made. They are virtually carved out of metal and glass and screen quality is superb. Even older generation iPads hold up quite well in terms of their build quality.
Of course, with this there comes a catch or two. The price of Apple products is usually considerably more than that of rival products, and there is little variation. For example, the cheapest iPhone 6 contract available on Vodafone is £39 a month, and you have to pay £99 up front for the phone! The cheapest Samsung S6 contract on Vodafone is £39 a month, you pay £49 for the handset, and the phone has twice as much storage space. The S6 is also a more recent handset, making it the latest technology.
Historically there have also been problems with being unable to change the battery in iPhones (they are sealed units). This means you have to take your phone back to a phone shop or Apple store, and there may be charges involved for this.
The Android system first appeared properly in 2007, after being developed by Google and a handful of phone manufacturers. It is purely an operating system (unlike Apple, who make both the hardware and software), and it has filtered through onto a wide range of devices.
Many major phone companies make Android products – Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, Acer and Asus are among just some of the companies who had or are making Android smartphones and tablets. As a result of being available to a wide range of companies, Android devices are a major force in the market place.
Android is what is known as ‘open source’. This means that anyone can create apps for Android devices, because the source code is available for anyone to view and make use of. The apps market is huge, as anyone can publish an app.
Because Android is available for any manufacturer to make use of, there is tremendous variety on the market for people seeking smartphones, and some of these are quite cheap.
Because the Android software is open source, and because anyone can develop apps for it, it is largely unregulated. This increases the risk of viruses corrupting the hardware (though anti-virus software is available for phones and tablets). Additionally, the quality of the hardware varies wildly.
There are also quality issues concerning apps. Anyone can make a game for Android, but this doesn’t mean everyone who does should.
Personally, I favour Android products. This is largely because they are cheaper (in some cases considerably) than Apple products, and because there is greater variety. If you want something running iOS, it has to be an Apple product. Yes, you get excellent build quality, but they are not without their flaws, and Apple’s tight regulation of their software and what you can do with it feels restrictive to me.
That said, the iPad is the best tablet device out there, despite its price tag.
I also take issue with Apple’s stance toward its competitors. Apple have been engaged in legal disputes over patents with Samsung (amongst others) for a number of years. To me, this smacks of fear over the growing success of the Android platform and a desire to control competition through the courts rather than through sales. Apple’s anticompetitive stance has sullied its image in my eyes.
This isn’t to say Android products are flawless and I would never say no to owning an iPhone or iPad. The prices need to be better for that to happen.